Cortland Finnegan proved in Sunday's contest between the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans what many around football already knew—Finnegan is one of the dirtiest players in football.
Before his epic fight with Andre Johnson on Sunday, Finnegan had already earned a reputation. In September, Finnegan was fined for throwing Steve Smith to the ground by his helmet. Then in October the fifth-year corner was fined $10,000 for hitting Broncos guard Chris Kuper while his helmet was off.
With that in mind, perhaps Johnson's altercation with Finnegan was an inevitability.
In the fourth quarter of a physical game, Finnegan smacked Johnson, after which Johnson ripped the helmet off of Finnegan's head. Finnegan responded by tearing off Johnson's helmet and tossing it into the distance. Johnson got on top of Finnegan and threw a few haymakers that were more reminiscent of a hockey game than a football game.
Using this altercation as a guide, we examine the nastiest feuds in the NFL.
During a preseason game between the Steelers and the Giants, Ike Taylor and Hakeem Nicks were ejected for fighting.
According to Nicks, "I was blocking downfield and trying to finish my block, and the next thing I knew, he was throwing punches, so I tried to defend myself. I'm disappointed because I let my coaches and teammates down. These preseason games are important because we've got to get our work in as a offense."
Both players were fined $10,000 for throwing punches on what seemed like an innocuous play. While the teams don't face each other during the regular season, this could make for an interesting story line if these two squads meet up in the Super Bowl.
Terrell Owens has always been a bit of an oddity, but his comments made about Jets star cornerback Darrelle Revis were beyond surprising. Despite shutting down every elite wide receiver from Andre Johnson to Randy Moss, Owens remarked that Revis was simply an "average cornerback."
Owens' hostility towards Revis stems from a television interview last year where Revis referred to Owens as a slouch.
In spite of Owens' smack talk, the 6'3" receiver managed only three receptions for 17 yards in Thursday night's 26-10 loss (prior to the game, Owens was averaging 90 yards per game). In three career meetings with Revis, T.O. has averaged a mere three catches for 20 yards.
In 2009, Brett Favre had the best statistical season of his illustrious career. Over 4,200 yards. A 68 percent completion rate. A 33-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Yet he still harbored feelings of resentment towards Childress, who he believed was unwilling to listen to his input.
After a 3-7 start this year, Childress was fired and Favre's words were less than supportive of his former coach. "I can't say I'm surprised or shocked," Favre said. "It's kind of the way our season has gone."
Favre's lack of encouragement can't come as a surprise considering how little Childress supported Favre this season. After begging the aging star to return for one last season, Favre struggled with a 10-to-17 touchdown-to-interception rate.
In fact, following a 28-24 loss to the Packers, Childress ripped Favre in a postgame press conference.
"It still goes back to taking care of the football," Childress said. "You can't throw it to them. They have to play within the confines of our system....You can't give seven points going the other way, not in a game like this."
Ever since Rex Ryan took over as the Jets head coach, he has made it clear that the AFC East runs through Tom Brady and the Patriots.
In Ryan's first press conference he stated, "I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick's, you know, ring. I came to win. Let's just put it that way. So we'll see what happens. I'm certainly not intimidated by New England or anybody else."
That sparked a confrontation response from the normally reserved Tom Brady. When asked about his feelings about the HBO show Hard Knocks featuring the New York Jets, Brady responded, "Honestly, I haven’t turned it on. I hate the Jets, so I refuse to support that show."
The Jets defeated the Patriots 28-14 in Week 2, and the teams will face off next Monday in a game that could decide home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
In last season’s NFC Championship Game, the Saints defeated the Vikings in thrilling fashion. The game was so exciting that the league decided to kick off the season with a rematch between these two (seemingly) potent offenses.
This matchup sparked a ridiculous Twitter fight between Saints safety Darren Sharper and Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. Sharper first tweeted that Brett Favre’s surgically repaired ankle would be targeted by the New Orleans defense.
The trash talk continued back and forth until Shiancoe wrote Sharper’s name on an Osama Bin Laden photo target.
While Shiancoe found this to be hysterical, Sharper wasn’t quite as entertained, tweeting, “Imma bust you right under your chinstrap from the first play on. I don't care about the fine. F the money Imma do it for the red,white&blue.”
Sharper went on to write, “ok homeboy you done went too far, making me out to be something that has brought this country alot of heartache.”
Shiancoe went on to catch four balls for 76 yards with a touchdown, but his Vikings lost the game 14-9.
To say that Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler aren’t the best of friends would be quite the understatement. The two young quarterbacks used to face off twice a year when Cutler was still a member of the Broncos, and the matchups were always filled with fireworks.
During a nationally televised game in December of 2007, Rivers was shown screaming at Cutler following a failed fourth down attempt.
The former Vanderbilt star was quoted saying, “I’ll be honest about it—I don’t like him,” when referring to Rivers, while a source close to the Chargers blames Cutler for the rivalry.
“Cutler is the one who was grabbing his crotch and saying stuff to Philip in the first place,” the source said. “He started the whole thing.”
Now that Cutler is playing in Chicago the rivalry has lost some of its luster, but the animosity remains as fervent as ever.
Not wanting to leave either player off the list, these two troublemakers were lumped together for the 10th spot on this list. Richard Seymour has been called the dirtiest player in the league by Chargers tackle Marcus McNeill and more recently was fined for an open-hand punch he delivered to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
As for Joey Porter? It’s tough to remember the last season he wasn’t at the center of some altercation. Before playing a Matt Cassel-led Patriots team, Porter stirred up some controversy by saying, “If it’s not Tom Brady, it shouldn’t be that hard.”
The veteran linebacker was also fined $10,000 for calling Kellen Winslow a naughty name and another $1,000 for punching Bengals lineman Levi Jones while the two were at a blackjack table in Vegas.
These two hot-headed former Pro Bowlers may not have one signature rivalry, but have engaged in a multitude of nasty feuds over their long careers.
During the Patriots' three Super Bowl wins, Eric Mangini served under Bill Belichick as an assistant. From 2000 to 2004, Mangini served as the defensive backs coach before taking over as defensive coordinator in 2005.
The so-called man-genius had began his football career as a 23-year-old ball boy with the Browns, but drew Belichick's ire with his alleged snitching regarding Spygate. The ensuing punishment from the league included a $500,000 fine levied against Belichick and the loss of a 2008 first-round draft pick.
Enraged by Mangini's behavior, Belichick refused to shake his former assistant's hand when the Patriots faced the Jets, and their postgame meetings on the field became the focus of much media scrutiny every time the teams played.
While Belichick and the Patriots eliminated Mangini's Jets in the 2006 playoffs, Mangini has had success of his own. Just this season, the Mangini-coached Browns upended the Patriots 34-14 in a shocking upset.
Believe it or not, there was a time where Albert Haynesworth was not the lazy sack of excrement we have come to know and love.
Before inking a record-breaking seven-year contract worth $100 million, Haynesworth was the league's premier defensive tackle and played with a fiery motor. Unfortunately, on one occasion that fire ended up costing Haynesworth dearly.
Back in 2006, Haynesworth was suspended five games after stomping on the head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode. While Gurode was lying on the ground with his helmet off, Haynesworth stomped on his head. Gurode would eventually need 30 stitches to repair the damage inflicted by Haynesworth's cleats.
Since signing with the Redskins as a free agent in 2009, Haynesworth has to face Gurode and the Cowboys twice a year, adding to their already intense rivalry.
Hines Ward has always separated himself from other receivers based on his complete game. Sure he’s got soft hands and runs great routes, but he is also arguably the best blocking receiver in the league.
Two years ago against the Bengals, his blocking prowess was on display when he (legally) laid out linebacker Keith Rivers, breaking the rookie's jaw, ending his season and inspiring a rule change regarding blind-side hits.
This supposed cheap shot followed a November 2007 game where Ward blew up Scott and teammate Ed Reed on a pair of running plays—both deemed legal by the league.
Scott promised that when the two teams met he would “find him [Ward] and make sure I take the most violent shot I can take.” He went on to say, “You put him in a phone booth with half those guys that he’s taking those shots at, he’d get his a** whupped.”
Scott may have taken his talents to New York, but his interactions with Ward have intensified the rivalry between the Steelers and Ravens.