As if on cue, the NFL's meanest player, and some might say the league's dirtiest, livened up a ho-hum May practice a few weeks back by doing something he does a lot, which is to brawl.
Atlanta Falcons guard Harvey Dahl is a nasty player who pushes the whistle on almost every play, so it wasn't surprising to see him in the middle of a violent practice fight that ended with Dahl getting eight stitches across his nose, courtesy of a helmet to the face.
The helmet to the face came when defensive end Kroy Bierman, Dahl's combatant, lunged at Dahl after his helmet came off. It was an accident, not a head-butt you would see in some fake wrestling ring, but it didn't stop Dahl.
Face cut, helmet off, blood rushing down his nose, Dahl kept swinging. And swinging. And swinging.
"You roll with the punches," Dahl said the next day, a bandage covering his stitches, his forehead purple with bruises. "No big deal. Just a practice fight."
Here are nine other nasty boys who play the game with ferocity, some who even cross the line on an occasion or two.
Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens: He is a violent player who never backs down. Of all the nasty boys, he's by far the best football player. I would take 11 of him on my defense all day long.
Hines Ward, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Some say he's dirty -- I say he's close -- but he plays with a passion. If he's on your team, you love him. If he's not, you hate him. He does take his share of cheap shots.
Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh Steelers: He's a big hitter who always seems to take the big shot. He flies to the football. Receivers and runners have to keep their eyes open for him.
Richie Incognito, G, St. Louis Rams: He's a candidate for the league's dirtiest player. He goes nuts on the field, too much in fact. But he insists he will be calmer this season. When he's focused, he can be a good player.
Cortland Finnegan, CB, Tennessee Titans: He's a Pro Bowl corner, but he's also a feisty player whom opponents hate. Watch him as the whistle blows -- he's usually in some kind of fracas. For a 5-foot-9 corner, he sure doesn't back down.
Joey Porter, LB, Miami Dolphins: Some say his bark is bigger than his bite, but he has a heck of a bite. Porter plays the game relentlessly and won't back down from a scuffle. Count on him to be in the middle of most scrums when the Dolphins are playing.
Adrian Wilson, S, Arizona Cardinals: He's a fierce tackler who doesn't back down from anyone. Two years ago, he got flagged for eight personal fouls. Did you see him getting into it with Ward in the Super Bowl? I love the way he plays.
James Harrison, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers: He's meaner than his pit bull, and that's saying something. This guy plays all out all the time. Even some of his teammates are scared of him. In Steelers lore, he is right up there with the meanest, including Mean Joe Greene, Greg Lloyd and Jack Lambert.
Bob Sanders, S, Indianapolis Colts: He's a missile playing safety. He has no regard for his body and none for those he plays against. That's why he's hurt a lot. He's small, but never backs down from a fight or a tackle. It's too bad he has missed so much time in his career.
Edited by Junayd, August 16, 2009 - 01:12 PM.