The beauty of football is much contained in its grace as it is in its unabashed, but structured, brutality. Much like the days of Roman gladiators and the like, we've always been enthralled by watching the finest physical specimens lock horns for the right to claim superiority over their opposition. It's the reason MMA and UFC have seen explosive growth, for example, but there needs to always be a distinction between that and the product the NFL puts on the field.
When Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off of quarterback Mason Rudolph in Week 11 and swung it at his head, there was a line the All-Pro defensive end crossed that should never be crossed. and Rudolph will be fined , along with added punishments levied on others and more to come, but those who think the NFL raining down hellfire upon Garrett will legislate tempers out of the game are sadly mistaken.
The best the league can hope for is a stemming of the behavior, but let's be honest with ourselves: when you pay groups of behemoths to beat the snot out of an opponent, there will inevitably be overspill of passionate rage from time to time. It's quite the juxtaposition, because while we all cheer and demand the big hits and all-out display of passion, we also demand players contain it in a nice, neat mason jar with the lid firmly sealed shut.
That is, in essence, football.
So, yes, the altercation between Garrett and Rudolph hit rare levels of deplorable behavior in the context of a football game, and was more suited for an octagon as opposed to the gridiron, but there are other incidents that have occurred in the history of the NFL that have turned our stomachs as well (and you can).
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Here are 10 of them, including Garrett's attempt at changing the shape of Rudolph's skull:
10. Josh Norman and Odell Beckham, Jr. get personal
There's never been any love lost when Norman and Beckham, Jr. square off, with the two having a longstanding rivalry that has often mushroomed into blows being thrown, and the latter even used the crown of his helmet as a weapon when he lowered his head to spear Norman in his during a heated exchange that could've ended badly for both of them.
9. George Teague gets fed up with Terrell Owens
The irony of Owens going on to become a star for the Cowboys is the fact he once disrespected the Star as a member of the San Francisco 49ers. The All-Pro wideout scored a touchdown and immediately ran to midfield not once, but twice, during the game. On the second occasion, safety George Teague laid him flatter than well-pressed slacks -- making himself a Dallas legend in the process.
8. Aqib Talib + Michael Crabtree = Trouble
Much like Norman and OBJ, these two absolutely loathe each other, and Talib actually warned Crabtree that he'd snatch his chain if given the chance. He eventually made good on that promise, but that didn't escalate nearly to the level of their bench-clearing brawl. Talib was so furious he launched a helmet in the direction of Crabtree that narrowly missed a sideline worker, which could've led to serious injury and potential criminal charges against the All-Pro corner.
7. Mike Evans levels Marshon Lattimore
This time the clash was between two bitter rivals in the Saints and Buccaneers, when the latter took exception to a hit placed on Ryan Fitzpatrick. Jameis Winston, who was standing on the sideline with an injury, shoved Lattimore in the back to protest -- followed by Lattimore confronting the QB. Suddenly, wideout Mike Evans flew in like a bat out of hell and leveled the cornerback and, speaking of hell, all of it broke loose immediately after.
6. Vontaze Burfict headhunts Jack Doyle
This was one of the more disturbing football acts to watch, considering Doyle was nearly down anyway, completely defenseless, and Burfict came in from his blindside to lay a helmet-to-helmet hit that could've done very real damage to the tight end. Burfict was ejected from the game, and his history of dirty hits led to him being suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season -- 12 games in total.
5. A.J. Green choke slams Jalen Ramsey
It's common knowledge just how mouthy Ramsey can be, using trash talk to combine with his usually stellar and physical play to get into the head of his opponent. Well, the head of Green is something he probably should've stayed out of, because the All-Pro receiver got fed up in one matchup in particular, after Ramsey shoved him following the whistle. Green literally put Ramsey in the choke hold, took him to the ground and start hurling punches, leading to an all-out melee on the field.
4. Andre Johnson unleashes on Courtland Finnegan
There have been several instances of Finnegan getting into heated exchanges with players over the course of his NFL career, verbally being as scathing as Ramsey, although without the All-Pro ability. He picked a fight with the wrong receiver when he went up against Andre Johnson, though, a usually level-headed personality most knew masked a fiery demeanor that fueled him to greatness. By the time Finnegan figured this out, he was already on the ground being beaten like he had stolen something.
3. Myles Garrett swings helmet at Mason Rudolph
This entry needs no further introduction, because it's the No. 1 headline in all of sports at the time this article goes to file. With a 21-7 victory against the Steelers needing one more nail in the coffin, Garrett provided it with his sack on Rudolph, but footage appears to show Rudolph locked into Garrett's helmet and allegedly attempting to land a low blow. Garrett took exception to it all, and tried to turn Rudolph into a vegetable -- which is what might've happened if the crown of the helmet would've made direct impact with Rudolph's head.
2. Richie Incognito forced to eat his own helmet
Another guy on this list with a history of being a dirty player is Incognito, and while it's unclear what he did to trigger Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith, who snatched off Incognito's helmet mid-play, swung it and hit him directly in the face. The two had history that included Smith being fined $11,000 on separate occasion for kicking Incognito, alleging Incognito attempted to twist his ankle on a play in Week 1 of the 2013 season. He finally took justice in his own hands, much to the displeasure of Incognito's jaw.
1. Albert Haynesworth stomps Andre Gurode
There have other fights, brawls and melees, but one act arguably remains the most vile of them all. The award for most immoral goes to Haynesworth, who also went on to become the biggest free agency bust in the modern NFL era. During his stint with the Titans, he went up against Cowboys center Andre Gurode, and what happened next made many nearly lose their lunch. While both men were on the ground, Haynesworth pushed off Gurode's helmet.
He then stood and attempted to stomp Gurode in the face, but missed, only to succeed in his second attempt -- gashing Gurode and with the cleats very nearly making contact with his eye. Haynesworth was suspended five games for the incident, and it remains unconscionable to consider this would ever occur in football.
Dishonorable Mention: Buddy Ryan punches Kevin Gilbribe
There's no way to create a list such as this and leave out what Ryan did to a fellow member of his own coaching staff. The two apparently had a difference of opinion over what was taking place on the field, and when Gilbribe approached Ryan to voice his displeasure, what he was met with wasn't a listening ear -- but instead a closed fist to the face.