It takes a special kind of person to succeed in the NFL. Different positions require different traits from a player, but no matter what, NFL players need to be tough.
Tough can mean different things. It can mean playing week after week every year while barely having to deal with injuries, or it can mean getting injured or taking a massive hit, shaking it off and continuing to play. We've seen those kinds of players before: Jack Youngblood played in the Super Bowl with a broken leg (and then the Pro Bowl!!); Ronnie Lott amputated part of his finger so he wouldn't have to miss the rest of the season.
But do the Giants have any players that have displayed incredible, sometimes unbelievable toughness? This slideshow counts down the Top Five toughest New York Giants of all time.
Frank Gifford was almost like the James Bond of the NFL during his time. At night he spent his time mingling with celebrities at the most exclusive parties in New York, but during the day he was the tough-as-nails starting running back for the New York Giants.
Frank Gifford played running back and defensive back from 1952 to 1960, and in 1953 he started both positions and averaged 50 minutes of playing time per game. This was also in a time where it was legal to grab the ball carrier's facemask, meaning Gifford had to deal with many neck-wrenching hits during his time.
Gifford played running back, defensive back and returner until 1960, when Chuck Bednarik knocked him out and gave him a severe head injury which ended his career....for two seasons. Frank Gifford came back to the NFL in 1962 and played receiver from 1962 to 1964, when he officially retired.
Frank Gifford was not only the deadliest offensive triple threat of all time at running back, receiver and occasional passer (he threw 14 touchdown passes during his time), but he also returned kicks and played defense, showing his versatility and the incredible toughness in his ability to take hit after hit and still make play after play every single week.
Don't let the name fool you: Yelberton Abraham Tittle Jr. ("Yat") was actually one of the toughest players to play for the Giants. He was only with them for three years at the end of his career (1962-1964) but they were his finest years in the NFL.
In his last three years, Tittle was as effective as ever with the Giants. He threw for 33 touchdowns in 1962 and 36 in 1963, leading the league both years. He also threw for over 3,000 yards both years. In 1964 he had a significantly worse year but was still an effective leader.
The most iconic picture of YA Tittle is of him kneeling on the field covered in blood during 1964 after receiving a concussion and cracked sternum from a huge hit which ended his season and his career. Just kidding. At 38 years old, Tittle played through his final season in the NFL with a cracked sternum and concussion.
It took guts to be a quarterback back then, and Tittle was one of the best and the toughest. He also played occasional defensive back in college. Tittle was always ready to play, whether he had a concussion, cracked sternum, broken jaw or any other of the injuries he suffered in his career.
Lawrence Taylor was crazy. Plain and simple. The outside linebacker is commonly called one of the greatest pass-rushers and linebackers of all time, and he got to opposing quarterbacks 142 times during his career.
Throughout his 13-year career, few players could match Lawrence Taylor's intensity on the field, and few offensive linemen could keep up and stop him from sacking their quarterback. Lawrence Taylor would give 100 percent effort every play, no matter what.
What truly made LT scary though was that he played with a complete lack of concern for his own body. He would do anything to make the play or shed the block, and his animalistic pursuit of the quarterback made him terrifying and showed the NFL that he was one of the baddest, meanest and toughest players around. Before rupturing his Achilles tendon in the 1992 season, LT had only missed four games in 11 years of playing.
He never played with a cracked sternum or broken jaw, and never had his head taken off by Chuck Bednarik, but nothing ever stopped LT, making him one of the toughest players in Giants history. His playing style and lifestyle were so crazy and over-the-top that the Giants even took a $2,000,000 life insurance policy out on him.
LT was a monster on the field, and he combined his strength and speed with an immense desire to win and complete lack of concern for what happened to him each game. He was one of the toughest and most feared players of his time.
Where do I begin? Mark Bavaro was not only the greatest tight end in Giants history (sorry, Jeremy Shockey), but he was also one of the toughest players in team history.
Always known for being rather quiet, Mark Bavaro earned the nickname "Rambo" in his rookie season because of his intense playing style and immense toughness. Bavaro was a favorite target of Phil Simms', and a key player on two of the Giants' Super Bowl winning teams.
Although Bavaro isn't known for being one of the greatest tight ends of all time, he is known for being one of the toughest. He did whatever it took to stay on the field and help the Giants to a win. In 1986 during a game against New Orleans, Mark Bavaro broke his jaw and lost several teeth. He went to the locker room and had to have his jaw wired shut, but he still came back and played the rest of the game for New York.
Later that same season, the Giants were down 17-0 at halftime against the San Francisco 49ers. However, the Giants came back and won 21-17, partially due to the efforts of Mark Bavaro on his signature play. Phil Simms threw him a pass over the middle, which he caught before immediately breaking two tackles and dragging Ronnie Lott for 20 yards before three 49ers finally brought him down.
Throughout his career, Mark Bavaro was known as a quiet, blue-collar NFL player who never gloated and just focused on doing his job no matter what. And in doing so, he established his reputation as one of the toughest Giants in NFL history.
Mel Hein, like Frank Gifford, played in a day where players would always play on offense and defense. Mel Hein started at center and linebacker, and was one of the best players of his time. He was named league MVP in 1938, which was incredibly rare for an offensive lineman.
Hein, a member of the first NFL Hall of Fame class, was an incredible blocker and bloodthirsty defender, but he was also one of the toughest players ever to play in the NFL.
The anchor of New York's offense in the 1930's and 1940's played on offense, defense and special teams and never missed a single play in his career. The closest he ever came to coming off the field was when he called a timeout to reset his broken nose before going right back to playing.
From the beginning of his career until he was 36 years old, Mel Hein was either in the trenches leading the Giants' offense or stuffing opposing players on defense. He never missed a game, and rarely let the Giants down. Hein was one of New York's greatest players, as well as its toughest.