A veteran defensive coach, Cullen made waves for the wrong reasons in 2006 after a drunk-driving incident. But this wasn’t an ordinary arrest. He drove to Wendy’s for a late-night burger. But the problem was that he was stark naked. The restaurant employees called the police to the scene and they took him into custody. Then, a week later, law enforcement picked him up again after he failed an alcohol test (via Sportscasting).
Cullen received counseling after these incidents and turned his life around. It was crucial because this wasn’t the first time he had trouble with the law. Ole Miss suspended him in 2005 after a public drunkenness arrest at a Subway in Jackson. In 2021, he joined Urban Meyer’s dysfunctional project in Jacksonville. Hopefully, Meyer’s pernicious influence doesn’t have a sordid effect on Cullen.
Belichick is the most successful coach in NFL history but he’s far from an angel. The long-serving Patriots icon is one of the most notorious cheaters in the game because he will do anything to win. ‘Spygate’ was the most sordid of his scandals. According to ESPN, the Patriots videotaped opposition coaches on at least 40 different occasions between 2000 and 2007. The NFL hit him with a record $500,000 fine (via NBC Sports).
This came after the New York Jets discovered that the Patriots were stealing signs and refused to let it go away. However, the bellicose Belichick wears his reputation with pride. It wasn’t even the first time he allegedly cheated because the Eagles accused him of stealing their playbook a couple of seasons earlier. Nor was it the last, as the scandals continued to emerge.
Unfortunately, even good stories in the NFL can turn bad. Brownson broke out as one of the first high-profile female coaches in the league. After impressing at Dartmouth, the Bills took her on as an intern. Then, the Cleveland Browns made her the franchise’s Chief of Staff, an extraordinary position in a male-dominated sport. But the 31-year-old made headlines for the wrong reasons in 2021 (via Yahoo Sports).
Police arrested Brownson after she drove 55 mph in a 35 mph zone while she was two times over the blood alcohol content limit. It was disappointing from the first female positional coach in NFL history. The Browns suspended her indefinitely after the incident. However, Head Coach Kevin Stefanski said that her job wasn’t in danger. It was a humiliating sequence of events for the former D.C. Divas’ athlete.
Payton received a one-year suspension in 2012 as a result of the “BountyGate” scandal. But that’s not the reason why he’s on this list. He took his family from New Orleans to Fort Worth, Texas for the football year. The official reason was that he wanted to put his children in an elite private school. However, there was a more sordid influence behind Payton’s decision to leave “The Big Easy” for a few months.
The Saints coach cheated on his wife and college sweetheart, Beth Payton (via Bleacher Report). She allegedly demanded that they leave town and try to patch up their relationship with a change of scenery. But it didn’t work because they divorced a year later. In the end, Payton returned to Louisiana after his suspension ended. Then he became involved with Skylene Montgomery, a former Miss West Virginia.
Petrino infamously ditched the failing Atlanta Falcons for Arkansas during one of the toughest seasons in franchise history. After Michael Vick’s arrest, the team’s results spiraled out of control. However, nobody pointed a finger at Petrino because of the circumstances. Despite links to the Razorbacks, Petrino was adamant that he’d stay. Then, he left without saying goodbye to his players.
Infamously, he hired his secret mistress as the Development Coordinator of Football (via CBS Sports). It was a fancy title but it was mostly a sordid way for him to keep her close to her. But it ended badly after a motorcycle accident. The Razorbacks fired him because he violated their hiring policies and brought the school into disrepute. Maybe he should have stayed in Georgia.
One of the craziest stories on this list came in 2015 when Kromer was the Bills’ offensive line coach. The news broke that Kromer allegedly assaulted a group of minors on a beach in Walton County, Florida. NBC Sports reported that Kromer became angry after the three boys stole his beach deckchairs. Then, Kromer responded angrily. He allegedly punched one boy in the face and pushed the others to the ground.
Supposedly, Kramer threatened to kill their families. It’s not professional for an NFL coach to attack youths, even if they did take his chairs. The Bills suspended him for six games because it was a bad look for the franchise. However, the court dropped the charges in the end so he walked away scot-free. It was a strange and sordid story but an entertaining one.
‘BountyGate’ remains one of the most infamous sports scandals ever. It’s insane that Williams thought that he would get away with it, but luckily the NFL caught wind of his sordid practices. The former Saints’ defensive coordinator set up a system where players received bonuses for injuring opposition players. It was like something out of a supervillain’s playbook, but real life.
“It was a terrible mistake, and we knew it was wrong while we were doing it,” Williams told the media (via CBS Sports). “Instead of getting caught up in it, I should have stopped it. I take full responsibility for my role.” We’re not sure if ‘mistake’ is the right word because he reportedly had similar systems at his previous franchises. In short, he wasn’t sorry for what he did, but rather because the world found out.
If Meyer’s Jaguars were playing well, this story wouldn’t have received so much heat. But his team was a disaster and underperforming. Then, video footage emerged of Meyer in a bar while a younger woman gyrated against him on the dance floor. It was inappropriate and humiliating because Meyer is a married man. Jacksonville owner Shahid Khan said that the coach had to work to regain his trust.
Meyer revealed his remorse. “I just apologized to the team and the staff for being a distraction,” he told assembled media (via Sportskeeda). It was stupid. I explained everything that happened and owned it, and, you know, just stupid, should not have had myself in that kind of position.” Meanwhile, the young woman in the incident accused him of ruining her life. Another day in Meyer’s sordid life.
Gruden’s sordid scandal stunned the NFL after his emails became public. He used homophobic, racist, and misogynistic language as he abused several players and NFL personalities. Also, he shared several pictures of women in bikini bottoms. In one email, he chastised the league for drafting gay players after the Rams selected Michael Sam. Meanwhile, the Raiders’ Carl Nassib became the first star to come out as an active player (via The Guardian).
He also referred to the appearance of black players in a derogatory manner. Furthermore, he called NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell a homophobic slur. Finally, after the story heated up, Gruden recognized that his race was over. He resigned because he betrayed his players and they knew it. This episode threatened to open another can of worms because he wasn’t the only coach to act this way.