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Ellis to the Patriots is rough but hardly unprecedented

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Shaun Ellis torched his former team, the New York Jets, by signing with the rival New England Patriots. And if you have followed along, you will know that Ellis not only angered his former coach Rex Ryan, but also violated one of my proposed unwritten rules, which says that you do not sign with a rival.

But this is certainly not without its precedent, though. There are a lot of instances of guys trying to stick it to his former team by signing with a rival. Here is a look at the biggest instances in NFL history, but with a quick detour through some of the most egregious instances in other sports.

Basketball: Shaquille O'Neal

Shaq won three consecutive NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, and everybody loved him, but then there was the whole unpleasant situation with Kobe Bryant that caused the split. Shaq went on to win another title in Miami, and Kobe then went on to best Shaq by winning two more of his own. Shaq thought he would get over on the Lakers by signing with the hated Celtics last season to help squeeze out one more pathetic ring -- albeit from the bench. But things ended rather well when the Celtics were bounced early in the playoffs.

Associated Press/US Presswire

Baseball: Wade Boggs

Baseball fans often bring up Johnny Damon's defection from the Red Sox as egregious or even Roger Clemens eventually going from Boston to New York. But Damon started with the Royals, and the Red Sox were right about Clemens who, if he never met up with Jose Canseco, probably never plays for New York anyway. But the image of Boggs riding around on that NYPD horse is forever etched in my mind.

Associated Press

Basketball: Gary Payton and Karl Malone

Now, it's one thing to sign with your rival in an attempt to win a championship. But having Payton, the trash-talking leader of the NBA, was tough to stomach as a Lakers fan. The Malone thing is really awful. Nobody not playing for the Celtics ever delivered more cheap shots to Lakers players than Malone. However, what really hurts is that Malone made a number of ignorant statements about Magic Johnson after his retirement, and he still had the gall to try to play in Los Angeles? Thankfully, this Lakers team failed to win the title.

Ric Francis/Associated Press

Baseball: John Lackey

Lackey won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series for the Angels and was the face of the franchise for a number of years. But when Lackey was pulled in what would be his last appearance for the Angels in the 2009 ALCS, he publicly showed up manager Mike Scioscia and reportedly threw a fit in the locker room. So Lackey made sure to sign with the Angels' heated rivals, the Red Sox. Lackey currently has an ERA of 6.14 and has become almost as hated in Boston as he is in Anaheim, though he is more of a pathetic figure to Angels fans now.

Associated Press/US Presswire

No. 6 Jason Taylor

When Taylor was first linked to the Jets during the 2010 free-agency period, vocal Jets backer Fireman Ed called Taylor a "meathead" (pot, meet kettle) and said that no Jets fan would want him. That frost eventually thawed, and Taylor played one season for the Jets, which almost was a success as New York advanced to the AFC Championship Game. But alas, this was as short-lived as a waltz seeing that Taylor will play for the Dolphins in 2011.

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No. 5 Ken Norton Jr.

Norton was the middle linebacker of a young Cowboys defense that led the team to consecutive Super Bowl wins over the Buffalo Bills. But the Cowboys let Norton go after the 1993 season because of the salary cap. Norton signed a deal with the 49ers in 1994, along with some other defensive mercenaries that included Deion Sanders, and San Francisco stuck it to Dallas by finally defeating its rival in the NFC title game and eventually winning Super Bowl XXIX.

NFL/Associated Press

No. 4 Lyle Alzado

On Alzado's first day of practice with the Los Angeles Raiders in 1982, his helmet kept popping off his head -- probably because it just didn't feel right for a long-time Bronco to be in the Silver and Black. But the Broncos had let Alzado go after the 1978 season, and after a three-year stint with the Browns, Alzado made a comeback with the Raiders. They went on to beat the Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII.

National Football League

No. 3 Brett Favre

Alright, we all know this story: Favre retired, was unwelcomed when he wanted to return, was traded to the Jets, retired again, signed with the Vikings, retired again, returned to the Vikings, retired again, and that is where we stand. But it was the Packers who went on to get the last laugh when Aaron Rodgers led the team to a win in Super Bowl XLV.

Associated Press

No. 2 Paul Brown

The innovative Brown founded the Browns in 1945 and remained with the team until he was dismissed by owner Art Modell in 1963 (hard to believe Modell would be that heartless, right?). Brown went on to found the Cincinnati Bengals of the AFL, then after the merger was pitted against his former team. Brown coached Cincinnati until 1976, but with the Brown family still in control of the Bengals, that rivalry still lives on today.

National Football League

No. 1 Marcus Allen

Normally, going to your rival team is forbidden, but you can't blame Allen for this one. One of the most beloved L.A. Raiders ever, his amazing 73-yard touchdown run in Super Bowl XVIII is the greatest run in postseason history. But Al Davis wanted to hurt Allen's career and had him buried on the bench in what the running back believes was an attempt to hurt his Hall of Fame chances. Allen eventually left the Raiders, signed with the Chiefs in 1992 and stuck it to the Raiders in every game after that. Most of them played out like a drama on “Monday Night Football.” That being said, it sure seemed that Allen considers himself a Raider in this interview on the Dave Dameshek Football Program.

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