ESPN is counting down some of the best personal rivalries in the NFL today and the New England Patriots are entrenched in the discussion. The focus on the latest article highlighted “the juicy interpersonal enmities; jealousies; and (occasionally) contrived personality competitions among players, coaches and administrators.”
Of course the Patriots are involved.
Coming in 4th place is the Patriots relationship with Colts general manager and generic Bond villain henchman #6 Ryan Grigson.
“It was Grigson, of course, who first alerted the NFL about football inflation prior to the 2014 AFC Championship Game via an email to the league office,” ESPN’s Kevin Seifert writes. “And it was Grigson who complained to NFL officials on site during the game. The NFL backed Grigson via the Wells Report, but he is more or less the patient zero of Deflategate: It spread from him.”
It’s hard to argue against this one. Grigson kick-started DeflateGate in 2014 and now the Patriots might be without quarterback Tom Brady for the first four games of 2016. It never ends.
In 7th is Brady and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
“As Brady walked off the field [in a 2012 regular season loss to the Seahawks], jaw clenched and eyes locked on the ground, Sherman peppered him with his ‘You mad, bro?’ line,” Seifert writes. “Brady said afterward that he didn't hear Sherman, but his body language suggested otherwise. Brady added: ‘My dad taught me at a young age to play with class and respect and give my opponents respect, and certainly I have a lot of respect for the Seahawks.’”
Brady got his ultimate revenge in Super Bowl XLIX and the two shook hands afterwards.
Honestly, I think Brady and Goodell absolutely should’ve been #1 on this list because that’s a real blood feud that will never go away. The fact that it was not included should make the entire list null and void, but Seifert’s a great guy so I’ll keep going.
In 8th is former Panthers and current Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith and former Patriots and current Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib.
“Two and a half seasons have passed since Smith implored Talib to "ice up, son," and yet it still seems like yesterday,” Seifert notes. “Smith and Talib battled throughout the Panthers' 24-20 victory over the Patriots in Week 11 of the 2013 season, scuffling twice after the whistle. Talib left early because of a hip injury, leading to Smith's rehab advice. Smith later wore a shirt with the slogan.”
This was a real fight and even though both are a little long in the teeth, they could still find ways to duke it out in the coming seasons. Smith is still a force on the field and Talib is a part of the best defense in the NFL. They are a battle to watch- and it’ll be particularly fun without having to root for either side.
The final Patriots connection ranks 10th, and it’s tight end and part-time bouncer Rob Gronkowski and former Patriot and current free agent blocking sled Sergio Brown.
“According to Gronkowski, [Brown] spent most of a  game between the Patriots and Colts ‘yappin' at me,’” Seifer recalls. “So during a Jonas Gray touchdown run, Gronkowski drove Brown far out of bounds on a block, then slammed him to the ground. Gronkowski happily took a penalty for the play and delivered an explanation for the ages afterwards: ‘I took him and threw him out of the club. I was the bouncer, picked him up and tossed him out of the club on that one touchdown. So that was perfect.’”
While feuds general require players to face each other frequently, Gronk throwing Brown out of the club will absolutely be a highlight and possible autobiography title when remembering Gronkowski’s illustrious career.
What are some other feuds that you can think of?