There are a million little rules that dictate how NFL players are supposed to behave. But if all the players in the league were actually to follow these rules, the NFL would be an immensely boring place.
Thankfully, the league features its fair share of divas and drama queens. While these personalities can come from anywhere, they typically play Quarterback, Wide Receiver or Defensive Back. Below, you can find a list of the biggest drama queens in the history of the NFL.
Tom Brady is the GOAT. He is the greatest Quarterback in NFL history and there is very little debate about that statement. The second the clock ticked zero during Super Bowl LIII, Brady had cemented his status as the greatest player of all time.
That’s not to say that the New England QB has gotten to this point without drama. Nearly every time he is hit or he throws an incomplete pass, Brady looks to the refs. Regardless of how long the play has been finished, Brady often gets his call.
One of the greatest athletes in NFL history, Deion Sanders had the choice to play either football or baseball professionally. He was so amazing at his job that Sanders decided to do both. He began his football career with the Falcons and his baseball career with the Yankees.
But Deion was never comfortable. He cut his baseball career short and stuck with football. He never quite decided on a team, though, bouncing from Atlanta to San Francisco to Dallas to Washington and then to Baltimore. The stud cover corner is also remembered for his unwillingness to tackle.
Coming out of Miami, Antonio Brown was destined to play football for Florida State. That did not come to pass, though, as the Wide Receiver did not qualify academically to play for the Seminoles. Instead, he played collegiately for Central Michigan.
Drafted with the 195th pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, his rise to stardom is admirable. His behavior, however, is not. Brown talked his way from the Steelers to the Raiders. He then worked his way from the Raiders to the Patriots with frozen feet (literally), helmet concerns and arguments with management. After two weeks in New England, the organization released the controversial player after more incriminating behavior surfaced.
Brent Grimes NFL career has been an exercise in perseverance. He didn’t play for an elite college program, matriculating at Shippensburg University. He went undrafted and became a star for the Hamburg Sea Devils of NFL Europa.
Once he got a shot in the NFL, Grimes never looked back, making four Pro Bowls. He has also been on a handful for the teams thanks in no small part to his wife Miko who consistently bashes the management of the teams Brent plays for.
The legendary 2004 NFL draft yielded three very likely Hall of Fame Quarterbacks. The Giants ended up with Eli Manning, the Chargers with Philip Rivers and the Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger. The Pittsburgh pick has arguably been the most successful of the 3.
Roethlisberger has largely avoided the issues that plagued the early part of his career. Some, though, still see him as dramatic. Ex-rival coach, Brian Billick said that while Big Ben is tough, he often hams up his injuries.
If you were in a bad spot, or in a street fight, or in a foxhole, you would want Steve Smith in your corner. The Wide Receiver from Utah may have only been 5-9 and 185 pounds, but he had the heart of a lion.
Everything, though, seemed to bother Smith and opponents took the opportunity to get inside his head. He now works as a commentator for the NFL Network and still lets his feelings fly freely.
Players certainly aren’t the only drama queens in the NFL. Coaches, General Managers, and even Owners can also face the same types of criticism. No Owner is more of a drama queen or makes the sport more about him than Cowboys CEO Jerry Jones.
Jones experienced immediate success in the league winning 3 Super Bowls in his first 7 years as the Cowboys owner. Today, no matter what happens in the NFL, Jones is an omnipresent force in the league and wields an enormous amount of power.
The NFL has, unfortunately, been a space where a player’s talent can supersede his often troublesome behavior. Richie Incognito’s career and the NFL’s unwillingness to step in has been an unfortunate example of this scenario.
Incognito is a terrific player, but his behavior has often been called into question. He was a prominent figure in the Jonathan Martin bullying scandal. He also said he wanted to cut his deceased Father’s head off for research purposes. Regardless, the Oakland Raiders signed him in the 2019 offseason after he took year off from the game.
Since he debuted in the NFL in 2008, Aqib Talib has blended elite talent with often troublesome behavior. The cornerback, who played his college ball at Kansas, is as well known for mixing it up with receivers as he is for locking them down.
Talib is, perhaps, best known for his frequent run-ins with wide receiver Michael Crabtree. The 5-time Pro-Bowler memorably snatched Crabtree’s gold chain off his neck during an altercation in 2015.
Terrell Owens was a near unstoppable force in the NFL. An unprecedented combination of size, speed, and talent, Owens terrorized any NFL defenders assigned to go up against him. His taste for drama, though, nearly superseded his talent.
Owens bounced around quite a bit for a player of his stature. He wore out his welcome in San Francisco, was booted out of Philadelphia despite making a Super Bowl and was then unable to get Dallas to the promised land. Owens was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame and refused to show up for the ceremony.
When you look at the most dramatic players in the NFL, they typically come from a handful of positions. You’re looking at mostly quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs. For this player to be a drama queen at defensive tackle is quite an accomplishment.
But Ndamukong Suh as always been larger than life. No one doubts the immense talent of the lineman, but his antics often overshadow his ability. Suh was well known in the last few years for intentionally stepping on his opponents.
Keyshawn Johnson was always made for the spotlight. The Wide Receiver grew up in Los Angeles, and stayed local, playing his college ball for the USC Trojans. He was drafted into another major market when the New York Jets selected him with the first pick in the 1996 draft.
Johnson had a very successful pro career, bouncing around from a number of teams. He even penned a book while playing for the Jets that got him traded to Tampa Bay. The biography was called Just Give Me The Damn Ball.
Despite the fact that his Vanderbilt team was overmatched almost every week against SEC competition, Jay Cutler caught the eye of NFL Scouts. The Denver Broncos took notice and selected him with the 11th pick of the 2006 draft.
Moody and temperamental, Cutler became a star in Denver, but also requested a trade and was dealt to Chicago. Cutler, while successful, never quite reached his immense ceiling, or learned how to smile. The Quarterback retired in 2018 after a miserable year with the Miami Dolphins.
As hard as it to believe now, in 1998, some teams preferred Washington State’s Ryan Leaf to Tennessee’s Peyton Manning. Talent-wise, there wasn’t much of a gap between the two. Temperament wise, though, they were a world apart.
Leaf and his cannon arm were drafted by the San Diego Chargers. Bedeviled by personal issues, the quarterback was never quite able to reach his potential and was out of the league by 2001. Leaf has largely been able to conquer his demons and now works as a college football analyst.
Randy Moss may very well be the most dominant Wide Receiver in the NFL. Not only did he have elite size at 6-4 and 210 pounds, but he was also blazing fast, registering a 4.38 forty yard dash at the 1998 NFL Combine.
Moss was a handful, though, and talked his way off the Minnesota Vikings and the Oakland Raiders. Somehow he ended up on the New England Patriots and threw down a legendary NFL season in 2007, scoring 23 touchdowns.
Brett Favre was a beloved fixture of the NFL during his 19-year playing career. He was also a bit of a drama queen. While he spent 15 years of his tenure starring for the Green Bay Packers, he ended his career in dramatic fashion.
The three-time MVP was traded to the New York Jets for the 2008 season. After discussing retirement, he played in 2009 and 2010 for Green Bay’s blood rival, the Minnesota Vikings. The first ballot Hall of Famer is now enjoying retirement in Mississippi.
Like some of the other players on this list, James Harrison came out of nowhere to become a superstar in the NFL. Undrafted out of Kent St. the Linebacker initially signed with the Steelers. After a stint in the World League, Harrison made it back to Pittsburgh and became a star.
The stardom came with qualifiers, though. According to former teammate James Farrior, Harrison was a knucklehead who not only didn’t know the play calls but would also ask the coaches to take him out of the game when he wasn’t playing well.
As a star safety for the Chargers and the Patriots, Rodney Harrison was well known for trash talking. The Defensive Back was also known for his ferocious hitting that many felt was dirty. Harrison’s NFL fines totaled over $200,000.
Harrison’s most famous dirty hit may have been a helmet to helmet shot on legend Jerry Rice which resulted in a 1 game suspension. Harrison parlayed his talking skills into a regular gig with Sunday Night Football.
It’s not that the NFL didn’t have personalities in the 1980s, it’s just that the Bears Jim McMahon was such an over the top personality that he really stood out during the decade.
Of course, the things that got McMahon in trouble during the ’80s would hardly stand out today. Things like wearing a headband after the NFL told him not to. But as the leader of a great Bears team, McMahon was always in the spotlight.
Richard Sherman was born in Compton, California and began his career as a Wide Receiver at Stanford. He eventually became a Cornerback, but was largely an afterthought in the NFL draft and was selected with the 154th pick in 2011.
Sherman was a revelation for the Seattle Seahawks and was arguably the most important member of the Legion of Boom. Enormously confident and always outspoken, Sherman now plies his trade for the San Francisco 49ers.