Top 20 Biggest Feuds in NFL History
The vast majority of NFL teams have been around long enough that they have been able to build up some very strong feuds over the years with other NFL teams. These feuds take on new meaning when both teams meet each other in the playoffs, as was the case this past year when the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears faced off for the NFC Championship.
Other feuds are more personal, like one player against a coach, or two coaches feuding against each other. We are going to look at the whole array of potential feuds from NFL history and list our top 20 feuds.
There are obviously more than 20 feuds, so if you think of one you think deserves to be in the list, feel free to add it in the comments section.
New England Patriots vs New York Jets
It is bad enough that the New York Jets and New England Patriots have to battle it out for supremacy in the AFC East. The fact that you see each other twice a year and then sometimes in the playoffs is enough reason for an intense rivalry that can cross over into a feud.
But then there are other events that are the icing on the cake. We have the Spygate incident, that cost the Patriots a first-round draft pick and the team being levied with the most severe penalty in the history of the NFL. Coach Belichick was fined $500,000 and the Patriots were fined $250,000. Not only that but there was also a little involvement with the Senate Judiciary Committee on top of everything else.
How about Eric Mangini leaving the Patriots to be the head coach of the New York Jets? That helped to ratchet up the hostility level between the two teams. Here is a detailed account of the problems.
Bart Scott vs Hines Ward and the Pittsburgh Steelers
When it comes to Hines Ward, you love him if you are a Steelers fans. If you are not, you probably can relate to the comments of Bart Scott. The following comments can be found in an excerpt from an article by Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports
The image played out on a highlight film as Baltimore Ravens linebacker Bart Scott watched in rage, grinding his teeth into a fine powder. He knew what was coming. He saw Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Hines Ward peel back on the television screen. He saw Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers running in a full sprint, head turned away from an artillery shell headed in his direction. As Ward’s helmet connected with Rivers’ jaw— breaking it into three pieces—a sports anchor squealed gleefully.
Scott muttered an expletive. He looked at the hit and saw only a coward. “The media was like ‘Oh, Hines is tough,’” Scott said of the Oct. 19 hit. “No he’s not. He’s a cheap-shot artist.”
Of all the feuds raging in the NFL, this is as good as it gets. You talk to Scott, and he has no qualms about admitting his hatred for Ward and the Steelers. You talk to Ward, and he feels a certain satisfaction that he’s got linebackers hearing footsteps.
Scott continued on: “There’s nothing mano y mano about that,” Scott said of Ward’s penchant for peeling back and leveling defenders who aren’t looking. “You put him in a phone booth with half those guys that he’s taking those shots at, he’d get his a** whupped.
“If we’re going to play that way, let’s play that way. Let’s not play that way just when it benefits you, let’s play that way all the time. That means when Keith Rivers is defenseless, and you take a shot and break his jaw, that means when you come across the middle and you’re defenseless, I get to take that shot. … That’s not man on man. That’s a cheap-shot artist. If you’re going to take a shot, that’s cool. But allow me to take mine without a $35,000 fine.”
The NFL Owners and the Players
Is there any bigger feud right now in the NFL than the one between the NFL owners and the NFL players? Talk about bad blood, each side is accusing the other of lying to the media and not taking the negotiations seriously.
The jaded comments being leveled at the other party has to have some type of longer lasting affect. Hopefully when the two sides come to terms, the deal can be signed for something like an eight- to 10-year deal, just so we don't have to hear any more labor mumbo jumbo for many years to come.
Terry Bradshaw vs Ben Roethlisberger
This feud between the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback legends past and present came about as a result of the Ben Roethlisberger's alleged sexual assault incident with a Georgia female college student. Terry Bradshaw reacted to the news coming out before he checked to see how factual it was.
Things started to heat up between the two prior to to Super Bowl XLV, so they sat down to have it out with each other.
For a link to the story about how this feud escalated, click on this article .
NFL.com's Top 10 All-Time NFL Feuds
If you are interested in any of these specific feuds, you can go to this link and watch a video clip from NFL.com on their version of each of these feuds. Here is the link.
This link shows where they rank their Top 10 All-Time Feuds, which include:
Buddy Ryan vs. Mike Ditka
AFL vs NFL Merger
Raiders vs the World
Jerry Glanville vs AFC Central
Steve Young vs Joe Montana
Paul Brown vs Cleveland Browns
Bill Bergey vs Conrad Dobler
Joey Porter vs Cincinnati Bengals
George Allen vs Dallas Cowboys
Marty Schottenheimer vs A.J. Smith
For an interesting overview of the feud between former San Diego Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer and General Manager A.J. Smith, here is a link to a story published by Bleacher Report analyst Ian Philip.
For another perspective, John Clayton of ESPN weighs in with a story he wrote about the volatile relationship between these two key players in the Chargers brain trust.
As acrimonious as their relationship was, maybe that explains why the Buffalo Bills never went after Schottenheimer when Dick Jauron was fired. Bills General Manager Buddy Nix was working in San Diego during those years and probably saw enough of the relationship between the coach and general manager to know that he didn't want that mess on his hands in Buffalo either.
For those that don't recall, Schottenheimer began his NFL career as a linebacker with the Bills.
Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones
In a very thorough account of the Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson relationship (can we even call it that?), here is a link to a three-page story from the Sports Illustrated Vault by Peter King. A very good read by the way.
This was essentially a clash of two giant egos, and there was only room for one sheriff in town. Something had to give between the two, or things would have become pretty ugly.
Well, at least they have those rings to remind them of better times.
Terrell Owens vs Every QB and Coordinator He Works with
Terrell Owens. What are the things that you first think about when you hear his name. His great catches? His touchdown antics? Screaming matches with his quarterbacks and offensive coordinators on the sidelines?
It seems that Terrell Owens has a communication issue. He appears on the surface to be fine when he is trying to explain himself to the media. But when it comes to talking to people that have a degree of input into how often he is thrown the ball, that is where he starts to have a problem.
Over a period of time with any NFL team, Owens will feel that he is under-appreciated. The team is scheming to not include him in plays. The quarterback's favorite target is someone else. I am not being thrown to enough.
The people he will complain about ranges from his quarterbacks, to his fellow receivers, to his position coaches, his offensive coordinators, his head coaches and his defense. Is there anybody I left out?
The only time he left a team in reasonably good standing was with the Buffalo Bills. Go figure. If you care to do a little more reading on Owens, here are some links I researched that provide more insights.
Cowboys link via Ed Werder of ESPN. Story by Bleacher Report Senior Writer James Williamson that wondered if the NFL was blackballing Owens out of a job. Finally, you might recall the 2004 fiasco about the 49ers trying to work out a trade with either the Philadelphia Eagles and the Baltimore Ravens that turned out to be an awkward situation.
Green Bay Packers vs Chicago Bears Rivalry
There is no doubt that the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears have an intense rivalry. Where did it all start? How about if we go back to the days of George Halas and Vince Lombardi. That seems like a good place to pick things up.
For an interesting overview of the Lombardi vs Halas rivalry, here is a very solid article I found by Dave George of the Palm Beach Post.
The fact that the teams squared off with each other in the 2010 NFC Championship Game was a great way to bring the feud to a more current view.
Buddy Ryan and Kevin Gilbride
Even though the Houston Oilers were winning a game 14-0, it didn't stop defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan from throwing a punch at offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. This has to be one of the more bizarre coaching feuds we can recall in recent NFL history.
Dan Reeves vs John Elway and Mike Shanahan Feud
Prior to playing in Super Bowl XXXIII, the Denver Broncos duo of quarterback John Elway and Head Coach Mike Shanahan had some unsettled business with Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Reeves.
For a detailed rundown of what transpired, here is an article from Sports Illustrated that gives a rundown.
Some think that this whole deal was a ploy by Reeves to deflect attention from his Falcons' team, but there is no doubt that he felt some sort of personal wound that lingered with him for a long time. That is what feuds can do, they eat away at you. Reeves can attest to that.
Bonus Slide: Mike Shanahan and Al Davis
OK, we have now covered 20 feuds that stand out in NFL history. In case you were wondering, I used the top 10 list presented by NFL.com as part of the 20, but I figured the video presentation was a nice way to cover each one of those conflicts.
So, as a bonus, let's include the Mike Shanahan and Al Davis feud, which also belongs in our Top 20 group, er, make that Top 21 list.
Mike Shanahan was fired by Al Davis, while the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. There were reports that Davis still owed Shanahan money, but that is something that I wasn't able to fully substantiate. The way that Davis disrespected players like Marcus Allen and Tim Brown also got under Shanahan's skin.
The fact that Shanahan went to an AFC West rival in the Denver Broncos, and then proceeded to beat the Raiders also got Davis upset. Here was a blurb about their dispute while Shanahan was still with the Broncos.
Since so many people have ill will towards Al Davis, not to mention how he ticked off the rest of the NFL owners due to the law suit that he filed against the league, that he should have some bad karma following him around.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!