Football Scandals Quiz


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About This Quiz

If soap operas have taught us anything, it’s that passion begets scandal, and few people are more passionate than college and pro football fans. Indeed, there’s plenty of scandal throughout the history of American football. Take New England Patriots golden boy Tom Brady, for example. The infamous “Deflategate” scandal of 2015, where the team and Brady were accused of providing underinflated footballs for game use, became an international headline and led to a four-game suspension for Brady and a massive fine for the Pats. It also gave Patriot-haters limitless fodder for jokes, memes and cheating accusations, none of which is likely to stop anytime soon.

Although the teams who lost to the Patriots during the Deflategate period likely believe they were wronged, at least there were no physical victims involved. Kareem Hunt, running back for the Kansas City Chiefs, was unceremoniously dumped in 2018 after video footage emerged which showed him pushing a woman to the ground and then kicking her. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was suspended while the school looked into allegations that he knew about domestic violence incidents involving an assistant coach and his wife, but didn’t take appropriate action. The list literally goes on and on, and knows no team or time period boundaries. 

To be sure, college and pro football are both big business in the U.S. How much do you know about famous football scandals? Take this quiz to test your knowledge.

Why was Washington University football coach Rick Neuheisel fired in 2002?

He was caught participating in a gambling pool. He is also an attorney.

In 2014, Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice was caught doing what on video?

An elevator camera caught Rice knocking his girlfriend unconscious. The vicious footage caused Rice's suspension and made him unemployable in the public relations-conscious NFL.

Why did Ohio State coach Woody Hayes lose his job in 1978?

After a Clemson player intercepted a pass, Hayes punched him, and ultimately Hayes was fired from the university.

In 2010, Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre was accused of doing what?

He admitted leaving creepy messages for the reporter but denied sending her pictures of his privates. He was fined tens of thousands of dollars for refusing to aid the investigation.

Adrian Peterson, star running back for the Minnesota Vikings, got into huge trouble after the media published what?

The media published pictures of his child with bruises and welts, which Peterson said occurred during "old-fashioned" discipline. The frenzy ended with Peterson's suspension and a national discussion about whether physical discipline is acceptable.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for four games after what sort of accusations?

Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault, an accusation that he later settled out of court. He's been accused of the same crime multiple times but never convicted.

Which NFL team gained notoriety for visiting the "White House"?

In the 1990s, high-profile Cowboys players were caught visiting the "White House," a den of iniquity that included rampant illegal drug use and sex.

In 2013, the NFL agreed to pay how much as part of a settlement agreement involving concussion-related injuries?

The NFL downplayed head injuries for years. The $765 million settlement with thousands of players indicated that the league knew that concussions were a problem.

For how long was George O'Leary coach of the Notre Dame football team?

O'Leary was caught falsifying information on his resume. He was forced to resign just five days after he got the prestigious gig.

What was Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky accused of doing?

Sandusky was accused of abusing at least 10 boys over 15 years and convicted of dozens of charges. Penn State's mishandling of the events led to multiple firings and tens of millions of dollars in penalties, and it sullied the reputation of legendary coach Joe Paterno.

At which university did the "Ponygate" football scandal occur?

Southern Methodist officials were caught paying football players in the 1970s and '80s, resulting in a wide-ranging scandal called Ponygate, a riff on the Southern Methodist Mustangs.

What penalty did Southern Methodist University face after Ponygate?

The program received the so-called "death penalty." The team had its whole 1987 schedule canceled and gave up playing home games in 1988, too, because it didn't have enough good players.

How many universities pursued Southern Methodist University players once the death penalty was announced?

Hordes of recruiters from at least 80 universities swarmed the campus in hopes of stealing away the school's most talented players.

How much money did former Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino give to his mistress during a scandal that blew up his career?

Petrino gave her about $20,000. The affair was discovered after he wrecked his motorcycle … with his mistress riding behind him. He also gave her a cushy job in the sports program.

In what year did Janet Jackson's famous "wardrobe malfunction" occur during the Super Bowl halftime show?

It wasn't technically a football scandal, but the bit of intentional nudity greatly affected the NFL's halftime shows, which are now more tightly controlled so as to not offend decency groups.

How many football players were suspended from the Army football team in 1951?

In a widespread U.S. Military Academy cheating scandal, 90 cadets were kicked out of West Point, and 37 of them were football players.

Why did University of Southern California star Reggie Bush have to give back his Heisman Trophy?

After Bush departed the university for the NFL, the NCAA determined that he received all sorts of improper benefits. Bush gave back his Heisman, and USC was heavily penalized.

What happened to New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress when he went to a nightclub in 2008?

He was carrying an unlawful concealed weapon and managed to shoot himself. He wound up in prison for two years. The previous year, Burress caught the game-winning touchdown at the Super Bowl.

How did Kanas City linebacker Jovan Belcher kill his girlfriend and then himself the day before a game?

Belcher shot his girlfriend and then committed suicide near the Chiefs' facilities. An autopsy showed that his brain had signs of damage that may have been caused during his playing days.

For which NFL football team did running back O.J. Simpson play most of his career?

Simpson played for the Buffalo Bills and ran his way to the NFL's MVP award. Later he was charged with the murder of his wife and her friend in one of the most publicized trials in history.

Why did Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick wind up serving jail time?

Vick had a dogfighting ring, and he routinely abused the animals. Once he was released from prison, he managed to land a spot on the roster of the Philadelphia Eagles.

In the late 1980s, Philadelphia Eagles coach Buddy Ryan supposedly offered his players how much money to knock Dallas Cowboys out of the games with injuries?

It was never (totally) proven, but Ryan probably offered to pay a measly $200 as a bounty to injure Cowboys players. Dallas coach Jimmy Johnson went on a public tirade against Ryan.

In 2010, what did one Alabama football fan do as revenge when his team lost to Auburn?

A man named Harvey Updyke poisoned a stand of revered oak trees near Auburn University, and he did nearly 80 days in jail for his crime.

Why was Ohio State coach Jim Tressel fired in 2010?

He found out that team players were trading gear and championship rings for tattoos at a local tattoo shop, and he didn't report the violations.

In 1998, what did Atlanta Falcons safety Eugene Robinson do the night before the Super Bowl?

He was arrested and released for soliciting an undercover police officer for sex. He played the next day, but he was victimized for several long plays that cost his team the game.

After he struck and killed a pedestrian in 2009, what did Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth do?

Stallworth had been drinking before he hit the man, named Mario Reyes. Rather than try to dodge the penalties, he took his conviction through a plea deal and admitted his wrongdoing.

Which NFL team was caught videotaping signals of the opposing coaches during a game?

The Patriots were caught in the act. Head coach Bill Belichick was fined half a million dollars, and the team's reputation for cheating was born.

Baltimore Ravens superstar Ray Lewis stood trial for which criminal charge?

He was accused of being involved in the murder of two men following a Super Bowl party. No one was ever convicted, but Lewis paid a steep NFL fine and also paid the victims' families in a settlement.

In 2012, how fast was Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent driving (after drinking) when he caused an accident that killed his teammate Jerry Brown?

He was driving 110 miles per hour in a 45-mile per hour zone when he wrecked the car and killed his friend. The Cowboys decided to retain Brent on their roster. Later, he became a team scout.

Why was New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton suspended for an entire season?

Payton ignored a Saints bounty program that paid players to hurt players on opposing teams. Payton's reputation has never fully recovered.

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