Well-timed photos that capture the crazy and funny of the NFL
Well-timed NFL photos are a thing of beauty. They capture all of the NFL’s perfect moments, from the downright crazy to the absolutely hilarious.
Here are 30 of the most well-timed NFL photos we’ve ever seen.
The many faces of Eli Manning
The king of ugly, confused faces, Giants quarterback Eli Manning has made a name for himself due to two disparate things: beating Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl, twice, and his outlandish facial expressions. Manning knows how to take a sack or two or three, and with each sack comes a patented Manning face.
His faces range from the “deer in headlights” look we see in the upper left to the, “Oh my God, I just saw the devil, right here, in the flesh” look in the upper right. The other two faces round out four of his most notorious faces. The lower left is the, “Why the heck does Peyton get so much love?” look, and the bottom right is an, “I can’t believe I’ve been benched for Daniel Jones” grimace.
Look, no one likes the refs. And as of late, the NFL has really messed things up and is rapidly heading toward a full-blown referee crisis. This picture, while not fully encapsulating the extent of officiating issues, does shed some light on the problem. What is he doing on top of Devonta Freeman? Why is No. 77 pinning the Falcons running back to the ground?
Now, before your blood pressure spikes and you kindly inform us that the ref is simply separating Freeman from a fight with Aaron Donald, just realize we know that. But still, imagine the repercussions if Freeman found himself sprawled out on top of the ref? Heavy fines would be levied.
Smokin’ Jay Cutler
Smokin’ Jay Cutler doesn’t give a you-know-what about much. Certainly not about winning, and certainly not about showing interest in his team. Jay Cutler was always hyped up as a strong thrower with a rocket arm and good size. And whatever talents he lacked, could be coached. What couldn’t be coached was his attitude, which was about as bad as they come.
Lethargic, tepid, and unapologetic all come to mind when thinking of Cutler. And this photo says it all. Cutler’s face is showing all of the telltale signs of disinterest and apathy. Cutler’s tenure with the Bears unsurprisingly ended with minimal fan support and, of course, no Super Bowl rings.
Thank god for technology. Had there not been cameras, we, the fans, never would have seen Mark Sanchez and the infamous “butt fumble” in all its glory. The Patriots have owned the Jets for eons. That’s nothing new. What was new here was the manner in which the Jets find new ways to lose.
It’s like when teams play the Pats, they bring out a special kind of stupid (remember that Indianapolis fake punt?). In this case, it was Mark Sanchez scrambling directly into the rear end of his offensive lineman, Brandon Moore, which caused a fumble. New England picked up the fumble and ran the ball back for a touchdown.
Look at the Lambeau Leap
Rule No. 1 of being the visiting team in a Green Bay Packers game: Don’t leap into the stands. That right is reserved for Packers players. It’s a great tradition that has spawned many offshoots, but nothing compares to the Lambeau Leap. Again, it is important to reiterate the first rule of the leap: Only do it if you’re a Packer. If not, you might feel the wrath of everyone in the vicinity. Look at these faces.
Pure disgust. You, Mr. Eagle, are not welcome in our hallowed seats. You, sir, need to return to the field, lest we scowl at you even harder. Fortunately for this receiver/tight end, the Packers’ faithful fans aren’t the most aggressive bunch. According to a Forbes article, they were voted the second-best fans in the NFL.
Everything good, Matt Ryan?
You hate to see it. You just hate to see a face like this. If you’re Matt Ryan, you’re cursing the technology that enabled HD cameras to snap this disturbing photo of the longtime Falcons quarterback. The photo was snapped after Ryan hurt his ankle in a game against the Los Angeles Rams. However, without the context, Ryan’s face could mean a million and one things.
Is he panicking about blowing a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl against New England? Maybe he’s stressing that Chick-fil-A is closed on Sundays, even though his home stadium has a restaurant inside of it? Either way, the photographer captured this intense expression at the perfect time.
Big fan in The Big Easy
Who dat? That’s Drew Brees 2.0. This could easily be one of the most accurate NFL costumes known to man. The guy went all out on his costume, replete with an official New Orleans Saints jersey, classic Drew Brees haircut, and notable birthmark on the cheek. Heck, he even has the smile down pat.
Now, we’re not really sure what’s going on with the fan on Brees 2.0’s right, but we know he’s dedicated. He’s got the half-assed face paint and blonde mullet-wig combo. He even has sweatbands on the wrist in case he has to sub in for Brees and make some timely throws. New Orleans is a wild city and these two definitely add to its spice.
Matt Millen madness
A vintage photo for the ages. Former Oakland great Matt Millen was sick and tired of listening to New England general manager Patrick Sullivan heckle. Apparently, the bulk of that heckling was directed at future Hall of Famer Howie Long, and the disrespect reached a boiling point. The Raiders were playing the Pats in the 1985 Divisional Round, and they were heavily favored.
However, the Pats somehow found a way to pull off the upset, winning the game 27-20. What appeared to be the end of the game was just the start of something more. Millen, amid the postgame handshakes, found Sullivan and delivered a powerful hook.
It’s completely legal, folks. Tackling by the hair is 100% acceptable. If someone’s hair is hanging out of their helmet, it’s fair game. Now, that’s not to say it’s all fun and games. It’s definitely not received well by the person getting tackled by their locks. But, as mom would always say, you made your bed, now lie in it.
If a football player wants to have dreads, that’s completely fine, so long as they understand the repercussions. By the looks of it, No. 31 is about to enter a world of pain he’s not too familiar with. His eyes are about to roll into the back of his head as he is dragged down by a fistful of hair.
Punt the punter
Antonio Brown is on another planet. His downfall out of the NFL has been spectacular, like watching a meteor shower in the middle of the desert. At every turn, A.B. seemed to make the wrong move. But here, in this picture, with his old team, when things were good, he made the right move. Hurdle the punter and plant the foot right on his helmet.
The punter went down like a ton of bricks. So did Brown. Plus he was flagged for unnecessary roughness. But it was all worth it. The play was memorable and may be the only one of its kind in NFL history.
Hair, by Clay Matthews
Clay! Get your head in the game, Clay! We all know you have luscious locks. Shoot, you may have the best head of hair in the NFL, save Troy Polamalu back when he was still in the league. What Clay Matthews also has is an elite pass-rushing skill set. He can get to the quarterback with power and speed, agility and grit. What is his secret? Confidence.
And where did he get that confidence from? The golden mop-top he became famous for. However, there’s something a bit questionable about this photo. It kind of looks like Clay is at the club ready to shake his derriere and his hair. Maybe he should tone down the pregame hair ritual just a smidge.
Hey friends, it’s me, Tom
The GOAT, Tom Brady is a man of many things. Hairstyles: check. Fashion sense: check. Clutch performances in big games: check. Coming up short on high fives: you bet. Here, Tom Brady, the greatest to ever throw the pigskin, is being flat-out ignored by his teammates.
The quarterback and fiery leader is as passionate as anyone in the league, and sometimes that intensity takes the shape of a high five. Brady is ready to give an impressively loud high five that ends with a satisfactory smack. But he doesn’t have anyone to link up with. It’s like a Greek tragedy, only sadder.
Another A.B. slide, another chance to take a stab at marking exactly where his demise began. Was it here, back in 2015, when Antonio Brown lost his mind (and maybe his ability to reproduce)? After an electrifying punt return against the Colts, A.B. sprinted straight at the goal post and leaped onto it, clinging to it like a panda in a tree.
Brown, of course, was fined for the play, but bigger things loomed on the horizon. This may have been the play where Brown lost part of his mind. Anyway, enough rambling about Brown’s demise. Let’s just take a moment to appreciate the audacity he showed on this fateful leap.
Bronco in headlights
Super Bowl 48 was a 43-8 blowout led by Seattle and their Legion of Boom secondary. Peyton Manning, the season’s most prolific passer, went on to have the worst day of his life as quarterback. Now, that’s not a quote, but a logical assumption. This image comes from the first play of the game from scrimmage.
The snap went right over Peyton’s head and into the end zone for a safety. The score was only two to zero, but the floodgates were open, and there was no stopping the surge. Seattle ended up dominating a shell-shocked Manning and Denver offense, allowing only eight points in total in what has become one of the most lopsided Super Bowls in history.
Back at it with the refs. Here is another perfect example of why the passionate NFL fan base abhors the referees. What are they doing? What is the call on the field? And why are they not in accord with what happened? Lots of questions and not a lot of answers, except that these refs were scabs during the beginning of the 2012 NFL season.
The scabs, needless to say, were last-minute replacements for the full-time refs on strike. After the NFL realized they’d made a critical mistake (this photo is all the evidence one needs) in not meeting the refs’ demands, they scrambled to get the real refs back on the field. Lesson learned: Pay the zebras.
The last time the Chicago Bears won the Super Bowl, this guy below — except the real version — was coaching the team. Mike Ditka brought the Chicago Bears to the top of professional football with a smashing victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 20. Other than the “Super Bowl Shuffle” and a stout defense, the Bears were known for Ditka and his signature vest and sunglasses.
It was this quintessentially ’80s style — twill vest and thick shades — that embodied a physical and smothering defense that Ditka spearheaded. And although the Bears have yet to win another Super Bowl, Ditka’s legacy with the team lives on through superfans and costumes.
No shirt, no problem
New England fans are a hardy bunch. They deal with severe and unpredictable weather and have an outdoor stadium. The one thing to ease their pain is their team’s greatness. Being great, though, doesn’t make you immune to the cold. This fan may or may not be inebriated.
He may or may not have a thick alcohol coat, and he may or may not have some booze in his Patriots mug. Either way, he’s one tough dude, shirtless and all, bearing the snow and wind. He’s also the only one doing it, so that, by definition, says a lot about him.
Where is the love?
Look at the love! Bengals fans don’t have much to cheer about, but they did have Jeremy Hill! And when Jeremy Hill found the end zone, he would seek out his Bengals compatriots, wherever they lie, even if that meant venturing into enemy territory. This game was played in Cleveland, and the Browns fan next to the Bengals fan is not happy with Hill’s decision to jump into the stands.
But the polar-opposite, contrasting emotions these two fans are showing are perfect. One is true love. All smiles and warmth. The other is hatred, coldness, and hostility. Nothing like two miserable franchises, in the same state, battling it out for last place.
The pride of the Lions
This guy is about to be in a world of hurt, once the drugs and alcohol and adrenaline wear off. Yeah, streaking was cool in the ’90s. Today, it’s a dated act used to gain internet fame, to go viral for your mom and dad to see. In reality, it’s just a waste of everyone’s time. Wow, crazy, a guy is naked on the field. Whoop-de-do. Next.
The only redeeming quality of a streaker today is them getting annihilated by the players on the field, which happens from time to time. Here, we can only hope that Detroit’s Joique Bell, a running back by trade, dished out the lumber and put this streaker into the turf.
Coming out of his shell
What do we have here? A new reptilian species? Potentially. Here was the exact moment in which future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees turned into a turtle-like species. He got hit high on the play, around the head and neck, causing his neck to extend at an unnatural angle.
What at first was just a big hit turned into a great photo, because it appears Mr. Brees is finally coming out of his shell, peering out to see the world. No, really, his neck looks like it just extended an extra 6 or 7 inches. Welcome to the turtle team, Mr. Brees. Welcome.
Personal foul! Punch to the face
Ummm, OK. This referee clearly is in the wrong profession. The form here is immaculate, unprecedented. The power is unmatched and unstoppable. This ref just threw a clean right cross into the metal facemask of an NFL player 25-30 years his junior. And he doesn’t care. He’s not here for your feelings or concerns.
There was an issue and Mr. Right, aka his right hand, was the only solution. Look at the Rams players in the background, charging over to aid his vanquished comrade. Realistically, this ref didn’t actually line up this Rams player and sock him in the helmet, but the visual does lend itself to some pretty entertaining questions and hypotheses.
There’s a reason Rex Grossman was generally hated by the Chicago Bears faithful during his tenure there. He was largely inept and turnover-prone. His laissez-faire attitude and gunslinging mentality weren’t conducive to winning. What made matters worse is the Bears had a very stout defense during Grossman’s tenure — the problem was they were always on the field.
Unable to consistently put up points, Chicago’s defense constantly had their backs to the wall. And while they may have been mighty, they couldn’t carry the entire burden left by Grossman. Anyhow, here’s a funny picture of Rex in a compromised position.
Got his head spinning
Yikes. You need to feel for Drew Brees here. His head is being torqued like someone trying to twist off a lid that was screwed on too tightly. Really, his face says it all. Brees is neither happy nor excited about his current position. His facemask, and subsequently his neck, is being yanked by an extremely strong and big man.
Thankfully for Brees and the Saints, he was OK. But in all seriousness, facemasks have the potential to be incredibly dangerous and devastating. It’s really a miracle more players aren’t seriously injured by this penalty. Maybe the NFL should revert to its original helmet style? Antonio Brown would be happy.
Super Bowl streaker
This happened at Super Bowl 38. Yes, in the middle of an awesome Super Bowl featuring the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers, a promotional streaker took the field all by himself. What is it about Patriots Super Bowls that draws controversial events and instances? They had the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake fiasco, and now this.
Mr. GoldenPalace.com — please, be cautious about visiting this site, it may be NSFW — a streaker. Although streakers are generally considered an obnoxious bunch that just wastes everyone’s time, this guy actually deserves some credit. He’s risking a lot — humiliation, injury, and jail, to name a few — to promote some website.
Just win, baby
Just win, baby. That iconic saying, exclaimed by the late and great Raiders owner Al Davis, definitely takes on new meaning here. Raiders fans are a passionate bunch. Some would even venture to say they are crazy and deranged, but that’s another story for another time. In the meantime, let’s take a look at how much this future mom loves her Raiders.
We’re really hoping for a few things, like that she’s not in the Black Hole (too stressful for a future mom) and she’s not drinking (not good for her future Raiders fan). Regardless, most future moms this pregnant would opt to watch the Raiders game from the comfort of their living room. Not this lady. Nope, superfans don’t miss Raiders games for anything.
Head in the wrong place
Get your head in the game, 56! Buffalo Bills receiver Cole Beasley is crafty, shifty, elusive, and slippery like a wet worm. He also looks like he’s staring down some dark souls in this photo. At least he’s still got his helmet on his dome. Carolina’s No. 56 is placing himself in some serious jeopardy by not cinching up his helmet.
He’s putting that noggin at even more risk than it’s already at by not securing it to his head well enough. Cole Beasley is not going down easily, and Carolina needs to know that. They have to understand he will throw leg kicks in addition to using his arsenal of quick cuts and stiff arms to get by the defense.
Thankfully this is not another Antonio-Brown-doing-something-foolish/comical slide. No, this is Santonio Holmes getting nicely acquainted with an endzone cameraman who doesn’t appear to be too comfortable with the informal meet and greet. Hey, being an NFL cameraman is risky business.
You put your body in a compromised position trying to capture the perfect image in hopes of selling it on Getty Images or some other image-sourcing company. In this case, it was actually a different photographer that captured the perfect shot of this cameraman getting the business in the back of the end zone. Thoughts and prayers that his few-thousand-dollar camera survived the crash.
Foot, meet face. Face, meet foot.
Oh my lord, the UFC has invaded the football field. There is a lot going on in this picture, so let’s dive right in and figure out exactly what is going on here. First off, let’s take a look at No. 26’s grills. There’s a slight chance the gold teeth we’re seeing is actually a mouthguard, but it looks too fitted to be a piece of rubber.
So that’s bold move numero uno, rocking some gold teeth in a contact sport. Second, that’s some impressively bad luck to take a heel to the face and have it not simply catch your facemask. No, this kick popped the helmet off and caught him square in the face.
Rule No. 1 of catching balls in the NFL is to protect the family jewels. Did No. 86 forget the memo, or did he simply never receive it? See, most people think the most important aspect of being a pass catcher in the NFL is catching the ball, but that’s actually a common misconception.
Protecting oneself is equally, if not more, important because if you’re not healthy, you’re not on the field; and if you’re not on the field, you literally cannot catch passes. Hopefully, 86 took this like a champ and bounced back without any serious internal damage, not like he didn’t have any already, playing for the Jets and all.