It’s that wonderful time of the year. The kids are back in school. The temperature is taking a little dip. And it’s time to get down on your knees on Sunday for your weekly day of worship. For many of us we normally bow our heads before the cross. However, once Fall comes around that has to be over and done with before 1PM, eastern standard time. That’s because you have to hustle home and kneel before “The Shield.”
That would be the NFL logo blinding you with its power and greatness. It’s football time, boys and girls, and as usual the wait has been too long. Unlike past decades however, the modern era of football is almost a year long with minor lulls here and there. Between multiple sports networks and social media, football fans can follow and get updated on their favorite teams as well as their favorite players. Sometimes, those updates are not of a pleasant and family-friendly nature.
With the “eye in the sky” culture that has become the norm in our society. Celebrities from all industries are being recorded before, during and after some of their less flattering moments. NFL players are not exempt from this type of monitoring. Some would argue they are the “leading men” of a lot of these hand-held documentaries. Way too many of these moments cross legal boundaries and the moral codes of our society. Reputations, relationships, money, and even lives are lost by the time some of these NFL players are brought before the court of public opinion. As fans of these sports heroes, we are left in states of shock, anger and sadness.
Here is a list of 15 NFL players that have outraged the country.
15 QB - Colin Kaepernick’s Protest Against America
By now if you’ve never even seen a football, you know the name of at least one guy who throws it for a living. San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, has spawned the latest outrage across the United States. During the pre-season of the 2016 NFL season, Kaepernick refused to stand for the singing of the national anthem.
The anthem is played before every game, at every major sporting event in America. When asked why he chose to participate in such an inflammatory and (as seen by many) disrespectful act, Kaepernick said he was protesting the unfair treatment of minorities by law enforcement in the United States. In the past several years numerous videos have been broadcast around the world showing police officers taking what many consider to be unlawful and in some cases lethal actions against people of color. Kaepernick contends that his conscience wouldn’t allow him to stand by silently any longer.
Everyone from 49ers fans to the President Of The United States has weighed in on the matter, with harsh words coming Kaepernick's way. Some people want him cut from the team, and others want him out of the country. Just goes to show you, good or bad, don't mess with the flag.
14 RB - Lawrence Phillips Convicted Of Multiple Crimes
Some people look like they have the world in the palm of their hands. In the case of former St. Louis Rams running back Lawrence Phillips, it was just his girlfriend's neck and the steering wheel of his car. At one time, drafted 6th overall in 1996, Phillips was a star waiting to be born. It was his talent that helped to deflect his character issues that were revealed during his collegiate career. Unfortunately, his issues weren't a blip on the radar. Larry had issues.
By 1999 Phillips was out of the NFL and a few years later, the trouble started. In 2005 Phillips was arrested in Los Angeles for driving his car into three teenagers after a minor dispute. During his arrest, it was discovered that Phillips was wanted in San Diego for two separate domestic violence incidents involving his girlfriend. In 2008 he was eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison for felony assault. It doesn’t end there, folks.
While serving his sentence he was convicted of the domestic violence charges sending his total to 25 years of time to be served. So what does he do while he is being rehabilitated? He gets charged with the death of his cellmate who was found choked out in their cell in 2015. While awaiting trial for that crime, Phillips decided it was time to go, and hung himself in his cell in early 2016.
13 DE - Leonard Little Kills A Mother While Drunk Driving
Another Ram, this time back when they were in L.A. Defensive end Leonard Little did the unthinkable. After celebrating his birthday back in 1998, Little got behind the wheel of his car and took off after having too many drinks. He ran a red light and then ran his SUV into the car of Susan Gutweiler. She died later that night. Gutweiler was a wife and a mother of two children.
There was no social media back then so you couldn’t start a #throwleonardlittleunderthejail movement. He also only received 90 days in prison. That could be why six years later, Little was arrested once again for drunk driving. He failed three sobriety tests and refused to take a breathalyzer test at the scene and was somehow acquitted of all charges.
How in the world can you even think to put another bottle to your lips after you took a mother away from her kids and a wife away from her husband? This story is repulsive to this very day.
12 RB - O.J. Simpson Tried For Murder
Many of you reading this are too young to remember when O.J. Simpson was a football hero. He was in movies and television shows. He even was considered to play the terminator in the original Terminator film. And then came the white Bronco. In 1994 Simpson was arrested for the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The attempted apprehension of Simpson turned into a slow chase of Simpson in a white Bronco down a California highway.
It quickly became a national news story which culminated in what many called the trial of the century. An estimated 100 million people watched the verdict on television. The “not guilty” verdict was as controversial as any verdict in modern times. To this day no one has been convicted of these murders, although many believe the right man was caught and then let go.
For those who shared this sentiment, a little bit of good news came their way in 2008. Simpson was sentenced to 35 years in prison for attempted armed robbery in Las Vegas. Simpson claimed he came to retrieve some of his sports memorabilia that had been wrongfully attained. It took a while, but he will spend the rest of his life in prison anyway.
11 LB - Jovan Belcher Commits Murder/Suicide
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher was just 25 years old. At 25 Belcher had a thriving NFL career, a girlfriend, and a new baby girl. Yet and still, something was very wrong. Belcher and his girlfriend were having relationship issues over money, his party habits, cheating, and custody of their daughter.
In December of 2012, these issues came to a head. At least in his mind anyway. In the early morning during yet another fight with his girlfriend, Belcher retrieved a 40. caliber automatic weapon and shot at his girlfriend 10 times in the bathroom of his home. Four shots connected leaving her bloody and dying on the floor. Belcher’s mother came in when she heard the shots. Belcher apologized to both of them and fled the apartment.
Belcher then drove the Chiefs facility where he was confronted in the parking lot by a few members of the organization, including his head coach. After a brief conversation where Belcher said that he needed help to deal with his problems, but didn’t receive enough, he pointed the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. He died shortly after.
10 RB - Tiki Barber Abandoned His Pregnant Wife
Even though this is a story set around the creation of life as opposed to the taking of a life, it’s still disgraceful. New York Giants running back Tiki Barber retired from playing pro ball and went right into a career in broadcasting. With a bright smile and charming personality, it was a seamless transition. Then in 2010 the news broke that Barber was leaving his wife of 11 years, who birthed his three children, and was eight-months pregnant with their fourth.
The public was outraged. Not only had the 35-year-old Barber walked out on his pregnant wife for Maxim pin-up girl Traci Lynn Johnson, but Johnson was just 21 years old at the time. Barber, who was an on-air personality for The Today Show, lost his job due to the public backlash over how he managed his persona life.
Barber eventually married Johnson (a mere eight days after his divorced was finalized) and they have two children together.
9 DE - Robert Rozier Joins Killer Cult Group
This might be the strangest story on the list. Robert Rozier played for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1979. That’s it. One year in the NFL. But one year is all you need to make this list. That and joining a group called the “Temple Of Love” in Miami in 1982.
The funny thing about the “Temple Of Love” is that they have a secret group within the organization called “The Brotherhood.” In order to become part of the “Brotherhood,” you had to kill a “white Devil” and return with the body as part of the initiation. For those of you who are not clear, this is a black supremacist cult who requires you to kill a white person to fully become one of them. And guess what? He did it. Rosier found and slaughtered an innocent white person. In fact, after being arrested for murder, Rozier confessed to killing seven white people for “The Brotherhood.”
However, since there is no honor among thieves (or murderers), Rozier testified against “The Brotherhood” and had his sentenced reduced to just 22 years in prison. In 1996 he was released after serving only 10 years of his sentence.
8 WR - Rae Carruth Hired A Hitman To Kill His Kid
Rae Carruth was a star wide receiver for the newly formed Carolina Panthers. He was making $40,000 per game and evidently didn’t want to share that with anyone, including his soon to be born son. In November of 1999 Carruth hired a hitman to kill his girlfriend Cherica Adams, who was eight months pregnant with Carruth’s son. Fortunately, the hit was only semi-successful. Adams died a month later in the hospital, but Carruth’s son survived thanks to an emergency Caesarean section.
Due to the massive amounts of blood loss Adams suffered, Carruth’s son Chancellor now suffers from cerebral palsy and needs assistance to feed and clothe himself at 17 years old. As for Carruth, who was famously found hiding in the trunk of a friend's car trying to avoid arrest, he was sentenced in 2001 to 19 years in prison for orchestrating the attack on his former girlfriend. He is now gets paid $1 to mop floors and cut hair. In his spare time, he receives disciplinary action for getting into prison fights.
7 LB - Ray Lewis Charged With Two Counts Of Murder
Retired Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is one of the most respected men to trot onto a football field. His passion and physical play are what makes football fans moist in the lower regions . . . even the men. However, back in 2000 right after Lewis’s first Super Bowl victory, he was involved in an altercation that left two young men stabbed to death. Lewis was initially charged with two counts of murder, but successfully reached a plea agreement of “obstruction of justice.”
As part of his deal, he testified against two of his friends who were involved in the incident. However, he only testified that the two gentlemen purchased knives that day and claimed he didn’t know who actually stabbed the victims. The two were acquitted of the murder charges which of course doesn't sit well with the family of the victims to this day. Lewis is now an NFL analyst and after winning two championships is surely heading to the Hall Of Fame.
6 DB - Darren Sharper Drugged And Raped Multiple Women
Darren Sharper is a former Pro Bowl cornerback and Super Bowl champion of the New Orlean Saints. He has finally been sentenced to 18 years in prison for drugging and raping numerous women in multiple states. After a long and successful playing career on the field, Sharper went to work for the NFL Network as an analyst. Not long into his broadcast career women started popping up with reports, very similar reports of encounters with Sharper that didn’t end well.
The common narrative was that Sharper would drug his victim and then sexually assault them. The mind blowing part was not just that Sharper committed these crimes in four separate states, but that he had no criminal record or checkered past to speak of. This all seems to have come out of the blue. In his statement at his sentencing, he remarked how sorry he was for what he had done and was still trying to figure out why he did what he did. He could have at least offered them some Jello pudding.
5 WR - Donte Stallworth Killed A Man While Drunk Driving
In the early morning of March 19, 2009, then Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth was driving drunk and killed a man who was running for a bus. Mario Reyes ran into the street and was struck by Stallworth in his 2005 Bentley. Would Reyes have been hit had Stallworth been sober? We won’t ever know. But we do know that Stallworth was breaking the law and that the result of his actions was the death of a hard-working family man.
Stallworth was genuinely devastated by what he had done and extremely remorseful. Outside of the arrogance to still drive drunk in this day and age, what really outraged the general public was the fact that Stallworth only served 30 days in jail. Although he was suspended from the NFL for the 2009 season, he was allowed to return the next year and resume his career. The perception was that Stallworth was let off easy was due in large part to the fact that he accepted full responsibility for what he had done. Not sure if the Reyes family would agree with that.
4 RB - Adrian Peterson Beat His Kid With A Branch
The best running back in the NFL hands down is Adrian Peterson. Many believe that distinction guided the direction of his career after he was indicted on child abuse charges. Once law enforcement officials were made aware of Peterson’s disciplinary tactics, he was taken into custody. Soon after, pictures started circulating around the internet of the bruises on his four-year-old son's body where Peterson lashed him with a “switch” he pulled from a tree.
Initially, Peterson was somewhat defiant in defending his actions. He contended that he was simply disciplining his son the way he was disciplined himself when he was a boy back in Texas. A firestorm quickly enveloped around this story with many people screaming “child abuse,” while others said he had the right to raise his child how he wanted.
Interestingly, Peterson’s team the Minnesota Vikings made it explicitly clear that they had no intentions of getting rid of Peterson no matter how murky things got. That’s what happens when you’re the best running back in the league. Now let's find out what happens when you’re far from the best running back in the league.
3 RB - Ray Rice Knocks Out His Fiancé On Camera
Around the same time Adrian Peterson was immersed in his child abuse scandal, Ray Rice was going through a domestic violence scandal. A video surfaced of Rice dragging his fiancé Janay Palmer’s unconscious body out of an elevator in an Atlantic City casino. Both individuals were subsequently arrested on simple assault charges as they were seen fighting earlier in the evening. Rice receives a two-game suspension from the league after he and his fiancee meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Then things get interesting.
A new video surfaced of the incident from inside the elevator Rice and his fiancee were in. The video clearly shows Rice punching Palmer in the face which slams her head into the metal rail in the elevator before she crumbles to the floor. A media firestorm ensues with many screaming for Rice to be thrown out of the league and right into a jail cell. The pressure from the public was so great that it forced commissioner Goodell to turn around and suspend Rice indefinitely for the rest of the season. And the Baltimore Ravens cut Rice from the team.
Rice avoided jail time with a plea deal that included counseling and support from his now wife Janay. However, not one NFL team has even taken a look at him since he was reinstated by the NFL to continue playing football.
2 TE - Aaron Hernandez Convicted Of Murder
Can you blame the New England Patriots for what Aaron Hernandez did? Probably not. However, they certainly didn’t provide any good examples tooth's disturbed individual with their cheating ways. Maybe that’s why Hernandez thought he could get away with killing Greg Lloyd in 2014.
Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after he was found guilty along with two other defendants of driving Lloyd to a desolate area and shooting him dead. Throughout his trial, Hernandez was cold and emotionless. He professed his innocents of the crime, even though the circumstantial evidence against him was staggering. There was a security video recording from his home showing him with a gun just like the one that killed Lloyd. GPS and credit card information showed Hernandez in the vicinity of the murder. And the four men were seen together not long before Lloyds body was found.
Showing no emotion and offering no apology cemented Hernandez in the minds of many as a cold-blooded killer.
1 QB - Michael Vick Killed Dogs
If you’re an NFL player, you can beat your kids, beat your wife, and even kill people and still have some fans. But don’t you even think about touching a hair on the head of man’s best friend. That’s where the American public draws the line. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick learned that the hard way. In 2007 he was convicted of dog fighting across state lines. He served 18 months of his 23-month sentence. But that was the easy part.
The hard part came when it was time for Vick to be reinstated by the NFL to resume his football career. When Vick went to prison, he was the most amazing athlete on a football field. He did amazing things that got him paid handsomely. So when it was time to find a team, there were some takers, and he ended up with the Philadelphia Eagles. Immediately the Eagles were bombarded with hate mail, threats of boycotts of their sponsors, as well as protests in front of their stadium. Fans booed and hurled insults at Vick before, during, and after games. He became and still is one of the most hated athletes in America according to many polls.
One might conclude that our priorities might be a bit skewed with results like this considering some of the heinous acts perpetrated on this list. But what have we learned here boys and girls? Don’t piss off the public, especially if they clip coupons for kibble.