One of the best parts of the world of televised sports is that it gives us heroes to cheer for, to glorify, and to commiserate with when they fail. Just as we love watching our favorite fictional characters on the big screen, attachment to our favorite players and coaches is why the NFL is so much fun to watch. However, a sure way for your movie to take the leap from good to great is to feature an iconic villain for the audience to root against. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the characters from the NFL that would make the best movie villains.
Honorable Mention: The Dab
From Director M. Night Shyamalan comes a story about a league dominated by one dance move – a monster that robs touchdown celebrations of their originality and literally bores fans to death. From the guy that gave you That Mark Wahlberg Movie About Killer Plants, comes…
Seriously, though – I’m not one of the obnoxious purists that thinks Cam Newton* is an arrogant upstart ruining the game one dance at a time. If Cam wants to make the Dab his signature move a la Rodgers’ championship belt or Sam Cassell’s big balls dance, I’m fine with that (Double points for defensive players who sack/intercept Cam and steal the move). My problem with the dance began when it became the go-to move after every touchdown/first down/sack/three yard gain for every player at every level of the sport. This year’s celebrations left me yearning for the golden days of the Ochocinco touchdown dances. Here’s to hoping 2016 brings some creativity back to the celebration game.
5. Greg Hardy
Now, I know I just lost half of my readers when they figured out Hardy missed the top spot, but hear me out. This is about the best movie villains in the NFL, not the worst people. I like my villains to be complex, intelligent, even morally ambiguous. Hardy is an asshole and a bully, but being a repulsive human being doesn’t make you a great villain. He is the character our hero kicks the crap out of in a bar about 15 minutes into the movie for yelling at his girlfriend, just so the audience knows that our star is a badass. He’s a footnote in our hypothetical action movie.
4. Richard Sherman
I don’t mind Sherman’s loud mouth as much as many – it would bother me a lot more if he couldn’t play. He does seem to relish having the villain persona, though, so I’ll give him this spot. The defensive back projects as an intelligent, cocky as hell villain. He’s the perfect big bad to star opposite the next Bond.
3. Roger Goodell
There are two types of movie stars. On one hand you have actors, like Christian Bale or Daniel Day-Lewis, who inhabit and seem to actually become the character they are playing. On the other, there are movie stars like Will Smith. When you go to a Will Smith movie, you are consciously aware that you are watching Will Smith, the movie star, playing a character. All of this has been said before a thousand times by a thousand people, but the point I’m trying to make is this: Roger Goodell could have a legendary career as the villain version of Will Smith. Pick from a handful of villain archetypes and you can slot the current commissioner in without blinking an eye. Corrupt politician with his hand in the pot? Greedy CEO with no thought about the well-being of his employees? Dictator who was handed an empire and rules with moral abandon? Check, check, and check. Roger has played each of those roles to perfection in his everyday life. Now all we need to do is put a camera on him.
2. J.J. Watt
Listen, J.J. Watt seems like a great guy. Small town kid, walk-on with an extraordinary work ethic, what’s not to like? I certainly can’t think of anything. As soon as he puts on pads, though, the man becomes a terror. Seriously, look at the picture above. Still think that guy doesn’t have a mean streak? Alright, now that we’ve decided that he can play a villain the real problem becomes casting someone that can fight him and giving them proper motivation. Because let’s be real, there isn’t a thing in the world J.J. Watt can do that would make me want to fight the guy. Here are my top picks for the anti-Watt and the movies they would star in.
Honorable Mention: Michael B. Jordan
J.J. Watt, as Vladimir Drago, challenges Adonis Creed in order to restore the honor that his uncle Ivan Drago lost against Rocky Balboa. Creed rejects the fight due to weight class restrictions and common sense, but after vicious verbal attacks at Rocky’s cancer and Adonis’ parentage he agrees to settle the dispute in with his last fight. You may ask, “Sam, is this entire article just an excuse for you to pitch a shitty script for a Creed vs. Drago movie?” Maybe. But tell me you wouldn’t pay to watch that.
3. Dwight “The Rock” Johnson
The Rock is the only movie star with a frame that can match up to J.J.’s. Sure, Watt has about 30 pounds on Johnson, but if Hollywood can convince us that Vin Diesel and The Rock can stand eye to eye, I’m pretty sure anything is possible. I’m not really concerned with the plot of this movie – I’m all in on any movie that can give me J.J. Watt vs. The People’s Elbow.
2. Iko Uwais
If you’re not familiar with Iko Uwais, it’s probably because you have never seen either of Gareth Evans’ Raid movies, and that’s fine. A lot of people haven’t. If you’re a fan of ridiculous action movies and incredible, exhausting fight scenes, though, these are two movies you need to check out. Iko Uwais plays Officer Rama, and the plot is basically “Officer Rama kicks ass.” Check out this scene from The Raid 2 if you don’t believe me. The video is pretty graphic, so avoid it if you’re squeamish, dislike blood, or are put off by the idea of someone getting stabbed with a hammer.
1. Daisy Ridley
You heard me right. America’s newest sweetheart comes in at #1 in the power rankings to take down Watt. No, J.J. Watt is not a sith lord in the new Star Wars movie. Watt is too bulky – and not nearly mysterious or evil enough. I’m pretty sure, however, that he has nearly the exact same dimensions as the rancor from Return of the Jedi. Since The Force Awakens was a virtual carbon copy of A New Hope, I’m banking on the two remaining movies to have room for a scene where Rey gets dropped into the Watt pit.
Now back to the original countdown, and on to our final paragon of evil…
1. Bill Belichick
It’s hard to argue with the Patriot’s head coach as the best villain in the league. He faces a similar problem in casting as Watt, though – who can defeat the evil genius? At first, the urge is to cast Belichick as a sith lord or oppressive dictator. Rookie mistake. When you figure out who your heroes are, though, the Hoodie’s character becomes easier to create. Coming to theaters next June is Use Your Head, a buddy cop movie starring Eli Manning and David Tyree as partners who can’t seem to do anything right – until they stumble into an illegal video pirating scheme run by an old, mysterious white man in a sleeveless hoodie. Their sergeant, played by the irascible Tom Coughlin, tells the pair to stay away from the case, but eventually Eli discovers that Bill’s crime syndicate led to his decorated brother’s forced retirement. When Eli gets in too deep, it’s up to his partner David to bail him out.
*Full disclosure – I’m a UGA kid raised in an Alabama house. Hating Auburn- and by extension disliking Cam- is my 11th commandment. That being said, I think Cam should dance his heart out on the field, purists be damned.