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.