Jacked Up: The 15 Hardest Hits in Recent NFL History

  • Dashon Goldson on Early Doucet


    You’ll see Goldson on this list again. His timing for the big hit is incredible. Doucet hasn’t played in the NFL since 2012, in part thanks to injury problems. This couldn’t have helped.

    1 of 15
  • Nate Clements
    Nate Clements on Tom Brady


    How Brady jumped right up after this hit is beyond me. He very nearly got his head torn off, along with the helmet. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a bench reaction quite like this one. Safe to say they enjoyed hurting Brady, huh?

    2 of 15
  • Lance Briggs on Calvin Johnson


    Megatron is 6-5 and 240 pounds, a mammoth. But Briggs is built like a tank, or better yet, a brick wall. Brick walls don’t move.

    3 of 15
  • Earl Thomas
    Earl Thomas on Percy Harvin


    Earl Thomas might just be the most underrated player in the league, at least by casual fans. But if he keeps pulling off stunts like this, we’ll have to pay attention. I feel like Percy Harvin is constantly on the wrong end of these things.

    4 of 15
  • Sheldon Brown
    Sheldon Brown on Reggie Bush


    Barry Sanders was so good for so long because he was shifty. Defensive players never got clean licks on him. I guess Reggie doesn’t have the same quality. I’ve seen people call this the hardest hit ever. If it’s not, I don’t want to see what was.

    5 of 15
  • Joe Mays on Matt Schaub


    Schaub lost part of his ear on this one! He got blindsided and sandwiched, then had his helmet fly about 15 feet. This one was one of those hits that literally makes you cringe.

    6 of 15
  • David Barrett
    David Barrett on T.J. Houshmandzadeh


    Ah, back in the day when folks argued over whether Houshmandzadeh was better than Chad Johnson. This actually came during T.J.’s best season of his career when he caught more passes (112) for more yards (1,143) and more touchdowns (12) than he ever has. Too bad he was never the same again.

    7 of 15
  • Mo Lewis on Drew Bledsoe


    One good thing that came out of this hit was Tom Brady’s career. But Bledsoe was never really the same, leaving for Buffalo after the season and slowly fading into the sunset. I’m still trying to figure out who told Drew he could run.

    8 of 15
  • Ray Lewis on Ahmard Hall


    Ray Lewis is a scary human being, so you have to give Hall credit just for taking him on. But hey, if that’s me? I’m juking out of bounds. Hall just wasn’t used to having the ball, I guess. During his career, he carried it only 24 times and also caught just 73 passes.

    9 of 15
  • Dashon Goldson on Mike Williams


    Told you Mr. Goldson would show back up. In 2013, the safety took his hard-hitting talents to Tampa Bay, where he actually became teammates with Williams. I wonder what they said to each other the first time they met up? “Yo remember that time I cleaned your clock?”

    10 of 15
  • John Lynch
    John Lynch on Chris Henry


    Back in the day, Lynch threw his body around with reckless abandon, decapitating receivers and clotheslining running backs. On this play, Henry was mere feet away from paydirt when Lynch caught up to him to release the boom.

    11 of 15
  • Darrell Reid on Chris Henry


    Yeah, this is the exact reason why they moved the kickoff up to the 35-yard line. It’s increased touchback percentages and certainly taken a little excitement out of the return game. But we’re having many fewer instances like this one, where 270-pound linebackers like Reid can run down the field at full speed and blast someone into oblivion.

    12 of 15
  • Sean Taylor
    Sean Taylor on Brian Moorman


    I loved watching Sean Taylor because he never took a play off and was always out there trying to make something happen, regardless of the situation. So when he made the Pro Bowl for a second straight time in 2007, what do you think he did? Went out and made a play. For a game ridiculed because of its soft nature, this probably goes down as the greatest hit in Pro Bowl history.

    Sadly, Taylor was gone too soon.

    13 of 15
  • Eric Smith
    Eric Smith on Anquan Boldin


    Even on the television broadcast, you could hear their helmets crack on this one. Smith and the Jets literally broke Boldin’s face, forcing him into surgery to fix a fractured facial bone. Kurt Warner, the man who threw the pass, deserves part of the blame for this one, throwing high and tight during a game that was probably already over. Afterward, the quarterback had this to say about the hit: “It was the most vicious hit I’ve ever seen, up close and personal. It made me think about retirement.”

    14 of 15
  • Dunta Robinson on DeSean Jackson


    Robinson not only hurt himself while making this massive hit on DeSean Jackson, he also got fined $50,000 by the NFL. Both players left the game with head injuries. And you wonder why they put in stricter penalties and fines for headshots. Hits like these can end careers.

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  • Nate Clements
  • Earl Thomas
  • Sheldon Brown
  • David Barrett
  • John Lynch
  • Sean Taylor
  • Eric Smith

For offensive players in the NFL, there’s nothing more frightening than going across the middle. When you have monsters like Ray Lewis and Lance Briggs waiting for you, catching you while you’re not looking, you can’t really blame receivers for developing T-Rex arms and dropping a pass here and there. The fact is, getting jacked up might look cool for all of us, and some of us probably clamor for those big hits, but if you’re the one taking the punishment it’s like a horror movie.

The NFL preseason is well underway and between the preseason battles and the focus on players like Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel, you’ll have a lot to take in. No one, however, will ever miss a big hit.

The chances for a de-cleat-er are pretty high. But the chances any hit makes this list are pretty low. These 15 are some of the hardest hits in NFL history.

Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney