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Biggest Scandals in NFL History

Scandals are hard to forget, especially when it comes to America’s most popular sports league. From bunting and bullying to bad bets by their players, allegations of sexual assault, and incidences of violence, these scandals have been a mark of shame in the NFL’s roster of fails. 

The scandals have seen NFL players and coaches suspended and some even evicted from the league. Though the league has been good at deflecting and recovering from these scandals, they remain a glitch in their history. Check out some of the major ones below:

Gambling Suspensions

A 2018 Supreme Court ruling made legal online gambling possible, allowing states to establish wagering laws. The NFL made clear rules prohibiting its personnel from participating in or facilitating gambling.

However, during the 2022 season, some of the three NFL players decided not to listen to the rules put in front of them and were indefinitely suspended for betting on NFL games. The other two players received six-game suspensions for betting on the non-NFL games at a league facility. 

Three of their players, Quintex Cephus, CJ Moore, and Shaka Toney, were gambling on NFL games. The other two were Stanley Berryhill and Jameson Williams. Gambling suspensions are, however, not a new scandal in the NFL. There are other incidents from 1963, 1965, 1983, and many others. Though most of their players were reinstated after suspension, some had to pay fines for betting on NFL games. 

You can understand why this is a major issue. NFL players betting on their own sport could lead people to suggest that they have inside information that the bookies don’t know about and also the possibility of teams being bribed to lose or to have certain outcomes for the financial benefit of themselves and others. It has been known in the past that some teams have been paid to lose so that other people can win a substantial amount of money.


In 2012, NFL Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for a whole season, manager Mickey Loomis for eight games, and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games. They were found guilty of paying some players to injure the opposing team’s players.

The players involved in this scandal, such as Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma, Scott Futija, and Antony Hargrove, were suspended for two months. 

During the scandal, other disciplinary actions that occurred were:

  • The Saints were fined $500,000, which saw them forfeit their second-round draft picks in 2012 and 2013
  • The defensive coordinator for New Orleans was suspended indefinitely
  • Later, after a three-year NFL inquiry, the Saints layer Jonathan Vilma got a full-season ban

It goes without saying that if you are willing to go through with something like this and put someone’s well being at risk and potentially endanger their lives with a really serious injury, then you should not be allowed to participate in sport.

Bullying and Harassment 

NFL lineman Richie Incognito was suspended for the rest of the 2013 season for bullying a fellow lineman, Jonathan Martin, who left the team abruptly. While investigating, the NFL realized that Richie and two other linemen had engaged in a pattern of harassment towards Martin. 

Also, in November 1990, three NFL players were issued a fine of $72,500 for playing a role in the sexual harassment of a female reporter, Lisa Olson. The players, including Kiam and Patriots, later apologized to Olson after a group of women led a boycott against Remington’s products. 

Sex Crime Accusations

This is one of the most common scandals the NFL faces every year. They include Jermaine Cunningham, who was accused of posting revenge porn of his ex-girlfriend, Jameis Winston, accused of rape; Froster Rucker, accused of sexual assault in 1997 and 2002; and Ahmad Brooks, charged with a misdemeanor of sexual battery.

Though there are many more of these NFL players’ sexual crimes, one of the most recent ones is the Deshaun Watson case and his 22 sex crime accusers. Despite having lawsuits against him, in which 22 women all accused him of crimes related to sexual harassment and sexual assault, Dashaun did not face any criminal charges. 

As we all know, it is important that you make your judgement on these people based on the evidence supplied rather than media spin and allegations.Sometimes, allegations can be fabricated and may not always be 100% true, which is why all we can go off is the court ruling. None of the information we supply in this article is there to help you inform an opinion, but simply just to provide you with the information of such cases.


Spygate is one NFL scandal that made people question the league’s code of conduct. When the first report was made about the New England Patriots spying on opposing teams, most of the public didn’t believe it. 

However, the NFL clarified the matter by confirming that the team was videotaping the New York Jets’ defensive signals. This caused a significant decrease in the number of fans supporting Patriots organizations. Their head coach, Bill Belichick, was fined $500,000, and the team also faced a fine of $250,000.

Spygate is not only something that has occurred in the NFL but also across many sports. Soccer for example is known for having spies being sent to training facilities to watch opponents play, a common occurrence of this in Soccer was when Leeds spied on Chelsea.

Illicit Sex Scandal

Sex is private, but it wasn’t anymore during this famous NFL scandal. The scandal occurred when 17 Minnesota Vikings players rented two houseboats and hired prostitutes from Florida and Georgia. They also invited 90 more people to their vacation to help them celebrate. 

However, this did not end well when an internet uproar arose after photos from the party were leaked online. This led to team embarrassment; most players were fined, marriages were destroyed, and some even faced criminal misdemeanor charges. 


While a few scandals have trounced NFL team managers and coaches, most of the scandals revolved around the players. Apart from the sexual scandals, most players are often found guilty of participating in betting activities that go against the NFL rules.

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