Did you know that the NFL is over 100 years old? Well, it is, so it’s not really that hard to imagine that they’ve had to endure their fair share of scandals, gossip, embarrassing and controversial situations, and many other issues that were non-football-related. Even the absolute best NFL predictions connoisseurs in the world do not have a true grasp on what a full-blown NFL-related scandal can escalate to.
While we can talk about the whole OJ Simpson ordeal, which is by far and near the biggest scandal ever to rock the NFL and which would give for days and days of conversation, let’s focus on more recent events that have rocked the NFL and its stars but not in a positive manner.
Here we count down three of the biggest scandals to rock pro football since the turning of the millennium.
Michael Vick’s Dog Fighting Scandal
If there was ever a player set to become the next face of the NFL, because of his place in the league, his amazing video-game style skills, and his all-around persona, it was former Falcons, Eagles, Jets, and Steelers QB Michael Vick. If you ask any fans of pro football from the early 2000’s none will hesitate to talk about just how good Vick was until 2007.
After an initial investigation regarding the proliferation of a dogfighting operation in Vick’s home state of Virginia began to unfold, what followed was something that nobody in the league or the media was expecting. What the “Bad Newz” dogfighting investigation uncovered was a whole operation managed out of a property owned by Vick where over 70 dogs, mostly pit bulls, were seized out of the property, many of them showing clear signs of physical abuse and injuries as well as more and more damning physical evidence all pointing out to the horrific and illegal activities being practiced in Vick’s 15-acre estate.
Four men, including the former Falcons QB at the moment, Vick, were indicted on federal offenses and state-related felony charges all related to their dogfighting ring, popularly known as “Bad Newz Kennels,” where apart from the appalling dogfighting activities went down, there were also signs of gambling as well as dog executions. All of this led to Vick receiving a suspension from the NFL as well as having to complete a 23-month federal prison sentence for the crimes he had committed.
Needless to say that after his sentence was over, Vick tried to stage a comeback to the NFL with some success while playing for the Philadelphia Eagles but was never able to regain his once held super-star status in the league.
Ray Rice’s Domestic Violence Scandal
Ray Rice, at least from a stats point of view, can be seen as one of the best players to ever play for the Baltimore Ravens at his position of running back. In his six full seasons with the team, he managed to get three Pro-Bowl invitations and even won Super Bowl XLVII with Baltimore.
If we were to stop talking about him right there, it would seem like this is a story of a player whose career lasted way too little for all the potential he had, and it may be true. But then again, even if Rice was considered one of the best and fastest running backs in the league, his own wrongful actions ended up catching up to him and having him give up what could’ve been an even more illustrious NFL career.
On Feb 15th, 2014, Ray Rice and his now-wife Janay Palmer were arrested and charged with physical assault charges after a fight at a casino in Atlantic City. What started out as a profanity-ridden shouting match between the two in the casino and its elevators ended up with Rice punching his then-fiancée in the head, which would lead to Palmer losing consciousness. It was four days later when video evidence of the fight was broadcasted by the gossip ridden website TMZ, where people were able to see Rice drag an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator after punching her.
While initially, the NFL suspended Rice for only 2 games, the league came under serious and very much expected backlash for their decision. It went on to suspend Rice indefinitely, which basically meant the end of his promising career.
Colin Kaepernick’s Kneeling For The US Anthem
This could easily be considered as the biggest social injustice-driven scandal that the NFL has seen in all of its existence.
Moved by all the injustices, lack of racial equality, episodes of police brutality, and more negative experiences that the African American community have to endure in the United States, former 49ers star QB Colin Kaepernick decided to take actions into his own hands to show that he was against all of this and with the victims of said injustices.
By not standing up when the US national anthem was sung before games, choosing to either sit down or kneel on one knee as a sign of support for African American victims of police and social brutality and injustice, Kaepernick opened one of the most turbulent times and debates in not only the NFL but all of the pro sports and American society up until today.
Sadly, his actions were seen more like a lack of respect to the country than a sign of protest and a show of support for those who can’t be heard, those who can’t breathe.
While Kaepernick is still looking to come back to the league, it is becoming more and more apparent as time goes by that while many teams could benefit greatly from having him around, he’s not an option for anybody in the league right now.