All The Craziest Players In NFL History That You Don’t Want To Mess With

Total Pro Sports
of the Kansas City Chiefs against the Cincinnati Bengals during the preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The NFL is a league of eccentric… bordering on extreme characters. Both on the field—and off the field.

Which… I suppose shouldn’t be a huge shock… Because with how physical and grueling the sport is—you really do have to be a little bit crazy to play football at the highest level.

Nevertheless—the seemingly endless supply of rogue individuals—and the subsequent controversies they create—do well to create a lot of intrigue around the NFL—as long as the antics don’t cross legal or ethical lines.

Some of these guys are hated… Some are loved—actually—most are both. Either way—let’s get into the 10 craziest players we’ve ever seen take to the NFL field.

Jack Hacksaw Reynolds

If you can earn a nickname like “Hacksaw” – it is a fairly safe bet that you skew to the crazy side of things… and after hearing about some of his antics from his playing days, John “Jack” Reynolds fits that to the tee.

Take, for instance, how he got his nickname…. During his college days, his team returned from a 38 to 0 loss and in a fit of rage he took a hacksaw to a ’53 Chevy and sawed it in half.

And when he got to the pros, it was more of the same. Reynolds would show up to 49ers team breakfasts in full pads and eye black, which is even more hilarious because San Fran was the last stop in his 14-year career… Meaning as a full-grown man he was doing this, not some kid straight out of college. 

Definitely one of the most eccentric characters the game has ever seen.

Conrad Dobler

Football: Closeup of St. Louis Cardinals Conrad Dobler (66) on sidelines during game vs Washington Redskins. Washington, DC 10/13/1975 CREDIT: Walter Iooss Jr. (Photo by Walter Iooss Jr. ?Sports Illustrated via Getty Images/Getty Images) (Set Number: X19925

When a player gets anointed as the “Pro Football’s Dirtiest Player” by Sports Illustrated, which Dobler did by means of the 1977 cover article, it is a fairly safe bet that he wasn’t exactly the most mild-mannered guy.

He was infamous for delivering sneaky punches to opposing players’ guts, nailing them with kicks into the side of the leg and even using his teeth.

One of his good friends, Phil Villapiano, who played linebacker for the Bills summed him up well:

“He could drink with the best of them, and play with the best of them, and swear with the best of them. For some guys, it was like partying led them to an upper level on the field — they were a little crazy off the field, and they were a little crazy on it. Conrad was a tough, rotten, nasty guy.”

At least Dobler was able to channel his craziness into a somewhat productive outlet through football, but man, was he a wild guy.

Bill Romanowski

OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 8: Defender Bill Romanowski #53 of the Oakland Raiders roams the sidelines during the game against the Seattle Seahawks on September 8, 2002 at Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland, California. The Raiders defeated the Seahawks 31-17. (Photo By Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Having played in the NFL for well over a decade, former Pro Bowl linebacker, Bill Romanowski had more than his fair share of chances to build a reputation for being one of the craziest players to ever step foot on the gridiron.

After all, this is a guy who titled his post-playing career autobiography, Romo My Life on the Edge: Living Dreams and Slaying Dragons. I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like the ramblings of a none too sane man…

If that isn’t testament enough, perhaps the laundry list of altercations and controversies he found himself embroiled in during his 16-year NFL career will do the trick.

In 1995, he got fined 10 G’s for straight up kicking an opposing player, Saints full back, Marcus Williams in the head—giving him a concussion that cost him the rest of his season. Then, two years later, he got pinged for another 25K after he spat in the face of JJ Stokes, one of the San Francisco 49ers wide receivers.

And that was really just the tip of the iceberg too… He had an incident with Eddie George in 2000, during which he ripped his helmet off, causing another concussion. This time, he actually got suspended for the incident as well.

These kinds of big, public incidents are not exactly par for the course when it comes to normal human behavior.

Safe to say—Romo really liked to walk the line. Which, uncoincidentally is a big part of what made him such a great player… That aggressive nature—and the willingness to do “whatever it took” was truly a double-edged sword him, but one that he swung all the way to four Super Bowl rings.

Adam “Pacman” Jones

CINCINNATI, OH – JANUARY 09: Adam Jones #24 of the Cincinnati Bengals argues a call with referee John Parry #132 in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium on January 9, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

To stick around in the league for as long as Pacman Jones did—with a rap sheet as long as his was—you truly have to be a special player.

After all, we are talking about a guy who got arrested seven separate times during his NFL career alone, which, considering how obsessed the NFL is about its image is insane to think about.

One of the craziest incidents that this crazy individual was involved in was in February of 2007, when he was charged for his role in a massive Las Vegas strip club brawl. There was, of course, a slew of other bar-related charges that came in the coming years as well.

On a slightly lighter note, that intense energy that made him teeter back and forth from sanity also made him one of the most entertaining players to watch on the field as well. He was a very talented cornerback—and at a time, one of the best kick returners in the game.

Plus, when he did manage to stay out of trouble long enough to start building some regular rapport with the media again, he was always good for a funny quote here and there. But there’s no denying that he’s about as crazy as they come.

Lawrence Taylor

Lawrence Taylor #56, Linebacker the New York Giants during the National Football Conference West game against the Los Angeles Rams on 12 November1989 at the Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim, California, United States. The Rams won the game 31 – 10. (Photo by Mike Powell/Allsport/Getty Images)

Lawrence “LT” Taylor is widely regarded as—not just one of the best defensive players to ever play the game—but perhaps one of the single greatest football players of all time.

The man won MVP as a non-quarterback, led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl victories and was a three-time Defensive Player of the Year—with double digit All-Pros to boot.

And he did all of this while regularly taking illicit drugs, like cocaine… Not just during his free time, but even during games. To say that Lawrence Taylor was a wild card is the understatement of the century—as evidenced by the laundry list of charges he’s caught over the years.

It wasn’t just the legal troubles that ailed LT either… He always tried to live beyond his already extensive means and blew through most of the money he made during his career by overspending on lavish purchases—and of course on partying and gambling and all of that fun stuff.

Taylor, however, seemed to think that this side of him was inextricable from the player he was on the football field he explained:

“For me, crazy as it seems, there is a real relationship between wild, reckless abandon off the field and being that way on the field.”

While I’m not sure that is 100 percent accurate, there is probably at least some element of truth in the fact that without that deranged edge he played with, Taylor might not have been the fear-inducing game wrecker that he turned out to be.

Brian Bosworth

1985: Defensive lineman Brian Bosworth of the Oklahoma Sooners stands on the sidelines during a game in Norman, Oklahoma.+Mandatory Credit: Allsport /Allsport

If you take one look at “the Boz” – you can quickly assume that he was on the wild side of things. Between the crop tops, the high-top haircut, and the crazy antics on and off the field, he wasn’t exactly hiding it.

He was also one of the first people to try and stick it to the NCAA for its exploitative policies that prevented players from earning money—going as far as to reveal an ‘NCAA: National Communists Against Athletes” shirt during a game.

Considering he was one of the best players in the college game at the time, the NCAA and the media had no choice but to pay attention.

Unfortunately, he was never really able to find the same success at the NFL level. He played just three seasons for the Seahawks before flaming out entirely.

Chad Ochocinco Johnson

CINCINNATI – NOVEMBER 21: Chad Ochocinco #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals watches the final minute of the Bengals 49-31 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium on November 21, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

At the peak of his powers, the man formerly known as Chad Johnson—was one of the most exciting wide receivers to watch in the entire NFL… He was an electric playmaker—and had a whole arsenal of custom celebrations to whip out when he scored on game day.

He also was one of the most eccentric personalities in the league—bar none. It wasn’t just the whole name-change saga or the on-going war with the NFL Commisioner’s Office over what he could wear or say or do either…

Chad was just a different type of individual, who always did exactly what he wanted to do—without always thinking how it would impact others… or, really, paying even the slightest bit of mind to the fact that it might.

That never seemed to factor into the equation for him, which, might’ve ultimately held him back in his career… And it is definitely why his time in the highly-structured New England Patriots organization wasn’t quite as successful as people predicted when the Pats brought him in.

But hey! He still made a ton of money and four All-Pros. Plus—because his crazy antics weren’t nearly as dark as some of the other players on this list, with the exception of the charges he caught in 2010 after a domestic dispute, he was able to parlay his crazy reputation into a number of lucrative ventures after his playing days were finished, including a stint with the WWE, a number of big endorsement deals, and even an appearance in Professional Bull riding.

Jack Tatum

SAN DIEGO, CA – DECEMBER 3: Quarterback John Hadl #21 of the San Diego Chargers tries to elude safety Jack Tatum #31 of the Oakland Raiders at San Diego Stadium on December 3, 1972 in San Diego, California. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 21-19. (Photo by James Flores/Getty Images

When a player develops a reputation for being one of the wilder guys in the NFL—and it comes with a nickname as ridiculous as “the Assassin” – that’s when you know he wasn’t messing around.

That’s as serious as a nickname as you can get… and it is exactly what John “Jack” Tatum was called during the 10 seasons he played in the NFL from ’71 through 1980.

He played free safety for nine seasons for the then Oakland Raiders, during their heyday, earning three trips to the Pro Bowl, two All-Pros and winning one Super Bowl—and earned the moniker “the assassin” for the violent way that he played the game and his explosive personality.

I mean… in the man’s obituary in 2010 the New York Times literally called him a “symbol of a violent game.”

Tatum didn’t let his wild and crazy ways get him in too much trouble off the field—or in terms of suspensions or anything like that, but unfortunately, he is probably best known for one tragic incident in which his aggressive playing style went a bridge too far.

During a 1978 exhibition game with the New England Patriots, Tatum hit New England’s wide receiver high when he was coming over the middle attempting to receive a slant—and the collision left Stingley paralyzed for the rest of his life.

There was no suspension doled out at the time, but it did force the NFL to start to reassess its rules around exactly how players could tackle one another.

Ndamukong Suh

ARLINGTON, TX – JANUARY 04: Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions is on the field before the start of their NFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 4, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Ndamukong Suh started in 2010, when the Detroit Lions took him second overall out of the University of Nebraska—and people quickly realized the fearsome defensive lineman played like he was from a different time.

With Suh, there was none of the fraternal niceties that we often see in today’s game. On the field, he was mean, violent, and crazy.

By the time his second season in the NFL was over—he had already been flagged for nine personal fouls, the most of any player during that span.

Four years in, he’d been fined well over $200,000 dollars for his crazy behavior on the field.

Whether it was kicking Matt Schaub in the groin or stomping on Evan Dietrich-Smith’s head… it was always something new and concerning. Even to the most hardcore of NFL fans.

To Suh’s credit, however, he did manage to stay out of trouble off the field, but when you are costing yourself that much money on the field, not to mention the negative impact on your own team with the insane amount of penalties—that silver lining fades into being an afterthought.

John Matuszak

LOS ANGELES – SEPTEMBER 20: Legendary defensive end John Matuszak of the Los Angeles Raiders signs autographs for fans during the game against the Detroit Lions at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 20, 1987 in Los Angeles, California. The Raiders won 27-7. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

John “Tooz” Matuszak was taken with the first overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft, but it took him a few stops to really settle into an NFL organization—this was in part because he was crazy enough to try and play for two professional football teams at once… playing seven plays in a World Football League game for the Houston Texans until a restraining order was served to him and the Oilers subsequently traded him.

But it was also because his personality and his lifestyle complicated things for the burly defensive end.

He was a hard-drinking, hard-living guy, who seemed could never really find the right balance of moderation.

By all accounts he was extremely nice off the field, but he could never really keep it between the lines—and tragically passed away at the age of 38 from an accidental overdose.

Of course, the death would be sad either way… but it is really just a shame—because Matuszak seemed to be settling in nicely to a second career of acting, perhaps most notably his legendary appearance in cult classic, “The Goonies,” as well as numerous guest appearances on popular shows like M*A*S*H and Miami Vice.

Who do you think is the craziest NFL player of all-time? Did we miss anyone?

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