Football is often believed to be the ultimate squad sport since it’s a sport about 11 vs. 11. While it is supposed to be a squad battle, there are times when it becomes an individual clash within each match. Some players develop a sense of rivalry against a player from the opposing team and it is not something unheard of as it happens to almost every player. 

While they may not be as typical or fierce as most player rivalries in other sports, let’s take a moment and go down memory lane to some of the most bitter player vs. player beef the National Football League (NFL) has ever witnessed.

Here are the top 7 most intense NFL players’ rivalries of all time.

  1. Steve Smith vs. Aqib Talib

It looked like just about any other game in the NFL 2013 season, but things escalated pretty quickly between Steve Smith and Adib Talib. Nobody knows exactly for sure what was commented, but the two elite players got in a scuffle after the whistle on several occasions.

When Talib had to walk out of the game early due to an injury, Smith said “ice up, son” and he later donned a jersey with that saying on it, displaying that the beef between the two players didn’t die down when the game finished off.

2. Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are two well-known exceptional players as they both have set many records and fans’ expectations of these two players are high. Brady has appeared in five Super Bowls and holds three rings. While Mannings appeared in just three Super Bowls and one ring, also including the oft-mentioned sub- 500 playoff record. 

Needless to say, they are both elite players, and outstanding quarterbacks and the rivalry between these two players is due to long-standing mutual regard. Brady has undoubtedly set up plenty of postseason achievements, but Manning appears like the easygoing excellent quarterback.

3. Odell Beckham vs Josh Norman

In the NFL, cornerbacks and wide receivers have fierce one-on-one clashes, but Odell Beckham and Josh Norman’s hatred against each other was very much visible. This was when both players were the best ones at their position.

There was real squabbling between Beckham and Norman during and after plays which were their first confrontation in 2015, and there’s no proof to indicate that they’ve squabbled ever since then.

4. Terrell Suggs vs Tom Brady

Terrell Suggs might be one of the handfuls of defensive players with remarkable achievements to speak garbage about Brady and get away with it every time. In one of his interviews in 2013, Suggs didn’t hold back and commented on Brady’s attitude saying that he dislikes Brady and “his smug attitude,” and that he wouldn’t bow down to the quarterback as everyone else does.


Suggs would also later mention the tuck rule and Spygate in doubting the facts of some of Brady’s wins at the Super Bowl. Inherently, Brady walked the high road, it was quite evident that he was a bit disturbed and a bit narky in his answer to Snuggs.

5. Terrell Owens Vs. Donovan McNabb

Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens both had an outstanding season in 2004, one that topped off with a Super Bowl appearance.

Sadly, it all went downhill afterward.


Owens heavily belittled McNabb’s play in the championship match, indicating that McNabb wasn’t in his best form and eventually resulting in the Eagles’ defeat.

The troublemaker receiver took part in all of seven matches the following season before the Eagles decided to completely shut him down and later had him signed to Dallas.

6. Peyton Manning Vs. Mike Vanderjagt

In the 2002 playoffs, when the Colts were defeated, elite kicker Mike Vanderjagt went out of his way to publicly humiliate Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy for their lack of sportsmanship and leadership.

Which eventually led to this never forgotten bitter speech by Manning: “We’re talking about our idiot kicker who got liquored up and ran his mouth off.” 

During that time Vanderjagt was considered the most accurate kicker in the history of the NFL and played for three more years for the Colts, was also a part of the Dallas for a year before he officially retired. The year Vanderjagt departed was when Indianapolis triumphed over the Super Bowl.

7. Hines Ward Vs. Keith Rivers

You may be marveling where Hines Ward got his standing as one of the filthiest, cruelest players in the league, well look no further.

An important part of the All-Dirty squads, Ward caught Keith Rivers off guard and charged him to the left side of his jaw.

Sadly, Rivers had to miss the remainder of the season.

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