Trash talking is as big a part of football culture as the Cover 2 defense, the I-Formation, or dumb commentary from Cris Collinsworth.
Following in the footsteps of Muhammad Ali, who pioneered the art of trash talking, sports stars have increasingly become celebrated for their ability to dish out a verbal smackdown. In the case of Deion Sanders, his “Primetime” persona is perhaps more memorable than his eight All-Pro nods. Same goes for Terrell Owens and his over-the-top touchdown performances—just as big a part of his career as finishing with the second-most receiving yards in NFL history.
Trash talk in football spices things up. Having a player tell us what he really thinks of his opponent—especially after a contentious and hard-fought game—is a lot more fun and authentic than watching a guy spout clichés like “We went out there, tried our best, and faced some tough opposition.” Sports are a form of entertainment, and keeping the banter entertaining is a great way to keep fans engaged and focused on the game.
Today’s NFL might not have as many great trash talkers as it did in the days of T.O., Michael Irvin, and Steve Smith Sr., but there are plenty of solid ones still around. Here are the 10 best.