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The dirtiest players in sports

Sometime between your last bite of turkey and first bite of pumpkin pie on Thursday, you might have seen Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh try out for the Rockettes by kicking Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith. After his ejection, Suh gave some cockamamie explanation about it being an accident, but the video, as well as Suh's reputation, said otherwise. Already, Suh has earned the ugly reputation of being one of the sports' dirtiest athletes. Today, we offer up our list of the current dirtiest people in sports.

Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions

The Thanksgiving Day stomp wasn't Suh's first dirty dance in the NFL. He has been fined on three other occasions and had a sit-down with commissioner Roger Goodell to get a better grasp on why he keeps getting into trouble. Now maybe if Suh had been in the NFL for a eight or nine years, it wouldn't be a big deal. But Suh hasn't even played two full seasons.

Cortland Finnegan, Tennessee Titans

Don't worry, the Titans cornerback isn't offended to be on this list. He has been fined numerous times for all-around hooligan things such as throwing players to the ground by their helmets and hitting them after their helmets were off. Then there was last year's fight with Texans good guy Andre Johnson. Finnegan didn't like it when he was voted the sixth dirtiest player in the league last season. Why? Because he wasn't voted higher. "I'm (No. 6) right now,'' Finnegan said last season, "but I'm aspiring to one day hopefully be No. 1.''

Hines Ward, Pittsburgh Steelers

There's a fine line between being aggressive and being dirty. The Steelers wide receiver crosses that line. And that's not us saying this, but his peers. In a 2010 Sports Illustrated poll of 296 players, Ward was voted the NFL's dirtiest player. That's saying something considering he plays offense, not defense. Ward has sidelined a few opponents with blindside blocks — often helmet-to-helmet. He seems so charming with that smile and, heck, the guy won Dancing With the Stars. But apparently, one should never turn one's back on Ward.

James Harrison, Pittsburgh Steelers

The poster child for the NFL's crack down on dirty hits. Last season, the Steelers linebacker racked up $120,000 in fines for at least five incidents, including one game when he knocked out two Cleveland Browns receivers, including former college teammate Josh Cribbs, with hits to the head.

Reggie Evans, Toronto Raptors

Last year, 173 NBA players were asked: "Who is the dirtiest player in the NBA?'' Evans picked up a whopping 21 percent of the vote. Think about that. Nearly a quarter of the league thinks this little-known journeyman is the dirtiest player in the league. Much of his reputation was earned in a 2006 playoff game when he grabbed the private parts of Chris Kaman. Yeah, that'll get you a spot on this list.

Matt Cooke, Pittsburgh Penguins

The NHL has a long history of cheap-shot artists, thugs, goons and pests. But we think Cooke just might be the dirtiest player we've ever seen. The sad part is the guy has some skill and is, by all accounts, a heck of a nice guy off the ice. But his behavior on the ice threatens careers. He has been suspended five times, including three times for hits to opponents' heads. That doesn't even count several un-penalized hits, including a shot to the head of Boston's Marc Savard that has pretty much ended Savard's career and forced the league to create new rules about head shots. Cooke also sent Lightning star Vinny Lecavalier to an operating room to repair a separated shoulder after a cheap shot in 2008.

Jarkko Ruutu, pro hockey player

Ruutu is currently playing in Europe, but we had to include this former Canucks, Penguins, Senators and Ducks forward on this list just because of his checkered past, which included a 2008 incident when he bit Buffalo's Andrew Peters. Legendary tough guy Chris Simon was once suspended 30 games for stomping on Ruutu's foot with his skate and Simon probably was applauded in many NHL circles. Ruutu is such a scoundrel that Buffalo's Adam Mair once went after him in the hallway of an arena.

Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers

A great NHL defenseman and, sadly, a dirty, dishonest player. He has been suspended eight times in his career. Eight! And it has been for such ugly incidents as sticking an opponent in the throat, slashing, kicking, elbows to the head and even stepping on another player with a skate — one of the most dangerous things you can do to an opponent. He is so dirty that his otherwise brilliant career is overshadowed by his disgusting behavior.

Darnell Dockett, Arizona Cardinals

The former Florida State defensive end once put then-Gators running back Earnest Graham out of commission by twisting his leg after a tackle and then eight years later told Graham's mother to "get over it'' when told she was still upset. Then there was the time he elbowed quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in the throat and was fined $7,500.

Richie Incognito, Miami Dolphins

The offensive guard was once fined $35,000 for three separate incidents in one game, which included a face mask penalty, a chop block and what the NFL called, "repeated verbal abuse of a game official.'' Also on Incognito's rap sheet: In a three-year span, he had four games with at least two personal foul penalties and once picked up a $50,000 fine for head-butting not one, but two players in a game. But this takes the cake: He was released by the Rams in 2009 for being too dirty.

Nyjer Morgan, Milwaukee Brewers

Morgan is known for going out of his way to crash into catchers and is considered by other players to be a borderline dirty player. Not only do opponents have to worry about Morgan, so do the fans. He once whipped a ball into the stands and struck a fan. He also has an eight-game suspension on his resume for his role in a 2010 brawl.

The best (or worst) of the rest

We have a tie for 12th place on our list of dirty dogs. Also making our all-dirty dozen: Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics), Alex Burrows (Vancouver Canucks), Ron Artest (Los Angeles Lakers), NASCAR driver Kyle Busch and free agent pitcher Vicente Padilla, who makes our list because he has hit 106 batters in his 13-year career and yet averaged just three walks per nine innings, showing wildness has never truly been a problem.

tom jones' two cents

The dirtiest players in sports 11/26/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 26, 2011 7:35pm]
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