The NFL's 50 Biggest Collisions in League History (with Video)
The National Football League has always been a place where you could find a little bit of everything, from drama and intrigue to violent hits and swan-like runs, from passes that fly 50 yards to interceptions that are returned 100 yards.
The one thing football has never lacked is entertainment and headlines. Whether you were a fan of the Oakland Raiders and Jack Tatum or the New York Giants and Lawrence Taylor, football is passion for most of us.
Tonight I am going to focus on the 50 greatest collisions in NFL history.
50. Steve Atwater Absolutely Destroys the "Nigerian Nightmare"
It doesn't seem like the hardest of hits, but if you remember Okoye from the 1980s, you know we was hard to bring down.
It looked like the former Kansas City Chiefs running back just hit a wall, and the wall's name was Steve Atwater.
It has been said Atwater is one of the 10 hardest hitters in NFL history, and this video proves that point to its utmost.
49. Brett Favre Gets Hit in the Groin
Just because it happened at practice and not in a real game, and the suspect was a football and not a player, doesn't mean this shouldn't be on the list.
On another note, if you are a guy and have ever been hit in the groin, you do have to feel bad for Favre on this one. It isn't a pleasant situation—just look at him crawling on the ground afterwards.
But for all you Brett Favre haters, and you know who you are, enjoy!
48. Ronnie Lott Made Grown Men Cry
When Ronnie Lott hit, people listened. Some of his hits could probably have been recorded by the U.S. Geological System.
The toughness in Ronnie Lott can best be described by him having a 49ers doctor cut off part of his finger to remain in a game.
Now that is dedication and utter toughness.
Here, he completely destroys Mark Bavaro.
47. Don't Tell Sean Taylor It's Just the Pro Bowl
It is extremely tragic that Sean Taylor's life came to such a short end. He had a chance of being one of the all-time greats in the NFL and had turned his life around in a big way.
But his memory will live on video for all of those who come after us.
Here, the former Redskin great teaches punters it isn't a good idea to run with the ball.
46. Brian Dawkins Introduces Himself to Alge Crumpler
I think the former Falcons tight end still has nightmares about this hit. Obviously it didn't help that the weather was under 20 degrees during the game.
As you scientists out there know, algae is considered the most stable and important life-form on Earth.
Well, even this Alge couldn't continue after this hit.
Can you say chilling?
45. Bo Knows the Boz Was a Bust
Here, Bo Jackson brings Brian Bosworth along for the ride and tells the former Oklahoma star he is no longer playing in Kansas [insert "Wizard of Boz" pun here].
An absolute bone-jarring example of Bo's awesome athletic and physical ability here.
44. Sheldon Brown Goes All "Big Bang Theory" on Reggie Bush
Reggie Bush crawling toward the sideline was pretty epic. Cobwebs still remain from that hit.
43. Sheldon Brown Reappears on the List
You kinda have to feel bad for Steven Jackson here; the quarterback laid him out to dry.
But Sheldon Brown absolutely destroyed the dude here. I can still imagine Jackson seeing Brown in his restless afternoon hammock naps.
42. Mike Curtis Lays a Fan out
I have always wanted to see one of those stupid fans who runs on to the field get hit by a player.
Well, thanks for this, Mike Curtis.
I think that idiot will think twice before doing that again.
41. Deacon Jones Uses the Cowboys for Fun
Deacon Jones wasn't called the "demon" for a reason. The dude could flatten people on their backs quicker than Tony Romo dumps blonds.
Go to about 0:25 on the video, and you will know what I am talking about.
40. Hines Ward Shows Keith Rivers How to Play Linebacker
The former Georgia Bulldog quarterback-turned-Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver shows everyone he can play linebacker as well.
Just ask Keith Rivers here.
39. Ryan Clark Says, "What You Talking About Willis?"
Willis McGahee must have been scared stupid after this hit. The modern day "Steel Curtain" continue to live up to its name.
This could be one of the reasons McGahee decided to leave the AFC North.
38. Eric Smith Literally Knocks Anquan Boldin out
I wonder what the former Arizona Cardinals star wide receiver was dreaming about?
Hint: probably had something to do with "gang green."
37. Chris Henry Loses the Ball and Nearly His Head with This Hit by John Lynch
The very bad pun aside, this was one tremendous hit.
36. Hines Ward Proves the Second Time Is a Charm
Ed Reed gets, well, Ed Reed-ed on this hit by Hines Ward.
Once again proving my theory that Ward could play linebacker in the NFL.
35. Dunta Robinson and DeSean Jackson Both Knocked out
Probably one of the only plays in NFL history where two players are down for the count on one play; it doesn't seem like Dunta Robinson meant to get knocked out. but it happened.
But the "accident" knocked Jackson out for the count, and he is still a little timid going up the middle.
Wouldn't you be?
34. Patrick Willis Loses It on Brad Smith
The Willis wall isn't invisible to Brad Smith, once again proving that Patrick Willis eats cats for dinner.
33. Dallas Clark Is Laid Flat on His Back
With friends like this, you don't need enemies.
Peyton Manning really should treat his "BFF" better than this. He serves Dallas Clark for dinner.
32. Bart Scott Teaches "Big Ben" What It Means to Be a Man
Seriously one of the hardest hits I have ever seen; Ben Roethlisberger learns a lot about playing in a man's game and shows him this isn't Tahoe.
31. Mo Lewis Ushers in the Tom Brady Era in New England
Who would have thought the New York Jets would do the New England Patriots a favor?
But former Jets linebacker Mo Lewis did on accident. His hit here on Drew Bledsoe ushered in the Tom Brady era.
Well, the rest is history, and a dynasty was built.
30. Another Chris Henry Makes the List—The Wrong List
Darrell Reid absolutely destroys the former Tennessee Titan player here.
Is it possible he still has some of that turf in his ears?
29. Leonard Marshall Destroys Joe Montana in 1990 NFC Championship
It wasn't just a hard hit; what Leonard Marshall did to Joe Montana in the 1990 NFC Championship ended one of the greatest dynasties in NFL history.
Montana would never win the Super Bowl again and would leave San Francisco just a few years later.
28. From Back in the Day: One of the Greatest Blocks Ever
George Wilson from the circa-1940s Chicago Bears threw one of the greatest blocks in football history.
In fact, he took out two Cardinal defenders on one play.
This was the golden age of football in which players wore leather helmets and had no face masks.
27. Michael Oher Protects His "Family"
Lee Anne Tuohy always told her son to treat his teammates like family.
Well, the Ravens offensive tackle told a Washington Redskins defender, "Not in my house," here.
26. Asante Samuel Knocks Nate Hughes out
Who says Asante Samuel is a "one-trick pony?"
Well, I have in the past.
But this hit on Nate Hughes of the Jaguars is something for the ages.
25. You Wonder Why Percy Harvin Has Migraines
This cannot help Percy Harvin's migraine issues at all.
Then-rookie Earl Thomas completely lays out the electrifying Minnesota Vikings' playmaker.
24. Jack Tatum Would Hav Eaten Your Children for a Snack
I still wonder if former Oakland Raiders great Jack Tatum really wanted to kill opposing offensive players.
It sure looked like it.
This was a time when the NFL didn't stand for "No Fun League." Just look at Tatum standing over the Minnesota Vikings' wide receiver.
23. Michael Vick Takes His Frustration After Throwing Interception
It wasn't the hardest of collisions, but the scenario makes it so great. Polamalu, who has made a history of turning opposing players into roadkill, got a taste of his own medicine here.
22. Corey Wootten Pretty Much Ends Brett Favre's Career
You don't want to see this happen to anyone and for Brett Favre is guaranteed an end to his long, illustrious career.
Corey Wootton smacks Favre down on the ground in this game played at the University of Minnesota. I still wonder what Mr. Favre was thinking as he lays down on the turf not moving.
21. Chad Johnson Gets Hit and Forgets He Is American
This past year, Ron Artest of the Los Angeles Lakers filed to change his name to "Metta World Peace."
This comes a couple years after Chad Johnson decided to name himself after his jersey number, Ochocinco.
The common denominator?
Both did so following an epic hit that saw them hit the pine or grass extremely hard. My conspiracy theory here is they forgot their names, had a little bit of amnesia or just wanted to start anew.
Here, Ochocinco, Johnson or whatever you want to call him, was absolutely lit up by the Cleveland Browns.
20. Darren Woodson Levels Darrell Jackson
The beginning of the "No Fun League," Darren Woodson absolutely levels Darrell Jackson on this play.
Unfortunately, the referees blew the call here. They said he led with his helmet, but it was his shoulder.
I wasn't a fan of the Cowboys growing up, but Woodson was one heck of a football player.
19. Danny Amendola Still Hears This Hit on His iPod
The announcer says it best, "This is the energy they have been missing in Detroit."
Well, this hit was hard enough to change the rotational axis of the Earth. That is enough energy for me.
Danny Amendola is lucky his head didn't come flying off like an alien's head in Battle of L.A.
18. Brandon Jacobs Destroys LaRon Landry
What makes this hit so awesome is the rivalry between the two. Jacobs runs Landry over like a semi hitting a Honda Civic; probably one of the most "bone-jarring" hits in recent NFL history.
17. LaRon Landry Returns to the Favor
Some of you knew this had to be coming with the last slide. LaRon Landry tells the "punk" Brandon Jacobs exactly what is up here.
Even as a West Coast guy, I have to say there is nothing better than NFC East division matchups. Boy, do they get violent.
16. Terrell Owens Acts the Part of a Fool and Gets Lit Up
Anyone who has been involved in the Dallas Cowboys' and San Francisco 49ers' rivalry remembers this game like it was yesterday.
Terrell Owens decided it would make sense to celebrate on the Cowboys' start following his two touchdowns. The second time, George Teague wasn't having any of it.
He absolutely lit up the enigmatic receiver and said, "Not in my house." Even as a 49ers fan, I would have to say that Teague was well-warranted in hitting T.O.—I would have done the same thing.
This was the last of the 49ers-Cowboys rivalry games and signaled an end of 20 years of hostility between the two teams.
One of the best parts of this video is the Eminem song that plays during it. Can you say "old school?"
15. Roy Williams: One of the Hardest Hitters Ever
In his heyday, Roy Williams was one of the hardest hitters in the NFL.
Here, he lights up Tai Streets, whose lights would go out shortly thereafter.
Now, only if Williams could cover worth a darn...
14. Dick Butkus. Need I Say More?
If you watched this entire video you could probably find 10 hits that belong on this list. Dick Butkus was one crazy guy on the football field. He scared opponents, destroyed entire teams and didn't apologize for it.
The Chicago Bears have had some of the hardest hitters in the history of the NFL; Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher come to mind.
But you have to say Butkus takes the cake on this one.
Go to about 0:22 on the video, and you will know what I am talking about.
13. The Catch II: Terrell Owens Holds on After Being Destroyed
This was one of my favorite plays as a San Francisco 49ers fan growing up. It has since been called, "The Catch II."
But something was completely lost in it.
Look at the Green Bay Packers treating Owens like a human pinball. He bounced off one defender and right to the other. I still have a hard time comprehending how he held onto the ball.
Still one of the craziest hits in modern NFL history.
12. Ray Lewis Uses Men Like Toys in the NFL
You cannot tell me that Dustin Keller still doesn't have second thoughts when going up the middle. Ray Lewis laid the former Purdue tight end out like no one's business.
The response from the fans in this video sums it up the best.
11. The NFL Hates James Harrison, but You Have to Love Him
Was this hit worth $75,000, Mr. Harrison?
He will probably tell you it was. It really does look like Mohamed Massaquoi was looking to call for his mom after this play.
Either way, NFL players need to learn not to mess with James Harrison. It really is that simple; he is an absolute beast.
10. Cedric Griffin Tells Billy Miller, "Nice Play, But..."
New Orleans Saints tight end Billy Miller, catches a long completion, but finds a wall down field.
The wall's name was Cedric Griffin.
And the wall was made out of concrete.
9. Wes Welker Looks Like a Ragdoll
How many times is Ryan Clark on this list?
He had to go top 10 with the destruction of Wes Welker here.
Clark really did treat Wes Welker like a ragdoll on this play. The small Patriots receiver looked to have run into a wall in a rubber room here.
The problem is, there's no rubber on Clark's uniform.
8. James Harrison Gives His Best Mike Curtis Impersonation
If you remember the Mike Curtis slide earlier in this slideshow, then you will understand the title.
James Harrison really doesn't like the Browns, but it seems he has less patience for drunk fans running onto the field.
As I stated before, any fan who pulls this crap should get tackled. After all, they want to be on the field, right?
At least the Browns fan admits his drunken mistake.
But really man, it didn't hurt?
7. Chuck Bednarik Was Annoyed by Frank Gifford Too
This is the only video I could find on this hit, but it has to be one of the greatest hits in the history of the NFL.
It doesn't hurt that Bednarik wasn't just one of the greatest linebackers to every play the game, he was also one heck of a center.
I still remember my grandfather telling me stories about his hits. It is too bad we don't have a lot of videos on him.
Go to about 2:05 on the video to see the hit. If it is the first time you have seen it, enjoy.
6. "Dirty Dog" Brandon Meriweather Uses Helmet as a Weapon
Never mind that this was one of the dirtiest hits I have seen in a long time. The impact of the hit is probably still felt by Todd Heap.
Helmet-to-helmet collisions are dangerous, but when they are dirty like this, it leaves you questioning someone's motives.
5. Ray Lewis Determined to Turn Ochocinco into an "Oompa Loompa"
"This just isn't fair," cries Ochocinco following a devastating hit that cost Ray Lewis $25,000. I just love how the former Cincinnati Bengals receiver was crying to the referees following the hit.
Hey dude, you made the decision to go up the middle against the Ravens' defense.
Remember, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are there.
4. Earl Campbell Runs a Tractor over a Rams Defender
Earl Campbell was one of the last of a dying breed. He wasn't one of those finesse runners we see too often today.
Instead Campbell wasn't afraid to mix it up with the real men up the middle. Here, he gives a Rams player a head-butt to the mid-section.
3. Kevin Everett Breaks His Neck on This Brutal Play
This slideshow is all about biggest collisions in NFL history, so the hit on Kevin Everett had to be in the top five.
The play didn't look too bad live, but upon replay you know exactly what happened. It was an earth-shattering collision between Everett and Dominique Hixon.
The former Buffalo Bills player has since regained movement in his arms and legs.
2. Joe Theismann's Career Comes to an End
This is a play that still reverberates around the National Football League. It was a Monday Night game in the 1980s against two division rivals, the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins.
Washington had dominated the division for most of the decade, but Lawrence Taylor made sure their star quarterback wouldn't be part of it anymore.
It isn't the hardest collision you will ever see, but the impact was greater than any hit before or since.
1. Darryl Stingley's Career Comes to a Premature End
Up until the last few slides I have tried to have fun with this slideshow, but I do have to end it on a serious note.
It was the late 1970s; the Oakland Raiders were among the NFL's best franchises, and the Patriots were an up-and-coming team. The scene was Oakland, the hit made by Hall of Fame Oakland Raider, Jack Tatum. The victim was an up-and-coming wide receiver named Darryl Stingley.
The result represented more than football. Instead, it showed you exactly how fragile life can be. Stingley was going up the middle and lowered his head to brace for a collision with Tatum. This caused the Patriots receiver's neck to compress and his spinal cord to snap.
The tragic story doesn't end there.
In 2007, Stingley was found dead in his Illinois home. The cause of death was reported to be complications from quadriplegia. Stingley was only 55 years old.