The first big suspension handed out in professional football occurred way back in 1925. Art Folz was the quarterback for the Chicago Cardinals when he orchestrated a hilarious plan to stack an opposing team with high school players in order to get an easy win and challenge for the 1925 Championship. He was given a lifetime ban that was later overturned. Folz decided to retire nonetheless.
Suspensions were a rare thing compared to today. In 1947, Frank Filchock and Merle Hapes were given lifetime bans from their role in trying to fix the 1946 NFL Championship Game. Alex Karras and Paul Hornung were also given one-year suspensions for gambling on sports.
It wasn’t until the early 80s that we began to see a noticeable increase in suspensions. Player conduct was being closely monitored and the NFL was coming down harder on offending players. Then, in 1988, the NFL began its battle with a growing steroid epidemic. No less than 15 players were suspended for testing positive for steroids prior to the 1988 season. Many more were suspended through 1989 and 1990. The list of banned substances grew and so did the number of suspensions.
Suspensions aren’t just limited to players. Owners, coaches, and even referees have been suspended for various reasons. The longest suspension given to an owner was a one-year banishment that Edward J. DeBartolo Jr. received for his involvement in a corruption and gambling licensing case.
Here is a list of recently banned NFLers and what they're doing now.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view
20 Ray Rice
Ray Rice’s vicious assault on his fiancée is well documented. The NFL’s handling of his discipline was widely criticized and this incident brought a spotlight on domestic violence in sports.
Since being suspended in September 2014, Rice has been shunned by the NFL. He served his suspension and is free to sign with any team but nobody seems willing to give him a chance. It’s true his production was down in his last year with Baltimore but it seems more likely that signing Ray Rice would be a public relations nightmare.
Rice is currently working hard to stay in shape and is looking to make a return to the NFL. If a team gets really desperate, you never know...
19 Josh Brent
The Dallas Cowboys picked nose tackle Josh Brent in the 2010 supplemental draft and had high hopes for the young man out of Illinois. On December 8th, 2012, Brent was involved in a car accident that claimed the life of his passenger and teammate Jerry Brown. He was charged with intoxication manslaughter and on January 24th, 2014 he was found guilty and sentenced a six-month prison stint. The league slapped him with a 10 game suspension.
Brent would make a brief return to the Cowboys after serving his prison sentence but he suffered a calf strain and was sidelined. He officially retired in 2015 and took a job in Dallas’ scouting department.
18 Richie Incognito
Noted hot-head Richie Incognito was a third-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2005. He played five seasons before being waived by the Rams due to his on-field meltdowns and confrontations with coaches. He would finish the 2009 season with the Bills before signing with Miami in the off-season.
He made headlines in 2013 after he was involved in a series of bullying incidents that likely contributed to teammate Jonathan Martin’s departure from the team. It appears that Incognito, the recipient of the 2012 “Good Guy Award” might not have been such a good guy after all.
He was suspended and went on to miss the entire 2014 season.
The Buffalo Bills took a chance and signed the trouble tackle for the 2015 season, where he kept his head down and stayed out of the spotlight. Due to that, many forget he's still in the NFL. He played well and kept his temper in check which has led to a new three year deal with the Bills.
17 Jonathan Vilma
The “Bounty-Gate” scandal saw its share of fallout and Jonathan Vilma took his share of lumps over it. A first-round pick of the New York Jets in 2004, Vilma played his first four seasons with the Jets prior to being traded to the Saints after the 2007 season. He played very well in New Orleans but then the bounty scandal was uncovered.
The NFL originally suspended Vilma for the entire 2012 season but the penalty was overturned and Vilma went on to play in 11 games. Knee surgery limited him to just one game in the 2013 season and he was cut after the season ended. Jonathan Vilma retired shortly after.
Vilma has recently been working as an analyst for the Bleacher Report. He was also being considered when the University of Miami was looking for a new coach in late 2015, Mark Richt ended up getting the job.
16 Chris Cook
Cornerback Chris Cook entered the league in 2010 with the Minnesota Vikings. He was suspended in 2011 when Cook was charged with domestic assault. He was banned for the balance of the 2011 season. After the 2013 season, Cook played sparingly during the 2014 season in San Francisco but was cut prior the start of the following season.
He tried to continue his playing career but was unable to find a taker. It is yet to be seen whether or not the 29-year-old can salvage his floundering NFL career. He carries a bit of baggage and his career numbers aren’t that great. In this new NFL, which is now so sensitive to domestic assault (and rightfully so), it is safe to say that Chris' NFL career is likely cooked.
15 Plaxico Burress
Plaxico Burress had his share of highlights during his 11 year NFL career, including a touchdown catch that won Super Bowl XLII for the New York Giants. In November 2008. he made headlines for all the wrong reasons. He was enjoying a night on the town in Manhattan when his unlicensed loaded gun slipped out of his waistband and down his leg consequentially firing a bullet into his own thigh. This incident resulted in charges and a prison sentence. He was suspended from the NFL pending release from prison and he was also jettisoned by the Giants.
He did his time and after his release he played one season with the New York Jets before returning to Pittsburgh to finish his career. He has been working as an analyst since his retirement. He also recently received probation for failing to pay his income tax.
14 Donte Stallworth
The speedy wide receiver saw action on six different teams during his 10-year NFL career. In March 2009, Stallworth, buzzed on alcohol and high on pot, struck and killed a man. As in other similar cases with rich athletes, Stallworth got off lightly. He was sentenced to a mere 30 days in jail of which he served 24. He was also suspended for the entire 2009 season.
Baltimore took a chance on him for the 2010 season but injuries limited him to eight games. He would proceed to sign a couple other one-year deals before he was waived by the Redskins prior to the 2013 season.
He has since taken the opportunity to address young people about the dangers of drinking and driving. He has also used his journalistic skill with The Huffington Post covering national security politics.
13 Michael Vick
Just prior to the 2007 season, it was discovered that Mike Vick had been involved in a cruel and inhumane dog fighting ring which he had allegedly financed. Vick was charged, pleaded guilty and served 19 months in prison. He was banned by the NFL throughout the course of his sentence.
Needless to say, not many teams were interested in signing the controversial quarterback after he was released from prison but he was finally signed by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009 to back up Donovan McNabb. When given the opportunity to take over the reins following McNabb’s departure, Vick had troubles with consistency and he eventually lost the job to Nick Foles. Vick went on to play a brief stint with the New York Jets and finally wound up backing up Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh.
His best days are clearly behind but Michael Vick continues to work hard in an attempt to keep himself on the field. He recently stated that he has one year left in the tank... if someone gives him a shot.
12 Adam “Pacman” Jones
After the Titans drafted him 6th overall in the 2005 draft, Jones showed that he had talent. He also showed that he was out of control. Several of his teammates tried to set him straight but it was no use. In 2007, Pacman was involved in an altercation at a strip club in Las Vegas. He had apparently showered the dancers with wads of one-dollar bills. This is common enough, but, it is uncommon to take the money back claiming it was just for “visual effect.” A scuffle ensued and shots were fired. Pacman would be forced to pay restitution and the NFL banned him for the entire 2007 season.
Tennessee shipped him to Dallas where he continued to struggle. Since 2010, Pacman has played for the Bengals and he continues to get himself in trouble. Miraculously, the Bengals just inked Jones to three more years.
11 Martavis Bryant
The young wide receiver was drafted by Pittsburgh in 2014 and it hasn’t taken him very long to get himself banned. After playing sparingly in his rookie season, Bryant failed a drug test prior to the start of the 2015 season and he was dealt a four-game suspension. During this suspension, he attended rehab. Upon his return he played quite well.
On March 14th, 2016, the NFL banned Bryant for the upcoming 2016 season for once again violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Martavis has shown that he has the speed, size, and skill to be an impact player in the NFL. He is only 24 and has time to turn things around. We will see what a year off does for him.
10 Frank Alexander
Big defensive end Frank Alexander just doesn’t seem to learn. He was drafted in 2012 and mainly filled the role of a backup defensive end for the Carolina Panthers. He also has the distinction of already failing three drug tests which have recently seen him receive a one year suspension from the NFL. In May of 2014, Alexander was banned for four games for failing a drug test. Just as his first suspension was ending, he failed a second test and was given another 10 game banishment.
At just 26-years-old, he is yet another young NFLer who may have needlessly thrown his career away due to bad decisions. He needs to get his priorities straight as he sits out the 2016 season.
9 LaRon Landry
After playing eight seasons in the NFL, LaRon Landry may have reached the end of the road. While the veteran safety is only 31-years-old, he has seen his reputation and career take a dramatic slide.
His career got off to a promising start after he was selected as Washington’s first pick in the 2007 draft. He played for five seasons in Washington but his last two were shortened by injuries. He signed a four-year deal with the Colts in 2013. Things fell apart for LaRon in 2014. He failed a drug test and was suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season. He quickly failed a second test and he was given another 10 game ban. The Colts cut him loose and he was not picked up for the 2015 season.
Landry’s recently failed a third drug test and has been suspended indefinitely. It's probably safe to say his NFL days are over.
8 Aldon Smith
When free agent Aldon Smith has his current one-year suspension lifted in November 2016, he'll be back in Oakland. He was a highly touted first-round pick by the 49ers in the 2011 draft. He impressed on the field but his off-field troubles took center stage. In 2013, Smith was arrested for impaired driving and possession of marijuana. He then immediately checked into rehab after which he had a strong finish to the 2013 campaign.
2014 wasn’t a good year. He was suspended for nine games for violating the substance abuse policies. He was then arrested on is 3rd DUI charge. The Niners were done with his antics and he was released.
He was signed by the Raiders for the 2015 season. He appeared in nine games before the NFL handed him a one-year suspension. The Raiders are showing faith in Smith and, when he's reinstated to the league, he'll be in Silver and Black.
7 Dion Jordan
Yet another name on the long list of young players that might have wrecked their careers before it ever really started. Dion Jordan was picked in the first round of the 2013 Draft by the Dolphins. The 6’6” defensive end had an unremarkable rookie year and ran into trouble in 2014 when he failed two drug tests. He was suspended for a total of six games but he came back to finish the season.
He then proceeded to fail a third drug test which has resulted in him being banished for a year. His suspension is nearly over and he just might be lucky enough to be given another chance. The Dolphins have reportedly stated that would like to have him back in Miami. In the meantime, he tries to stay clean and has been subjected to as many as 10 drug tests per month.
6 Josh Gordon
Josh Gordon was selected in the supplemental draft by the Cleveland Browns in 2012. His first two seasons were pretty much all sunshine and lollipops. In 2013, he became the first ever wide receiver to have back-to-back games with 200 yards receiving. Then the trouble started. On July 5th, 2014, Josh was arrested for impaired driving and subsequently suspended for 10 games. He followed this up by violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and was hand a stiff one-year suspension.
He has applied for reinstatement and we will find out soon if this promising and very talented athlete will be able to return to action.
5 Daryl Washington
The Arizona Cardinals selected Daryl Washington in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Over his four years with the Cards, he was named to the 2012 All-Pro Team and to the 2013 Pro Bowl. He established himself as a top tier linebacker. He signed a rich six-year extension with Arizona and seemed primed to be on his way to big things. Not so fast. Washington failed a drug test in 2013 and was suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season. Shortly after the failed test, he was arrested for aggravated assault. He then failed his second drug test in May 2014, which resulted in him being suspended for the 2014 season.
He has been out of football for the past two seasons. The future of this 29-year-old is in serious jeopardy. He's still under contract by the Cards, but there have been rumors that they might release him for cap purposes.
4 Fred Davis
His rookie season was marred by a lack of discipline and poor effort, but Fred Davis seemed to turn it around for the next season and continued to hold his own into the 2011 season. It was then that he served a four-game suspension for a failed drug test.
The Redskins held onto him through the 2013 season before they let him go to free agency. Davis then failed another drug test and was suspended from the NFL for a year. During that year off, instead of rehabbing and straightening out, Davis was getting arrested for a DUI and then again for assault.
He was reinstated in May 2015 and quickly signed a one-year deal with the Patriots. New England released him three weeks later. He hasn't been in the news since.
3 Justin Blackmon
Some people learn from their mistakes and make the most of second chances. Then there’s Justin Blackmon. He was chosen by the Jaguars as the 6th overall pick in the 2012 draft and drew comparisons to Anquan Boldin and Terrell Owens.
He was arrested for DUI shortly after the draft but all was forgotten when he had an excellent rookie season. Hopes were high and apparently so was Justin. In April 2013, he failed a drug test. After missing the first four games due to the suspension, he returned and played a few very productive games before failing another drug test. He was suspended indefinitely. During that suspension he was busted for possession of marijuana. He voluntarily entered a 90-day rehab program.
He was denied reinstatement in May 2015. In December 2015, he was once again arrested for a DUI. Looks like the rehab didn’t work.
2 Tanard Jackson
Tanard Jackson got his career off to a pretty solid start in his 2007 rookie season. In fact, he was pretty solid through his first three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Just prior to the start of the 2010 season, he was suspended indefinitely for failing his second drug test. After he was reinstated in October 2011, he went on to have a very good season. He was then cut by the Bucs in April 2012 for failing his physical.
Jackson was able to sucker the Redskins into signing him for the 2012 season, but before he could play a single down, he was suspended again for failing his third drug test. He would be banned for a year and a half. After restructuring his contract with Washington, he looked forward to getting back to football. What? Another failed drug test? Yes. On July 19th, 2014, Tanard failed his fourth drug test and was once again suspended indefinitely. The last time we heard from Jackson, he was on Oprah getting life advice from Steve Harvey. Hopefully it worked.
1 Aaron Hernandez
The NFL really needs to get its act together with respect to the way it hands out suspensions. While many guys are serving long suspensions for marijuana use, Aaron Hernandez was given a three-game suspension and a $10,000 fine as a result of his murder conviction.
Don’t worry, it’s not like this suspension means anything. Hernandez will be in jail for the rest of his life and wouldn’t be able to play anyway. But, the question of why a three game suspension was given out remains.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!