Football is a violent sport by nature, so it is typical for tempers to flare on the field. Sometimes, those tempers escalate and things can get ugly on the field.
From all-out brawls between teams to cheap shots like the infamous Albert Haynesworth stomp, the NFL has seen its fair share of altercations that get out of hand. Most lead to ejections or fines, some result in suspension as the league attempts to set precedent for what is and is not acceptable on the field.
Here are five of some of the craziest fights that have happened in the NFL:
5 Buddy Ryan vs. Kevin Gilbride
Most fights happen between players of opposing teams on the field, but this time it was two coaches of the same team going at it. Ryan, the mastermind of the 1986 Bears defense, was the defensive coordinator for the Houston Oilers in 1993, and during a nationally televised game against the Jets, he was caught on camera punching his offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride. Ryan, who was older than Gilbride by 18 years, was apparently upset with the offensive coordinator calling a passing play which quarterback Cody Carlson fumbled, forcing his defense back on the field instead of resting before halftime. There was no discipline between the coaches, but Ryan did say that Gilbride would be “selling insurance in two years.”
4 Aqib Talib vs. Michael Crabtree
Denver Broncos defensive back Aqib Talib and Oakland Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree entered their Nov. 26, 2017 game with some bad blood. A year ago, Talib had ripped Crabtree’s chain right off his neck and the two got into it. This time, things escalated further as Crabtree blocked Talib on a running play all the way out of bounds and into the sidelines where they both went to the ground in a melee. Players from both teams rushed over and began going at it while Talib and Crabtree somehow escaped the brouhaha and were one-on-one with each other on the field. A helmet-less Crabtree swung at Talib and missed before they were restrained and ejected from the game. The two players were initially suspended two games before they both appealed and had it lowered to one.
3 Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Josh Norman
Things can get heated when two big personalities collide, and that is exactly what happened on Dec. 20, 2015 between Carolina Panthers CB Josh Norman and New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. While no punches were technically thrown here, one could argue what transpired was much worse. The two engaged in multiple minor altercations all game, Beckham finally lost his cool and launched himself head-first, connecting with Norman’s head, at the end of a play in the third quarter. Beckham and Norman remained in the game, but Beckham was eventually suspended one game for the hit.
2 Cortland Finnegan vs. Andre Johnson
Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan had a reputation for being an instigator, some may even say “dirty,” and on Nov. 28, 2010 Houston Texans receiver Andre Johnson had enough. The two were engaged in some chippiness all game and it came to a head when Finnegan stuck his hands into Johnsons face and the Texans receiver ripped Finnegan’s helmet off. Finnegan managed to pull Johnson’s helmet off too as Johnson swung him to the ground and began throwing several punches. Finnegan popped up laughing and clapping, but both players were ejected and fined $25,000. Shockingly, neither was suspended.
1 Myles Garrett vs. Mason Rudolph
The most recent NFL fight may be its most shocking in league history. At the end of a Thursday Night Football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns, Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off Steelers QB Mason Rudolph and used it as a weapon, striking Rudolph in the head with it. This was precipitated by Rudolph grabbing Garrett’s masking and appearing to kick him after he took exception to a hit at the end of a game that was in its final seconds. After Garrett struck Rudolph, Steelers center Maukice Pouncey began to punch and kick Garrett while he was on the ground. Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi also shoved a player to the ground. Baker Mayfield, Garrett's teammate, called it 'inexcusable.' The NFL suspended Garrett indefinitely, Pouncey for three games and Ogunjobi for one. Both teams were also fined.