The National Football League has seen more than its fair share of controversies over the last few years, and with each passing season, more and more headlines pop their ugly heads into the mainstream and show a despicable side of the sport that fans, for one reason or another, just can't get enough of. Players mess up, fans blast them online, then things get back to relative normality. It is the NFL circle of life, and for many, it is more entertaining than the games themselves.
Whether it be a player going off on a coach, organizations getting into bizarre legal antics, players testing positive for things they should not be testing positive for, or the never-ending saga of the will they/won't they player retirements like in Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Donald, fans love to see the biggest NFL controversies unfold before their very eyes, as it can often humanize these larger-than-life stars. While some topics may be much more serious than others, one thing is for certain, the NFL world is always watching and waiting.
Vote up the biggest NFL Controversies of 2023, and be sure to continue to check back as we constantly update the list with all the juiciest gossip, biggest headlines, and shocking revelations in the world of the National Football League.
- Photo: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
After the Tom-pa Bay Buccaneers got shellacked by the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL Wildcard Weekend, many fans of the G.O.A.T. waited with bated breath to see what Tom Brady would say during his exit interview. Would he retire right then and there? Would he commit to another year in Tampa? Would he state he is leaving? Well, fans didn't quite get an answer to any of those questions. Instead, they got a fairly somber Brady simply thanking the reporters for accepting him in Tampa… and that's about it. This NFL offseason is about to be dominated by retirement rumors, with Brady leading the charge for the will they/won't they athletes of 2023.
The NFL Jumped The Gun With AFC Title Game Tickets
After the tragic and emotional outcome of the Bills-Bengals regular season contest that resulted in the cancellation of the game, the NFL decided to give the Buffalo Bills the benefit of the doubt by announcing that a potential Chiefs-Bills AFC Championship Game would be played on a neutral field. Kansas City was dubbed the No. 1 seed in the AFC, while the Bills were given the 2-seed; however, Buffalo held the tiebreaker over KC but was unable to finish their game in Cincinnati that could have catapulted them to the top seed in the conference.
Once it was determined that the potential matchup would be held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, the NFL immediately began selling tickets to the contest, despite the fact that the teams had yet to qualify. Prior to the Divisional Round matchup between the Bengals and Bills, Cincinnati players addressed the presumptuous actions the league took and subsequently defeated Buffalo to advance to the AFC Title Game.
When CBS Sports sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson asked Bengals QB Joe Burrow if the ticket sale controversy motivated the team, he answered, "Better send those refunds."
Quickly becoming the most aggravating story in all of sports, at least as far as talking heads are concerned, Aaron Rodgers missed the playoffs yet again and the yearly conversation of “will he retire?” is in full swing. This time, however, it appears that both fans of the team, outsiders, talking heads, and media alike are beginning to get sick and tired of Rodgers's media manipulation, and they are beginning to turn on the former MVP. With many fans wanting to see Rodgers out the door regardless, what was once a feeling of unease and terror has shifted to a feeling of exhaustion and discontent.
Well, we've all heard this one before. Just one season after Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams won the Super Bowl, the franchise and superstar found themselves on the outside looking into the NFL playoffs. Donald had contemplated retirement during the 2022 offseason but opted to come back. Now, it looks like Rams fans must prepare themselves for another go-round with the yearly story of Donald's retirement. Donald sneakily updated his Twitter bio to say “former NFL D Linemen for the Rams #99," which of course sent the NFL world into a frenzy, many asking aloud if Donald just retired. Of course, Donald would change his bio back, but the seeds have undoubtedly been planted for what is sure to be a wild offseason for the Rams and their die-hard fans.
- Photo: Dallas Cowboys / Twitter5
Cowboys Twitter Throwing Shade at Dak Prescott
Following a heartbreaking loss to the San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys' social media account held nothing back as they attacked franchise quarterback Dak Prescott. Granted, Prescott didn't play particularly well, but the fact that the team's own Twitter page went at him like this is genuinely shocking. Friction between Prescot and the Cowboys organization has been on fire for the past two years, but could this be the Cowboy's way of stating they are looking to move on from their QB? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, this is not a good look for America's team.
Did Former Bears Coach Lovie Smith Lose Texans' No. 1 Pick On Purpose?
Heading into Week 18 of the NFL regular season, the Houston Texans held the No. 1 pick for 9 straight weeks by boasting the league's worst record. Then, during the final game of the season, with rumors that the organization would be moving on from head coach Lovie Smith following the contest, the Texans played their most inspired football of the season.
After jumping out to a 24-14 lead, Houston surrendered 17 straight points to go down 31-24 with just over 3 minutes left on the clock. Of course, Texans' fans were likely ecstatic at this point, since it meant they'd secure the top overall pick and would be able to draft a franchise quarterback in April. The team led an incredible drive but looked to come up short. Then, QB Davis Mills launched a last hope-pass on 4th & 20 that was hauled in by tight end Jordin Akins in the end zone to keep hope alive for the Chicago Bears.
What happened next created quite the stir within the Houston organization and on NFL Twitter. Lovie Smith elected to go for the win instead of kicking the extra point to send the game to overtime. The Texans converted and won the game, propelling the Bears to the No. 1 overall pick. For those unfamiliar with Lovie Smith, he coached Chicago from 2004-2012 and led them to their only Super Bowl appearance since the Mike Ditka era. Smith was subsequently fired by Houston, but left Bears fans with one final heroic moment for old time's sake.