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25 Dirtiest Players in Sports

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterJanuary 18, 2017

25 Dirtiest Players in Sports

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    Every sport has its share of dirty players.  Although what constitutes a dirty player isn't exactly universally defined, there are some universally accepted attributes.  

    A bad attitude, excessive violence and a total lack of remorse for inflicting bodily injury are just a few of those attributes.  

    Here are 25 of the dirtiest players in sports.  

25. Dwight Howard, Orlando Magic

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    Orland Magic superstar Dwight Howard has been called one of the dirtiest players in the NBA.  Accounts outside of Orlando vary greatly, but the Chicago Tribune actually called him "Dwight Homicide," in an April 2011 article.  

    That is a serious overstatement, but in the NBA a dirty player is usually defined as a player who takes cheap shots or throws around the body with little regard for the ball. 

    Howard definitely fits that category.  

24. A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox

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    Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski was recently voted the meanest player in baseball by 215 of his peers.

    Pierzynski, who has been labeled a cancer, has admitted to taking shots before playoff games, been involved in fistfights on the field and has been accused of kneeing a trainer in the crotch.  

23. Steve Ott, Dallas Stars

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    Dallas Stars agitator Steve Ott is one of the most hated players in the NHL and for a pretty good reason.  

    Ott is the kind of player who averages 34 points versus 155 penalty minutes over the last four seasons. He’s been suspended three times over his career for his antics, including sitting out a game in 2008 for eye-gouging Travis Moen of the Anaheim Ducks.  

    Ott claimed the incident was “accidental.”  Hmmm, you be the judge.

22. Brandon Merriweather, Chicago Bears

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    Safety Brandon Meriweather joined the Chicago Bears in 2011, bringing about three tons of baggage; not Samsonite, but the baggage of a reputation as a headhunter.  

    Along with James Harrison, Meriweather became a poster boy in 2010 for why stronger rules were needed to protect NFL players from head injuries.  

    He’s been fined a small fortune, including a $20,000 levy for a horrible helmet-to-helmet hit on Carolina receiver Steve Smith. Meriweather’s “style” of play earned him the ire of former Bears receiver Tom Waddle, who had this to say when he signed with Chicago, “…it sure looks by the way he plays the game that the intent isn't to put a big hit on someone and legally knock them out, it's to hurt someone.”

21. Christian Poulsen, Ligue 1

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    Danish soccer player Christian Poulsen has a reputation for being an exceptionally physical player who crosses the line on occasion.  

    One such occasion came in 2008, in a World Cup qualifying game against Sweden.  Poulsen punched Swedish striker Markus Roseberg in the stomach, earning a red card and inciting a melee that forced the referee to end the game.  

20. Steve Downie, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Tampa Bay Lightning goon Steve Downie is one of the most unstable and violent players in the NHL.  Downie was suspended in his very first game in the NHL, continuing the pattern of violence from his days in junior hockey.  

    In 2005, Downie was blindly cross-checked a 16-year-old teammate for refusing to participate in hazing rituals; he knocked out three of his teeth and then beat him when he returned to the ice after receiving medical treatment.  

19. Ryan Clark, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Ryan Clark has established himself as one of the team’s most vicious hitters, no small achievement on the Steelers.  

    The problem is he often runs afoul, or nearly afoul, of the NFL’s rules against leading with a helmet and violently hitting a “defenseless” receiver.  

    Some of his most infamous moments include knocking Willis McGahee out of the 2009 AFC title game (not fined), chin-blasting Braylon Edwards (not fined) in 2010, and concussing Wes Welker in 2008 (not fined).  Considering the League’s new focus on protecting players, Clark should plan on being lighter in the wallet by the end of the 2011-2012 season.

18. Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox

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    Red Sox pitcher Josh Becket has a habit of inciting bench-clearing brawls.  Beckett is a known headhunter whose most famous incident came in a game against the Angels in 2009.  

    Beckett ignored a timeout requested by Bobby Abreu and threw his next pitch at the unsuspecting batter, nearly hitting him in the face.  Then he charged the mound like a psychopath.  

17. Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger has been suspended an impressive eight times in his career.  

    FOX Sports, who named him the third dirtiest player in the NHL, described Pronger as "one nasty SOB who's long been on the league's radar for his dirty play." 

16. Darnell Dockett, Arizona Cardinals

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    Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett is often included in lists of the NFL’s dirtiest players, and the reputation is certainly not a new one.  

    In 2001, while a member of the Florida State Seminoles, Dockett violently twisted Florida Gators running back Earnest Graham’s leg after a tackle, causing Graham to miss the next game with a sprain (Dockett later said that Graham’s still-incensed mother should “get over it”).  

    As if punching Matt Hasselback in the throat wasn’t enough, Dockett’s Twitter account more than affirms his status as dirty dirty.

15. Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers

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    Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant is one of the best players to ever play the game.  He definitely plays the game with passion and he's not above taking a cheap shot every now and again.  

    How's punching someone in the groin for a cheap shot?

14. Richie Incognito, Miami Dolphins

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    Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito is a regular fixture on various lists of the NFL’s dirtiest players.  

    Known for committing fairly insane personal fouls at the worst possible time (costing him his job with the St. Louis Rams), Incognito doesn’t exactly run from his rep.  

    Facemask penalties, head butts, screaming obscenities at officials, illegal chop blocks, and ripping helmets off while in the field of play; Incognito boasts an impressive mélange of melee-inducing moves.

13. Nyjer Morgan, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan, aka Tony Plush, is definitely one of the leading troublemakers in Major League Baseball.  

    Morgan has been in trouble countless times in his relatively short career, including a seven-game suspension for throwing a ball into the stands and striking a fan.  

12. Cortland Finnegan, Tennessee Titans

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    Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan has definitely gained a reputation as a dirty player, thanks in very large part to his very well publicized dust-up with Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson. 

    Although Johnson definitely got the best of FInnegan in that fight, physically.  

    Finnegan's other incidents include a $5,000 fine for throwing former Giants receiver Steve Smith to the ground by his helmet and a $10,000 fine for hitting Broncos guard Chris Kuper after he took his helmet off.  

11. Dunta Robinson, Atlanta Falcons

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    After a string of horrifying helmet-to-helmet hits that sidelined numerous players during the 2010 season, the NFL quickly moved to crackdown on illegal hits.  

    The more we learn about the long-term impact of concussions on the health of former athletes, the more players like Dunta Robinson appear reckless and dangerous.  

    In 2010, Robinson was fined $50,000 (later reduced to $25,000) for a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit on the Eagles’ Desean Jackson, and then received a $40,000 fine (not reduced, sir) this season for an equally violent, and illegal, collision with the Eagles’ Jeremy Maclin

    Robinson claims he did nothing wrong, and as a repeat, repeat offender, he is the very definition of dirty.

10. Jarko Ruutu, SM-Liiga

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    Jarkko Ruutu may be playing hockey in Finland now, but he left quite the legacy in the NHL.  Ruutu was involved in a number of altercations during his career in the NHL, some of which are nothing short of legendary.  

    In 2009, Ruutu was playing for the Ottawa Senators when he was suspended two games and fined $37,707 for biting the glove hand of Buffalo Sabres goalie Andrew Peters

    He wasn’t penalized during the game but the NHL handed down the suspension soon after.  Peters called the incident “weird.”

9 Ron Artest, L.A. Lakers

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    Maybe Ron Artest changed his name to Metta World Peace in an effort to gain some good karma after a career of questionable behavior.  

    Don't freak out, I'm not "hating" on Ron Artest.  I love the guy, but he is routinely voted as one of the dirtiest players in the NBA by his peers.  

    His most famous incident came in 2004 when Peace (?) was playing for the Indiana Pacers.  Metta (?) was at the center of a altercation among fans and players, which resulted in an all out brawl.  MWP was inactivated by the Pacers a year later and eventually requested, and received, a trade.  

8. James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison has become the poster child for the NFL's new-found emphasis on player safety and crackdown on illegal hits.  

    After his fine-plagued 2010 season, Harrison didn't exactly keep a low profile in the off-season.  His menacing shirtless appearance on the cover of Men's Journal, and his statements referring to NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell as the devil, didn't exactly help take the target off Harrison's back.  

    He has yet to be fined this season, but he's been out most of the season with a fractured orbital bone.  

7. Albert Haynesworth, New England Patriots

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    New England Patriots defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth is as dirty a player as he is useless.  

    His most infamous (on the field) incident came when he was playing in Tennessee in 2006.  In a game against the Dallas Cowboys Haynesworth stomped on center Andre Gurode's head, which knocked off his helmet.  

    Then he kicked him in the head and stomped on his face; Gurode needed 30 stitches to close the wounds left by Haynesworth's cleats.  

    He was suspended an unprecedented five games.  

6. Vicente Padilla, LA Dodgers

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    Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Vicente Padilla is a notorious headhunter who has pegged 106 betters in his illustrious batter-pegging career.  

    In April 2010, Padilla hit San Francisco Giants' Aaron Roward in the head with a pitch; Roward suffered two fractured bones in his face.  

5. Sean Avery, AHL

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    Former NHL forward Sean Avery is one of the dirtiest players of all time.  

    In 2009, Avery instigated a brawl between the Stars (his team at the time) and the Bruins with a blind hit on Milan Lucic.  

    After returning to the rangers he triggered a "near-riot" by chop blocking Bruins goalie Tim Thomas during a TV timeout.  

4. Reggie Evans, Toronto Raptors

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    Toronto Raptors forward Reggie Evans is routinely voted one of the NBA's dirtiest players.  

    His unforgettable testicle grabbing incident in 2006 will probably define his unremarkable career.  

3. Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions

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    Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh spent his bye week executing some kind of odd publicity stunt meeting with NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell.  Suh allegedly wanted to talk to the commish about the rules to find out how he can adjust his play on the field to cut down on his hefty fines.  

    Why Suh can't adjust his play without a personal lesson from Rodger Goodell is anybody's guess.  

2. Matt Cooke, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke is generally considered the dirtiest player in the NHL and one of the dirtiest players of all time.  

    Of all Cooke's questionable hits, it was his nearly career-ending elbow to the head of Bruins center Marc Savard that will likely define his career. 

    Cooke has received a number of lengthy suspensions over the last few years and in 2011 he vowed to clean up his play.  

1. Richard Seymour, Oakland Raiders

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    Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour is undoubtably the dirtiest player in the NFL.  He might not be as frightening off the field as Steeler James Harrison, but his conduct on the field is definitely more objectionable.  

    He's got a long history of fines for illegal hit including three fines this year alone.  Seymour has been fined a total of $37,500 this season for illegal hits on Matt Schaub, Tom Brady and Benjarvus Green-Ellis. 

    In 2010 Seymour was fined an impressive $25,000 for punching Ben Roethlisberger in the head after a play.  He was ejected from the game. 

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