To find the dirtiest team in NFL we looked at personal foul data since 2020 and the Pittsburgh Steelers were the easy winner.
What causes an NFL team to be labeled as “dirty?” Usually it is attributed to dead ball foul or extracurricular activity after a play (ex: Chuck Cecil) during a play.
Examples of dirty plays include unsportsmanlike conduct, roughing the passer, taunting, defenseless receiver hits, or fighting.
Since the 2020 season, the Steelers have amassed 30 infractions – 18 more than AFC North divisional rival Baltimore.
According to the NFL, infractions of the rules are taken very seriously, so NFL teams risk being fined up to $500k for each violation that “effects the competitive aspects of the game”.
The Top Ten Dirtiest Teams in NFL:
|Rank||Team||No. of Infractions||Total $ Fines||Foul %, Compared to League Avg (13)|
|1||Pittsburgh Steelers||30||$5,342,533||150% higher|
|2||Dallas Cowboys||25||$292,158||108% higher|
|3||Las Vegas Raiders||21||$252,159||75% higher|
|4||New Orleans Saints||21||$267,823||75% higher|
|5||Denver Broncos||20||$208,481||67% higher|
|6||Los Angeles Rams||17||$176,612||42% higher|
|7||Cleveland Browns||16||$156,623||33% higher|
|8||Seattle Seahawks||16||$155,023||33% higher|
|9||Kansas City Chiefs||16||$168,079||33% higher|
|10||Cincinnati Bengals||14||$141,876||17% higher|
Of all the teams in the league, the Steelers have been the dirtiest NFL team since 2020 in both penalties and amount of dollars fined. 30 infractions over three years – totaling a cool $5.3 million.
This is the highest number of rule violations (with the NFL average standing at 13) and total amount of dollars fined.
The most common dirty offense committed by Steelers’ players over this period was making obscene gestures – interestingly, all of which occurred during week 12 of the schedule each year. Unsportsmanlike conduct was second most.
Each of these violations have proven costly in the finance department for the team too. The 30 violations averaged $178,000+ per occurrence, when the total fines are divided over the number of infractions.
The least dirty team in the NFL (cleanest)? The Atlanta Falcons.
On the other end of the scale, the most well-behaved team in the NFL was crowned as the Atlanta Falcons, who have amassed only five dirty penalties since 2020. This is 83% less than the Pittsburgh Steelers, and 62% lower than the league average.
And despite seeing five player suspensions ahead of the 2023 season, the Detroit Lions sit below the league average in the ranking, amassing 12 infractions between 2020 and 2022.
Across the NFL, the most common infraction was unsportsmanlike conduct. This includes things like verbal abuse, taunting an official, or feigning an injury.
Other common issues included fighting, roughing the passer, and hits on defenseless players.
What NFL Position Is The Dirtiest?
Some positions are more prone to penalties than others, the data shows, with the majority of violations caused by wide receivers, followed by cornerbacks and defensive ends.
Who Is The Dirtiest Player In The NFL?
As well as looking at the dirtiest teams, we also looked at the players that commit dirty plays most frequently and incur infractions. The Seattle Seahawks’ D.K. Metcalf was named the most fringe player in the league.
While A.J. Brown is one of the league’s biggest offenders, the most-disruptive player is Seattle Seahawks’ D.K. Metcalf, with 7 infractions.
Metcalf amassed seven personal foul penalties combined from 2020 to 2022.
With 7 penalties Metcalf has broken the most rules over the past three seasons. This breaks down to an average $22k annual fine.
The most common infraction across the NFL is unsportsmanlike conduct – with DK Metcalf penalized for more instances of this than any other player. These violations – which include taunting 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw and arguing with side judge Allen Baynes last season – have cost the Seahawks wide out $88,591 so far.
However, these large fines for bad behavior aren’t actually that impactful, as DK Metcalf’s fines equate to less than 0.1% of his salary each year.
And if you’ve ever owned DK in fantasy football and watched his every possession in garbage time hoping against hope for that 25 yard reception (plus the 1/2 point PPR bonus) to get that 2.8 points you need to claim victory at the end of MNF, it seems spot on that he would be the dirtiest players as he always seems to be pissed.
Despite being labeled ‘the most talented player on the Seahawks’ roster’ earlier this year, Metcalf’s disruptive behavior is not going wholly unnoticed, with former head coach Mike Holmgren saying that “his maturity level needs to change”.
Another player that could do with re-evaluating his behavior is Miami Dolphins’ CB Jalen Ramsey, who has six infractions that have resulted in $77,748 in fines.
The top 10 dirtiest players in the NFL ranked
|1||DK Metcalf||Seattle Seahawks||7||$88,591|
|2||Jalen Ramsey||Miami Dolphins||6||$77,748|
|3||A.J. Brown||Philadelphia Eagles||6||$42,870|
|4||C.J. Gardner-Johnson||Detroit Lions||5||$44,495|
|5||CeeDee Lamb||Dallas Cowboys||5||$46,865|
|6||Cameron Jordan||New Orleans Saints||4||$85,500|
|7||Marcus Peters||Las Vegas Raiders||4||$48,718|
|8||Aaron Donald||Los Angeles Rams||4||$47,529|
|9||Marshon Lattimore||New Orleans Saints||4||$44,982|
|10||Frank Clark||Denver Broncos||4||$38,870|