His mum and mother-in-law accused of shoplifting, his dad accused of drug dealing . . . there are times when he must wonder if there is not a long lost uncle somewhere who will turn out to be responsible for the crisis in world banking, and it will land at his door in large type over breakfast.
And some think this makes Terry a poor choice as England captain, or as the figurehead of Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea team; that his frequent appearances on the front pages, even unwittingly by proxy, have a negative effect on his status as a leader and role model.
Match winner: Terry delights in his goal against United
In fact, the opposite is true. Here is a man who rises above adversity. Here is a man who overcomes. Here is a man who would have studied a seedy tale about his father selling cheap cocaine in an Essex public house, before going out and doing his job superlatively, winning a crucial match for his team.
Terry thought he had scored the winning goal, steering the ball in the direction of Manchester United's net before the head of Nicolas Anelka gave it unwitting.
Both men wheeled away in celebration before Terry generously handed Anelka the credit in the post-match interview. It would have been easy to make capital of that moment, to use it to deflect from his personal difficulties, but Terry is less needy than that.
Relief: Lampard (right) joins his captain in celebration
He crowned Anelka the hero of the day, and prepared to take the England team to play Brazil. He stood before the television cameras as if this was any other Sunday. He did not hide. He never does.
Meetings with Manchester United have special, and painful, significance to Terry, since a certain match in Moscow in 2008. He did not slip into the shadows that night, either, standing up to take the last penalty in the Champions League final shoot-out, then falling over and breaking down when his miss cost his team the trophy.
Every fibre in Terry's body must have ached for the revenge of a winning goal against Manchester United, particularly this day, when he would have known the ground was alive with mockery and whispers, yet he let the moment pass.
This is captaincy of the highest order, Terry putting his mind on the line, as much as his body. He sacrifices, the way Tony Adams once did for Arsenal and Roy Keane for Manchester United, and that level of commitment takes its toll in the end.
Appreciated: Terry pays tribute to the fans who idolize him at Stamford Bridge
All things considered, it is a wonder Terry remains relatively untroubled by demons. His record is not entirely unblemished but the majority of indiscretions took place early in his career and there seems to be evidence of maturity arriving with age.
Anyway, he would not be the first England captain, past or present, to make the odd mistake: think of Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand or Bobby Moore.
George Graham, the Arsenal manager, used to say that there were games when he would look on from the touchline and thank God that Adams was his captain, and this was a game that may have teased similar emotions from Ancelotti.
The Italian knows a defender and it speaks volumes that Ancelotti and Fabio Capello, the England manager, have come to rely on Terry. With his partner Ricardo Carvalho, he was immense in the heart of Chelsea's defences in a way that his Manchester United equivalent Ferdinand, and his partner Nemanja Vidic, have not been this season.
Ferdinand injured and Vidic dropped, the task of repelling Chelsea yesterday fell to Wes Brown and Jonny Evans and, while they acquitted themselves well, it was Chelsea's home record that extended to more than 14 hours without a goal conceded. Stephen Hunt of Hull City was the last opponent to score at Stamford Bridge after 28 minutes on the opening day of the season.
Burnley, Porto, Tottenham Hotspur, Queens Park Rangers, Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and now Manchester United have subsequently visited without success.
Brothers: Ballack (left) embraces his match-winning captain
In this way, Ancelotti increasingly resembles the last coach to fashiona great Chelsea team, Jose Mourinho. He created a title-winning Chelseaside on a home fortress he never lost here, and neither has Ancelottiso far and on a team built from the back on the reliability of hiscaptain, Terry.
The Italian talks up the influence of Didier Drogba although he was quiet by his standards yesterday but Terry is his leader, as he has been for every Chelsea and England manager since 2006.
That time span does not appear long, but in those three years a total of seven managers, whose honours include a World Cup, five European Cups, two Copa Americas and close to two dozen domestic titles, have all made him their captain.
They do so because they see beyond the headlines, beyond the scandals and celebrity soap operas, beyond the sensation and the sneers.
They do so because, when all that baggage is removed, what remains, quite simply, is one hell of a footballer.
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Explore more:People:Rio Ferdinand, Nicolas Anelka, Martin Samuel, Steven Gerrard, Carlo Ancelotti, Roy Keane, Bobby Moore, George Graham, Jose Mourinho, Fabio Capello, Didier Drogba, WES BROWN, Nemanja Vidic, John TerryPlaces:Brazil, United Kingdom