The inflated ego is an inescapable reality of the modern sports landscape. That unfortunate truth rings loud and clear in the NFL.
Every team has at least one player with a noteworthy ego—someone who often shows more with his words and off-field transgressions than his actual on-field performance.
When you pout on the sidelines with a towel over your head (yes, I'm talking about Cam Newton), your ego gets noticed.
And when you wear merchandise branded after a fictional university you claim to have attended, it is hard to avoid ego inflation.
So, let's find out who has the biggest ego on each NFL franchise.
Darnell Dockett has never been afraid to enter verbal exchanges with the opposition. He famously defended Adrian Wilson in a Twitter war with Vernon Davis back in 2010 and showed a fierce hatred for the San Francisco 49ers organization as a whole.
He is one of few players on the Arizona Cardinals with any sort of ego whatsoever, but his ego stems more from a sense of determination and pride than anything else.
Sure, his skills are declining and Dockett is not the player he once was, but his ego still makes him stand out on the Cardinals defense.
Dunta Robinson has always been an overrated player, and that has translated into an overblown ego.
Robinson has never made a Pro Bowl, and he has recorded no more than two interceptions in a season since his rookie year.
He's received multiple fines for hits to Philadelphia Eagles players and until this year had failed to show any hope of living up to the six-year, $25.5 million contract the Atlanta Falcons awarded him two years ago.
In 2012, he is at least showing signs of life, but not before coasting by on talent for the past seven seasons.
When Terrell Suggs takes the field, he does not do so as simply himself; he does so as "Sizzle" from "Ball So Hard University."
This kind of thing cannot be made up.
Suggs is currently recovering from a torn Achilles injury, but when he returns to the Baltimore Ravens, he will undoubtedly bring his massive ego with him.
When Stevie Johnson dropped a would-be game-winning touchdown pass in a 2010 contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he said the following (h/t Pro Football Talk):
“I praise you 24/7!!!!!! And this how you do me!!!!! You expect me to learn from this??? How???!!! I’ll never forget this!! Ever!!!”
Anyone who openly questions God on Twitter after a game is clearly battling some ego issues.
He later disputed that he was blaming God for his drop, but the damage was done.
Nicknames of Cam Newton:
- "Ace Boogie"
- "Killa Cam"
Any player with more than one nickname for himself can be considered to possess a huge ego. Carolina Panthers QB Newton take it one step further—he pleads with fans to vote for him in a "Madden NFL Cover Vote." He puffs out his chest after touchdowns while losing blowout games, and he sits on the bench with a towel over his face when things don't go his way.
Newton is talented to be certain, but he already has one of the biggest egos in the NFL.
Jay Cutler has a reputation around the league of being a sort of whiner, but beyond that, he has also made some rather outlandish statements.
Cutler has belittled his offensive lineman on national television, compared himself (via AOL Sporting News) to John Elway, and faced a hurricane of controversy after missing the second half of the NFC Championship Game in 2011 with what appeared to be just a mild knee injury from many outsiders' perspective.
As long as Cutler brings home victories, Bears fans can likely put up with his antics, but they sure are adding up.
Where does one start with Adam "Pacman" Jones?
Since being drafted as a first-round pick by the Tennessee Titans in 2005, Jones has had all sorts of troubles off the field, including seven arrests and over a dozen altercations that involved the police.
Jones has been suspended for an entire season (2007) and has found himself in multiple alcohol-related issues.
Wherever he goes, be it Tennessee, Dallas or Cincinnati, Jones brings with him a mindset that says he is above the law. That, specifically, has prevented him from living up to the tremendous amount of talent and potential.
It is hard for anybody on a winless NFL team to possess much of an ego, but Cleveland Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden says he needs to work on his.
Weeden said the following after Week 5, per the Washington Post: “It’s an ego thing,” he said. “I just need to get rid of the ego and take what they give me and move on and not be as stubborn. Just throw the football away and move on.”
The quote is in reference to needing to make smarter throws, and realizing he can no longer get away with the same things as in college.
At Oklahoma State, he was able to just chuck it to Justin Blackmon. Now, he is throwing to Greg "No Hands" Little.
It is hard to select just one ego to represent the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you go with Tony Romo? A signal-caller who has deemed himself too good for both Carrie Underwood and Jessica Simpson?
Or maybe Dez Bryant—a player who has had numerous off-field issues, including an alleged assault on his mother.
Both are quality candidates.
However, the biggest ego in Big D is the owner, Jerry Jones.
Jones believes he is the best option for the team at general manager, and he will continue to believe that, because he rarely admits when he is wrong. He also attempted to build a stadium larger than the state it is located in, including an 11,520 square-foot scoreboard.
Jones is the biggest ego on the Cowboys, and everyone in the organization surely knows it.
Champ Bailey has the kind of ego that can be envied and somewhat admired.
The way he carries himself on the field showcases his utmost confidence and swagger toward playing the game of football.
Bailey gets right in the face of the opposition, talks as much as smack as he sees fit, and backs it up by being one of the greatest cornerbacks to play the game.
The Denver Broncos are a team void of many typical big-ego players, but Bailey fits the description in a good way.
Ndamukong Suh can be an absolute freak of nature when he is playing his best football for the Detroit Lions, and even dating back to his time with the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
However, he also has difficulty controlling his emotions and keeping his ego in check at times.
Suh can be reckless—stomping his foot on a defenseless Green Bay Packers player and attempting to rip the heads off of any quarterback he gets ahold of, for example.
Some simply chalk this up to an aggressive playing style, including Suh himself, who claimed rules should be relaxed for him because he plays at such a high level. In fact, he once had the following to say to reporters last year:
I'm just a different breed. I hate to say that, but it's kind of like, no athlete in the NFL is like any other person. You can't treat everybody the same exact way. That would be unfair, but there's guidelines that everybody needs to follow behind, so that's more or less the understanding that I needed to see.
Aaron Rodgers has definitely toned down his ego in recent years, but there is no moving past the whole championship belt saga of the Green Bay Packers' 2010 Super Bowl campaign.
Seeing Rodgers' mock belt celebration after big plays and touchdowns was a clear sign of a man with an ego. And Rodgers actually holding a replica wrestling title belt in the Super Bowl celebration was the icing on the cake.
Rodgers is one of the best QBs in the NFL, but he also has one of the biggest egos.
When Brian Cushing was suspended for four games because of violating the league's substance-abuse policy, he did not apologize. Nor did he turn to time-honored traditions like claiming to have unknowingly taken a banned substance or questioning the accuracy of the test.
Instead, Cushing decided to make up a medical condition (h/t ESPN): "overtrained athlete syndrome."
Cushing and some doctor claimed that by stopping an athlete's workout routine, HGC can randomly appear in urine.
Kudos for ingenuity and creativity Mr. Cushing, but his ego (and his doctor) needs a reality check.
Jim Irsay is rather reminiscent of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert.
Both say whatever is on their minds, and both take to Twitter to express feelings to their fans.
Irsay has hinted at blockbuster trades (that never happened), made fun of Jerry Jones' glasses wiping incident, and even ranted about fans not knowing the difficulties of his job.
Irsay is certainly a character and is one of the more engaging GMs in football. But he also has an ego that rivals even the biggest in the NFL.
Maurice Jones-Drew signed a five-year, $31 million contract in 2009. The Jacksonville Jaguars put a great deal of faith in the running back in anticipation of his three straight 1,300-yard rushing seasons that followed.
This past offseason, Jones-Drew decided to repay the organization with a lengthy holdout that eventually resulted in only more missed paychecks for the RB.
MJD's demands fell on deaf ears, and the fact that he ended the holdout without a new contract shows that he may have overplayed his hand.
All that was learned from the incident was how inflated Jones-Drew's ego has become with success.
Peyton Hillis has really fallen since his breakout 2010 campaign. Remember that year? Hillis ran for over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns, culminating in the prestigious Madden coverboy status.
Well, since 2010, he has just 680 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. The Kansas City Chiefs signed Hillis for $2.5 million this past offseason, and he's rewarded them with under 100 yards and a season riddled with injuries.
He may or may not have missed time in Cleveland due to a flu or a sore throat or issues with his contract. Whatever the case, Hillis' ego has largely surpassed the quality of his play.
Reggie Bush's controversy over losing the Heisman Trophy after improperly accepting benefits at USC would have been reason enough for inclusion on this list.
So would the fact that he dated Kim Kardashian.
When you combine those two elements, you have an ego that needs to be checked constantly.
However, one egotistical claim that Bush made has actually reduced in craziness: Before this season, he said he wanted the rushing title.
Bush is currently 10th in the league in rushing.
Any player who feels the need to front flip into the end zone has to have a decent-sized ego, and Jerome Simpson of the Minnesota Vikings makes crazy plays look routine.
Yes, these plays are outstanding displays of athleticism and skill, but Simpson's ego has a darker side. The beleaguered WR was suspended for the first three games of the season after violating the substance-abuse policy and pleading guilty to a felony drug charge.
Any idea what he called the snack machine within the jail where he served out a felony drug charge?
Yeah, that happened.
Of course, Tom Brady has the most well-known ego on the New England Patriots. When you are dating a supermodel like Gisele, that tends to happen.
However, head coach Bill Belichick has the biggest ego of the franchise.
The man that feels cut up hoodies are appropriate sideline attire does have three Super Bowls to his credit. No one can take that away from him.
It just seems like he feels bigger than the game and the rules sometimes. From the aforementioned hoodie, to grabbing an official after a game, to the "Spygate" scandal and his press conferences where he rarely says anything of note, Belichick has this aura of superiority about him.
Jonathan Vilma was not afraid to take the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, head on over the Bountygate charges and emerge victorious.
It takes quite an ego, for better or worse, to call out your boss in front of the entire country, accuse him of being a liar and take him to court.
Vilma did, and he helped reverse some of the embarrassment bestowed on him and the New Orleans Saints because of the scandal.
Eli Manning? But he seems like the nicest and most soft-spoken guy in the league.
Maybe he is, but there's no moving past what he did upon entering the NFL in 2004.
Manning was drafted by the San Diego Chargers, but he refused to play for the franchise. Where is the place for such nonsense in today's NFL?
What player has the power to make such demands?
Manning and his ego dictated where he would play, and regardless of how much of that decision was influenced by others, it was still his call to make.
This one is somewhat self-explanatory isn't it?
New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan is a walking ego on a (formerly large) stick. Sure, linebacker Bart Scott tried to make this a two-horse race, but it was never much of a contest.
Ryan forecasts Super Bowl titles nearly every season, he stands by Mark Sanchez at quarterback seemingly just for the sake of doing it and he routinely gets into verbal spats with Bill Belichick.
It would be one thing if Ryan backed this talk up with Super Bowls, but he still has no rings.
Carson Palmer retired from the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010.
Now, by a show of hands, how many people believed he was actually done with football?
It takes a powerful ego to decide you would rather faux retire than continue playing football for an NFL franchise. However, that was just the route Palmer decided to take.
He did eventually land with the Oakland Raiders and has found the fresh start he so desired, but not before showing off his inflated ego.
DeSean Jackson has openly admitted (via CBS Sports) that he took it easy at points last season because of his contract situation.
How ego-maniacal does a player have to be to flat-out say he was not trying his hardest?
Jackson is the epitome of an inflated ego, from last season's contract dispute, to celebrations that cost the Philadelphia Eagle yards, to even dropping the ball short of the end zone and losing multiple touchdowns.
For a player who has done so little in the NFL, he has the ego of a future Hall of Famer.
Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has called Roger Goodell "the devil," "a crook," "stupid," "a puppet" and "a dictator."
He said these things in an interview for Men's Journal, the same magazine that showcased a wonderful gem of a picture of Harrison wielding two guns and using the title of "Hit Man."
Look, Harrison is a tenacious player on the field, and some of his fines may have been unwarranted, but he is not helping his case by posing for pictures like this and making boisterous claims about his boss. It only comes off as juvenile and in poor taste.
I mean, seriously, why would he take this picture?
Does Philip Rivers not just seem like a jerk?
Yes, I suppose this is pure speculation, as I have never met or spoken to him.
Still, in his interviews and even on the field, he comes off as cocky, brash, arrogant and a jerk.
Rivers has shown that he can be an elite QB in the NFL and has led the San Diego Chargers to multiple playoff appearances, but never to the Super Bowl.
However, he has struggled in recent years. And lately, the only thing bigger than his ego has been the amount of interceptions he throws per game.
Aside from that quote being a fantastic fantasy football name, Moss has always been one of the most ego-driven players in football.
He is one of the last remaining relics of the "prima donna" wide receiver era of the early 2000s.
Moss actually retired before last season, but then decided to join the San Francisco 49ers for this year. So far, he is playing on less than half of the team's offensive snaps.
Now the question is, how long until he quits on the team?
Pete Carroll has the biggest ego on the Seattle Seahawks somewhat by default. Marshawn Lynch has the whole "beast mode" bit, which is somewhat ego-driven, but does that compare to how Carroll left USC?
Remember his exit? How he got out of dodge before the NCAA handed down numerous violations and penalties, leaving players and recruits behind to suffer the consequences?
Of course, Carroll denies having any idea those sanctions were coming.
Hope things don't get dicey in Seattle; Carroll may be looking to sneak out of town if they do.
Cortland Finnegan plays the cornerback position on his terms. He is loud, crude and in-your-face.
Who could forget his scuffle with Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson when he was still a member of the Tennessee Titans?
Finnegan is that tick that gets under your skin and irritates you to the point of madness. And he adds solid coverage skills in as a bonus.
It take a massive ego and cocky attitude to play the way Finnegan does, but it seems to be working. Finnegan is in the first year of a five-year, $50 million contract with the St. Louis Rams.
Vincent Jackson had a rather lengthy and public contract dispute with the San Diego Chargers in 2010.
He was upset about not receiving more money or receiving unrestricted free agency status, so he decided not to play at all.
The problem for Jackson was that he had to play in order to become a free agent. So, eventually, he wised up and reported to the team.
He cost himself around $3 million by holding out as long as he did, but hey, the ego does what the ego wants.
How tired does this story sound: player receives giant contract and then suddenly struggles beyond belief.
This cliched happenstance applies to Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson in the worst way. The former 2000-yard rusher has been a mere shell of his former self since signing a mega-deal in 2011. This season, he has just 303 yards and zero touchdowns through six weeks.
It seems "CJ2K" is no more, and in his place is a really expensive imitator.
DeAngelo Hall tends to burn bridges quickly wherever he goes. That includes stops with the Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders and his current employer, the Washington Redskins.
Earning a nickname like "MeAngelo" is no easy task, but when you call out your defensive coordinators and claim that you do what you want on the field, it feels appropriate.
Check out this quote from back in 2010, in which Hall addresses the defensive schemes of Redskins coordinator Jim Haslett (via the Atlanta Journal Constitution): "It's my defense. From here on out, I'm going to wherever the [bleeping] ball is going. Wherever the receiver is going, that's where the [bleep] I'm going."
Pretty much sums up Hall's ego in less than a paragraph.