Even though Terrell Owens, Brett Favre and Randy Moss are retired (or at least semi-retired, in T.O.’s case), there is no shortage of NFL characters who seem to be more interested in themselves, their future and/or their bank accounts than the interests of the team.
Of course, there are many ways to characterize a player as selfish or “me-first.” Here are some examples:
* They frequently get into trouble…that can be legal trouble, league trouble or stupid, unnecessary penalties. One way or another, each of those types of transgressions costs a team.
* They seem more interested in their contract status, getting paid or just making money than anything else.
* They repeatedly draw attention to themselves on or off the field, boasting, taunting opponents or—the worst in my opinion—displaying a “trademark” celebration.
Each of these men falls under at least one of those categories.
No. 5: Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
This might be punishing him once again for something for which he already served time, but in terms of selfishness and me-first behavior, what Michael Vick did to ruin his career with the Falcons transcends the five years that have passed since he was in Atlanta.
Vick put his dog-fighting business/hobby before every member of the Falcons organization, from owner Arthur Blank all the way down, and it resulted in that horrific 2007 season in which seemingly every move the team made disintegrated into a disaster. (Just because the team reinvented itself so quickly shouldn’t excuse Vick from culpability either.)
In Philadelphia Vick has certainly distanced himself from the selfish, me-first image that begot the end of his Atlanta career, but there will always be a sense of forgiving, not forgetting.
No. 4: Santonio Holmes, WR, New York Jets
The way he holds out the ball and drops it after catching every pass—even if it’s not a first down—qualifies Santonio Holmes for the list under the “trademark celebration” clause stipulated in the introduction slide.
But he earns a top-five spot on the list because his off-field issue have repeatedly hurt his team. Back in 2008 the Steelers suspended Holmes prior to a critical game with the Giants (a game they lost) because Holmes had been arrested for possession of marijuana that week.
Not long after that—and winning a Super Bowl MVP—the Steelers felt compelled to trade him to the Jets, partly because of the legal woes that led to a four-game suspension to start the 2010 season. I still think Holmes is one of the NFL’s better catchers and among the best runners in the open field, so when he forces himself out of the lineup for reasons other than injury, it’s a tremendous blow to his teammates.
No. 3: Rex Ryan, Head Coach, New York Jets
I guess you could look at Rex Ryan’s act as a brilliant piece of coaching and psychology. By always being in the media for whatever he says or does—guaranteeing Super Bowls, taking a jab at Norv Turner, calling out players in his recently released book—Ryan takes some of the attention away from his players and puts it squarely on himself.
That could be viewed as a way to relieve his players of feeling too much pressure and being so scrutinized. But I think that’s just a happy coincidence for Ryan. He genuinely seems to love the spotlight and the attention he receives, win or lose.
Because of his personality and the city in which he coaches, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a bigger coaching celebrity in today’s NFL—including far more successful head coaches like Bill Belichick, Mike Shanahan, Mike Tomlin and Sean Payton—and that is not a coincidence.
No. 2: Jerry Jones, Owner, Dallas Cowboys
Now that Al Davis and George Steinbrenner have passed away, there isn’t a more recognizable owner/celebrity in American sports than Jerry Jones.
On the one hand, Jones is the very model of a team owner because he is so passionate about his team and would seemingly do anything to have it succeed. Since there have been plenty of owners that you couldn’t say that about, it’s admirable to some degree.
But as much as he wants his team to win, he seems to want people to know that it’s his team and that he is responsible for putting it together, paying the bills and overseeing its past, present and future.
No. 1: Chad Ochocinco, WR, New England Patriots
Again, I’m taking into account a player’s entire body of work, not just what’s taken place in 2011.
Sure, in New England Chad Ochocinco hasn’t made headlines for wacky touchdown celebrations, but that’s as much due to the fact that he hasn’t yet caught a touchdown pass…do you really think he won’t do something to draw attention to himself should he score this year?
Ochocinco was a fine, even great player for a five- or six-year stretch in Cincinnati, but in some ways his excellence as a pass-catcher was overshadowed by his dances, end-zone antics, signs and overall me-first attitude.