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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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  • 1

    Merle Hapes

    Merle Hapes
    Photo: user uploaded image

    Supsension: Lifetime ban
    Date: April 3, 1947

    Reason: A running back for the New York Giants at the time, Hapes was found to have accepted bribes to help fix the 1946 NFL Championship Game, which the Giants lost, 24-14, to the Chicago Bears. Hapes never played in the NFL again, though he did play one season in the Canadian Football League following the ban. 

  • Rae Carruth
    Photo: Craig Jones / Getty Images

    Supsension: Indefinite ban
    Date: December 17, 1999

    Reason: Carruth was suspended indefinitely after being convicted of multiple crimes, including conspiracy to murder his then-pregnant girlfiend. He served 18 years in prison and was released in 2018, never playing in the NFL again after the suspension.

  • 3

    Frank Flichock

    Frank Flichock
    Photo: user uploaded image

    Supsension: Lifetime ban (reinstated in 1950)
    Date: April 3, 1947

    Reason: A quarterback for the New York Giants at the time, Flichock was found to have accepted bribes to help fix the 1946 NFL Championship Game, which the Giants lost, 24-14, to the Chicago Bears. Flichock played in the Canadian Football League following the ban and returned to the NFL briefly after his reinstatement in 1950. 

  • Supsension: Indefinite ban (reinstated in July 2009) 
    Date: 
    July 27, 2007

    Reason: Vick was suspended and served time in prison for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring. He missed the entire 2007 and 2008 seasons before being reinstated and joining the Philadelphia Eagles.