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5 Nastiest On-Field Moments in NFL History

Myles Garrett's attack on Mason Rudolph is one of the worst ever

Unless you live under a rock, you know that the Browns-Steelers game on "Thursday Night Football" ended in brutal fashion. Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett ripped off Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph's helmet and swung it at him in the final seconds of a 21-7 win.

 

 

Garrett's actions were so egregious that they immediately prompted an outcry from current and former NFL players and Rudolph is not ruling out legal action. The NFL made a swift decision to suspend him indefinitely with no chance of him returning this season — even for a potential postseason run.

 

Is this the worst behavior we have ever seen? Let's take a look. Here are the five nastiest on-field acts in NFL history.

 

5. Vontaze Burfict Hits Antonio Brown in the Head

Jan. 9, 2016 - Cincinnati, Ohio

Burfict has racked up numerous fines and suspensions for cheap shots and was actually suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle in Week 4. His behavior is bad enough to merit a six-minute montage, and the first in it is his hit on then-Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the 2016 playoffs. Burfict’s Bengals were leading the Steelers 16-15 in the final seconds of an AFC Wild Card game when he delivered a brutal late hit to Brown's head with his shoulder after a badly overthrown pass. He was penalized, and then another flag on Adam "Pacman" Jones put the Steelers in field goal position, allowing them to win 18-16. The NFL suspended Burfict for the first three games of the 2016 season.

 

 

4. Warren Sapp Cheap Shots Chad Clifton

Nov. 24, 2002 - Tampa, Fla.

Packers offensive tackle Chad Clifton was jogging on the other side of the field following an interception when Sapp delivered a blindside cheap shot. Clifton suffered a severe pelvic injury and was unable to walk without assistance for six weeks. That didn’t interrupt Sapp’s jubilation over his hit and the 21-7 win until Packers head coach Mike Sherman confronted him, prompting even more indignance for Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive lineman. The hit at the time was perfectly legal, but the NFL amended its unnecessary roughness rules in the offseason to fix that.

 

 

3. Charles Martin Body Slams Jim McMahon

Nov. 23, 1986 - Chicago

There are many reasons to point to why the 1980s Chicago Bears never became a dynasty, and one of them is Packers defensive end Charles Martin. During a 12-10 loss to the Bears in Week 12, Martin ran up behind quarterback Jim McMahon after he had thrown an interception and body-slammed him. The hit reinjured McMahon's shoulder so badly that it sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Martin was ejected and then suspended for two games, the first multi-game suspension for an on-field incident in NFL history. Chicago's hope for back-to-back Super Bowls ended with a loss to the Washington Redskins in the Divisional Round.

 

 

2. Albert Haynesworth Stomps Andre Gurode's Face

Oct. 1, 2006 - Nashville, Tenn.

A number of players have stepped on their opponents, but none were as vicious as Haynesworth's stomp on Cowboys center Andre Gurode's head. In the third quarter of this Week 4 game, Dallas running back Julius Jones ran into the end zone to take a 20-6 lead. Haynesworth responded by physically removing Gurode's helmet and stepping on his face, causing a cut that required 30 stitches above and below his right eye. Haynesworth was ejected and suspended for five games.

 

 

1. Myles Garrett Attacks Mason Rudolph with a Helmet

Nov. 14, 2019 - Cleveland

All the acts on this list were vile, but no other NFL player has ever ripped off another player's helmet and assaulted him with it. Hopefully, we will never see something like this again — not just because the punishment may be the harshest in league history.

 

 

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

 

(Top screengrab courtesy of FOX Sports/NFL Network)

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