One of the most common sights following an NFL game is the postgame handshake between players and coaches. Both sides can put aside their differences and acknowledge a hard-fought game between worthy competitors. Some people aren’t so gracious in defeat, however. These four NFL players have been criticized for being sore losers.
1. Keenan Allen
Following a loss to the Denver Broncos this season, Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen made an Instagram post about the possibility that Denver defender Chris Harris had caused him to have a bad game. He said, “Y’all damn well know that boy can’t hold my jockstrap.”
While it’s true that Harris didn’t cover Allen the whole game, the bravado is odd. Allen finished with four catches for 18 yards. If he wanted to make it clear that Harris wasn’t on the same level, he should’ve provided more evidence. Allen’s performance, as it stood, didn’t back up his claim.
2. San Francisco 49ers
In 2014, the San Francisco 49ers lost a hard-fought NFC championship game to the Seattle Seahawks. They were so disappointed by the loss that seven of the eight players on the team selected to the Pro Bowl skipped the game. It was one of the few instances where a significant portion of an entire team showed poor sportsmanship following a loss.
3. Antonio Smith
In late 2013, the Houston Texans lost to the Patriots. To explain away the loss, defensive end Antonio Smith cashed in on an old trope about the Patriots’ tendency to spy on their opponents. “Either teams are spying on us or scouting us … I don’t know what it is,” Smith said after Houston lost its 10th straight game, 34-31. “… It was just miraculous that they changed up some things that they did on offense and keyed on what we put in this week to stop what they were doing.'”
Spygate happened in 2007, and the Patriots haven’t been known to spy on teams since then. More than likely, Smith was excusing away his team’s poor play against a better opponent.
4. Bill Belichick
Okay, the Patriots coach may not be a player, but he’s still an infamous sore loser. Few NFL head coaches handle a loss worse than Bill Belichick, who’s known more for his coaching acumen than his bedside manner. He isn’t particularly warm to the media after he wins, but Belichick is even more difficult following a loss.
One example of this followed a 2018 Patriots loss to the Detroit Lions. New England Sports Network portrayed Belichick’s less-than-warm demeanor following the defeat:
After leaving a young fan hanging before the game, Belichick took a similar tactic with the press conference. Try as they might, reporters couldn’t get much of anything out of Belichick, with the head coach stonewalling questions about everything from the team’s recent slow starts to Josh Gordon and everything in between. The only thing Belichick couldn’t shut down Sunday night was the Lions’ offense.
The only silver lining for those members of the print media in attendance? There wasn’t much at all to transcribe. Not counting the opening statement, Belichick was asked 20 “questions” and needed just 230 words to “answer” them all.