Simply put, the National Football League (NFL) is a violent, at-times dirty game. The dirtiest NFL players of all-time are many. Massive, heavily muscled men run into each other at full speed with little regard for their own personal safety. Although they’re paid handsomely for their efforts, they still don’t earn the cash that many other top-flight professional athletes do in other sports.
Regardless, the privilege of competing in the NFL is among the most coveted in professional sports nonetheless. When a football player gets to the top as well, it can be very, very difficult to stay there. While that has led to many a player falling out of the league due to underperformance, many other players have turned to the darker side of the game.
These players chose to walk a thin line between breaking the rules and outright disregarding them. Some were good players, some were great, and some were just dirty. Either way, they chose to throw away their respect for their opponents.
Check out the 26 dirtiest NFL players of all-time right here:
26. T.J. Ward – Browns, Broncos & Buccaneers:
Ward came out guns blazing in his rookie season and quickly earned a reputation as a dirty player by earning a $15,000 fine for a helmet-to-helmet hit. But it was his 2013 knee mugging of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski that sent his rep into infamy.
The hit tore Gronk’s ACL and forced him to miss the rest of the season. When Ward moved on to the Denver Broncos, he was a member of their vaunted “No Fly Zone” defense, where he was again feared for his lack of regard for opponents’ safety.