Now a lot of people find one reason or another to cheer for one of these teams despite the fact that few us have any direct connections with the cities or teams. Some people cheer for the team that is most likely to win, perhaps because they have not acheived enough success in life or are just insecure. Other people prefer the "cinderella story" or the underdog.
As for myself, I cheer for whatever team has the most criminals playing on the roster. Football is a sport which seems to operate with its own criminal code of justice. Criminal behavior and its causes have long been debated by scholars and laymen alike. Is it born or learned behavior? Nature or nurture? While there are many theories, answers are hard to come by. I personally don't give a crap. All I know is there are a ton of shady characters in the NFL, and they have provided the opportunity to compile an All-Criminal team for the ages. On this list there will be no Honorable Mention. Here is a top 10 list of convicted felons who were all professional football players at one time or another:
O.J. Simpson - RB
The Juice is an obvious choice, so we won't spend much time with his legal qualifications for this team. Double-murder, here's your jersey.
Lawrence Phillips - RB
Arrested too many times to count, a washout in both the NFL and the CFL, Phillips has finally found a team that will take him. Young Lawrence, well... he has women problems. He knows more about battery charges than the manufacturers of DieHard and the Energizer bunny combined. He's beaten every girlfriend he ever had and once punched a woman in the face after she refused to dance with him at a Miami night club. While at Nebraska, in what may be his most famous carry, he was accused of breaking into his ex's room, dragging her by the hair down three flights of stairs, and jacking her head against a mailbox, which also earns him a nomination for the All-Caveman Team.
Rae Carruth - WR
Guilty of the most heinous crime in the history of the NFL (remember, OJ was acquitted), Carruth is an obvious choice. He orchestrated the execution-style murder of his pregnant girlfriend because she refused to have an abortion. While he only got into the end zone four times in his short career, you can rest assured that this wideout has been on the receiving end of numerous scoring drives since arriving in state correctional facilities, most of which were led by a couple of guys with swastika tattoos.
Barret Robbins - OL
Previously best known for disappearing the night before Oakland's Super Bowl thrashing in 2003, Robbins trumped that the following year by attacking three police officers who, being armed, shot him twice in the chest. Police reports indicate that even after being shot Robbins continued to attack the officers, which is just the kind of spunk we need on this team. The good news is that Robbins survived his wounds. The bad news is that he is facing three counts of attempted murder of a police officer.
Nate Newton - OL
Newton was a shoe-in for this team when he got busted in Louisiana with 213 pounds of marijuana after being pulled over for a traffic violation (who breaks traffic laws with a van full of drugs?), but then he made a serious case to become a team captain six weeks later when, while out on bail, he got busted again. This time it was 175 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of his car. One thing's for sure - when it's fourth and long, we know ol' Nate is down to 'go for it'.
Justin Strzelczyk - OL
Aside from only having one vowel in his last name (not counting "y"), Strzelczyk also had only one great defining moment. After a hit-and-run accident in New York, police chased his pickup 40 miles, during which Strzelczyk flipped off troopers and at one point threw a beer bottle at them. In the end, Strzelczyk crashed head on at 90 miles per hour into a tanker truck carrying corrosive acid, leaving an explosive scene police compared to an airplane crash. Strzelczyk didn't make it out alive, he did, literally, go down in a 'blaze of glory', and you gotta respect that. And for those concerned, the driver of the tanker escaped with only minor injuries.
Lawrence Taylor - LB
Went from cracking heads to crack head in record time. In his now infamous "60 Minutes" interview, Taylor claimed to have spent thousands of dollars a day on narcotics and to have hired prostitutes to go to opponents' hotel rooms the night before games. He's had numerous drug related arrests along with a tax evasion charge. Regarding his lifestyle in the late 1990s Taylor described his home as "like a crackhouse." I guess home is where your heart is.
Alonzo Spellman - DL
Spellman is the only member of this team to have been charged with terrorizing passengers on a commercial flight and forcing an emergency landing. According to investigators, once on the ground Spellman told the pilot "I am about to rip your throat out." Add to the mix weapons charges, a standoff with police from inside his publicist's home and the usual DUI and failure to appear charges, and you've got a starting D-lineman.
Mark Gastineau - DE
Assault, drug possession and woman-beating (burned a girlfriend with a cigarette lighter) are some of the charges he's faced. Repeated parole violations led to 11 months in Riker's Island prison. He admitted to using steroids while he played for the Jets. After his football career, he got into boxing. He finished with a 15-2 record and widely circulated reports that he was involved in fixed fights.
Jim Dunaway - DE
Charged with murder in the death of his former wife, Dunaway is the unpublicized OJ Simpson (and, in fact, was a teammate of The Juice in Buffalo for three seasons). Prior to her death, she had won a divorce judgment that gave her more than 800 acres the couple owned, $1,800 a month in alimony and half of Dunaway's NFL pension. A grand jury assigned to the case did not indict him ("if you didn't see them fight, you must not indict"). His kids then sued him in a civil suit and won. That doesn't mean he did it. Um.