- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
Every player in the NFL considers himself tough, but certain players simply rise above the pack when it comes to toughness. These are the guys who are mentally tough, perform when the game is on the line, can be counted on by coaches and teammates, have stood the test of time and can handle the rigors of the league. These men rarely miss time due to injures and inspire those around them. Which players best fit this description? Who are the NFL's true tough guys?
We all know about Brady's postseason brilliance, but a true testament to his toughness was his performance last season. He probably had the best season of his career, despite losing his starting left tackle and center for almost the entire year. The Patriots also had multiple injuries at running back and wide receiver, and Brady played hurt for much of 2005 as well. He not only orchestrated the offense and called audibles, but helped make the offensive line calls. Brady makes every player on New England's roster better and is a vocal leader. No quarterback in the league is more competitive or fearless in the pocket; Brady will step into throws with total disregard for his body, despite facing a heavy pass rush. Praising Brady can get redundant, but he is truly special and the best (and maybe the toughest) player in the league.
Brooks has been the leader of one of the top defenses in the game for the last decade. He has stood the test of time as well as any player in recent memory. He is a bright and extremely competitive leader who teaches those around him how to be great. He is also still a top playmaker in every facet of his position. Brooks never misses a game, prepares extremely hard and is as reliable as they come. He is a fixture in the Pro Bowl and has a Super Bowl victory under his belt. They should just start forging his Hall of Fame bust now.