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The Longest Player Suspensions In NFL History

Updated November 15, 2019 17 items

For a game as aggressive and intense as professional football, the NFL does not have a long history of major suspensions. Most of the longest suspensions in NFL history were around a year, with many players suspended for an entire season of play.

Three players in NFL history have received a lifetime ban, though only Merle Hapes, accused of a taking a bribe to fix the 1946 NFL Championship Game, was never reinstated to the league. A number of players received lengthy bans for gambling, such as Alex Karras and Hall of Famer Paul Hornung. Others were involved in criminal activity off the field, like Plaxico Burress and Michael Vick.

In current times, the NFL has tried to make player safety a priority, with Vontaze Burfict suspended multiple times for dangerous hits on opponents. Meanwhile, Myles Garrett was suspended indefinitely and likely for the remainder of the 2019 season, for attacking another player with a helmet during a game.

So check out the list of the lengthiest bans ever in the NFL and check back to see if anyone else gets added to the suspension report and this list of infamy.

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  • Supsension: Two years
    Date: September 23, 2009

    Reason: Burress was sentenced to two years in prison and two years of supervised release after a nightclub shooting incident in which he accidentally shot himself in the leg. Burress was suspended for the length of his prison sentence, missing the 2009 and 2010 seasons, and returned to play for the Jets and Steelers.

  • Supsension: Entire 2009 season
    Date: August 13, 2009

    Reason: In March 2009, Stallworth struck and killed a pedestrian while driving under the influence. He served 24 days in jail and lost his driver's license permanently. The NFL suspended him for the entirety of the 2009 season, and he returned in 2010 with the Baltimore Ravens.

  • Supsension: Entire 2007 season
    Date: May 15, 2007

    Reason: In February 2007, Jones was involved in an altercation at a strip club in which he was accused of attacking a dancer and threatened a security guard. Jones suffered a series of legal issues stemming from the incident and was suspended for the entire 2007 season. He returned to play in 2008 and retired from the NFL in 2019.

  • 8

    Mike Reilly

    Mike Reilly
    Photo: user uploaded image

    Supsension: Entire 1983 season
    Date: August 2, 1983

    Reason: Reilly, then a linebacker with the Los Angeles Rams, was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and suspended for the entirety of the 1983 season. He never played in the NFL again.