Our recent debate about toughest players got me thinking about the gutsiest performances in the NFL. Here’s my list of the 10 most memorable ironman performances from the last 10 years.
10. Brett Favre's Concussion TD Pass
It's only fitting that Mr. 297 leads off this list. His career has been defined by his amazing toughness, and this particular play perfectly represents Favre's ironman attitude. In the 3rd quarter of a 2004 game vs. the New York Giants, Favre was hit hard by defensive lineman William Joseph. Favre sat out two plays before returning on 4th and 5 to throw a touchdown to receiver Javon Walker. What's remarkable about the play is that Favre had sustained a concussion on the previous hit, and later didn't even remember throwing the touchdown. With the new emphasis on player safety in the NFL, its safe to say we likely won't be seeing many more touchdown passes from quarterbacks who can't remember throwing them. While doctors forced Favre to sit out the rest of the game, his undying determination to win in spite of the potential health consequences is a part of Favre's legacy that will always be admired.
9. Ben Roethlisberger's Broken Nose
Big Ben's favorite person likely isn't Terry Bradshaw. After Ben's unfortunate bathroom incident, Bradshaw had this to say to him, "Would they pay any attention to you if you weren't, you know, who you are?' Of course not. Because I'm not that attractive, and neither is Ben." Ouch! Tell us how you really feel Terry. And to think this statement was made BEFORE this happened to Big Ben:
In all seriousness, however, Ben Roethlisberger is one of the toughest guys in the league. Not only did he come back from his life-threating motor-cycle accident, but he repeatedly gets hit a dozen times every single game. He is built like a lineman, which allows him to absorb more hits than the average QB, however his size was not able to prevent him from getting his nose broken by Haloti Ngata this year. Like a true warrior, Big Ben stayed in the game despite bleeding profusely and did not miss any plays. Maybe his effort earned him some positive points with Bradshaw? Probably not, but it was still a great tough-guy moment for Roethlisberger.
8. Steve Smith's Broken Arm Touchdown
In a 2009 game against the Giants, Carolina Panther receiver Steve Smith caught this pass while taking a huge hit from Safety Michael Johnson. After absorbing the monster hit, Smith was still able to get into the end zone for the touchdown and proceeded to celebrate while his teammate tugged on his limp broken arm. Steve Smith is one of the toughest players in the game, and his style of play has led to many injuries unfortunately like this one. He remains unafraid to go over the middle, and delivers his own powerful blows despite being a smaller guy. This plays shows Smith's true toughness and his a reminder of what sacrifices certain receivers make in order to make the catch.