Football is easily the most popular sport in the United States. Every week, several million fans tune in and watch their favorite NFL franchises. However, the league also has a dark side that is often swept under the rug by the ultra-rich powers that be. It’s a sad reality that many slimy figures infest the game that so many people love.
So today we’ll look back at 25 times the NFL proved how slimy they are. From wild scandals to horrible decisions, all of these moments made fans and players cringe. They constantly prove how out of touch they are from reality and that money is by far the most important – and only – motivation. Check out the list below via Insider.
25. Robert Kraft’s Massage (2019)
Expensive lawyers are very often the difference between truth and injustice in society. In 2019, Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft went to an Asian massage parlor in Florida. Allegedly, he solicited sexual services for money, an illegal offense in the state. Two videos supported the claim as they allegedly showed the polarizing owner having a good time. But when they went to court, Kraft’s legal team successfully shut out the evidence.
They argued that Kraft and his fellow clients went to the parlor under the expectation of privacy (via CNBC). This tenuous point held up and Kraft walked away. However, the masseuses weren’t as lucky. They received fines ranging from 20 to 40 thousand dollars. It was clearly unfair because the rich, powerful men walked free. Nobody was that surprised in the end.
Concussion scandals have dogged the NFL over the years. They culminated in a massive lawsuit that ended in a massive $765 million payout to former players. However, the investigation rumbles on because the NFL showed gross negligence in caring for their players over the years. The slimy truth is that they don’t care about their athletes when they can’t contribute anymore.
“The NFL is doing more than fine,” former Broncos star John Moffit told Peter Schrager (via FOX Sports). “I think the concussion thing is such a joke. If you look at the settlement and how it worked, they’re going to make that money and how much more in interest over that 20-year payout.” The league brought in new policies to make the sport safer but only because they had no choice.
Unfortunately, bullying occurs in countless workplaces across the United States. This doesn’t mean it’s right of course. Some people question whether we should hold the NFL to the same standards. After all, the sport is about gigantic men assaulting each other to get a football from one side of a field to another. Surely that’s tougher than any emotional abuse? However, Richie Incognito’s harassment of Jonathan Martin changed the sport.
Martin alleged that Incognito verbally harassed him and effectively forced him off the team. He dreaded going to practice because of the treatment he received. In the end, this triggered the NFL into making changes. But they only did it because they had no choice. Before this, the league had the backward mentality of “boys will be boys.” Unfortunately, Martin endured a lot of trauma before this (via Fansided).
“Big Ben” has been one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL for several years. He’s also a very controversial figure. Roethlisberger faced multiple sexual assault allegations but wasn’t convicted. That doesn’t mean that he didn’t do anything because the first case settled out of court. Meanwhile, another fell apart in Georgia due to a perceived lack of evidence (via Sportscasting).
This makes Roethlisberger a divisive figure amongst the fanbase. Many are prepared to overlook his alleged discretions because he brought Super Bowl glory to the franchise. Others find it more difficult to root for a man who may have assaulted a woman in his hotel room and left her emotionally traumatized. However, the slimy NFL will have no problem putting him in the Hall of Fame one day.
Bill Belichick’s ruthless cheating is a hallmark of his Patriots tenure. But as the saying goes, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” While Belichick is remorseless in breaking rules, the NFL enables him. Actually, it’s possible that they even enjoy notoriety. In 2007, the Jets discovered that Belichick’s minions videotaped their practices. An immediate scandal erupted and the NFL intervened.
They fined the Patriots and stripped them of a first-round pick before hitting Belichick with a financial penalty. On the face of it, the sanctions were severe. But other teams accused Belichick and the Pats of doing the same to them. Meanwhile, their previous three Super Bowl wins were under suspicion. But the NFL in their slimy wisdom said there was nothing else to investigate and that was the end (via Lincoln Journal-Star).
The NFL is extremely slow to make positive changes. They had a DUI problem for years before they finally tried to do something significant about it. Of course, the league claimed that off-the-field issues didn’t have anything to do with them. But the reality was that they brought the league into disrepute. Nor have they disappeared with high-profile recent DUIs involving the likes of Richard Sherman and former Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid (via Al Jazeera).
These days, players receive an immediate suspension but arguably it’s not enough. Athletes and ordinary civilians have died as a result of their arrogance. But the NFL is always too weak in their responses. It takes something dramatic to happen and force them to do something because they never seize the initiative. But that’s overall indicative of the NFL as an entity.
One of the NFL’s most celebrated quarterbacks, Favre had a decade of top-level success with the Packers. However, the former signal-caller is also a shady individual and has been in some slimy situations. First, there was his sexting scandal. But another story broke in 2021 about Favre receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars for speaking appearances. Yet he never actually went to any of the events.
A state audit discovered this and recovered one million dollars from Favre. However, he didn’t receive a criminal conviction. Furthermore, there was a scandal earlier in the year when the state used welfare money to build a new volleyball stadium. The University of Southern Mississippi benefited from the new facilities. Guess whose daughter was an active volley player at the school (via USA Today)? That’s right, Brett Favre.
Watson is a multiple-time Pro Bowler and one of the truly elite quarterbacks in the NFL. So it should come as no surprise that most teams in the league would love him on their roster. But that was before over 20 women accused him of sexual harassment and/or assault. Allegedly, Watson forced multiple masseuses to go beyond their comfort zone on numerous occasions.
The news broke as Watson tried to force an exit out of Houston. However, this didn’t prevent other teams from taking an interest in him. Even though Watson was potentially facing jail time, the likes of the Miami Dolphins considered him a genuine option (via NBC Sports). In the end, all these teams cared about were the results on the field. The pursuit of justice didn’t even come into the equation.
One of the NFL’s biggest shortcomings is that they seem like they don’t care about their players. They want to save as many dollars as they can so they cut corners. Former Broncos star John Moffit revealed that they don’t look after minor injuries properly. He believes that this contributes to a lot of retirements. In sum, the men in suits take advantage of the athletes who sacrifice their bodies.
Moffit told Peter Schrager (via Fox Sports) that the NFL is a slimy business.“Let’s be honest, let’s look at Corporate America and what they try to instill in people like it’s such a big deal because I leave the NFL. That’s how brainwashed people are with money and a false sense of security, but not only is the NFL dirty corporate America business, but now you’re risking people’s health.”
Many fans still believe that Vick’s return to the NFL was a travesty. He served time in prison after an earth-shattering investigation into his dog-fighting ring. Fox TV personality Tucker Carlson even described Vick as a ‘dog serial killer’ and wished for his execution (via Politico). The Falcons cut ties with their former superstar but the rest of the NFL kept an eye on his condition.
Finally, he finished his time in jail and signed for the Philadelphia Eagles. Some supporters believe that his punishment was fair and it was time to move on. But others think that nobody should step back into the mainstream after such barbaric cruelty. After all, Vick made millions of dollars from his return to the NFL. At the end of the day, it’s the results and money that talk.
Bruce Allen pops up multiple times on this list because of Washington’s extraordinary antics over the years. One of the most intriguing and slimy involved Pash. He’s not the biggest name in the NFL but he fills a massive role as the organization’s General Counsel. This essentially puts him in control of the NFL’s legal affairs and all of the governing bodies’ attornies.
However, he raised eyebrows when the news broke that he helped Allen out on numerous occasions. He rescinded a $15,000 fine after Mike Shanahan doctored an injury (via Yahoo Sports). There were also communications about roster spending limits as well as the news that Allen gave Pash a Hooters’ VIP card. All-in-all, it was extremely creepy and clearly corrupt, but that sums up the NFL.
This strange situation went down after Pryor declared for the NFL draft. However, a cloud hung over the young QB. The NCAA suspended him for five games after he sold memorabilia. Roger Goodell, in his infinite wisdom, made an unprecedented move. He announced that the NFL would uphold Pryor’s five-game suspension. As a result, he’d miss almost a quarter of his rookie season.
It was unfair because the two organizations aren’t connected. Meanwhile, the NFL handed Brandon Marshall a one-game suspension even though he committed a legal crime (via Bleacher Report). In short, Goodell wanted to make an example out of Pryor because he likes to pretend he knows what he is doing. But over the years, fans saw how inept the NFL commissioner is and how slimy his decisions are.
This isolated incident allegedly occurred during the botched Ray Rice investigation. It’s truly bizarre because it portrays NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as a slimy sociopath. But that couldn’t be true, right? The story goes that Goodell’s investigation team ordered pizzas because they were working late into the night. However, nobody dared to touch a slice before the Big Boss himself.
Apparently, Goodell freaked out before because something had the disrespect to take the first slice. Things get weirder because this time he didn’t touch the pizza at all. This meant that it was cold by the time anybody decided to just go for it (via SB Nation). Multiple reports say the Commissioner is a nightmare to work for and has a bit of a superiority complex.
The NFL has a horrendous record when it comes to domestic violence. We’ll talk about Ray Rice later, but even beyond him, there have been many cases. Nobody can blame Roger Goodell because Greg Hardy beat his partner. But they can definitely criticize the way the league and teams have handled cases throughout history. It’s only in recent years that they’ve really clamped down.
But when Antonio Brown can revive his career it’s clear that there’s a problem. The league constantly hands out short suspensions while teams rarely inflict serious punishments on their players. Many women have experienced violence at the hands of NFL athletes but these men often step back into the mainstream again. It’s a travesty and indicative of the NFL’s slimy culture (via USA Today).
Kaepernick became one of the most visible figures in the NFL after he started kneeling during the National Anthem. The Super Bowl quarterback rocked the boat significantly in San Francisco. After he lost his place as a starter, he found himself out the door when his contract ended. However, no team picked him up. The reasons behind this are the subject of intense debate because of the potentially slimy implications.
Most people expected at least one team to show interest in Kaepernick. After all, he was at least a decent backup with big-game experience. In the end, nobody took a gamble on him. The Seahawks, one of the NFL’s most tolerant teams, canceled a workout with him (via Sports Illustrated). None of the franchises wanted to break the mold or give him a platform.
Washington’s controversial name hung over them like a shadow in the face of cancel culture. However, many fans felt that it was time to put the ‘Redskins’ in the past. Furthermore, Native American support groups constantly called for it to be confined to history. But Dan Snyder refused to listen. The Washington owner stuck to his guns and resisted change until he couldn’t.
Snyder didn’t have an emotional change of heart. No, he decided to remove the nickname because sponsors and endorsement partners threatened to pull out. All Snyder cared about was the bottom line. Finally, the Redskins became the Washington Football Team. It was a stark change but a necessary one. Too bad that the slimy Snyder didn’t think so (via NBC Sports).
DeBartolo’s football scandal was one of the most dramatic involving an owner ever. In fairness, it wasn’t related to anything on the field. But the former San Francisco owner brought the sport into disrepute just by revealing his slimy character. He wanted a riverboat license so that he could run a casino in Louisiana but it didn’t come easily. Ex-Governor Edwin Edwards extorted $400 million from him.
The NFL owner paid Edwards in crisp $100 bills. However, an FBI investigation revealed his shady dealings and they all had their day in court. Finally, DeBartolo received two years of probation and a million-dollar fine (via SFGate). It also effectively ended his hopes of taking back the reigns at Candlestick Park. Everybody knows these owners simply can’t be trusted.
One of the reasons why Roger Goodell has reigned for so long as NFL Commissioner is because he does what the owners want. This slimy relationship is at a detriment to the players but of course, the executives don’t care about this. All they want is to make as much money off of each other as possible. Goodell’s role, in the owners’ eyes, is to keep this running as smoothly as possible.
Goodell takes the blame when things aren’t going well but the scandals are good for business. Most of them occur during the offseason so it keeps the NFL on fans’ lips (via Sports Illustrated). Only time will tell if the players can push for a change but right now the status-quo looks set to continue. It’s a cozy relationship that’s earning billions of dollars for everybody involved.
Rice was one of the Ravens’ biggest superstars before he destroyed his own reputation in an instant. Two videos emerged of the Baltimore RB engaged in violence against his wife. In the first, he knocked her unconscious with a punch. Then, the second clip showed him dragging her body out of an elevator. Most decent human begins agreed that this was horrific behavior and that the NFL needed to take a stand.
But they only suspended him for two games. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell even denied that he had access to the brutal video. His slimy, mealy-mouthed response created a media frenzy. Finally, the NFL VP of Football Operations went before a congressional panel and admitted that they made a massive mistake (via CNN). It was a totally unnecessary storm but they brought it on themselves.
NFL franchise owners are notorious for being slimy crybabies with a vindictive streak. Robert Irsay brought this to the next level when he literally uprooted his franchise in the middle of the night. Baltimore woke up the next day and discovered they no longer had a franchise. Suddenly the Colts were an Indianapolis franchise. It was a shambles because it tore the identity out of a community (via USA Today).
A host of moving trucks set off in different directions because Irsay believed the Maryland police would intercept them. The local government had a plan to take over the team so it was important to cross state lines before they knew what had happened. Unfortunately, for Baltimore, he was successful. They didn’t have a new franchise until the Ravens debuted in 1995.
This was one of the biggest scandals to hit the NFL. Gregg Williams was the mastermind behind this dastardly plan to inflict pain upon the opposition. The Saints coordinator created a scheme where players received bounties for hits that put targets out of the game. Football is already a very dangerous sport so this was extremely slimy and against the spirit of the game.
Williams and his head coach Sean Payton both received one-year suspensions from football. However, the latter retained his job in New Orleans. Allegedly, this wasn’t even the first time that Williams brought in a bounty system. Washington and Jacksonville players reported that he did the same thing at their franchises too. Williams was sorry but only because he was caught (via FOX Sports).
Multiple NFL coaches have allegedly cheated on their spouses and significant others. While this isn’t indicative of the league as an entity, it does reflect the slimy nature of many leading figures. Bill Belichick infamously split from his wife after a long-running affair with his mistress. Meanwhile, Sean Peyton left New Orleans for a year during his suspension to try and rebuild his marriage.
In 2021, Urban Meyer got up close and personal with a young woman in a bar. The worst aspect of all of this is that the women come off much worse from their encounters. USA Today reported that the woman who danced with Meyer faced a workplace investigation over how her behavior affected the company. This was totally unfair because Meyer didn’t face any consequences.
The fact that the Jaguars thought it was a good idea to hire Meyer was ludicrous. The controversial college coach took a hiatus from football after multiple scandals and health scares. He immediately brought attention to the Jacksonville job but not for positive reasons. Firstly, he hired former Iowa strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle (via ESPN). The Hawkeyes fired him after he used racist language.
In the end, Doyle lasted for just a day in the job before the media storm made his position untenable. Then, there was the wacky effort to bring back Tim Tebow. But it all came to head when footage emerged of Meyer dancing in a bar with a woman half his age. The slimy video rubbed salt into the wounds of Jaguars fans after multiple losses that season. Meyer lowers the tone no matter where he goes.
Cheerleaders play a traditional role in football but they have become increasingly controversial over the years. In 2014, there was criticism when the NFL brought in in-seat cheerleader visits. Atlanta Chief Marketing Officer Jim Smith described it as a chance to purchase ‘experiences’ (via CBS Sports). It was an unfortunate use of language but this only touches the tip of the iceberg.
Then there were scandals at various franchises. Angelina Rosa described how her Texans coach forcibly duct-taped her because she was skinny-fat. Several Saints cheerleaders also sued over workplace harassment. However, the worst came in Washington where coaches distributed inappropriate photos of the women in emails. The future of the profession is at stake and it’s not even the cheerleaders’ fault.
The Washington Football Team brings slimy to the next level. Over a dozen women accused the organization of sexual harassment. Owner Dan Snyder found himself in the middle of the scandal after it took fire. In the end, the NFL fined the organization $10 million. However, they refused to release any of the thousands of emails they examined over the course of the investigation.
Also, Washington allegedly tried to pay the women ‘hush’ money in a bid to make them go away. But they refused to back down. There were also multiple accusations of bullying after Snyder allegedly sneered at a colleague for having been a male cheerleader (via Sportsnaut). However, that was only the tip of the iceberg. It looks like things are getting worse for the franchise.
Former Raiders head coach Gruden rocked the NFL when his incredible emails emerged. The league investigated WFT President Bruce Allen but uncovered Gruden’s slimy communications. He used racist, homophobic, and sexist slurs throughout his exchanges with various notable football personalities. As a result, Gruden opted to resign from his role with the Raiders (via Sporting News).
It was incredible because Raiders star Carl Nassib became the first active NFL player to come out a few months before. Meanwhile, Gruden also exchanged photos of scantily-clad women with Allen. Furthermore, the racist language was even more shocking because of the tense atmosphere in the United States. It was a ludicrous one but not all that surprising.