As popular as the NFL is in the US, it’s not without controversy. Some of these controversies are so big that they are still being discussed today, especially in lists like this one. From legal accusations to drug problems and killing, the NFL has had a lot of controversies under its name over the years.

If you want to know the controversies, you’re in luck because, in this article, we will discuss some of the biggest controversies the NFL has endured over its long existence. Let’s start.

1. Ray Rice Domestic Violence


Back in 2014, the NFL announced new policies regarding domestic violence and other types of assaults after Goodell was harshly criticized because of how she handled a domestic abuse case involving Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens.

Initially, Goodell suspended Rice for two games after he was charged with a third-degree assault for hitting his fiancé in the face in an elevator in New Jersey. However, after the incident, Ray Rice and his fiancé married just a month later.

However, a development on the case regarding the surfacing of a video showing Rice knocking his fiancé unconscious and dragging her from the elevator, Goodell suspended the three-time Super Bowl player indefinitely. After that, the league then issued a new policy. A court hearing happened, and Ray Rice pleaded not guilty to the charges and even applied for a program for first-time offenders.

An arbitrator erased Rice’s suspension a while later, but unfortunately, he never played again. The league then disciplined some of its players for domestic abuse due to the pressure of the garbage fire that Ray Rice created.

2. Deshaun Watson Sex Crimes


Deshaun Watson is one of the most prolific players in the league right now who is still actively playing. Currently, he is playing under the Cleveland Browns, and even last year, the team gave him $230 million in guaranteed money after trading his future picks. However, as prolific as he is, he is not without “issues.”

Despite his status as a player, the league can’t erase the fact that he has been accused of sex crimes by 22 women regarding sexual assault and harassment. However, as nothing had been proven, Watson won’t face charges regarding these allegations. It might make you suspect, though, as the timing of the court order coincides with Cleveland Brown’s purchase of him in the league. It has led to many talks, especially last year when it happened.

3. Ray Lewis


Ray Lewis is a prominent figure in the world of football, showcasing his exceptional talent and prowess as a player. In 2018, he received the ultimate recognition by being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a testament to his outstanding contributions to the sport. His legacy, however, carries a mix of both triumphs and controversies.

Controversial Beginnings: 2000 Stabbing Incident

Ray Lewis’ journey to fame was marred by a highly controversial incident in the year 2000. During his time as a linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, Lewis and a pair of his friends were involved in a tragic altercation outside a club, resulting in the deaths of two men, right after the Super Bowl held in Atlanta. This incident cast a dark shadow over his career and raised significant concerns within the public eye.

Legal Proceedings and Legacy

The legal aftermath of the incident saw the most serious charges against Lewis being dropped, leaving many puzzled by the turn of events. Eventually, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge related to obstruction of justice. This aspect of his past remained a topic of discussion throughout his career.

Triumph Amidst Adversity

Despite the controversy, Ray Lewis managed to channel his energy into his football career. He led the Baltimore Ravens to two Super Bowl victories, showcasing his exceptional leadership and on-field abilities. His dedication and skill on the field undoubtedly contributed to his lasting impact on the sport.

4. Spygate


The Spygate scandal remains etched in the annals of NFL history, particularly for devoted New England Patriots fans. The incident, which unfolded in 2007, sent shockwaves throughout the sports world, highlighting a breach of ethical boundaries and leading to severe consequences for the franchise.

Unveiling the Scandal: Taping Defensive Signals

In 2007, the New England Patriots were implicated in a scandal involving the covert taping of defensive signals used by the New York Jets during a game. This illicit activity was conducted from the sidelines, giving the Patriots a potential advantage by decoding their opponents’ strategic moves. The revelation of this surreptitious action cast a shadow of doubt over the team’s credibility and fairness.

Bill Belichick’s Response and Integrity of the Game

In response to the scandal, Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick addressed the issue, attempting to reassure the public about the integrity of the game. His statement conveyed a commitment to fair play, despite the tainting of the team’s reputation due to the scandal.

Consequences and Fallout

The aftermath of Spygate was swift and impactful. A mere four days after the incident came to light, Bill Belichick faced a hefty fine of half a million dollars, and the Patriots were mandated to forfeit their first-round draft pick. The franchise itself incurred a substantial fine of $250,000, signaling the seriousness of the violation and its repercussions.

Controversial Action: Destruction of Spygate Tapes

As part of the fallout, the NFL chose to destroy the Spygate tapes, a decision that sparked controversy in its own right. Critics questioned the transparency and intentions behind this move, further fueling the debates surrounding the scandal.

5. Deflategate


But the saga continues because New England quarterback Tom Brady was accused of deflating footballs eight years later before the Patriots won 47-7 against the Colts. The scheme supposedly gave the football a better grip, giving the quarterback an advantage.

After a lengthy investigation, the NFL suspended Brady for four games because he was categorized as “generally aware of the scheme,” the Patriots were fined a million dollars, and two of their draft picks would be taken away.

But even with all that was happening to them all season long, they won the Super Bowl anyway, justifying their NFL odds even with the scheming. However, their Super Bowl win has been controversial because of the scheming they did earlier this season. The legitimacy of their win is still up for debate amongst fans even today.

Final Words

The NFL is one of the biggest sports leagues in the world. However, their sports career is not smooth due to the controversies the league faced over the years. That said, they are still one of the most popular leagues, with millions of fans watching the Super Bowl yearly.