The Most Brutal Hits in Sports History

Zack Pumerantz@z_pumerantzAnalyst IIIMarch 26, 2012

The Most Brutal Hits in Sports History

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    Courage, talent and a fearless mindset—the ingredients necessary for athletic dominance.

    But even those with world-class muscles and several loose screws can't avoid the ultimate truth. No pain, no gain.

    Amid the endless collection of historical performances in sports history, is a wide array of barbaric licks or even bullish decapitations of the psyche that have ruined careers, crippled teams and left fans ducking for cover.

    While hard hits may seem like unfortunates in the realm of superior athletes, they are perhaps the most embraced aspect in all of sports.

    We as fans live, breathe and die for the next bone-crushing knockout or blood-thirsty crack.

    Now it's time to check out the most brutal hits in history.

    No small band-aid would suffice.

25. Learning to Reid

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    After receiving this warm welcome into the league, it was clear former Arizona tailback Chris Henry wasn't quite prepared for the speed in which professional opponents fill their lanes.

    Darrell Reid made sure to teach his young opponent a much needed lesson.

    Lesson learned, psyche destroyed.

24. Beginning to Parrish

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    It's not too often that we see speedy receivers get decked with such a formidable enthusiasm. 

    But Roscoe Parrish was on the wrong side of this eclectic boom and must still be feeling the effects as he warms the Buffalo bench. 

    At least we'll never question his guts.

23. Tackling Domi

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    Round two of the 1999-2000 NHL playoffs featured two powerhouse clubs in the Maple Leafs and Devils, both ready to set a necessary tempo for the brutal Stanley Cup playoffs. 

    It seems as if the always-lethal Scott Stevens beat Tie Domi to the punch, literally. 

22. Not Feeling so Welker

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    Apparently Ryan Clark also had enough of Wes Welker's dink and dunk catches and was ready to set the tone on this magical night.

    Just another day in the life of an undersized receiver.

21. Smashed Potatoes

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    No pads? No problem for Hawthorn Football Club star Jordan Lewis (Australian Rules Football for those keeping score at home).

    Oh you can bet he came back ready for more bruises.

20. The Ice Gets Cluttered

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    Perhaps Brad Richards should consider bringing Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz out of retirement to protect his blind side after receiving such a heinous shot to his peripherals.

    The sign of a great hit isn't airborne skates, but rather a grounded ego. 

19. Deflating Future Promise

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    We'd like to believe that Chicago Rush defensive back Dennison Robinson took Avengers receiver Kevin Ingram out for dinner before evidently ending his life, but we know the reality of professional football. 

    The 2007 AFL Playoffs were more than just a chance to prove NFL scouts wrong. 

    They're still scraping him off the turf. 

18. Singing the Blues

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    For a guy who tallied 176 of his 260 career tackles, 11 of his 13 quarterback pressures and all 7.5 of his stops behind the line of scrimmage during his final two collegiate seasons, former Georgia safety Greg Blue was quite lethal in the open field.

    And yes that is indeed Jason Campbell playing quarterback for Auburn...ah the old days.

17. Breaking Many Molds

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    For those who wonder how bruising defenseman Dion Phaneuf was able to snag bombshell actress Elisha Cuthbert, this delivery should certainly help out a bit. 

    His international debut at the 2004 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships (for the Canadian junior team) gave the world some insight into the mind of a physical maniac. 

    We were intrigued to say the least. 

16. Running Up a Hill

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    It was a moment quarterback Russell Hill will remember for the rest of his days—an occurrence that left a blue mark on the fearless scrambler. 

    Boise State's Jeron Johnson made sure his tough opponent never approached along the sidelines again. 

15. Retaliating with Care

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    You won't be seeing T.J. Oshie displaying the discount double-check anytime soon, considering he lost his midsection to vicious check artist Ryan Wilson.

    Just a strong array of precious acquaintances.  

14. Willie Tonga's Hitting Factory

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    Such passion, such fearless trampling of opponents—rugby has yet to disappoint us. 

    But Willie Tonga just took the padless wonder of the world to a new level, showing fans why helmets and gloves are quite unnecessary.  

13. Contract Disputes

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    What a start to the week for Ilya Kovalchuk, who clearly had quite the case of the Mondays after receiving this warm embrace from Mike Richards. 

    Every one of Kovalchuk's 400 career goals added a bit of brightness to the immense target on his back. 

    Perhaps Richards believed in shortening Kovalchuk's ludicrous 15-year, $100 million deal with the Devils. 

12. A New Breed of Punter

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    Rarely do we see a punter even approach the return man, let alone knock the wind, spit and confidence out of him. 

    But 6'3", 230-pound Daniel Sepulveda was clearly tired of the stereotypes surrounding his position and decided to make his mark. 

    Name cemented. 

11. Earth, Wind and Fire

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    As the stars align and passions collide, the tranquil pounding of two eager warriors echos throughout the stadium.

    Silence ensues, referees look baffled and fans remain in dismay.

    No explanation can be scripted for such a ferocious collision.

10. A Cemented Legend

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    As one of the most promising defensive talents in NFL history sent his scrawny, yet fearless opponent flying back several yards, fans began to realize how special Sean Taylor (R.I.P.) truly was.

    Despite his vicious Pro Bowl trampling, punter Brian Moorman was perhaps the most excited player on the field, eager to congratulate his prolific peer.

9. Hips Don't Lie

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    While we're rarely awe-inspired by a knock into the brutal boards, Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Robinson's historic check was one for the record books. 

    With just a flick of his hips and slight twist, Robinson showed the hockey world how the game was meant to be played. 

8. Dinner Time

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    You can bet every Sunday is feeding time for Ray Lewis—known as the most feared linebacker of the past decade.

    The fearless, courageous and seemingly-insane linebacker will demolish all who approach his territory.

7. Robbing His Opponent

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    It may be a contact sport, but this collision between signal-caller Michael Robinson and safety Brandon Owens was among perhaps the most violent displays in sports history.

    The bruising quarterback left his mark on the Gophers defender, and it wasn't pretty.

    A true fighter.

6. Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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    The only sight more rare than a 6'1", 260-pound tailback is seeing him get derailed by a 220-pound safety.

    Now don't be fooled, Steve Atwater's 6'3" frame certainly added to his brutal physicality, but runner Christian Okoye didn't quite seem ready for his incoming nightmare.

    Another psyche depleted.

5. Murderous Tendencies

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    Alabama's Cornelius Bennett was evidently one of the few defenders on the field in a 1986 battle with Notre Dame not intimidated by quarterback Steve Beuerlein's 5,000-plus career yards, as he laid into him with every bit of enthusiasm.

    Just a gentle hug from an inspired opponent.

4. Ice to Meet You

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    We've already bought several tickets to the Brian Campbell bandwagon after watching the 6'0" defender deplete 6'2" rival R.J. Umberger.

    Umberger's baffled gaze insinuates a lack of cohesivenesshe's still trying to figure out what happened.

    Only the crowd's roar can truly define this moment.

3. Painful Sweet Tooth

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    Unfortunately this receiver didn't see the arbitrary brick wall built in the center of the field until it was too late.

    Hopefully his parents took him out for ice cream afterwards.

2. Stars and Stripes Collide

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    This might be the sexiest defensive performance ever in a college football game.

    We're still scraping our jaws off the floor as we admire current ASU Athletic Director and former Auburn runner Stacy Danley for his ability to get back up.

    Apparently Zack Dumas left a memorable curse with that crushing blow.

1. Welcome to the Bush League

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    While we could have lived without Al Michael's mundane analysis of this violent display, we're inspired by Reggie Bush's attempt to get up.

    This hit was seemingly a metaphor for the USC star's lukewarm entrance into the NFL.

    Sheldon Brown's vicious nature clearly didn't give Bush any confidence to run in between the tackles.