Tom Brady, Terrell Suggs and the NFL's Best Feuds
For all intents and purposes, the NFL is America's biggest reality television show.
On the one hand, we can't get enough of the violent ballet that professional football gives us every Sunday (and Monday).
On the other, the number of cameras and recording devices that surround its stars at all times leave us with some pretty good theater.
Here are the top 10 feuds the NFL has ever known.
10. Keyshawn Johnson and Jon Gruden
If you were to make a list of NFL personalities that you don't want to mess with, Jon Gruden would have to be near the top.
That's a list for another day. Right now, the point is that Keyshawn Johnson should have realized this.
Despite winning a Super Bowl together in 2002, Johnson's classic diva antics started to grow on Gruden during the 2003 season. After a while, it was pretty obvious that Gruden could care less that Johnson once wrote a book called Just Give Me the Damn Ball!
Instead of giving him the ball, Gruden deactivated his star receiver for the final seven games of the 2003 season. The following season, he was traded to Dallas, where he enjoyed little success.
9. Chad Johnson and Joey Porter
This is one of the sillier feuds on this list, but a deserving one if for no other reason than the words that were exchanged.
In September of 2006, the then—Steeler linebacker graced a September issue of Sports Illustrated that lauded him as the game's most feared player. For a defensive player, there is perhaps no better reputation.
Chad Johnson, the infamously sassy receiver for the Bengals and division rival, was not impressed. In the previous season, he had to watch the Steelers dispatch his team in the playoffs after a season that was chock-full of smack talk between the two teams.
He quickly instigated a war of words that ate up a bunch of ink on sports pages all over the country. In the week before they were set to play the Steelers, Johnson was heard playfully mumbling, "Who am I going to pick on today?"
And then, "I'll pick on Joey!"
Porter was hardly fazed. "He's not serious," said Porter of Johnson. "That's the type of guy he is, whatever gets him going. He's going to have an opportunity. I'll be right there on the 50—yard line waiting for him."
The Bengals went on to win the game 28-20, but Johnson had only one catch for 11 yards. As for Porter, he had half a tackle and a pass deflection. What a let down.
8. Darelle Revis and The New York Jets
Be honest, how tired were you of hearing about Revis and the Jets every time you turned on ESPN this August?
Since being drafted with the 14th pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, "Revis Island" had pretty well established himself as the best cover corner in the NFL. His attitude was hardly a new one: the best deserves to be paid the most.
Thus began the holdout, and weeks of non-stories about Revis, head coach Rex Ryan, and the Jets ownership. Ultimately, it took a temper tantrum from Ryan to get both sides to close in on a deal, and Revis signed a four year $32 million contract, making him the highest paid corner in the league.
Two games into the season, he hurt his hamstring and has been iffy every week since.
That's what happens when you miss training camp, my friend.
7. Marcus Allen and Al Davis
There's probably a slot for an Al Davis feud up and down this list.
But any time an owner of a major professional sports franchise can refer to one his All-Star players as a "cancer to the team," you have to take notice.
Not surprisingly, this came towards the end of Allen's tenure with the Raiders, well after he had won the Super Bowl MVP in 1983. Davis' infamous remark, which is now used all over the sports world in reference to apparent problem players, was instigated by a contract dispute.
Ultimately, in addition to a 1989 knee injury, this dispute led to the end of Allen's career with the Raiders. He was relegated to backup duty in his final three seasons, and wasn't shy about his feelings that he had been shafted by his employer.
"I think he's tried to ruin the latter part of my career, tried to devalue me," said Allen. "He's trying to stop me from going to the Hall of Fame. They don't want me to play."
Oh, Al. Nobody drives 'em away like you do.
6. Tom Brady and Terrell Suggs
This one deserves to be on here simply because it's one of the only ongoing feuds in the 2010 season. And it looks like it could be a good one.
The Ravens are known for their physical defense. Everybody knows it. But Tom Brady, perhaps understandingly given his injury history, wanted no part of it.
The feud began when Brady was knocked to the turf by Suggs just after he let loose on a long completion. He gestured for a late hit flag. When it didn't come, Brady and Suggs started going at it.
"He was trying to tell me how to bag a Hollywood actress," said Suggs. Probably not true, but you get the idea.
"He better hope he don't see us again."
Thus spoke Terrell Suggs after Tom Brady and the Patriots pulled off a 23-20 win over the Ravens yesterday afternoon. That's about as close to a threat as you're going to get in this league, and Suggs sure as hell sounds like he means business.
As for Brady, he doesn't seem fazed. "They talk a lot for beating us once in nine years," he said.
Yup, the scoreboard argument never fails.
5. Terrell Owens and Steve Mariucci
Drafted by the 49ers in 1998, it didn't take long for Owens' ego to grow big enough to think that he was a better option for Steve Mariucci's team than the great Jerry Rice.
Using the press for the first, but definitely not the last time, Owens regularly ripped Mariucci. At the forefront of his complaints were Owens' problems with Mariucci's play calling, as well as his head coach's hesitance to drive up the score.
Who did he think he was dealing with exactly? Bill Belichick?
Ultimately, Rice was more than happy to bolt across the Bay to Oakland, and Mariucci ended up getting fired after a 10—win season in 2002. While it may not be fair to blame Owens for the dismantling of the 49ers last winning team, who else are you going to blame?
4. Eric Mangini and Bill Belichick
There is a strange kind of honor system when a pupil leaves one organization to go command another. But more often than not, this honor system is easily cast aside.
Such was the case in 2007, when former Patriots assistant Eric Mangini's Jets squared off against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. The Patriots got out to a huge lead early and won the game handily 38-14.
Later that week, Mangini accused the Patriots of cheating. Ho hum.
But wait, he had insider information.
Mangini would go on to accuse the Patriots of stealing signs and of video taping opponents' practices, tactics that had been the norm while he was an understudy of Belichicks'. The incident, which would become known as "Spygate," hit the NFL pretty hard. The NFL quickly fined Belichick $500k, and the Patriots got a $250k fine of their own.
Essentially, Mangini threw Belichick under the bus, and the Patriots coach was forced to shamefully apologize for "the embarrassment, distraction and penalty [his] mistake caused."
The Patriots beat the Jets again later on that season on their way to a 16-0 record, and Belichick showed up his former protege after the game by forcing a bear hug on him. Mangini was fired following the 2008 season.
3. Joe Montana and Bill Walsh
The year was 1987, and the 49ers have just acquired a young lefty quarterback Steve Young from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Just about everybody in and around the organization was fine with the move, feeling that the 49ers had just got themselves an able backup quarterback.
The only guy who wasn't too thrilled was the great Joe Montana, who had been San Francisco's quarterback since 1980. And all he had done to that point was win two Super Bowls.
Things started to get dicey when Walsh dared to bench Montana during a playoff loss to Minnesota, and things only got worse in the following season when Walsh had Montana split snaps with Young. Young played in 11 games in 1988 and the rumors started to fly that the injury-riddled Montana was expendable.
How did he respond? He won two more Super Bowls, which included two more Super Bowl MVPs. He didn't hand over the reigns to Young until injuries finally incapacitated him in 1991.
Ultimately, maybe Walsh was just trying to find new ways of motivating the veteran.
2. Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens
How big of a jackass is Terrell Owens? Well, he's on this list twice.
You know you're in for some trouble when your star wide receiver publicly states in the middle of the season that he wouldn't have signed with the team if he could do things over, as Owens did in 2004. And you know you're really in trouble when the same receiver publicly states that his team would be better with another quarterback, like, say, Brett Favre.
As for McNabb, he actually remained largely silent during all the hubbub. In retrospect, he was probably content to just let Owens destroy himself, which he did. Owens was exiled from the team midway through 2005, and he and his agent proceeded to cement themselves as two of the league's biggest all—time jokes.
1. Al Davis and The NFL
Did you really think that Marcus Allen business was the worst of Al Davis' shenanigans?
Depending on which Raider fan you ask, Big Al is either a hero or a menace. As far as the NFL is concerned, he's a menace.
Davis' beef with the NFL started back in 1980, when the longtime Raiders owner filed an anti—trust lawsuit against the league after they blocked his attempt to move the Raiders to Los Angeles. In 1982, a federal district court ruled in Davis' favor, and the Raiders were on their way.
Four years later, Davis was the only NFL owner to side with the USFL when they filed their own anti-trust suit against the NFL.
Now, this is no way to treat your business partners. And when you get what you want, don't go searching for more. Davis sued the NFL again in 1995 after he had moved the team back to Oakland. The NFL won that one, but it wasn't until 2007 that the case was officially closed.