Throughout the history of the NFL, some of the most captivating storylines emerge when two players who absolutely despise each other meet on the gridiron. They may hate each other for reasons on and off the field, but when the matchup arrives, fans across the NFL cannot wait to see the next chapter of the beef being written.
Here are five of the best NFL rivals who hated each other’s guts.
NFL rivals who hated each other
#5 Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree
Cornerback Aqib Talib and wide receiver Michael Crabtree had beef for years in the NFL. Often lining up against each other on opposite sides of the ball, the feud began when they were teenagers as they went to rival high schools in Dallas.
"Crabtree apparently said to Talib: ‘Bruh! You from my motherf–king city! I better not see you in the city!'"
By 2015, the rivals were both playing in the AFC West -- Talib with the Denver Broncos and Crabtree with the Oakland Raiders. On New Year’s Day in 2017, Talib ripped a chain off Crabtree’s neck in a Broncos win, which led to a scuffle and both players being ejected.
“I just wanted to embarrass him,” Talib said of the incident.
Despite the feud, the pair seem to have quashed their beef now, as shown in the clip below.
#4 - Odell Beckham Jr. and Josh Norman
As the beef between Talib and Crabtree was flaring up, another wide receiver and cornerback feud began, between Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants and Josh Norman of the Carolina Panthers.
Norman had developed into one of the best cornerbacks in football after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He got into a scuffle with Beckham during a 2015 clash between the two teams, with five personal foul penalties called on the players during the game.
After the game Norman said Beckham has “the maturity of a little kid.”
In the following offseason, Norman also claimed Beckham Jr. was overrated due to his outstanding rookie year (1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns), and he was overhyped after his amazing one-handed touchdown catch against the Dallas Cowboys in 2015.
Norman is now 34 years old, and he last played for the San Francisco 49ers in 2021, while OBJ is a free agent, coming off a Super Bowl win for the Los Angeles Rams in 2021.
NFL Rivals Who Hated Each Other
#3 - Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree
During the 2014 NFC Championship between Crabtree’s 49ers and Sherman’s Seahawks, the latter deflated a Colin Kaepernick pass intended for Crabtree which was intercepted, effectively ending the fame and sending Seattle to the Super Bowl.
Following the conclusion of the game, a highly emotional Sherman was interviewed by Fox and the infamous line was aired: “When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the results you gon’ get. I’m the best corner in the game!”
Following this, the NFL learned that this beef had started a year earlier at a charity softball game organized by Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, with conflicting reports that both players tried to start a fight with one another.
#2 - Cortland Finnegan and Andre Johnson
You’re unlikely to see an NFL fight compilation without seeing the infamous tussle between Titans’ Cortland Finnegan and Texans’ Andre Johnson. Finnegan had already been fined twice for his dirty play during the 2010 season before this matchup, and some argued he had this coming.
After taunting Johnson throughout the game, he finally snapped, ripping off Finnegan’s helmet and landing two punches before the pair were separated. Finnegan mocked this by sarcastically applauding both Johnson and the Texans fans as the pair were ejected from the game.
"I would like to apologize to the organization, our owner, and my teammates," Johnson said. "What happened out there today was not me. I just lost my cool, and I wish that I could take back what happened, but I can't. It's over and done with now.”
#1 - Tom Brady and Richard Sherman
Finally, we have two of the most polarizing players in NFL history, Tom Brady and Richard Sherman. Back in 2012, while Brady was with the Patriots and Sherman was a Seahawk, Seattle came from behind to defeat New England at CenturyLink Field.
Following the game, Sherman shouted “U mad, bro?” to Brady and followed it up with a tweet with the same message, which was later deleted.
However, the trash-talk continued with Sherman saying: “Me and Earl (Thomas) walked up to him and said, ‘We’re greater than you. We’re better than you. You’re just a man — we’re a team.’ That’s the Brady Bunch; this is a defense.”
It is possible that this feud has now been quashed, however, with Brady overcoming Sherman and the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX, and the fact Brady and Sherman shared a locker room as teammates with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021.