The strange, the selfish, and the show off’s…
The NFL has always had more than its fair share of eccentric characters. From Chad Ochocinco to Terrell Owens to Michael Irvin — notice a positional theme here? — there have always been players in the league that are either a little over the top, or bordering on being actually insane.
While the names mentioned above have had their time and faded away from the league, a new crop of players have taken on their mantle. The rise of social media and the hyper-connectivity between players and fans has made the current crop of NFL stars the most visible — and most accessible — in the history of the league.
Whether that is a good or a bad thing is a matter of serious debate.
Here are 12 players that are among the most eccentric playing in the NFL right now…
Von Miller, linebacker, Denver Broncos
Miller is proof that not every eccentric character in the NFL is a wide receiver.
One of the best defensive players in the league over the last five seasons, the $114 million man is a part-time chicken farmer who likes to spend his time away from football deep diving on YouTube and Wikipedia to discover things he didn’t even know he cared about when his search began.
Known among teammates and friends to be living in a world of his own, a conversation with Miller could easily cover anything from what life forms would look like on Pluto to his roller coaster obsession.
Cam Newton, quarterback, Carolina Panthers
Newton might be an eccentric character in all areas, but in order to find out you would have to first find a way past his wild sense of style.
Not every man can (or should) rock a fox tail. This also goes for camo suits in Carolina blue and for silver bedazzled slippers. The list of Newton clothing choices for both press conferences and general public appearances goes on and on, with basically nothing the man wears not falling under the eccentric banner.
Rob Gronkowski, tight end, New England Patriots
If anyone in the NFL has the reputation for being eccentric it would be Gronk.
Buying a minority stake in a racehorse is just the latest out-of-left-field move for a player who has also appeared in a WWE ring at Wrestlemania, partied hard up and down the Eastern seaboard, and spent time rehabbing from a forearm injury early in his career by moonlighting as a bartender.
The infectious nature of one of the NFL’s premier offensive playmakers, however, means that Gronk can seemingly get away with eccentric acts that would be career suicide for anyone else.
Travis Kelce, tight end, Kansas City Chiefs
There is a chance that the tight end is the new wide receiver when it comes to NFL eccentrics. Kelce — a player who missed his entire sophomore season at Tennessee by smoking too much of the wrong substance — is a world class trash talker on the field.
Off of the gridiron he actually manages to be even more eccentric, not least because of his season-long dating show Catching Kelce, where the winner got to date the Chiefs tight end (before it all fell apart).
Marshawn Lynch, running back, Oakland Raiders
That Lynch has his face adorned on a special edition package of Skittles should be all you need to know for this particular entry.
Lynch has always been as wacky off of the gridiron as he is dominant on it and his love of Skittles dates back to his Pop Warner days where he would eat candy for energy during the game.
As soon as he was spotted eating the sweet treat on the sidelines while rolling for almost 150 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011, the story — and the brand partnership — basically just wrote itself.
Odell Beckham Jr., wide receiver, New York Giants
Beckham is here to reclaim the eccentricity throne on behalf of wide receivers everywhere, not least with his wild mop of blonde curls. OBJ’s list of weirdness is long and colorful, but a standout incident occurred in 2016 when Beckham went viral for his locker-room singing antics.
Singing Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” is a little random in a locker-room at any time, but when combined with a naked Beckham chilling (literally) in a cold tub after practice it makes him well worthy of inclusion on this list.
Jalen Ramsey, cornerback, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville loves Ramsey. The Jaguars – a franchise that wasn’t relevant for a decade before 2017 – is home to perhaps the best young cornerback in the league in Ramsey.
That means Jacksonville is also home to perhaps the best trash talker in the entire NFL. Ramsey has that swagger that only comes with being young and talented in a league full of giant egos.
Throwing shade at the likes of veteran A.J. Green and even his own quarterback Blake Bortles, Ramsey is an entry that will likely stay on this list for the next decade.
Marquette King, punter, Denver Broncos
There is a theory that punters and kickers are the most eccentric players in the league but that they are just too under the radar to be noticed.
King is one of the few specialists that has managed to break that trend. Trying to meet new Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden with a box of Snickers was a nice touch, though not one that worked as King was cut anyway.
His piece de resistance, though, is a video that shows King working on punting a range of grocery items from eggs to cherry pie to bologna.
Alvin Kamara, running back, New Orleans Saints
When you burst onto the NFL stage out of absolutely nowhere as Kamara did for the Saints last year, it is almost like a little eccentricity is required. How else to explain a third round draft pick going on to claim NFL Rookie of the Year honors over all the players drafted before him?
Kamara oozes charisma and has had a whirlwind 12 months, highlighted by a cameo in a Drake music video, a GQ photo shoot, and singing an Ella Mai song onstage at the ESPYs to keep the crowd entertained during a commercial break.
Aqib Talib, cornerback, Los Angeles Rams
Talib’s recovery from crashing and burning when trying to enter the NFL Network’s set immediately after winning Super Bowl 50 with the Broncos is all you need to know here.
A lesser personality would have shrunk into their shell after the fall on live TV, but Talib popped up immediately with a call of “I’m good, babayyyyyyyyy!” that summed up everything about the moment.
Talib also missed the Broncos visit to the White House by shooting himself in the leg, which is both eccentric and wildly dangerous.
Michael Bennett, defensive end, Philadelphia Eagles
Bennett may be new to Philadelphia after being traded over the summer from the Seattle Seahawks, but he is an old hand when it comes to eccentric behavior on and off the field.
After a 2015 NFC title game win over the Green Bay Packers, Bennett found the need to commandeer a police officer’s bike, and then take part in an impromptu joyride around CenturyLink Field in celebration.
That the bike was later auctioned for charity for $10,000 says everything about how Bennett was seen in Seattle. Also, his sack dance managed to be both amazing and awful.