The Biggest Bros of the NFL: AFC Edition
The first NFL training camps open up on Monday, which means it’s almost time to buckle in that chinstrap, paint on that eyeblack, and get ready for some action. Well, for the players at least. For Bros like you and me, it means it’s almost time to open up that beer can, find a spot on the couch, and get ready to watch Andrew Siciliano on “The Red Zone Channel.” Yes, we’re still months away from the season actually starting, but training camp is deemed by those in the business as the unofficial start of the season, and training camp practices are the first time where player performances really matter. So with that we invite you to kick back, relax, and enjoy our first official coverage of the 2010 season: The Biggest Bro on all 32 NFL teams, beginning with the AFC. Later today, we’ll post the biggest Bros of the NFC. Sound Off on who you think I missed. One last note: This isn’t a fantasy football story, i.e. don’t draft a right guard.
Buffalo Bills: RB Marshawn Lynch
Legal issues notwithstanding, Marshawn Lynch is one of the biggest bros this league has to offer. Unlike predecessor Willis McGahee, who mocked the city of Buffalo for its lack of nightlife, Lynch willingly embraced his community (as evidenced in this particularly good installment of “The Mayne Event”). A Bro always knows how to make the best of a bad situation. Marshawn also refers to himself as “going into beast mode” when he’s ready to take over a game. We’re not sure how long he’s going to remain in the great city of Buffalo — thanks to legal issues and rookie C.J. Spiller — but here’s to hoping he gets a fresh start somewhere where he can find nice ambiance and decor.
Miami Dolphins: RG Richie Incognito
You know what they say: “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” Incognito takes that to the next level, and was voted the NFL’s dirtiest player in a Sporting News poll of 99 players. Four times in three years he’s drawn two or more personal fouls in one game, and eventually he was forced out of St. Louis due to these transgressions. Even though coaches want to hate this guy and keep him on the bench — and believe me, they do — Incognito forces himself onto the field everywhere he goes, thanks to the fact that he’s actually one of the most gifted interior lineman in the entire league. He gets the nod for playing his style of football in spite of whatever fines or punishments the league has to offer him. He’s true to himself on the field, and that earns him massive Bro points.
Honorable Mention: RB Ricky Williams. It takes a Bro the size of Richie Incognito to keep Ricky off the list after he retired in his prime, strictly so he could go toke up on a tropical island. He would’ve gotten the nod on a bunch of different teams, so don’t get too mad about his omission, potheads.
New England Patriots: WR Randy Moss
Probably the most physically gifted man to ever play the wide receiver position, Randy Moss has actually become more entertaining to watch off the field than he is on it. This is the man who, when asked how he planned to pay a league-mandated fine, responded “Straight cash, homie.” This is the man who once pretended to moon the entire city of Green Bay, much to Joe Buck’s chagrin. This is the man so talented that his former coach once installed something called the “Randy Ratio,” intended to ensure that the ball was thrown to him enough times. He also happens to own his own NASCAR team.
New York Jets: Head Coach Rex Ryan
I’m bending the rules a little bit so I can give some love to the NFL’s biggest, and most entertaining, mouth. Ryan isn’t afraid to push the buttons of anybody, even intimidating linebackers like the Dolphins’ Channing Crowder. A lot of coaches in the NFL try to get a laugh out of the nerdy sports writers who surround them at press conferences, but Ryan is one of the few who is actually (intentionally) funny in the process. While most people would be careful to watch their every step under the media microscope that is New York, Sexy Rexy gives so little of a shit that he feels he has the right to go to UFC events and flip the bird to cameras. Sir, you are a Bro legend.
Baltimore Ravens: FS Tom Zbikowski
Back at Notre Dame, Zbikowski proved himself to be both a leader and a hell of a football player. His punt-return abilities were key to their near upset of USC before Reggie Bush shoved Matt Leinart into the endzone in the waning moments. Zbikowski’s appeal for this list however is the fact that he used to juggle his football career with a professional boxing career (above, right). In 2006 some goober named Robert Bell had the gall to rock an Ohio State jersey into the ring against him before a fight at Madison Square Garden. Needless to say, Tommy Z rocked his world and ended the fight by knocking him to the mat in 49 seconds. That’ll teach you to f*ck with a Bro.
Cincinnati Bengals: LB Rey Maualuga
Anyone clamoring to see the artist formerly known as Chad Johnson on this list needs to seriously rethink their definition of Bro [AG’s Note: Child, please]. Rather than self promoting himself to the point where he becomes a caricature, Maualuga — and his impressive Hawaiian flow — lets his in-game physicality do the talking for him. Big Ray has become a thing of legend thanks to some of his bone-shattering hits, most notably this demolition of UCLA’s Patrick Cowan. We don’t condone his DWI from January of this year, but he still stands out as the biggest Bro on Cincy’s roster.
Cleveland Browns: LT Joe Thomas
Aside from being an absolute bulldozer on the gridiron, Joe Thomas gets the nod in the Brommunity thanks to his passion for being an outdoorsman. He made waves during the 2007 NFL Draft by refusing the invitation to travel to the bright lights of New York, and opting to spend his Draft Day fishing on Lake Michigan with his father. Currently, he and the “Outdoors Writer” for the Cleveland Plain Dealer co-host a television program called Outdoors Ohio on SportsTime Ohio. Thomas hasn’t let his status as one of the best lineman in the league dissuade him from his humble roots, and for that we salute him.
Pittsburgh Steelers: SS Troy Polamalu
In case you didn’t know it already, the 2009 season proved how much the Pittsburgh Steelers rely on Troy Polamalu. A once-feared pass defense became laughable once Polamalu was forced out of the lineup, and the Steelers disappointed en route to missing the playoffs. He may be the best defensive playmaker in the game when healthy, and we love watching his Samona flow (Sam-Flow-an?) flying around when he’s on the field. Plus, he makes us laugh with commercials like this one for Head and Shoulders. “You asked with your eyes” never gets old.
On the next page, the AFC South and AFC West…
Houston Texans: LB Brian Cushing
Cushing, the NFL’s least subtle steroid abuser since David Boston, has been demolishing backfields his entire life. Artificial or not, how would you like to be staring down those guns as you came around the edge? Cushing was so impressive as a rookie that even after a positive steroid test deemed a re-vote necessary, he still won the Defensive Rookie of the Year award handily. We wish he’d stay off the juice just a little bit because we love watching him play, and it’d be a shame if a lengthy suspension was in his future.
Indianapolis Colts: QB Peyton Manning
I wanted to take Peyton off for his part in this embarrassingly stupid “Blind Side” spoof from the ESPYs, but he’s accomplished too much to let one digression throw him out of the loop. Not many people can say they are the best in the world at what they do, and unless you have an absolute hard-on for Drew Brees (which is understandable), then you readily admit Peyton can make that claim. Peyton’s also shown some spunk off the field, between a couple funny SportsCenter commercials (with his questionably retarded brother Eli), a solid performance hosting “Saturday Night Live,” and of course, going off about “idiot kicker” Mike Vanderjagt at the Pro Bowl in 2002. Simply put, Peyton is one of the coolest guys in the business, and he’s got some serious hardware to go along with that.
Jacksonville Jaguars: WR Mike Sims-Walker
With not a lot of good choices on the roster, Sims-Walker almost takes the distinction by default. Not to say he isn’t a Bro, though — the 2009 breakout star has worked to become one of the most explosive playmakers in the league. More notably, though, he is one of two players in the league (along with Chris Johnson) who earned a unique personal celebration in Madden 11, known as the “Chopper City Juke.”
Tennessee Titans: RB Chris Johnson
Bros should never be too full of themselves, so we cringed a little bit when C.J. adapted the self-proclaimed nickname “Every Coach’s Dream.” We came around after last season, though, when he proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he actually was every coach’s dream, putting up one of the few 2,000-yard seasons the league has ever seen. He also looks like Lil Wayne, which is awesome, and he’s in the Twitter Hall of Fame.
Denver Broncos: FS Brian Dawkins
What can you say about a guy whose pregame ritual involves convincing himself he’s an actual werewolf and then crawling out of the tunnel? I don’t think Dawkins has ever played on a consistently losing team, and I definitely don’t think that’s a coincidence. Ray Lewis is the only player in the league who inspires his teammates nearly as much as B-Dawk does, as he might be the best pure leader in the league. A true Bro inspires peers to follow in his footsteps, and Dawkins does just that.
Kansas City Chiefs: QB Brodie Croyle
Croyle’s had a relatively non-descript tenure with the Chiefs, as injuries have plagued him from becoming the long-term quarterbacking answer they believed him to be. Despite his shortcomings on the field, however, Croyle is able to best a relatively weak team of Bros and make this list thanks to his ability to lock down gorgeous wife Kelli, a former winner of the America Junior Miss Competition. He also sports impressive flow.
Oakland Raiders: DT John Henderson
Once he gets on the field, John Henderson is a man among men. In the locker room before games however, he’s a man among the training staff, and that’s dangerous. Henderson, the newest Raider, likes to pump himself up before games by getting slapped in the face by a trainer, then screaming about how good it feels to get hit. It really is a sight to behol
d. I’m not sure it’s the most Bro thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely pretty awesome and on the Raiders, that’s good enough to make the list.
San Diego Chargers: RB Darren Sproles
Proving the haters wrong while overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds might be the most bro thing you can do. That’s why we love Darren Sproles, who has become one of the league’s most undeniably explosive players despite checking in at only 5’6” and 180 lbs. That frame takes a beating from 6’6” behemoths day in and day out during the season, and Sproles takes it like a champ, having missed only one game due to injury in the past three seasons. He’s also worked hard to overcome a serious stuttering problem when he speaks in public, and has held his own admirably in high-profile press conferences, particularly the one after his game-winning score against the Colts in the AFC Wild Card game. He’s a flat-out winner and a role model, which, almost by definition, makes him a Bro.
Stay tuned for the biggest Bros of the NFC later today…