Many NFL players have superior size and strength that allows them to make it in the competitive league. In order to stand out further, some players have a nasty streak that makes them play better and also makes them downright mean.
This nasty disposition coupled with gigantic bodies of unmovable mass, has brought out the best in many players who have re-defined the offensive line positions that are sometimes considered to be more passive than aggressive. These behemoth men protect their quarterback by absorbing the blows from pass rushers throughout a game but when it becomes time to lead the charge on running plays, they become nasty and mean.
The following 10 offensive linemen are the epitome of nasty and mean. Many of the dirtiest players to ever play the game of football have been men who line up on the offensive side of the ball. In a sport where most men are already extremely strong for their size, nasty and mean streaks provide these players with their edge.
Honorable Mention: Frank Winters, Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, Kyle Turley, Stan Walters, Orlando Brown
10. Chuck Bednarik, Center
The rugged and durable Chuck Bednarik missed only three games in his 14-year NFL career. Bednarik was one of the last of the NFL’s players who played both offense and defense in every game. He earned All-Pro recognition 10 times during his career and was elected to the NFL’s 1950s All-Decade team. The very physical player once knocked Frank Gifford out of football for a year and a half after tackling him as a linebacker. His mean streak didn’t end when his team had the ball.
Bednarik’s nickname was “Concrete Charlie” and was due to his career as a concrete salesman, but stuck in football partly because of the way he played the game. He had a reputation as a ferocious tackler and blocker, never shying away from contact. Bednarik’s aggression on the defensive side of the ball made him meaner than most of the offensive players of his time. In 2010, Bednarik was ranked number 35 on the NFL Network’s “The Top 100: NFL’s Greatest Players” list.
9. Jonathan Ogden, Tackle
Jonathan Ogden wasn’t built like a house, he was built like a high-rise apartment complex. The 6’9″, 345 pound offensive tackle was a menace for any defensive lineman to face. Ogden was the 1995 Outland Trophy winner in college and appeared in 11 Pro Bowls after being selected with the fourth overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft by the only team he played for, the Baltimore Ravens. Ogden had such imposing size and strength that he was mean even before he could crack a smile.
Ogden did have a tendency to smile frequently when he was on the football field, as a ploy to hide his mean streak. According to New York Giants DE Michael Strahan, “He’s a laugher. You see him, you think to yourself this guy is not mean enough to handle the mean guys out there in the NFL. Jonathan would rip your limbs off, and he’d smile…and wave your arm in front of you.” Ogden also threw his helmet in frustration many times, before the helmet removal rule was introduced into the league.
8. Larry Allen, guard
Larry Allen was regarded as one of the physically strongest men to ever play in the NFL. At 6’3″, 325 pounds, Allen could bench press 705 pounds and squat 905 pounds. He used his strength to move people around and was a mauler who instilled fear in his opponents without having to resort to dirty tactics. He was a superb athlete who once ran down New Orleans linebacker Darion Conner from behind after he intercepted a pass. Attending unknown Sonoma State University and being the tenth offensive lineman selected in the 1994 NFL Draft, made Allen play with a chip on his shoulder. He used this “chip” to earn 11 trips to the Pro Bowl and get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
Allen was from Compton, CA where he was stabbed 12 times with a knife in a fight when he was just 10 years old. He ended up at Sonoma State because his school record and bad grades but this simply drove him to be great at inflicting pain on the fool who had the courage to stand in his way. Allen’s ability to drive men backwards and block more than one man was a big reason for Emmitt Smith’s success in the NFL. In the NFL’s “Strongest Man Award” challenge during the 2006 Pro Bowl weekend, Allen bench pressed 43 reps of 225 pounds. Lifting probably gave him an outlet to be less “mean” in the field of play, but he was certainly not a guy to mess with.
7. Willie “Nasty” Roaf, Tackle
Willie Roaf was a fabulous offensive tackle playing mostly for the New Orleans Saints who drafted him with the eighth pick in the 1993 NFL Draft. The mammoth 6’5″, 320 pound offensive lineman was selected to 11 pro bowls in his 13 NFL seasons and was also voted onto the NFL’s 1990s and 2000s All-Decade teams. Roaf, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012 (his second year of eligibility), was not fun to face.
Willie Roaf makes this list because of his blocking ability that was downright nasty thanks to his great speed for his considerable size. He was nicknamed “nasty” by his teammates and peers for how unpleasant he was to face on the football field. Roaf was one of the most dominant offensive lineman of his time and not one to get upset on the playing field.
6. Bob “Boomer” Brown, Tackle
Bob Brown was simply ahead of his time. In an era in the 1960s and early 1970s where offensive linemen were big at 250 pounds, Brown was 6’4″ and weighed 280 pounds. He was gigantic, but not lacking in speed. He played for three different teams in his 10 year NFL career and made it to the Pro Bowl 6 times. Brown was the second overall selection in the 1964 NFL Draft and went on to become the NFL Rookie of the Year. The enormous tackle played in an era where being mean was a bigger part of the game and something that Brown was very good at.
His nickname “Boomer” certainly described his blocking style. Brown once said his play on the field was “about as subtle as a sixteen-pound sledgehammer.” Brown’s blocking was the opposite of finesse and technique and more about mauling and smashing into defenders, making his style of play mean for the time. He exploded off the ball to initiate contact and still had the quickness to neutralize and pancake speedy pass rushers on the edge. Defenders would come away from games with aching ribs, bruises and even bruised egos after having to line up on the opposite side of him. Brown stood out in his era as a huge guy with speed, quickness and explosiveness that easily made him by far the nastiest and meanest offensive lineman of his time.
5. Jon Runyan, Tackle
Jon Runyan might have played for three teams in his career, but his reputation was established as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. Although he only appeared in one Pro Bowl game, Runyan was good enough to be the highest paid offensive lineman at one point in his career. The 6’7″, 330 pound tackle was a very formidable foe in the trenches or out in open space. Runyan was willing to do whatever it took to help his team win, earning him the distinction of being second on the 2006 Sports Illustrated list of “Dirtiest Players in the NFL.”
What made Runyan particularly nasty was his tenacity and mean streak that often led to either penalties or big plays. In a 2008 poll, getting blocked by Runyan on a screen pass was deemed one of the scariest things in the NFL. Runyan looked for contact in much the same manner a magnet seeks out metal. Runyan never considered himself to be a dirty player but simply referred to many of his actions as being the way to play the game. With that in mind, any opponent who happened to get under his skin would make him even more hostile and, for lack of a better word, mean.
4. Erik “Big E” Williams, Tackle
The 6’6″, 311 pound offensive tackle was one of the nastiest players on the “great wall of Dallas” offensive line. Williams was good enough to be selected to 4 Pro Bowls, but a serious car accident limited some of his mobility and caused him to miss most of 1994, only his fourth year in the league. Williams tore a muscle and two knee ligaments in the accident and had to adjust his style of play. According to many opponents and even teammates, that meant being even more nastier and mean.
According to one AFC defensive lineman, ever since the car accident Erik Williams was “the dirtiest son of a bitch I’ve ever seen.” Williams was also known for being the king of the head slap and several players also have said he liked to go for the throat when he blocked. Williams would do whatever it took to slow guys down, including going for the knees, slapping at the head or gouging out an opponents eyes. In one incident Williams cut blocked John Jurkovic of the Green Bay Packers in a 1995 playoff contest and blew out his knee. He was nicknamed “Big E” for his physical and aggressive play.
3. Kevin Gogan, Guard
Kevin Gogan was a hulking figure at guard, standing 6’7″ and weighing around 320 pounds. His mass alone was downright intimidating, but that paled in comparison to his reputation. According to one of his former teammates, Dana Stubblefield, who played with him on the San Francisco 49ers, Gogan not only wrote the Book of Dirty, but would have a picture of himself on the very first page. The 3-time Pro Bowler would do whatever it took to not only win, but make sure nobody disrespected himself or his teammates. Gogan was so good at retaliating that he made the Sports Illustrated cover for “The NFL’s Dirtiest Players.”
Gogan was one of the only players to ever get kicked out of a Pro Bowl game when he got into it with Neil Smith of the Denver Broncos. Gogan also once punched Mike Golic of the Philadelphia Eagles during a game. When Gogan’s 49ers teammate Curtis Buckley was getting an earful from the trash talking Corey Fuller of the Minnesota Vikings, Gogan intervened by showing Buckley how to take care of business with a deft blow to Fuller’s groin. Gogan summed it up by saying, “sometimes I don’t even go where the ball is, I just go after the man.” Gogan was big, powerful and the epitome of mean.
2. Steve “The Wiz” Wisniewski, Guard
Steve Wisniewski was one of the most decorated members of the Raiders of the 1990s, having been selected to the same number of Pro Bowls (8) as Art Shell and Howie Long. The 6’4″, 305 pound guard played all of his 13 seasons on the same team, the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders. Wisniewski was straight as an arrow and could even be funny off the field, but in the trenches he subscribed to the notion that anything goes and he was well known for being nasty on the playing field.
Wisniewski has made several lists for being one of the dirtiest players in not only football, but all of sports. He would cut block opponents, chop from behind and do just about anything to subdue or even maim his opponent across the line. The “Wiz” brought back some of the tough play the Raiders were famous for in the 1970s, often demanding his teammates to play harder in practice and giving “attitude adjustments” along with fellow linemen Kevin Gogan and Dan Turk in the Raider’s locker room. Wisniewski racked up $65,000 in fines during the 1996 season alone for his overly aggressive play.
1. Conrad Dobler, Guard
Conrad Dobler quickly developed a reputation as a nasty player after being selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the fifth round of the 1972 NFL Draft. The 6’3″, 254 pound guard was not the biggest, strongest or fastest offensive lineman but was certainly the nastiest of his time. Dobler was a 3-time Pro Bowl selection, but was better known for his beyond aggressive style of play. Dobler reveled in being an enforcer of sorts on the football field and was one of the first offensive linemen to be nasty enough to adopt such a role.
As a player, Dobler would punch, kick, tackle and go as far as intentionally trying to hurt anyone who stood in his way. He would punch players in the stomach who tried to jump up to bat down a pass or drag them to the ground if they happened to get past him on the way to the quarterback. Dobler played in pain and was a great teammate, but was well known by the opposition for his dirty play. He was dirty, nasty and mean but thoroughly enjoyed his bad reputation. One of his lifetime achievements was when he made the cover of Sports Illustrated as “Pro Football’s Dirtiest Player.”