15 Dark NFL Stories That We Forgot About

America's most popular sport has some skeletons behind the skeletons in its closet.
15 Dark NFL Stories That We Forgot About

CW: This article contains descriptions of suicide and domestic violence. You can reach the National Suicide Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 779-7233.

It's no secret that the NFL has some history it would rather you not talk about. Problem is, between checking our hey-it's-legal-now betting apps and setting fantasy football lineups, it's hard to keep track of all the seedy underbelly stuff happening off the field. So when you're watching the NFL, don't forget about these bonkers anecdotes regarding your favorite players and team executives: 

Brett Favre's Painkiller Addiction

Jeff Dugan and Brett Favre

Wikimedia Commons: MN National Guard

Before he was embroiled in welfare fraud and dick pic scandals, Brett Favre began his NFL career by developing an painkiller addiction to play through injury. There's no joke here, Favre said he thought about killing himself after flushing his last pills down the toilet. Addiction is like the It Follows monster if the It Follows monster had “I'd like to speak to the manager” energy, and Favre deserves praise for soldiering through that journey. We'll save our “fourth and inches” jokes for a different column. 

Drew Brees and the NFL's Torture Erasure


One year before he won a Super Bowl, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Bees took a U.S.O. tour of Guantanamo Bay. You may remember Gitmo as that CIA black site were Muslims are tortured, or that place Joe Biden pledged to close after his old boss didn't. Based on his observations, though, Drew Brees thinks Guantanamo inmates are coddled with Nintendo and religion. Apparently yelling ‘torture’ is just “anything they can do to show a poor light on the U.S. military.”

Junior Seau's Gruesome Suicide In the Name of CTE


Wikimedia Commons: Rob Street

Charismatic goofball and All-Pro linebacker, Junior Seau was the picture of a California athletic golden boy. He starred for the San Diego Chargers with the thousand-watt smile a man who made millions of dollars playing football by the beach. At age 43, Junior Seau committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest. He left no note except the lyrics to the song “Who I Ain't.” Seau's chosen method of death recalls Dave Duerson, who explicitly asked for his brain to be studied. Sadly, more on Duerson in a minute. 

The Retirements of the 1985 Chicago Bears

Mike Ditka and Barack Obama

Wikimedia Commons: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

We mentioned Dick Duerson, but he's not the only member of Chicago's beloved Key and Peele muses not doing well in retirement. William “Refrigerator” Perry struggles with alcoholism and family members speculating if he has CTE, Jim McMahon claims he has CTE and has struggled with suicidal ideation, and Walter Payton died of a rare liver disease at age 46. One of these things is not like the others, but still, what a brutal legacy. 

The NFL Shoots Itself In The Foot With Warren Moon


After winning the Rose Bowl MVP in college, Warren Moon somehow went undrafted by the NFL (read: he was a Black quarterback). He absolutely dominated the Canadian Football League for five years before becoming the first Black quarterback to win The Big Game. Today, he mentors young Black QBs navigating the NFL. 

Marvin Harrison's Heisenberg Tendencies

Marvin Harrison

Wikimedia Commons: Djmunden

The Michael Corleone of the NFL, from his mild-mannered demeanor to all the other stuff he did that sounds like The Godfather

The Heartbreaking Story of Johnny Knox

Johnny Knox

Wikimedia Commons: John Martinez Pavliga

Chicago Bears kick returner Devin Hester was such a feared presence that opposing teams stopped kicking to him, so Chicago drafted a guy who ran a faster 40. Johnny Knox was unheralded coming out of Abilene Christian University, but quickly endeared himself to Chicago fans. It was short-lived, though, as Knox suffered a “you will never forget where you were when you saw it” spinal injury that ended his career a few days after the birth of his second child

Let's Check In On That Robert Kraft Handjob Massage Parlor


Kraft got charges dropped because the cops were creepy and recorded the massages without telling anybody. The owner of the spa plead guilty, though. Kinda wild to have this story happening around the same time as Matt Gaetz seeking pre-emptive pardon for sex trafficking in the same state Jeffrey Epstein lived, right? Do we need to shut Florida down until we know what's going on?


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