What would Star Wars be without Darth Vader? Not as much fun. Movies need a good villain to make your favorite characters more compelling. Likewise the theater of football thrives on its scoundrels. Guys you tune in to see your team (at least for the day) triumph over. But who are the NFL’s greatest villains? We’ll take a stab at it.
10. There is an American tradition where families gather around the television on Thanksgiving Day--and root against the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are America's team, a country polarized by red states and blue states. Likewise, America is just as divided over the Cowboys, you either love them or you hate them. Most hate them, right down to the fair-haired quarterbacks from Roger Staubach to Troy Aikman who seem an awful lot like Adams College quarterback Stan Gable from Revenge of the Nerds. As the cliche goes, you have two favorite teams--the hometown team and whoever is playing the Cowboys.
Movie equivalent: Storm Troopers, Star Wars. They are nameless villains in their home white uniforms and helmets.
9. The Tennessee Titans hoped to get the next Deion Sanders when they selected Adam "PacMan" Jones in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. And they did--at least off the field, including PacMan referring to PacMan in the third person. Jones, the only rookie on the list, held out for more money, lashed out at teammates Keith Bullock and Albert Haynesworth, and was arrested for assault and felony vandalism all before he signed his first contract.
Movie equivalent: Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci), Goodfellas. Short guy with an anger problem.
8. A lot of players on this list talk the talk, but most walk the walk. Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey is not one of those players. The brash tight end took the league by storm in 2002 with his tough talk and ability to run over defenders--in preseason games. Now he is now known more for his late-night party habits than scoring touchdowns (10 in three seasons).
Movie equivalent: The Swede (Peter Koch ), Heartbreak Ridge. The Swede was built up as an inconvincible force for the first-half of the movie. Flamed out in his first scene.
7. Movies often have the same basic formula. So do enigmatic receivers. Terrell Owens fell out of favor in San Francisco when he challenged his head coach, Steve Mariucci, and questioned quarterback Jeff Garcia's manhood. Owens teased a turn to the good side last year in Philadelphia before he again challenged his coach, Andy Reid, and questioned quarterback Donovan McNabb's manhood recently. Owens would rate higher on the list if the sequel were not so predictable. Here is hoping that the third installment is fresher when he is traded in the offseason.
Movie equivalent: Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund), A Nightmare on Elm Street. Krueger put up solid numbers at the box office, but became more cartoon-like as the series dragged on.
6. Have you noticed that Raiders receiver Randy Moss has been on his best behavior lately? Moss has been the model teammate, saying the right thing and being supportive of his peers. So was Terrell Owens last season. Moss said that he will be having fun—as long as the team is winning.Uh, oh. Hopefully Moss finds Kerry Collins interceptions and overthrows fun. Moss, at least, already has apologized for any bad behavior.
"There is no telling what you are going to see," Moss said.
Sorry Randy, we actually have a pretty good idea of what we are going to see; and it is not good. The recent admission that you still smoke pot, "once in a blue moon," is just the beginning.
Movie equivalent: Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), Stars Wars Episode III. Always knew he had evil in him, but just finally turned to the dark side.
5. Former NFL quarterback Archie Manning became the ultimate "Little-League parent" when he ordered the Chargers not to select his boy, Eli Manning. Archie, a perennial loser for years with the Saints, reasoned that he did not want his youngest boy to take a beating for a losing organization like San Diego. Funny thing about the NFL, the difference between winning and losing is very slim and it is not uncommon for a team to finish last in its division one season and turn into a Super Bowl contender the next. The Chargers won the AFC West in 2004 and are tabbed as a Super Bowl contender by most experts this season. Eli finished just 1-6 as a starter in New York. Look for Eli to demand a trade back to San Diego if this trend continues.
Movie equivalent: Charlie Dillon (Matt Damon), School Ties. Spoiled rich kid that can never live up the gridiron reputation of his older brother.
4. Former coach Bum Phillips once said of Don Shula that "He could take his and beat yours, and take yours and beat his." St. Louis coach Mike Martz often seems so inept, he could take his and lose to yours and take yours and lose to his. Yet Martz remains condescending and self-important like the NFL version of U2's Bono.
It is hard to imagine there was a time when Martz was so highly regarded in the NFL, that St. Louis panicked and rushed Dick Vermeil into retirement days after winning the Super Bowl. Martz remained a genius all the way until Super Bowl XXXVI when heavily favored St .Louis was defeated by the New England Patriots in the biggest upset since Super Bowl III. America stood and cheered as the smug look was whipped from Martz's face. At least for a day.
Movie equivalent: Professor Jerry Hathaway (William Atherton), Real Genius. Supposedly the smartest guy in the movie, outwitted by a couple of teenagers.
3. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wants you to know that he is just a regular guy. Brady recently admitted to GQ Magazine that he hated his golden boy image and even let the world know that he too, sometimes searches for porn on the Internet. There has not been a publicity episode that staged since Tom Cruise jumped on a couch during the Oprah Winfrey Show and proclaimed that he loved Katie Holmes.
But give Brady a break. He is just a regular guy like us with the movie star girlfriends and million-dollar contract.
Movie equivalent: Tom Ripley (Matt Damon), The Talented Mr. Ripley. Sent in as an injury-replacement for the starting quarterback, and eventually assumed his life.
2. It is hard to believe that there are still fans in Southern California that root for St. Louis. Especially after owner Georgia Frontiere pulled a Major League when she tanked the team and moved the club. Rooting for the St. Louis football team is akin to rooting for your girlfriend to hook-up with guys on the Real World, win an Emmy award for bedding half the town and proclaiming in her acceptance speech that cheating on you was obviously the right thing to do.
Which is what happened when St. Louis won Super Bowl XXXIV.
Movie equivalent: Mama Fretelli (Anne Ramsey), Goonies. Gold digger. Tried to drown one of her kids.
1. There is hate and then there is hate. There is, "I am kind of pulling for this team to lose," passive hate. And then there is, "If this team wins, I am going to become an alcoholic," piss and vinegar hate.That is what Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Kris Jenkins said about the NFL's top villain, Warren Sapp.
Jenkins, who missed most of the 2004 NFL season, told the Associated Press that he became dependent on alcohol when he saw Sapp celebrate on the Carolina Panthers home field last year.
Jenkins did not pull any punches when it came to talking about Sapp.
"I hate him. Everybody says I'm supposed to be polite when I talk to you all, but I hate him," Jenkins said. "He talks too much, he doesn't make sense, he's fat, he's sloppy, he acts like he's the best thing since sliced bread. He's ugly, he stinks, his mouth stinks, his breath stinks, and basically his soul stinks, too. Not too many people have personalities like that and survive in life. I don't know how he does it."
Which of the 12-steps is forgiveness?
Remember, Sapp is the same guy that called Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington an "Uncle Tom;" referred to the NFL office as a "slave master;" threw a tantrum at practice because Buccaneers high coach of the week, Mike DePue "made eye contact" in 2003. And who could forget that Warren tried to start a fight with Packers coach Mike Sherman after he threw a cheap shot at Chad Clifton?
Jenkins has the right idea. We would like to buy Jenkins a beer and watch together as Sapp and the Raiders struggle this year.
Movie equivalent: Scot Farkas (Zack Ward), A Christmas Story. Nothing but a big bully. Charles Woodson leading candidate to be sidekick Grover Dill by still crying about the "tuck rule."