Football is a violent game. Extremely large humans in near bodybuilder-type shape running into one another at full speed. When it is played correctly, it can be a beautiful thing to watch. When lines are crossed, it can get ugly fast. The majority of NFL players are professional and display fantastic sportsmanship. There are, of course, a few outliers. We ranked the Top 5 Most Hated Players in the NFL.
5. Odell Beckham Jr., Giants
I am personally a big fan of OBJ, but not everyone shares that enthusiasm. Like almost all players on this list, Beckham is beloved by his fanbase but disliked by a large number of players and fans. Once he rocketed to stardom with his now famous one-handed grab against the Cowboys on a Sunday night, his attitude and antics have been ramped up dramatically. Pair that with his constant complaining about calls he is not getting and showing up referees and opponents, he doesn’t exactly come off as warm and fuzzy.
The social media posts of his one-handed catches in practice and his Justin Timberlake backup dancer routines pre-game help to earn Beckham the number five slot on our list.
4. Travis Kelce, Chiefs
Kelce has made it clear that he is the NFL’s second-best tight end behind Rob Gronkowski. In fact, if you follow his social media accounts or listen to some of his quotes, he may be first in line to tell you exactly that. Kelce rarely shuts up while he is on the field, and it has cost him in the past. Some fans enjoy his on-field antics. Some enjoy his explanations for said antics after the fact. Most fans outside of the Kansas City area are not impressed. While he is extremely talented, Kelce is a loose cannon who requires constant supervision while he is on the field.
Despite Andy Reid playing the role of the angry father, Kelce has accrued just under $45k in fines since 2014. His financial reprimands are highlighted by an obscene gesture on national television and a postgame tirade of a referee where Kelce said the ref shouldn’t even be able to work at Foot Locker. For all of these reasons, Kelce lands at number four on our list.
3. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Now this one was almost too easy. Steelers players are fundamentally disliked by fans outside of Western Pennsylvania anyway, but Big Ben is clearly the poster child of the group. Now, winning a couple of Super Bowls as a young player at the most heralded position in sports can make you insanely popular, as it did initially for Roethlisberger. People loved the goofy persona and the storyline of a small-college quarterback with the hard-to-spell last name leading one of the NFL’s most storied franchises back to glory.
Unfortunately, Big Ben was hit with two separate rape allegations in 2008 and 2010. One was settled out of court and the other had charges dropped eventually. While he is an elite quarterback, these allegations are what most of us think about when we hear his name. By most accounts, he was a party-loving bachelor back then known for his partying lifestyle and love of the nightlife. I couldn’t leave a player with such serious accusations of a predatory and sexual nature on his record off of this list.
2. Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins
The wrecking ball that is Ndamukong Suh entered the NFL via Lincoln, Nebraska in 2010. Until he landed a multi-million dollar free-agent deal with the Miami Dolphins in 2015, Suh was fined almost half a million dollars by the league for personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Two suspensions and a bevy of notable dirty plays makes Suh a favorite of players and fans alike to boo relentlessly.
Since signing with Miami, his behavior has been better. His Detroit years come with a bit of baggage, including two instances of stepping on another player, a kick to the crotch, a throat slash gesture, an illegal block on Vikings’ center John Sullivan. This season Suh was flagged for grabbing Ravens backup quarterback Ryan Mallett by the throat. Again, here is a player with extreme talent and ability, but not the mental acuity or maturity to be a professional. Suh ranks number two on our list.
Number 1 Goes To…
1. Vontaze Burfict, Bengals
In the business, we call this selection a no-brainer. Vontaze Burfict has been hands-down the dirtiest and most unsafe player in the NFL, and it isn’t even close. Surrendering over $2 million in fines in less than 75 career games, Burfict earns the top spot on our list of the NFL’s most hated players.
Despite being an All-American in college, he was widely known for being dirty. He was getting into fights with his own teammates in practice regularly. Failing a drug test at his combine didn’t help appearances either.
He’s been fined and suspended multiple times, yet he continues to head-hunt opponents, aiming to injure them. I have said on many occasions, it is only a matter of time before Burfict seriously injures somebody.
Burfict is the one player on our list I can honestly say I wish was not in the league. I am not looking forward to the moment an ambulance takes an opponent he cheap shots to the hospital (again), and out of football forever. When he is on the field, opponents know they need to fear for their personal safety, and that is not okay. These reasons all make Burfict the most hated player in the NFL.