The NFL is America’s most popular sports league. American fans like the violence whether we like to admit it or not and the dazzling plays pulled off are only an added bonus. With that being said, that puts the NFL under the microscope. Meaning anything shady that happens is seen by everyone.
Throughout the history of the NFL, shady and scandalous acts have taken place numerous times. Remember Mike Vick and the dogs? How about Ray Rice and the elevator incident? Those are only a couple cases that caused huge outrage across the sports world and beyond. Read through this list of biggest NFL scandals and see if you recall all of them.
Jameis Winston and his Crab Legs
This incident happened while the Tampa Bay quarterback was still in college, but it followed him all the way up to draft day. The star at a leading college football sports program got into some trouble at a grocery store. Jameis Winston was attending Florida State University when this happened and it flooded the airwaves for several weeks.
What he did was questionable and still is to this day. There was footage of Winston leaving his local supermarket taking crab legs without having paid for them. Why would a future top draft pick steal crab legs? He later explained that he had a deal with the employee at the store. Do you believe him?
Aaron Hernandez Charged
Aaron Hernandez was a part of the New England Patriots when this scandal went down. At first, he was charged with first-degree murder of Odin Lloyd who was discovered not too far from Hernandez’s luxurious home in Massachusetts. The initial charge happened back in 2013 and that trial lasted all the way up to 2015. In the meantime (2014), he was also indicted for the double murder of two others.
Hernandez had just signed a new deal worth $40 million right before the allegations hit him. Since the Patriots work hard to keep a clean image, moments after Hernandez was charged they released him from the team. In 2015 it was announced that Hernandez was found guilty in the Lloyd case, and sentenced to life. As we’ll see later, the outcome of the double murder charge was very different.
Told you they would be back. The Patriots sneak back on the list with a third scandal. Granted one of them was not all their fault but still, it counts. Here is the most recent scandal involving one of the most winningest franchises in the game. Deflategate was a huge issue and Tom Brady got the brunt of the consequences.
Allegedly, Brady was not aware that the balls were deflated during a big playoff game against the Colts. He refused to admit to anything and even destroyed his phone that could have contained evidence. He was suspended for four games of the 2016 season as a result.
Greg Hardy’s Ex Girlfriend
Greg Hardy was a member of the Carolina Panthers when he was found guilty of assaulting a woman and communicating threats in 2014. The woman was his girlfriend at the time and Hardy had told the judge that he was the one abused before he asked her to leave his home.
The judge did not believe that. “He looked me in my eyes and he told me he was going to kill me,” said the accuser, a 24-year-old cocktail waitress in downtown Charlotte. “I was so scared I wanted to die. When he loosened his grip slightly, I said just, `Do it. Kill me.”
Ray Rice Strikes in the Elevator
Ray Rice was caught on film striking his then-fiance, Janay Rice in an elevator back in 2014. The Baltimore Raven was accompanied by Janay while the two were in Atlantic City having fun and drinking tons. The NFL did not know how to handle the fiasco until the footage was released for public eyes at which point Ray was suspended indefinitely.
Ray hit her so hard she was knocked unconscious. “He said he was just terrified,” Janay Rice told the “Today” show in an interview. “He was in such shock that this just happened, he didn’t know how to function.”
Stand For Something Or Fall For Anything
One of the biggest topics for the 2017-18 NFL season had to deal with former 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. If you haven’t been following, he chose to kneel during the National Anthem in response to an unjust law system in America. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview.
“There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” As a result, lawyers sought to depose NFL owners for collusion due to Kaepernick not being signed on a team after he was cut for his actions. Many players including MVP’s Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton believe that he should be on a team and that he is better than many other quarterbacks that are active right now.
Big Ben’s Troubles
The Pittsburgh Steelers franchise quarterback got caught up twice in one year for the same thing. In 2010, Ben was accused of sexual assault in March by a 20-year old college student. These charges come months after a woman said Ben assaulted her at a hotel in Lake Tahoe.
Ben claimed counter-damages in the lawsuit and strongly denied both of them at the time. Still, for two allegations to pop up so close to each other is quite eerie for anybody even if they are not true. Ben was suspended four games that season and his team ended up making it to the Super Bowl.
O.J. Not Guilty
This is one of the biggest scandals in history, not just NFL related. An award-winning television short was inspired off of it and people still talk about the trial today. Everything that was presented in the O.J. Simpson case made it a hard pill to swallow when the verdict came out that O.J. Simpson was not guilty.
The trial took a long eight months and there were moments that had people convinced Simpson murdered his wife. One thing that went his way was that the bloodied glove did not fit Simpson when he went to put it on. They were too small and that was crucial for the case.
Rae Carruth and the setup
The wide receiver had lots of potential but it was never met due to his prison sentencing. Rae Carruth must of had it out for his pregnant girlfriend to be found guilty of this. In 2001, Carruth was sentenced to 17 years in prison for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.
Just what on earth did his girlfriend do to him for that to even be conspired? Apparently, he had arranged it so that she would be murdered in a drive-by shooting. She was not the only target as it was revealed that his unborn child was also a target.
The Saints Bountygate
This scandal was a shock to Saints fans everywhere and angered fans who had to match up with the Saints. Basically what was going on was that Saints officials were paying out extra to their defensive players if they were to conflict injury to opposing team’s players. How cruel is that?
Imagine your favorite player is going up against the Saints when this was going down and he ended up getting injured. The commissioner found out and gave extremely harsh penalties but they were well deserved. The head coach and defensive coordinator were suspended for one year without pay and the general manager was also suspended for the first eight games.
Patriots and Spygate
One of the more popular NFL scandals again involved the New England Patriots, and this isn’t the last on the list. The reports of the Patriots having recorded the St. Louis Rams’ practice were made one day prior to the Pats losing Super Bowl XLII. The claims came from a former employee who may have been bitter after being fired, albeit he was the former video assistant for the Patriots.
Head coach Belichick said he had never seen any practice tape but commissioner Goodell was not believing it. Goodell fined the Patriots organization $250,000 big ones and hit Belichick with $500,000! Remember, always say no to cheating.
Paul Hornung and Alex Karras’ unruly betting
Starting once you get to the college level playing sports, it is prohibited to make bets on any sports especially the sport you participate in. Professionals betting on outcomes in sports can lead one to assume that the outcome may be swayed depending on the bet. Well, Paul Hornung and Alex Karras broke the rule and used to bet on NFL games.
Both were big time players, Hornung, more so than Karras but once they admitted to betting they were both suspended for one year. This happened way back in 1963 and Hornung ended up making the Hall of Fame in 1986.
Adrian Peterson Controversy
This scandal was in a way polarizing, to say the least. At the time, Adrian Peterson was surely ranked in the top three of the best running backs in the NFL before his career took a plunge. Peterson was hit with child abuse charges in 2014 after the way he chose to discipline his son.
Peterson defended himself by claiming he was only disciplining his son the way he was disciplined when he was a child. “I never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son,” Peterson said via Twitter. He used a switch to spank his son.
Minnesota’s Love Boat
In 2005 a party like no other was held on a boat by some of the star players from the Minnesota Vikings. 17 players rented out two houseboats and from there, mayhem took place. Prostitutes were flown in from Florida and Georgia as part of the entertainment aboard these houseboats.
There were 90 people on board who got to witness the sexual acts that were taking place. Once footage of the party was released, Fred Smoot, Moe Williams, Bryant Mckinnie and Daunte Culpepper were charged with indecent conduct. A few of them were fined but none of them were suspended for this.
The Washington Who?
Does the name of the Washington Redskins seem a little offensive to anyone? The controversy has been going on for years now but most recently picked up more steam. And isn’t it more a slap in the face that this team would happen to be located in the nation’s capital?
Redskins is not a good term and is more so racist. It would be like calling a team the Boston “N” words. The owner of the team has not been trying to change the name and he is taking a lot of backlash because of it.
Eddie DeBartolo Jr
All the San Francisco 49er fans have a special love for this man. Eddie DeBartolo Jr. was the owner of the 49ers when they were winning and he was a big part of that success because he brought Super Bowls to the Bay Area. Things were great until his career took a big hit.
Eddie DeBartolo Jr was convicted of not reporting extortion in relation to a Louisiana casino. Because he failed to report it, that cost him one million dollars and a year suspension. Tons of bad publicity accumulated and he was forced to hand the 49ers over to his sister.
Mike Vick and the dogs
In 2007, Mike Vick was at what seemed to be the prime of his game while he was playing for the Atlanta Falcons. His athleticism made him appear to be basically a video game character come to life. That same year, however, he found himself in some serious trouble. He pled guilty to dog fighting and his career went south.
53 pit bulls were found with signs of injury as they were rescued from Vick’s home and 12 dead ones were found as well. Vick’s life went downhill and so did his play. He worked hard to regain a solid image but he never did reclaim his greatness on the field when he came back to the NFL.
Ray Lewis is one of the greatest and most physical linebackers of all time. In 2000, he was involved in a fight where two men were stabbed to death. Lewis plead guilty to obstruction of justice but the murders are still unsolved. Because he could be seen as an instigator of the fight that led to the death, much harsher penalties could have been handed to him.
He was fined $250,000 but was not suspended. This gave his name a huge scarlet letter as he could have been a legend without something negative attached to his name but unfortunately, that is not how it played out for him.
Brett Farve gets personal
Brett Farve, the Hall of Famer, was known to come out of retirement and play again several times. The time he chose to come back and play for New York Jets, he should have reconsidered. While he was a Jet, Farve was caught sending pictures of his junk and leaving voicemails to Jenn Sterger who was a media representative for the Jets.
He may have admitted to the voicemails but denied any types of pictures being sent. Farve was fined $50,000 for not cooperating with the NFL’s investigation. Leaves you to believe that maybe he did send some inappropriate pictures.
Now that is Scandalous
Sure, everyone is not perfect and we make mistakes but you have to be aware of the environment you are in when you make those mistakes. Being attached to the NFL only increases your chances for your mistakes to be seen and taken to a whole new level. The players, owners, and coaches found that out the hard way.
Hopefully, players will become wiser about their choices in the future as they have the chance to learn from those who have come before them. Some people may not even view a few of these as scandals because of the subject matter, but once again because it is the NFL, it got blown out of proportion.
Aaron Hernandez Suicide
On April 19, 2017, 27-year-old former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez committed suicide in his prison cell. Days earlier, he had been acquitted of the double murder Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, but he was still serving a life sentence for the 2013 killing of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd.
Correctional officers discovered Hernandez hanging from a bed sheet in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts. Although he was transported to the hospital, he was pronounced dead at 4:07 am. The Washington Post tweeted “Aaron Hernandez, a tragedy of wasted talent” upon learning the news. Before killing himself, Hernandez wrote “John 3:16” on his forehead and the walls in red ink. A Bible was also left open to that verse: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”