Brett Favre: Where He Ranks Among NFL's Toughest Players Ever

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalPop Culture Lead WriterAugust 3, 2010

Brett Favre: Where He Ranks Among NFL's Toughest Players Ever

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    NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 24:  Brett Favre #4 of  the Minnesota Vikings reacts after taking a hard hit in the second half against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Brett Favre is much more than a great arm and a terrific beard.  He is tough.  The NFL is filled with rugged men that play through injuries.  They all get paid to lay it all on the line, especially with injuries, exceptions to kickers withstanding. 

    So, it is an honor to just be in the conversation of toughest player of all-time.  But where does Brett Favre stack up to the grittiest of all time?

10: Deacon Jones

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    Deacon Jones was a bad man.  He lead the infamous "Fearsome Foursome" defensive line of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1960's.

    He will best be remembered for initiating the "head slap," a move so good the NFL made it illegal.

9: Ronnie Lott

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    Ronnie Lott loved to play.  The most glaring illustration came in 1985.  After having his finger crushed in a game, he did what any sane person would do.  He asked that it be cut off.

    His finger was amputated and he went on to crush the bodies and souls of receivers.

8: Jack Tatum

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    We like to think of safeties as wire thin speedsters put on defense for their lack of catching ability.  Jack Tatum was put on defense because he hit hard. 

    Nicknamed "The Assassin," he is the only player that needed carts to be at the ready to take bodies off the field.

7: Lawrence Taylor

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    Linebackers should send chills down the spines of the offense.  Their demeanor and ability should give pause to anyone looking to get the ball.  Lawrence Taylor was feared.

    He played games hurt, three of them with a broken tibia.  We cannot also forget he ended the career of Joe Theismann with one of the worse inflicted injuries of all-time.

6: Johnny Unitas

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    Long before Brett Favre played through injury, there was Johnny Unitas.  Late hits were commonplace in his day and they took their toll on his body.  He played with a broken nose and broken fingers, ripped arm tendons, and torn knee cartilage.  Through all this, he put together one of the greatest careers for a quarterback.

5: Earl Campbell

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    Earl Campbell did not run around defenders.  He ran through defenders.  Seeing a linebacker measure up for a hit, Campbell did what most wouldn't.  He sped up and initiated hits. 

    The determination he used to gain an inch came at a price.   He now has difficult walking and many times uses a wheelchair.  The sacrifices he made to his body for the game of football will always be remembered.

4. Joe Greene

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    During the '70s, Pittsburgh fans went wild for their stingy defense dubbed the "Steel Curtain." Mean Joe Green was the anchor of this defense, himself referred to as "the rock."

    Throughout his career he would be double- and triple-teamed. He is one of the few to say he had to always get through two men to get to the Hall of Fame.

    His contribution to an already storied franchise is not forgotten. His number has not been donned since he retired.

3. Larry Csonka

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    Larry Csonka's uniform for his career was shirt, pants, pads, cleats, and blood on his face. He broke his nose 10 times in his career and would play regularly with broken noses and other injuries. He not only got hurt, but came back for more too. 

2. Dick Butkus

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    With that, you now know where I have Favre slated.

    This was a tough call, especially when you have the threshold for pain that Dick Butkus had. Butkus was a maniac. It was wildly rumored by only me that he fed off the nightmares of small children. 

    When he went in for a tackle, he went in for blood. When you didn't bleed, he would come back even harder. The only way to play successfully against Butkus was to not make him mad.

    My fears in life remain heights, enclosed spaces, and Dick Butkus.

1. Brett Favre

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    Brett Favre just looks tough. He would be right at home wrangling bulls and eating bark for breakfast. He is for me the epitome of a player playing hurt, emotionally and physically, and succeeding.

    Perhaps I am biased because I was able to see him play, or perhaps he was just the toughest S.O.B. to ever put on a uniform.

    We will never see another quarterback play as many consecutive games. He was able to take crushing blows, jump to his feet, and call the next play. He has played with sprained ankles and fingers, a broken thumb, a separated shoulder, a cracked vertebrae, and multiple concussions.

    Oh, and in college, he almost died in a car accident. He subsequently had 30 inches of intestine removed. Six weeks later he was playing. I stay home from work if I eat bad shellfish. 

    It also helps that he would lay his body on the line for his teammates, as this video shows.

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