NFL – Top Five Prima Donnas in the League

As a former wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, I must admit, I am not completely comfortable with the term prima donna. Given the countless hours athletes dedicate to develop their skill set and the endless sacrifices they make, in order to occupy a spot on an NFL roster. I have nothing but love and respect for all professional athletes.  When you stop and think about it, for the duration of an entire sporting event, athletes allow fans to escape into a new exciting fantasy realm, all while being entertained. Similarly, to a professional athlete on game day, I cannot discriminate and only play the bad teams. I am responsible for playing whoever lines up across from me and do my job. With that said, let’s tackle this prima donna assignment. Besides, for crying out loud, what is a prima donna anyway??


Stereotypically, prima donnas, are overpaid, over-hyped, hotshot athletes who rarely deliver during crucial moments of the game. In my experience, I know prima donnas do exist.  Unlike socks and gloves, prima donnas are not a one size fits all. Their traits reveal themselves in a wide variety of ways and at different variations of the spectrum. Normally, they are athletes who want a lot of attention, minimal expectations, and are softer than the other side of the pillow. However, the list I compiled, these athletes are tough, accomplished, and winners. So why did they make my list?? Well, according to a generic google search, the definition of a prima donna is a very temperamental person with an inflated view of their own talent or importance. Below I will explain who made the top 5 prima donnas in the NFL and why.

1.) Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Without question, Ben is my number one prima donna in the entire NFL. Yes, Ben’s pedigree and credentials are impressive. Ben was drafted 11th overall out of Miami University in 2004, by one of the NFL’s most storied franchises, Pittsburgh Steelers. Ben not only fulfilled, but exceeded all expectations, when he won not one, but two Super Bowl championships. If you like the fact that Ben is a 2-time Superbowl champion, you will love the fact, on December 4th, 2017, Ben became only the 8th quarterback in NFL history, to throw for more than 50,000 yards. Truth be told, if it was strictly about Ben’s performance on the field, his name would not be on this list. Nonetheless, Ben’s name appears! Mainly attributed to what he says after he walks off the field and speaks about what just transpired on the field.

Ben or “Big Ben”, due to his 6’5 and weighs 240lbs frame, does a terrible job of taking accountability after a tough loss. Regularly, “Big Ben” demonstrates poor leadership by placing blame on other players and coaches, even when it was his non-nonsensical judgment that led to a costly turnover. “Big Ben” played the blame game so masterfully, two All-Pro teammates, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, demanded off the team, largely due to Ben’s blameworthiness towards both teammates.


“Big Ben” earned a reputation of a player who welcomed all the praise in winning moments but threw teammates under the proverbial bus, during team loses. Even worst, “Big Ben” threatened on multiple occasions to retire, which may be exactly what “Big Ben” finally decides to do soon enough. This coming 2019-2020 season will be “Big Ben’s toughest season in his career.  With his two biggest weapons and scapegoats gone, the only one left for “Ben Big” to direct fault, is Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin or finally himself.  No worries! After all, Ben is a big boy.

2.) Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers)

Rivers is tough, do not just take my word for it. On January 20th, 2008, Rivers played the Teflon New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, just six days after suffering a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee. Rivers is accomplished, he is in the exclusive club of only 9 NFL quarterbacks in history, to throw for over 50,000 yards. Beautiful! Marvelous! Amazing!

The only thing about Rivers, which is irritable, is his unnecessary demonstrative antics after plays! Every time, I watch a Los Angeles Chargers game, Rivers looks like he just listened to the popular music group Migo’s hit record “walk it, like you talk it”. Rivers is regularly talking trash and spewing all sorts of vulgarity towards defensive players on the opposing team. At times, I wish I possessed the superpowers to go inside the T.V., tap Rivers on the shoulder, and play him rap phenom Kendrick Lamar’s hit record “Be Humble”.  I like his passion and I love his leadership. However, until he wins a Superbowl or even an AFC Championship game, simmer down on the flailing of the arms on a 15-yard completed pass. Please!!!

3.) Odell Beckham (Cleveland Browns)

Easily the most polarizing player in the NFL. Beckham is must-see TV. Skill set wise; Beckham has minimal to no weaknesses as a wide receiver.  He is explosive, runs effortlessly every route in the route tree, and outstanding hands. While with the New York Giants, Beckham’s inability to manage his emotions caused self-inflicted harm on the sideline, out-of-control play on the field, and unwarranted critique of his own team’s franchise, who made him the highest paid wide receiver in NFL history (5-years $95M, $65M guaranteed). To much is given, much is required.

Now, Beckham is suiting up with the Cleveland Browns and has big expectations.  Teaming Beckham up with his former college teammate veteran wide receiver, Jarvis Landry.  Browns a betting Beckham can now just focus on football and during tough stretches, lean on Laundry to help Beckham constructively express his emotions.  As my momma said, “Even grass grows baby”. I just hope Beckham does too.

4.) Antonio Brown (Oakland Raiders)

Arguably the best receiver in the NFL. If you need numbers, 6 consecutive seasons of over 1200 yards and caught 74 touchdowns. Fast and quick.  He is so good he beats double coverages from opposing defenses. On the field, he has minimal to no weakness.  However, his selfish unchecked attitude takes the cake. At times, it overshadows his abundance of good he contributes to his team.

Social media is a tool that he uses to create havoc and could be his demise. In fact, he used social media masterfully to block a potential trade to the Buffalo Bills this past offseason and landed with the Oakland Raiders.


Head coach John Gruden will have little to no tolerance to Antonio’s inappropriate use of social media. For example, if Brown records live during a post-game locker room team talk, similarly to his episode in Pittsburgh Steelers, I am confident coach Gruden will not hesitate to remind Brown that he is not in Pittsburgh anymore. Somethings change and sometimes they remain the same. Let’s hope Brown, changes for the betterment of himself and his new team.

5.) Tom Brady (New England Patriots)

Tom is on here, simply for the legion of NFL fans that want to the New England Patriots to lose. Small remainder, no one walking this earth is perfect, but Tom is Terrific.

Who do you feel is a prima donna in the NFL? Leave a comment below.

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Follow Hamal on Twitter @Jamalburke9.

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