Are you ready for some football? With the NFL season now in full swing, American football fans tune in every Sunday, Monday and Thursday to watch their favorite teams and players battle each other for the fight to the Super Bowl in 2016. From the Patriots and the Broncos to the 49ers and the Redskins, players around the country dedicate themselves to winning. After all, that’s what they get paid to do, isn’t it?
While only a small percentage of players earn bragging rights for winning a Super Bowl title, this incredible victory easily makes them idols in the eyes of their fans. What’s not to love about a bright, flashy Super Bowl ring? In fact, any big win makes it that much easier to love and support our favorite quarterbacks and linebackers, doesn’t it?
But, what about the players we love to hate? From flamboyant touchdown celebrations that lead to team penalties and fines to general bad attitudes and bad behavior off the field, it’s no surprise that there are villains among the many heroes in the world of the NFL. Today, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell just might be the most hated person in the league but what about the players? Here’s a list of the 10 most hated NFL players of all time. Will you agree with who made our list? Let’s take a look!
#10 – Tim Tebow
Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow gathered a lot of attention while he was playing college football at the University of Florida, especially after winning two national championships in 2006 and 2008. Easily a fan favorite among Florida Gators crowds, Tebow quickly managed to annoy the rest of the football world with his genuine Christian faith and positive outlook on life.
While his devout Christianity continued to annoy many, Tebow didn’t let that discourage him as he landed in the first round draft pick for the Denver Broncos in the 2010 NFL Draft. From the Broncos to the New York Jets and a brief stint with the New England Patriots, Tebow managed to consistently pull out wins at the last minute, giving the world yet another reason to dislike the lucky quarterback. Today, with all criticism set aside, Tebow is a free agent working as a broadcaster primarily on ESPN’s SEC Network with guest appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America.
#9 – Ray Lewis
Whether you love him or love to hate him, it’s undeniable that Ray Lewis is quite possibly one of the best linebackers of all time. Selected 26th overall by the Baltimore Ravens in 1996, the former University of Miami player spent his entire professional career in Baltimore, winning two Super Bowl titles for the franchise and forever establishing himself as one of the greats.
Despite being one of the most sought after players in the league, fans outside of Maryland love to hate Lewis, which is no surprise after he was indicted for murder in 2000. Many of his harshest critics believe that Lewis let two others take the fall for him so that he wouldn’t have to serve hard time. What makes the situation even worse is Lewis’ preachy attitude, ego and need to always be right. While we’ll never know Lewis’ true involvement in the murder, public opinion will never change when it comes to this cocky linebacker.
#8 – Ben Roethlisberger
Nicknamed “Big Ben” (with a bad attitude, no doubt) and hailing from Miami, Ohio, Ben Roethlisberger was drafted in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. By his second year as a Steeler, the 23 year old star became the youngest Super Bowl winning-quarterback in NFL history. With another Super Bowl win on the horizon and three Pro Bowl appearances, Steelers fans just might be Big Ben’s only fans.
Despite being an undeniable star on the field, Roethlisberger has shown the world his true colors off the field with a bad attitude and even worse judgment. When your own football organization avoids working with you, then you must know that something is up! On top of this, Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault on two different occasions, the first occurring in 2009 at a golf tournament and the second occurring in 2010 at a Georgia nightclub. Though Roethlisberger wasn’t convicted, his out of court settlements say otherwise and leave many to doubt his innocence.
#7 – Michael Vick
Who’s in the doghouse now? Drafted first overall in 2001 by the Atlanta Falcons, Michael Vick changed the dynamic of what it meant to be an NFL quarterback. Vick was one of the few quarterbacks in the league who had the ability to take off and run the ball for incredible yardage. Today, quarterbacks like Vick are becoming more and more popular especially with quarterbacks like Russell Wilson (Seahawks), Robert Griffin III (Redskins) and Colin Kaepernick (49ers) finally joining the fray.
Even though Vick’s skills as a quarterback were top notch in the NFL, it didn’t stop him from earning the evil eye from even his most dedicated fans. Sentenced to 18 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting, Vick was found, at the very least, partially responsible for the deaths and tragic mistreatment of dozens of dogs. As the media shared photos of Vick’s abused dogs, hatred for the once loved quarterback grew as fans protested outside of his games. Oddly enough, the hatred didn’t last as fans were quick to forgive when Vick replaced Ben Roethlisberger in 2015 after Big Ben’s injury.
#6 – Ndamukong Suh
See you later, Suh! Known as the best defensive player in the NFL, Ndamukong Suh was drafted second overall in 2010 by the Detroit Lions and quickly made himself known as a presence to be reckoned with both on and off the field. Despite playing defensive tackle, Suh somehow managed to work his way into quarterback until his contract with Detroit ended in 2014.
Stubborn and set in his ways, Suh refused to negotiate with Detroit and, instead, bolted to Miami where he signed a huge contract much to the dismay of his fans. With his on-field reputation as being one of the dirtiest players in the NFL, Suh is showing his Miami coaches that he has a mind of his own when he calls his own plays. From stomping, kicking, hitting and screaming his way to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, we are fairly certain Detroit is happy to be rid of their former quarterback nightmare!
#5 – Albert Haynesworth
Oh, so you’re dirty too? Before Ndamukong Suh, Albert Haynesworth proudly earned the titles as not only the best defensive tackle in the NFL but also as one of the dirtiest players in the league. What an accomplishment, right? Drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Tennessee Titans, the native Tennessean made sports headlines when he stepped on the head of Andre Gurode who wasn’t wearing his helmet at the time.
Despite his unsportsmanlike conduct, Haynesworth managed to sign the biggest contract in history for a defensive player with the Washington Redskins but even this career break wouldn’t change the rebel’s behavior. Showing up out of shape and unwilling to work, Haynesworth refused to put forth any effort on the team, which made it easy for fans to hate him. Surprisingly enough, he earned a few more chances with the Patriots and Buccaneers but proved he would never change, ultimately ending his professional football career.
#4 – Ray Rice
Who likes Rice? Standing at only 5’8” tall, Ray Rice was easy to root for as an underdog from Rutgers, a school hardly known for their football prowess. Drafted in the second round in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens, the star running back quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his skill and longtime dedication to Baltimore. But, as Rice soon found out, everything could change on a dime.
Now left with only memories of a promising career, Rice has his own actions to thank for his fall from grace. Caught on tape in an elevator as he punched his fiancé, who is now his wife, Rice has endlessly apologized to both the public and his wife for his actions. While his wife has made her forgiveness extremely public, Rice’s former fans haven’t been as quick to forgive and forget. With a suspension from the league and a decline in his performance, many feel that Rice was blacklisted by the NFL in an attempt to appeal more to women. Either way, this running back can’t seem to win either on or off the field.
#3 – Bill Romanowski
Hailing from Boston College in 1988, Bill Romanowski was drafted 80th overall by the San Francisco 49ers where he spent five years before trading to the Eagles, Broncos and then the Raiders where he ended his career. Throughout his playing days, Romanowski earned an infamous reputation as being one of the dirtiest players on the field. But, with four Super Bowl wins and two Pro Bowls, many found it hard to argue with his performance.
As with so many other players on our list, things for Romanowski ended up getting out of hand as his incredible skill and numerous big wins meant little in comparison to his dirty tactics on the field. In 1995, Romanowski was ejected from a game after he kicked Larry Centers in the head. From unsportsmanlike conduct to earning fines for helmet to helmet hits, Romanowski made a game of punching his own teammates and spitting in the face of other players. Players didn’t just hate playing against Romanowski, they also hated playing with him, obviously for good reason.
#2 – Tom Brady
Is there air in that football? Much like Ray Rice, there was a time when no one could say they disliked Tom Brady. In fact, even the thought alone seemed ridiculous. A sixth round draft pick out of Michigan, Brady was never expected to be a starter but earned his first major break when he replaced Drew Bledsoe after an injury and led the Patriots to a Super Bowl. Not bad right out of the gate, if you ask us!
With three more Super Bowl wins at New England, Brady’s career hasn’t gone quite the way he expected. No longer considered the underdog, Brady is now the A-list celebrity who not only makes millions for doing what he loves but is also married to a supermodel. So what’s the big deal? As the quarterback continues to deliver Super Bowls to a rowdy crowd, many have had a little too much of Brady after recent drama surrounding the “Deflategate” saga with underinflated footballs in the 2014 AFC Championship. Whether or not Brady knew about the footballs is still up for debate but many fans have already decided to hate him guilty or not.
#1 – Terrell Owens
Terrell who? No one quite knew who exactly Terrell Owens was in college when he played at the University of Chattanooga but, everything changed when he was drafted in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft. Playing behind Jerry Rice as a wide receiver with the San Francisco 49ers, Owens quickly developed a reputation for being a showboat and earned an even bigger reputation as a troublesome teammate thanks to his selfishness and arrogance.
With a capital “A” for attitude, Owens was polarizing at the worst of times and insulted many of his fans and even his opponents when he stood on the star of the Texas Stadium not once, but twice. Ironically enough, Owens eventually joined the Cowboys but an early release led him to play for the Buffalo Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals, both of which included ongoing fallouts and widespread disapproval. Despite ranking second all-time in receiving yards in NFL history, fans loved to hate everything about Owens from his cocky attitude to his flamboyant touchdown celebrations.