The world of professional football has some truly great people involved in it. They give lots of time to charities and kids and many of them donate a lot of their earnings to help the less fortunate. There are a lot of players, that remember where they came from, and work hard in several ways to make the world a better place.
Then there are those that are not so good in the human being category. Money and fame can do a lot to change people. Some for the good and some for the not so good. Some people never change at all. The not so good people think that they are entitled to certain treatment because of their status. They think that they can do or say anything without repercussions.
Being a jerk as an athlete doesn’t have to tie in to sharing their money. Some people just don’t like to share, but that doesn’t necessarily make them bad people. But if a player treats fans or teammates poorly, he is a jerk. It could range from someone like an autograph seeker to poor treatment of a waiter or waitress.
Anytime that murder is involved, or crimes against women, children, or animals, well that’s just a special kind of jerk. Those types of people are guaranteed to be on a list such as this.
This is the first part of a four-part series in which we will look at some of the biggest jerks across the four major sports. Today we will cover the NFL. And putting together a list of 20 NFL players, former and current, is extremely tough. Most people can name twenty of them in a matter of moments. And in the research for this piece I came up with 60 of them. And did so quite easily. Some players that didn’t make the final cut should receive honorable mention. They are Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, and Lawrence Taylor. It’s not hard to find out what they did online. Also you have to throw in Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. He gives those that should be out of the game, a chance to remain in it, among other things.
It’s tough for a person to rank as to which crimes are worse than others. They are all bad. So in no particular order, here are 20 NFL players that are jerks in real life.
20 Antonio Cromartie
Antonio Cromartie could be considered a sex addict. While that in itself might not be a bad thing, he hasn’t done it the proper way. He has twelve kids. You read that right, twelve. (At last report). He has four with his wife, and eight other children with seven other women. This guy will be playing football until they wheel him off the field. He HAS to play as long as he can, because there is no job out there to support twelve kids.
How can one man be a good father to twelve children? It can’t be easy and it may be impossible. Something tells me that he is a good father to four, and not so much to eight. Maybe he should have spent some of his money on condoms. Cromartie also had an awkward moment in front of the cameras in which he was unable to name all of his children...yikes!
19 Brandon Marshall
There have been multiple reports over the years that Brandon Marshall isn’t a good locker room presence. It has been reported that he is never on the list of favorite teammates to have. He has been run out of town in Denver, Miami, and Chicago.
And when you take into consideration that he has been accused multiple times of beating up women, there you have a jerk. He has never been convicted of anything, but multiple accusations tells you that at least one person is telling truth, if not more. And the sad fact of the matter is that as long as he keeps catching touchdowns and isn’t convicted of anything, teams will still want him.
18 Richard Sherman
Everyone on a sports field talks trash. It’s part of the game and part of the competitive fire that burns within an athlete. Some people judge a player by the things that come out of his mouth on the field. Personally I think that’s fine. A player is looking for any edge that he can get on the field of play and if he can do it with his mouth, so be it. As long as it’s within reason and not a personal attack on family or low blows directed toward those less fortunate than most of us.
But there is also a time and place for it. Richard Sherman has taken his trash talking to television after games. That’s not acceptable. On the field and in the locker room where no cameras are around that’s fine. It’s an in house, on the field type of thing. But Sherman steps over the line when he does it on camera. Someone should tell him that this is the NFL, not professional wrestling.
17 Greg Hardy
This guy is just a special kind of jerk. Or one might choose another word or two. He is also the current joke of the NFL. Greg Hardy was convicted of assaulting an ex-girlfriend. He was sentenced to 18 months of probation and nobody seems to know why the sentence was so light. The NFL gave him a ten game suspension because of it and then he came back and played again and as of this report, he is still playing in the NFL. How and why is the big question that the NFL refuses to answer.
Here is part of the statement that was given to police from the victim.
“Hardy picked me up and threw me into the tile tub area in his bathroom. I have bruises from head to toe, including my head, neck, back, shoulders arms, legs, elbow and feet. Hardy pulled me from the tub by my hair, screaming at me that he was going to kill me, break my arms and other threats that I completely believe. He drug me across the bathroom and out into the bedroom. Hardy choked me with both hands around my throat while I was lying on the floor. Hardy picked me up over his head and threw me onto a couch covered in assault rifles and/or shotguns. I landed on those weapons. Hardy bragged that all of those assault rifles were loaded.”
When you take the guns out of the equation, just the fact that Hardy is 6 foot 5 and around 280 pounds, and most woman are not, it’s not a pleasant experience for the victim. When you put the guns back into the equation it takes a situation that was horrible, and makes it ten times worse.
The NFL states that they have a new Personal Conduct Policy. Yet this guy still has a job. Something isn’t quite right here.
16 Jack Tatum
This has been a debate for a very long time among NFL fans. Is Jack Tatum a jerk for his hit on Darryl Stingley of the New England Patriots in 1978? Was it a dirty hit?
Stingley was reaching for a pass in a pre season game in Oakland when Tatum hit him. He suffered a spinal cord injury on the hit and spent the rest of his life as a quadriplegic.
Stingley at the time was a great wide receiver and he had just agreed to a new contract with the Patriots that was going to make him one of the highest paid receivers in the league. There was a press conference scheduled for when the Patriots got back from the west coast to announce the signing. But it was only agreed to by spoken word. The actual signing was supposed to take place when the team came back from Oakland. It never happened.
By today’s standards of NFL rules, that hit would have been a major penalty. But back then it was legal and no penalty was called on the play. So maybe it wasn’t a dirty hit. Maybe he should have pulled up because the pass wasn’t going to be caught. From that view it could be considered a dirty hit. But that’s not why Tatum is a jerk. He’s a jerk because he never apologized about what happened. When you end another players career, the very least you can do is apologize. If you don’t have that compassion in you to apologize, then you Mr. Tatum, are a jerk.
15 LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy has had a couple of instances during his career that combine to get him on this list. Last season he was going to hold a private party. There is nothing wrong with that. Athletes will do that so they aren’t bothered by outsiders. And it’s completely understandable. But McCoy had posters made up to advertise the event and they said that only women were invited to the party. But first they had to submit a photo and if they were chosen to attend, they had to sign a confidentiality agreement once they arrived. So just what was he planning on happening at this party? The mind really wanders when you think about that.
He later changed it so that everyone was invited, both males and females, but the damage had already been done.
Then there was the time that he left a 20 cent tip for a $60.00 tab. He said that it was his statement on the poor service that he received. I get that. Poor service should result in a poor tip. But when you earn as much money as he does a year, he could have been the bigger man and gone about things in a different manner. But he didn’t, so he makes the list.
14 Darren Sharper
Darren Sharper is another player that’s a special kind of jerk. One might use the word dirtbag. Sharper played in the NFL for 14 years and was one of the best defensive players on the field during his day. He won a Super Bowl with the Saints and called it a career in 2010. What the world didn’t know is that Sharper was living a double life. One was as an NFL standout and one was as a serial rapist.
In 2014 his other life came out into public view. He was arrested after being accused of a sexual assault in California. Very shortly after that another woman came forward, from New Orleans. Then women came forward from Nevada and Arizona. We will never know how many women Darren Sharper drugged and raped but he pleaded guilty to rape charges on 9 different women. He was given a sentence of twenty years in prison for the crimes.
It’s mind boggling why this was done. Sharper was a very recognized athlete during his day and it’s a fairly certain thing that he had women throwing themselves at him wherever he went. So why would he have to do this and torment all of these women in such a manner? Let’s raise a glass and give a toast to Mr. Sharper: Here’s to hoping that the next two decades are a very special time in your life. Bottoms up!
13 O.J. Simpson
And now we come to the first murderer on the list. Everyone knows about the O.J. Simpson “Trial of the Century” by now and the results that came from it. There is no need to rehash all of that here. During his time on the field Simpson was one of the greatest running backs of all time. He put up a happy, pleasant persona on television, but that’s not how he was away from the cameras. One of the things that stood out during the trial was the overwhelming DNA evidence against him. When you remove all of the evidence that was possibly or possibly not planted, the simple fact that the DNA of the blood at the scene contained a nearly perfect match of Simpson’s, screams guilty. Only 0.5% of the rest of the world’s population could match the blood found at the scene.
Everyone has their own opinion on the matter and that’s fine. One thing however that is not opinion, is the amount of times that Simpson beat up Nicole Brown Simpson. Police reports and other verification show that it was a constant thing with him. So he will make the list based on that alone, the trial not withstanding. Anyone who abuses women is a dirtbag. But Simpson ended up getting his in the end. Hopefully literally.
He is currently serving a 33-year prison sentence in Las Vegas for kidnapping, assault, using a deadly weapon, and robbery among other charges. Sometimes karma actually does work.
12 Ben Roethlisberger
There is no doubt that Ben Roethlisberger is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. His stats and performance on the field back that up. But his performance off the field is not as stand up as what he does on it. I will start by saying that Big Ben has never been convicted of any of the allegations that have been made against him. But that doesn’t always mean innocence.
In the world that we live in today there are a lot of people out to make a quick buck. And athletes are a perfect target. They have tons of money and most of them like to go out and party. This leaves them open to allegations. If someone sees an opening against them, most will jump on it. If it’s a onetime thing you can chalk it up to that, in most cases. But when allegations come out on more than one occasion you have to stop and think that maybe there is something there.
On two different occasions Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault. One was in 2008 and then a second time in 2010. Again, he wasn’t convicted on either charge but the NFL did suspend him for four games due to violation of their Personal Conduct Policy. So that tells you that during their investigation the NFL found SOMETHING. All of that combined leads to Roethlisberger being included on this list. Welcome aboard Ben.
11 Richie Incognito
When you get to the level of college and professional in sports, there is always some kind of hazing that goes on for new guys or rookies. Instances such as going out to dinner with a bunch of teammates and sticking the rookie with the bill, is funny and acceptable. Things like that can make a new guy feel accepted and it builds camaraderie among players. This is needed for any type of on the field success. But when things go beyond the light and funny, it’s no longer acceptable for adults to carry out.
Richie Incognito is one guy that has taken things to extremes not just one time, but on several occasions. And he has done so to the point that eventually he made national news because of it. When you make national news for being a dick, it automatically qualifies you for inclusion on this list.
When the NFL investigated one instance, it came to the following conclusion. It was “concluded that Incognito, Jerry (other player), and Pouncey (other player) made severe racial slurs towards the assistant trainer, and Incognito and Jerry even taunted him by saying that they had sex with his girlfriend. On December 7, 2012, the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Incognito, Jerry, and Pouncey donned traditional Japanese headbands featuring a rising sun emblem (which the assistant trainer had given them) and jokingly threatened to harm the assistant trainer physically in retaliation for the Pearl Harbor attack.”
Bullying and hazing are completely different things. And Incognito has been involved with both. You might be able to see why players would want to “initiate” a new player, on a light and funny level, but why would you bully a staff member? An assistant trainer? Seriously? That’s just stupidity at its finest. Congratulations Richie, you’re a real man now.
10 Terrell Owens
During his time in the NFL when a defense heard the name Terrell Owens, they knew they had their hands full that week. He was fast, could get to the open field, and he could catch the ball. All of those qualities led to him being one of the most feared receivers during his time in the league. But he also had other qualities. He treated people poorly and most of his teammates, in any city that he played, didn’t have a very high opinion of him. This led to one of the dumbest quotes in sports history as he once said “Don’t say I don’t get along with my teammates. I just don’t get along with some of the guys on the team.”
Owens once told an offensive coordinator not to speak to him, unless Owens spoke to him first. If there was a lifetime achievement award for being a jerk without committing a crime, Owens would be a shoe in for the award. He has pretty much been thrown out of the NFL, USFL, CFL, AFL, and IFL. Think about what a person has to do to get thrown out of the IFL. The Indoor Football League is a league that will take anyone that has some kind of name, so they can use it for exposure. That’s quite an accomplishment for a former NFL star to be banished from that league.
During his career, Owens’ greatest weapon was his hands. But during his life, his biggest weakness has been his mouth. Is that enough for jerk consideration? Absolutely.
9 Warren Sapp
Warren Sapp was a great player. There is no denying the fact that when he was on the field he was a force to be reckoned with. But off the field he isn’t a very nice guy. And this isn’t news to anyone that follows the NFL. During Sapp’s time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers he had many run ins with fans away from the field. It got to the point that the people of Tampa just stayed away from him when they saw him in public. Everyone had heard the stories of how he treated anyone that dared to approach him. And none of them were very flattering to Mr. Sapp. The people of Tampa Bay have countless stories of their interactions with him and very few of them, if any, are of the good kind.
When he was fired from the NFL Network after his incident with the prostitute in Phoenix, many employees breathed a very loud sigh of relief. Several employees reported that Sapp actually had rules of how to interact with him. No joking there. They said that the rules were:
-Don’t look Warren in the eyes. (seriously)
-Introduce yourself, but DO NOT try to befriend him.
-Call him Warren. NEVER call him “Sapp.”
Nothing more needs to be said about Warren Sapp.
8 Ray Rice
Ray Rice was a major favorite of NFL fans at one point. The way he worked his way through a great career at Rutgers to get to the NFL was admirable. And when he arrived in Baltimore after the Ravens drafted him, he immediately became part of the major goings on in the city.
But all of that changed in 2013 when video came out of him knocking his girlfriend out in an Atlantic City casino elevator. He KNOCKED HER OUT. Mike Tyson would have been proud for many reasons. Rice had to physically drag her out of the elevator because she was unconscious.
It took many months of controversy before he was finally suspended and his career has yet to resume. It was the turning point to the public finally getting fed up with how the NFL looked the other way in cases of domestic violence involving its players.
For some reason Janay Palmer ended up marrying Rice and we may never know what was behind all of that. But the video is ugly to say the very least. And deservedly so Rice went from being loved by all to one of the biggest jerks on this list. And his reputation will never recover because once you see that video, you can never unsee it.
7 Michael Vick
There was a time that Michael Vick was a very exciting player to watch. The quarterback had the rare talent of being able to run and throw and do both pretty successfully. He was exciting to watch in college at Virginia Tech and also when he was the franchise with the Atlanta Falcons. But he had a hobby that makes him well deserving of a spot on the list.
He operated a dog fighting ring for five years before people found out about it. And when they found out and more details continued to come out, Vick was scorned by the public. And rightfully so. The actions that he carried out during this time, on his own property, are disgusting to say the least. We won’t go into the details here, but they are easily found online. The end result was a nearly two year stay in prison.
Some people think that people can change and learn from their mistakes. Maybe that’s true and maybe it’s not. But one thing that can never be changed is death. Be it a person or an animal. The act just can’t be undone. So who cares if he says that he has changed his ways? He did what he did and there is nothing that he can do to undo those horrendous acts. Michael Vick is and always will be one of the biggest jerks around.
6 Aaron Hernandez
It’s now time for our second murderer on the list, but sadly not the last. Aaron Hernandez was a great tight end for the New England Patriots. And he figured if O.J. can get away with it, so could he. But he was wrong and now Hernandez is currently serving life in prison for the murder of Odin Lloyd.
Lloyd had been dating the sister of Hernandez’s fiancée and the two men hung out together frequently. There had been some kind of incident at a nightclub that caused Hernandez to lose trust in Lloyd. So rather than just not spending time with him anymore, Hernandez decided to kill him. And Lloyd knew it was coming because he knew exactly what type of person that Hernandez was. When Lloyd got into Hernandez’s vehicle that night he sent several text messages to his sister. They read “Did you see who I am with?” She asked him who and he responded with “NFL”, his nickname for Hernandez. The last text that he sent her read “Just so you know.” She later told police that she thought that he was bragging and didn’t take the messages as he feared for his life.
Hernandez lost out on well over $20 million that he could have earned if he had stayed in the NFL. That’s not a jerk, that’s just an idiot. But if the act of murder alone isn’t enough for a person to consider him a jerk, Hernandez was also indicted on two other murder charges that he committed in 2012. Allegedly.
5 DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson isn’t as big of a jerk as most on this list. But much like Terrell Owens he is not a good teammate. When you are paid millions of dollars to play football and conduct yourself in a professional manner and don’t, you can be considered a jerk.
Jackson has been benched for poor play or lack of “enthusiasm” during a game. He has also been benched for missing team meetings. He makes a habit of celebrating before he actually scores, and he doesn’t always have the best interactions with teammates. Mostly because of what was just pointed out.
He is involved off the field with rap music and record labels. That doesn’t make him a jerk but the business has a bad reputation and in many cases those types of relationships end very badly.
Jackson isn’t as big of a jerk as some people on this list, but there is no doubt that he has strong jerk qualities in him. He probably should have been lower on this list, but I needed someone who wasn’t as big of a jerk in this spot. Trust me, you'll be glad I kind of lightened the mood before you get into the top few.
4 Brett Favre
Brett Favre is on the list because he is just a regular jerk. He didn’t commit any crimes but he isn’t exactly a stand up guy either. He could make this list simply for his actions near the end of his time with the Green Bay Packers. Is he retiring or isn’t he? He kept the team hanging on each year, for several years, before they finally decided to move on without him. He single handedly kept a professional football franchise from preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft, and for the next season, by keeping them in limbo on his decision of possible retirement. Why the Packers dealt with it for as long as they did is a complete mystery. At that point of his career, his glory days were long gone.
Then you have all of the reports of him not being a team player, teammates not thinking too highly of him, the sexting scandal in New York, and just being an overall egomaniac. Those are all the ingredients of a perfect jerk.
3 Bill Romanowski
If you want to see a guy that has anger issues, take a look at Bill Romanowski. His picture is right next to the definition. Here is a guy that seemed to go well out of his way to be a jerk to everyone that he came across. And that includes teammates.
There is a lot that can be written about Romanowski and why he should be on this list. But it’s better to break it down into five actions that he owned during his career. If you want a brief summary of it, here you are.
He once kicked Arizona Cardinals fullback Larry Centers right in the head.
He blessed quarterback Kerry Collins with a nice helmet to helmet hit (very possibly on purpose).
On national television Romanowski spit into J.J. Stokes' face.
Once during a scrimmage he attacked (and injured) teammate Marcus Williams.
And then there was the time that Romanowski was suffering from ‘roid rage according to him, and got into a fight with his roommate. The teammate that came in and tried to break up the fight suffered a broken eye socket at the hands of Romanowski. I think this should be enough for you to agree that he belongs here.
2 Adam Jones
And now we hit the top two. Get your puke buckets ready because these two guys are the lowest of the low. First we have Adam Jones. On the field he is one of the dirtiest players in the league. Because of that, among players, he is also one of the most hated.
His repertoire doesn’t include only dirty play though. He is a crybaby to the media every chance he gets. Oh and then there was the time that his teammate Antonio Brown suffered a concussion and Jones said that Brown had exaggerated on the play and did a good acting job. But that’s just the minor stuff.
The NFL suspended him for one year after an incident at a Las Vegas strip joint. Jones was being his normal jerk self in 2007 by “making it rain.” He was throwing large amounts of money on the dance stage and the strippers started fighting over the money. A brawl ensued and three people ended up being shot, two of them security people from the club. The shooters? People from the Jones crew of course. One of the security guards was paralyzed from the waist down and Jones got one year of probation for his part in the melee. A Nevada Supreme Court also ordered him to pay $12 million in damages.
Once his suspension was over the Dallas Cowboys signed him (surprise surprise), and they assigned a bodyguard to him to keep him out of trouble. So what does Adam Jones do? Or maybe we should ask, WWJD? What Would Jones Do? He gets drunk and gets into a fight with the bodyguard that is supposed to keep him out of trouble.
And you know what? He is still playing in the NFL. Imagine that.
1 Rae Carruth
OK now we hit the jerk jackpot. Dirtbag, scumbag, and all around low life are some other good words to describe Mr. Rae Carruth. I’m pretty sure I could come up with a few others pretty easily if asked to.
Carruth was a wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers from 1997-1999 and he wasn’t great, but he wasn’t all that bad. He was making nice progress to becoming a top receiver in the NFL but he hadn’t yet got to that point. He collected over 800 yards receiving before he was banished from the league. That’s what happens when you set up a murder for hire plot.
Carruth’s girlfriend, Cherica Adams, was eight months pregnant. All of the disgusting details are available online for those that want to find them, but here are the basics: Carruth used his car to block Adams’ car. While her car couldn’t get away, one of Carruth’s buddies drove by and fired several gun shots into her car, hitting her four times. Adams was killed but the baby survived, albeit with permanent brain damage. His son is now 16 years old and is in high school.
Carruth was later given a sentence of 18-24 years in prison for his role in the murder. Far too short a punishment in my opinion. While in prison he has worked as a barber and a janitor. Good for him. And can you believe that this dirtball is scheduled to be released in less than 2 years? And the driver in the incident has already been released.
One thing is clear, for the rest of time, whenever a list is made of NFL idiots, losers, scumbags, or whatever category that is chosen, Rae Carruth will be deserving of being at the top of that list.