NFL Power Rankings: Ranking The 20 Biggest Clubhouse Cancers In NFL History
There are players who just aren't good teammates. These guys usually have great natural talent and get to the pros because of that talent without putting the hard work in that most other guys have to in order to develop their own natural talent.
Being pampered at the high school and college levels and then getting showered with money upon reaching the pros can create monsters of some players, who feel entitled to do just about anything they want because, hey, I'm the boss around here.
These players let their egos run wild and turn into clubhouse cancers, their actions so destructive they end up affecting on-field performance and sometimes killing a team's chance to win a championship or to just make it to the playoffs.
Here's a list of the top 20 NFL clubhouse cancers.
20. JaMarcus Russell (Oak)
JaMarcus Russell, the first No. 1 overall draft pick to make this list, gained a reputation for being lazy and for putting on weight during the offseason. After reportedly showing up for minicamp this past offseason weighing almost 300 pounds, the Raiders cut him.
Russell never lived up to his top draft billing, never played well and, according to reports from teammates, never seemed willing to put in the time in the film room or on the practice field to become a better quarterback.
Al Davis backed Russell when Lane Kiffin reportedly soured on the young quarterback and wanted to go in a different direction. Davis, famously in his letter to Kiffin read live to reporters, told Kiffin to "get over it."
With Russell on the field, the Raiders had a difficult time winning games and Kiffin ended up getting fired in 2008. Without Russell in 2010, the Raiders almost made the playofffs.
Off the field, Russell has been the focus of allegations of drinking a codeine syrup mix, but a grand jury declined to indict Russell on the charges.
19. Bill Romanowski (SF, Philly, Den, Oak)
Bill Romanowski not only is considered one of the dirtiest players to ever play the game, but he was also one of the worst teammates you could have.
Despite his considerable talents, he played on four different teams in his career and ended the career of backup tight end Marcus Williams during a scrimmage when he ripped off Williams' helmet and punched him so hard he crushed his eye socket.
Romanowski also was linked to the BALCO scandal.
18. Simeon Rice (Ariz, TB, Den, Indy)
Simeon Rice had talent, but he gained a "me first" reputation by holding out for his rookie contract with the Arizona Cardinals, playing USBL basketball in one offseason and being considered by his critics to be solely a pass rusher and not a run stopper.
Rice eventually won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay, but he bounced from team to team later in his career.
17. Andre Rison (Indy, Atl, Cle, Jax, GB, KC, Oak)
Andre Rison was a great talent on the field, but he fell into the trap of constantly switching teams late in his career and getting into minor feuds wherever he was.
It began in Cleveland in 1995 after signing a free agent contract and then the move to Baltimore was announced. After the fans vented their frustration and anger at the team during a home loss shortly after the announcement, Rison turned on the fans, telling them where to go and saying the Browns had no home-field advantage for the rest of the season.
Rison also is famous for angering his girlfriend and rap star Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes to the point where she burned his house down in 1994.
16. Tiki Barber (NYG)
Tiki Barber got it done on the field, except for some fumbling issues, but why quibble over facts.
Barber makes this list because he just couldn't keep his mouth shut. In 2002 while Michael Strahan was negotiating for a new contract, Barber decided to publicly criticize Strahan, calling him "greedy," and accusing Strahan of not thinking of the team.
This in turn caused teammate Keith Hamilton to publicly berate Barber for his comments, noting the Giants offense the previous year hadn't been that great.
In his last season, 2006, Barber twice called out head coach Tom Coughlin, noting in a game against the Carolina Panthers that the team was "outcoached," and that Couglin abandoned the running game too soon in another game.
The next year, now as a member of the NBC broadcast team, Barber called out his former quarterback, Eli Manning, for his leadership skills, prompting Eli to point out Barber's shortcomings, inconsistencies, and abrupt decision to retire in the middle of the 2006 season.
15. Jeremy Shockey (NYG, NO)
Jeremy Shockey, like Tiki Barber before him, took Tom Coughlin to task in 2006, saying the team got "outcoached."
After the 2007 season and recovering from a season-ending injury, rumor had it Shockey would be traded after he refused to participate in any of the team's Super Bowl celebration activities.
During minicamp, Shockey refused to participate on the field and allegedly got into a shouting match with the Giants general manager, Jerry Reese.
Like Barber, Shockey's absence from the locker room only seemed to help things in 2007 and the Giants won a Super Bowl.
Shockey has made a fresh start in New Orleans and hasn't been reported as a problem since.
14. John Matuszak (Hou, KC, Wash, Oak/LA)
John Matuszak was a world class partier and drug addict who fought with everybody on every team he was on.
He helped the Raiders win two Super Bowls, but he was fined for being out past curfew prior to Super Bowl XV.
Matuszak, according to a Sports Illustrated profile, was known as a "brawling, incorrigible miscreant who occasionally played hard but always partied harder."
The fact he played most of his days for the Raiders, a team known to employ some of the worst and most difficult egos in the history of the league, only backs that statement up.
Al Davis never cared if you were a jerk, he only cared if you could play.
13. Steve Smith (Car)
Steve Smith is a great wide receiver, but he also lets his temper control the situation every now and then. Twice in his career, Smith has feuded with teammates to the point where punches were thrown.
Smith broke Anthony Bright's nose during the 2002 season during a film room session argument and was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor.
Then in 2008 during training camp, Ken Lucas got a broken nose from a Steve Smith punch, resulting in a two-game suspension for Smith.
Jimmy Clausen tempted fate this year when, after a poor performance, he apologized to the defense. Smith's response was to rip into Clausen, telling him he should be apologizing to the players on the offensive unit.
Clausen is lucky Smith didn't break his nose.
12. Chris Henry (Cincy)
Chris Henry's life ended with a tragic accident just when it seemed he'd finally started to get control of his life.
Henry's troubles began in college when he was ejected from a game for multiple unsportsmanlike conduct calls, and then-Mountaineers head coach Rich Rodriguez called him an "embarrassment."
Once with the Bengals, his list of arrests was almost as long as his list of accomplishments on the field. The Bengals frequently had to discipline him, suspend him, and try and move on without him due to arrests for substance abuse, suspensions for violating the PCP policy, and a warning from commissioner Roger Goodell that his next mistake would be his last in the league.
Henry was released after the 2008 season, but then was re-signed for the 2009 season after no other team showed interest in him and the Bengals needed help at the wide receiver position.
Henry broke his arm in a game versus the Ravens in November 2009 and that would be his last game, passing away in December 2009 after falling out of the back of a pickup.
11. Duane Thomas (Dal, SD, Wash)
Duane Thomas fought with everybody in his short career in the early 1970s. He could be considered the Randy Moss of his day.
Thomas hit the scene in 1970 and was a great running back for the Cowboys, but internal disagreements allegedly led to Thomas playing the entire 1971 season without speaking to coaches or players.
The Cowboys attempted to trade him to the Patriots in 1971, but Thomas immediately got in a fight with Patriots head coach John Mazur and the trade ended up being voided, sending the angry player back to Dallas.
Details on why Thomas was so difficult are conflicting, but there's no doubt Thomas had issues that ultimately ended his career by the end of 1974. He played for the World Football League in 1975 before retiring for good.
10. Vince Young (Tenn)
Young has had good performances on the field, but he's such an emotional wreck that he brings chaos to the locker room and his actions this season may be one of the main reasons the Titans faded in November.
After his rookie season, he talked about retiring in a Sport Illustrated article but then said those statements were overblown in the piece.
Young then was benched for the first preseason game in 2007 because he decided to leave the team hotel and sleep at his own home. While some of Young's stats were great, they never were consistent, and after injuring his knee in the first game of 2008, Kerry Collins became the permanent starter and the Titans finished 13-3 on the year.
Young later would disappear and head coach Jeff Fisher would end up calling the Nashville police to find out what had happened to him.
Young then became the Comeback Player of 2009 before increasing tensions between himself and Fisher in 2010 resulted in Young throwing a tantrum on the sidelines after injuring his thumb, throwing his shoulder pads into the stands and getting into a fight in the locker room with Fisher where he allegedly said, "I'm not quitting on the team, I'm quitting on you."
Fisher has refused to discuss the details of the argument, but said he wasn't going to deal with the Young situation until after the season.
Whether Fisher still is there to deal with it remains to be seen as of this writing.
9. Pacman Jones (Tenn, Dal, Cincy)
Adam "Pacman" Jones was in legal trouble from the moment he was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2005 and held out briefly because of proposed safeguards in his rookie contract that were put in to protect the Titans in case Jones would be convicted of a crime.
All through 2005 and 2006, Jones' name turned up on the police blotter as much as it did for accomplishments on the field, adding to the locker room distractions already being caused by Vince Young and his fragile emotional state.
Then there was the Las Vegas shooting incident at a strip club when Jones decided to "Make It Rain," and then allegedly assaulted one of the dancers, leading to a shooting that left a man paralyzed from the waist down.
Jones was suspended for the entire 2007 season and half of the 2008 season before returning with the Dallas Cowboys, although an altercation with his own bodyguard at a hotel resulted in further missed play.
Jones was not spectacular on the field and the Cowboys released him.
He now seems much quieter with the Cincinnati Bengals, although a neck injury ended his 2010 season.
8. Larry Johnson (KC, Cincy, Wash)
Larry Johnson came into the NFL by being told he needed to grow up and take the diapers off in his second season by Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil. Considering what a softie Vermeil could be, that was pretty harsh.
In 2007, Johnson announced his intention to hold out for a bigger contract, but the Chiefs eventually signed him to a five-year contract that made him the highest paid running back in the NFL. Johnson never was the same player again.
He finished 2007 on the injured reserve list and then spent most of 2008 getting into fights with coaches over the number of carries he was getting, eventually being benched, suspended by the team, and then suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for an off-field incident.
Johnson's 2009 season got off to a slow start and then the Twitter war started where he went after head coach Todd Haley and the fans at various points.
"My father played for the coach from 'remember the titans'. Our coach played golf. My father played for redskins briefley. Our coach. Nuthn," was one of the more famous tweets of the whole situation.
Johnson was arrested several times for off-field incidents and eventually was released by the Chiefs in 2009. He signed briefly with the Bengals and was cut from the Redskins earlier this year.
7. Keyshawn Johnson (NYJ, TB, Dal, Car)
This is where the term, "Keyshawned" comes from.
Keyshawn Johnson was drafted by the Jets in 1996, and while he was there, he wrote a book titled "Just Give Me The Damn Ball" that covered his rookie year.
Johnson's attitude eventually prompted a trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2000, but when Jon Gruden became head coach in 2002, Johnson's relationship with Gruden quickly went south.
Johnson was deactivated (Keyshawned) for the last seven games of the 2003 season due to his crumbling relationship with Gruden and the affect it was having in the locker room. Gruden decided the team would function better without him and dismissed him.
Johnson would go on to play with the Cowboys and Panthers and often was known for his passionate stance on issues, but he never divided a locker room again like he did in Tampa
6. Chad Ochocinco (Cincy)
Chad Ochocinco was relatively quiet his first few years in the league, but starting in 2005, the then-Chad Johnson decided it was time everybody knew who he was.
First it was "The List," where Chad kept a checklist, entitled "Covered 85 In '05," evaluating the defensive players that successfully managed to cover him.
Head coach Marvin Lewis then put out his own list for the Nov. 6 game titled "Did 85 do everything he could to lead his team to victory 11-6-05."
Ochocinco was not happy, but he had a great game that Sunday. Johnson went on to have a great year statistically in 2007, but media reports at the time began circulating rumors he was becoming disruptive in the locker room and his on-field antics only supported those stories.
During the 2008 offseason, Ochocinco complained about his treatment, argued nobody had defended him and trade rumors surfaced between the Redskins and the Bengals, but nothing ever came to fruition.
Teammate T.J. Houshmandzadeh even said that Ochocinco's attitude was bad, wondering how much of a distraction he'd be while the team tried to work out their differences with No. 85.
Johnson eventually showed up for camp in 2008 and helped the Bengals make the playoffs in 2009. However in 2010, Ochocinco once again seems unhappy and the public war of words between Ochocinco and Marvin Lewis appears to be ramping up again.
Whether Ochocinco or Lewis will be back again next year remains to be seen.
5. Ryan Leaf (SD, TB, Dal, Sea)
There's a saying that if you miss on a first-round quarterback, you'll set your team back five years in it's development. Ryan Leaf is the poster boy for that sentiment.
Leaf was drafted by the Chargers in 1998, and along with Peyton Manning, they were the two biggest names in that year's draft. The San Diego Chargers had the third pick of the draft, but traded two first round picks, a second round pick and Eric Metcalf to the Cardinals to move up one spot and guarantee they would get a shot at one of the two stars.
Leaf's rookie season was a disaster as he threw way more interceptions than touchdowns, was benched in the middle of the season, and quickly was gaining a reputation for immaturity by blaming others for his poor play and getting into fights with teammates, coaches and fans.
Leaf was so bad, former Chargers great Rodney Harrison referred to playing with Leaf as a "nightmare you can't even imagine."
Leaf bounced around the league for a few years before finally retiring at age 26, blaming injuries for his shortened career.
4. Albert Haynesworth (Tenn, Wash)
Albert Haynesworth is yet another example of why general managers, owners and head coaches like to factor maturity into their personnel decisions.
Haynesworth, despite being happy in Tennessee, left for the Washington Redskins and a $101 million contract, citing a larger fan base and more media exposure than in Tennessee.
While in Tennessee, though, he was involved in two ugly incidents, both of which involved Haynesworth using his feet in a non-football related manner.
In 2003, Haynesworth kicked center Justin Hartwig in the chest and had to be restrained by teammates during training camp drills.
More famously, in 2006, Haynesworth removed Andre Gurode's helmet and then stomped on his head with his cleat. The resulting cuts required 30 stitches to close and Haynesworth barely missed Gurode's eye. Haynesworth was ejected from the game and suspended for four games.
Head coach Jeff Fisher apologized on behalf of the team.
Once in Washington, Haynesworth quickly became a lousy teammate, was poor on the field, and blamed the coaches for his bad play.
Once Mike Shanahan came onboard in 2010, Haynesworth said he wouldn't play in Shanahan's schemes. The two met to discuss the situation and Haynesworth recanted his position, took his $20 million roster bonus and then basically quit the team.
He was a distraction all through training camp with his failure to pass the team's conditioning test and he refused to go on the field in certain packages. The Redskins finally deactivated him on Dec. 7.
3. Jeff George (Indy, Atl, Oak, Minn, Wash, Sea, Chi, Oak)
Jeff George was drafted by the Colts in the first round of the 1990 draft, but four years later, his career in Indianapolis only was rememberd for a holdout, constant fighting with the coaches, making vile gestures to fans and trying to engineer his own trade.
George eventually ended up in Atlanta where things were peaceful for one year.
However, in 1996, cameras caught George and head coach June Jones getting into a heated argument on the sidelines that resulted in George being suspended for the rest of the season and then traded to Oakland.
In Oakland, things once again were good for a year before he clashed with Jon Gruden over the offense, ignoring calls from the sidelines and running his own offense on the field.
What followed was years of George bouncing around the league as a backup, arguing with Marty Schottenheimer about running the West Coast offense, and then occasionally showing up on the sideline as a backup quarterback before appearing on radio shows asking for a job.
2. Randy Moss (Minn, Oak, NE, Minn, TN)
Randy Moss is the perfect example of a player with a ton of talent that nobody wants to deal with because the player is a complete head case.
Moss began his career in Minnesota, where he became known as the player who tried to run over a traffic cop. But even before then, Moss missed playing time in college because of off-field legal issues.
In 1999, Moss squirted a referee with a water bottle and was fined $40,000, which later was reduced to $25,000. Then there was the "Randy Ratio" in 2002 to make sure the ball was going to Moss at least 40 percent of the time.
Moss notoriously left a losing game at the end of the 2004 season with two seconds left and then mimed a "moon" at Green Bay Packers fans in the playoffs the next week.
Moss has become famous for not playing hard when his team is losing, giving up on routes and taking plays off. Moss has been quoted saying he plays when he wants to, loses concentration when things get "negative," and that he was "too old to practice on Wednesday and Thursday."
Moss left the Vikings for two unproductive years in Oakland before going to New England, where he seemed to thrive until this season when he once again went off the rails, lashing out at the Patriots front office and the media before finally being traded to Minnesota, where he promptly said he wished he was back in New England.
After yelling at a caterer and making things even worse in Minnesota, Moss was waived and claimed by the Tennessee Titans. He has been completely irrelevant as a player since the transaction.
1. Terrell Owens (SF, Philly, Dal, Buf, Cincy)
If the term "locker room cancer" didn't exist before Terrell Owens showed up, he would've invented it.
Owens is such a pain to deal with, he's been kicked off of three different teams and the Buffalo Bills didn't feel like re-signing him this past offseason. His one-year stint with the Bengals looks to be over at this point and it was partially because of his mouth.
Owens is famous for putting himself before the team, throwing his quarterbacks under the bus and only surviving in the NFL as long as he has because he still can play. He still drops the ball a lot.
Owens famously clashed with the Eagles front office, resulting in him doing situps in his driveway while his agent, the equally reprehensible Drew Rosenhaus, made things worse.
When he finally was dismissed from the Eagles, Rosenhaus gave the now famous "next question" press conference.
Owens started his career in San Francisco in 1996 and his first big controversy was his drops, but that would get lost when he tried to sign with the Eagles while the 49ers insisted they still owned his rights and tried to trade him to to Baltimore. That situation was resolved and Owens went to the Eagles.
Once there, it was one good season before Owens hired Rosenhaus and the rest was history. Donovan McNabb would find himself the victim of Owens ranting and the Eagles suffered for the trouble.
Once in Dallas, Owens still couldn't stop himself and eventually he was cut. He did one year with the Buffalo Bills before playing in 2010 with the Bengals. His future at this point is unknown, but he blamed everyone else for the Bengals lousy season before being injured a few weeks ago.