Ndamukong Suh and the NFL's 5 Gentlest Warriors
There is no doubt that tens of millions of people are obsessed with the NFL. The Super Bowl is an unofficial national holiday and why not? It's the conclusion of a 20-week love affair of good times with family and friends as we watch hours of a game that shows the best in athleticism and violence.
Another thing we love about the NFL is the many colorful personalities, whether it's the superstar athletes or the coaches on the sidelines. We all love colorful sound bytes by players such as Ray Lewis and Bart Scott and we all tune in for what seems like the weekly controversy created by Rex Ryan.
While we love those with the gift for gab, or do their best impressions of Dancing With The Stars on a touchdown catch, there are other NFL players that are just as viscous on the field as their more boisterous counterparts, but are almost liked teddy bears off it.
These type of players are endearing in their own way because when you see how they act off the field, you'd never expect them to be such warriors when they step onto the gridiron on Sundays.
Here are five players on the NFL who are gentle after the final whistle blows, but are true warriors when the game kicks off.
5) Brian Urlacher
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Drafted in 2000 out of the University New Mexico, Brian Urlacher followed in the footsteps of some of the NFL's all-time great linebackers including Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary in Chicago. Not only has he proven to be just as good as those other great Bears linebackers, but he's also fit the personality of "Samurai Mike."
When you see Brian Urlacher out of his pads, he's a very quiet individual that has, by and large, stayed out of the spotlight. However, once the game starts, Urlacher is still one of the more intimidating linebackers in the league.
Though he's now 33, Urlacher still is one of the best and fastest linebackers in the NFL and has three interceptions to go along with the 41 tackles he has this year. Overall, he has 1,100 tackles in his illustrious career and is still going.
You just would never expect this from Brian who when you see him interviewed, is very humble and matter of fact. Regardless, Bears fans are quite happy they've had Urlacher to quarterback the Cover-2 since coach Lovie Smith took the helm nearly a decade ago.
4) Patrick Willis
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Patrick Willis may be the most underrated player in the NFL, and you can argue that it's due to the fact Willis is one of the more silent assassins in the league.
Willis doesn't taunt opponents before, during or after a game, and isn't one to step in front of a camera and sound off like many other great linebackers tend to do. Willis defines the type of player that does his talking on the football field.
For four-and-a-half seasons, Willis has stayed out of the limelight while averaging 148 tackles over the first four years of his career. He's anchored a stingy San Francisco defense that only now is starting to garner real national attention thanks to the 5-1 start the team has this year.
We know there are several givens regarding Patrick Willis. He's going to be the captain of the 49ers defense for years to come and will continue to get nearly 150 tackles per year.
Despite the fact he's one of the best linebackers we've seen in years, we'll almost surely never hear Willis embellish these accomplishments.
3) Hines Ward
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By night, Hines Ward is a man who never stops smiling and winning Dancing With The Stars. By day, he's one of the more physical wide receivers the game has ever seen and at age 35, is still regarded as one of the more feared blockers at his position.
At six-feet and 205 pounds, Hines Ward has never been the biggest nor the strongest wide receiver, even on his own team. Yet game in and game out, you'll see Ward throwing blocks, some of them jaw rattling (or breaking).
In addition to his tough blocking, he's closing in on 1,000 receptions and 12,000 receiving yards and has 85 touchdowns; not to mention two Super Bowl rings. He's a sure-fire future Hall of Famer, but it's still not stopping him from being a solid contributor on this year's team.
Ward has had some brushes with the law recently, so it would be unfair to say he's totally kept his nose clean. But one thing for sure is when you see Hines Ward off the field with his million dollar smile, you'd never believe he's regarded as one of the dirtier players in the game.
2) Ndamukong Suh
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At 6'4" and 305 pounds, Ndamukong Suh looks like a monster. He also happens to be one of the more intimidating players in the league despite the fact it's only his second year.
He's tough as nails and plays with a certain toughness that his teammates try to emulate. It's gotten him fined multiple times and some label him as a dirty player (most recently being ripped by the Atlanta Falcons for taunting star quarterback Matt Ryan after an injury).
Off the field though, he's one of the more humble people you'll meet. He donated $2.6 million to his alma mater Nebraska, part of which created an endowment in the College of Engineering. His donation was the largest single charitable contribution by a former player and was actually contributed before being drafted into the NFL.
He's very involved in the Detroit community, is an eloquent speaker, quiet and down to earth. You wouldn't think the man was helping to anchor one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.
The sky is the limit for Suh, and from what we've seen so far, he will continue to have a quiet demeanor off the field and be involved with charities, giving much-needed help to the city of Detroit.
1) Troy Polamalu
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Could it really be anyone else?
Polamalu has become famous for his quiet demeanor off the field, and his tough as nails and at times wild play on it. He's one of the best safeties he has ever seen but is one of the most well and soft spoken players in the league.
At 30 years old, Polamalu has helped to redefine the safety position and has won multiple Super Bowls. However, his physical playing style has led to several concussions and it's an issue that might shorten his career, so NFL fans need to enjoy him while it lasts.
Between his hair and his personality, Polamalu is one of the more unique players the NFL will ever know. He also defines what it means to be a gentle warrior in the NFL.
I doubt Troy Polamalu would hurt a fly when the game is over. However, once the helmet of the Black and Gold is on, he's one of the scariest people in this league.