Nos. 10-9: (tie) San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz: This is a tough one. Went to high school with Schwartz. Love him. Excellent coach, but his overreaction to a hard handshake from Harbaugh is a classic jerk reaction from a guy with a serious sideline temper.
Harbaugh is arrogant and just as sideline-angered as Schwartz, and his story about how the 49ers didn't really pursue Peyton Manning is actually hilarious. That's like saying you look at Rihanna and appreciate her eyes.
No. 8: Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler: If ever there was a jerk face prototype, it would be Cutler. Plays the part well with the best smirk in the NFL. His defenders say he's not so jerkish -- that his reactions are more because he despises the media. Yes, jerks are always misunderstood. I actually believe Cutler is maturing and one day will break free of his jerk chains, but for the moment, there's this NSFW moment.
No. 7: New York Jets defensive back Antonio Cromartie: Now has an amazing 12 kids: four from his wife and eight others with seven different women. Let that marinate and we will move on. (But first: that's a starting offense with a backup quarterback.)
There is a not-so-funny message here. It is impossible for a man to be a good father to his children in this kind of situation unless Cromartie has cloned himself. Thus the repercussions of jerkdom aren't just about football. They can be far more reaching.
No. 6: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson: Benched in fourth quarter of a game last year. Benched for missing team meeting. Celebrates before scoring. More than once. Mad talented, crazy fast, super smart and a jerk.
This will be an interesting situation to watch. The Eagles just rewarded Jackson with a long-term deal. Historically, jerks don't handle this kind of thing well. Jerks are to fat contracts what a Kardashian is to ... oh, never mind. Jackson also is now the CEO of a rap label called Jaccpot Records. Nothing wrong with that. The problem, as always with a situation like this, is money. Someone has to fund this venture and it will probably be Jackson. Athletes funding their own business ventures never go wrong, right? And speaking of broke jerks.
No. 5: Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall: You may notice this list is strong at wide receiver. Jerk has apparently spread to the position and locked on like a Borg tractor beam. In some ways Marshall exemplifies this phenomenon. Multiple accusations of woman beating but no convictions. One of the most talented wide receivers in football who was run out of Denver, run out of Miami and, if his jerk chromosomes kick in again (and they will), he'll be gone from Chicago in the near future, too.
No. 4: Special Brett Favre dispensation for Terrell Owens: T.O. checks in here, which is technically a violation of the jerk charter since Owens, you know, isn't currently in the NFL. He's been booted from the NFL, IFL, USFL, CFL, AFL, the AFL-CIO. UFOs and IPOs don't want him either. Owens is a lifetime jerk award winner, future Hall of Famer (should be at least) who was nasty, petulant and turbulent. His jerkiness is so pervasive that despite having some ability remaining no one will touch him. People fear catching jerk cooties. Love me some jerk.
No. 3: New Orleans Saints*: A collective award. And who knows if they even did what they're accused of doing. If they're guilty, they belong in this spot. If they're innocent, then this is where Ndamukong Suh , leg stomper, dirty player, shall go. So ordered.
No. 2: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: Two sexual assault allegations (no convictions) but a four-game suspension for violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy. A well-earned jerk ranking.
No. 1: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick: This question was put to Twitter: does Vick deserve to be forgiven for what were atrocities against defenseless animals? Hundreds of responses came in and it was overwhelming there are still a great many people who haven't forgiven Vick for actions of his own making.
Much as I think Vick deserves to be high on this list, I gotta put Roethlisberger at number one.
For balance, here's Freeman's top ten good guys (with special attention to number ten).
No. 10: Cam Newton: Boy, does he look really lazy.
No. 9: Maurice Jones-Drew: His tweet questioning Jay Cutler’s heart notwithstanding, one of the league's good dudes.
No. 8: Matt Hasselbeck: Sarcastic but possesses good sense of humor, and has changed the direction for the better of every NFL team he's played on.
No. 7: Donald Driver: The opposite of the me-first jerk wide receiver.
No. 6: Calvin Johnson: Ditto.
No. 5: The Golden Calf of Bristol: C'mon, he's a good dude. Not his fault media pays far too much attention to him.
No. 4: Chad Ochocinco: Sure, he's a little foul-mouthed on Twitter, and yes, he was once a showboat, but he was, and is, harmless. He's also, secretly, an incredibly solid person and goes out of his way to make people think he's not.
No. 3: Aaron Rodgers: Deserves a lifetime achievement good guy award for putting up with Brett Favre’s tomfoolery.
No. 2: DeMaurice Smith: Fighting the good fight for the union.
No. 1: Tom Coughlin: Yeah, that Tom Coughlin. This isn't just about his charity work. Jerks do charity work. This is about Coughlin's perseverance. Over the past few years, the only person who didn't fire Coughlin was Donald Trump. A handful of New York media were vitriolic and unfair, and Coughlin mostly kept his cool and should be a Hall of Famer.