When we think of NFL payers, we often think of incredible athletes. Most are taller than six feet and most pack more than 230 pounds of pure muscle. We might even believe they have to be physically perfect to compete at a level where people are considered more of an investment than just an athlete – but that’s not true.
Many NFL players over the years have overcome mental and physical handicaps to become some of the best examples of football athleticism throughout their careers.
These are just the players with physical handicaps to overcome. Other players, like the Steelers Terry Bradshaw, the N.Y. Jets Brandon Marshall, and Houston Texans legend Arian Foster, have all overcome mental troubles like PTSD, ADHD, and alcoholism. They are still remembered as their respective teams’ all-time greats.
Rocky Bleier, Pittsburgh Steelers
Bleier was sent to serve in the Vietnam War during his tenure in the NFL. His unit was ambushed by the NVA in 1969 and Bleier took extensive wounds in his legs. Instead of focusing on the damage, he fouced on recovering from it, going on to play in four Super Bowls with the Steelers.
Tedy Bruschi, New England Patriots
Tedy Bruschi was at the top of his career when he woke up with numbness in his body and a pounding headache. The 31-year-old suffered a stroke after playing in his first Pro Bowl. Doctors found he also had a hole in his heart. Within eight months, Bruschi was back in the game, winning more and more with the Patriots.
Tom Dempsey, New Orleans Saints
That’s not photoshop. Kicker Tom Dempsey was born without toes but that didn’t stop him from making a record 63-yard field goal with the New Orleans Saints. He had a special boot made for his foot that turned it into a swinging club. He made his record kick in 1970 and played for a number of teams.
Shaquem Griffin, Seattle Seahawks
Shaquem Griffin was born with amniotic band syndrome, which cause terrible pain in his hand for much of his younger years. The young Griffin to play football – but his hand (or lack thereof) never stopped him. He and his brother played side-by-side through high school football, college ball, and now the Seattle Seahawks. With that team, he played in a playoff game during his rookie year.