So Who IS Tougher, the Average Hockey Player or Football Player?

The Twitter discussion yesterday between Thurman Thomas and Matthew Barnaby (with Mike Commodore’s 2 cents) got me thinking on this:  who really IS tougher, an average hockey player or football player?  Let’s think.

  1. Activity Level:  Both have ’60 minute’ games.  Football players take half of the game off, though, with the offense sitting down while the defense is on the field and vice versa.  However, there are more hockey players playing in each game, so the actual time on the field favors football.  Football loses this for me, though, in that even when you ARE on the field, there’s 10-15 seconds of activity, and then 30 seconds of huddle.  Slight Advantage to hockey.
  2. Violence:  I think Thurman was underestimating this.  His crack about hockey players losing teeth versus football players getting concussions is silly.  Ask Eric Lindros, or even Chris Drury and RJ Umberger about concussions in hockey.  Have to give a slight edge to football here though, as there are potentially dangerous hits most every play, with big linemen landing on you, rolling your ankles, getting knees buckled, horse-collar tackles, and so forth.  And I’m not putting hockey over the top by throwing fighting in the mix, as it’s fairly rare nowadays, and for the most part only done by a select group regularly (keeping kickers and punters out of this for the same reason).  Slight advantage to football.
  3. Longevity:  This one’s a wash, to my mind.  I’ve seen the 5 year average career number for NHL players (including Commodore mentioning it), while anywhere from 3.5 years to 4.6 years for NFL players.  I believe the NHL number is slightly higher because a borderline player can bounce between the NHL and AHL (or Europe) a few times.  Someone like Cody McCormick, who has been going back and forth between various AHL teams and the NHL doesn’t happen much in the NFL.  Also, to refute something Thurman said, tears (of ligaments etc.) are the most common injury in the NFL, while concussions are possible in both.  Even.

So what’s my verdict?  Guys, you are BOTH super-tough.  I got the feeling this was all in good-natured fun, but I think this would be a great opportunity for ESPN or Versus to have a ‘Shaq VS.’ type show with these guys.  Picture it:  Barnaby and other recent NHL retirees have to play running back and absorb hits from former NFL linebackers (Junior Seau and Tedy Bruschi aren’t busy, are they?), and Thurman and some friends have to act as defensemen while Al MacInnis, Jeremy Roenick or other former NHLers fire shots on net.  Show ’em just the sort of toughness hockey requires, since it’s not all about hitting somebody or fighting.

12 Replies to “So Who IS Tougher, the Average Hockey Player or Football Player?”

  1. Personally, having played both, I feel that hockey gets a huge advantage for activity level. It is head and shoulders more difficult to play a full hockey game than it is to play a full football game.

  2. I give all of you die hard hockey fans the fact that hockey is more dangerous than football. Dangerous is the word. Both sports are physically demanding and exhausting in its own way. Hockey fans always want to make it seem like it is a constant game without rest. Just like in football their is breaks in the action, tv timeouts, face offs, penalities, goals, sitting down between shifts. A player does get breaks just like a football player. As for roughness and physical football players for the most part are being bounce around, tackled, landed on etc almost every play. Watch a hockey game, pick out a couple of players and tell me how many times they get hit. Not many because the average number of hits per game by a team is in the low 2o’s. Maybe each player gets hit once if that. Does every football player get hit every play. Of course not. But try having someone fall on you a few times in a row and you tell me if it hurts.

    1. An average football game has 11 minutes of playing time, every hockey game ever has 60 minutes of playing time. You’re welcome.

  3. like SUEINVA said whens the last time you saw a football players throat get cut or saw someone just collapse on the field and die and theres also patrice bergeron who broke his neck from a hit and came back.

  4. If the NFL season was played at the same pace as the NHL it would be over in 5 weeks. An NHL player after the Cup has to win more games in the postseason than an NFL player plays all year. The hits and physicality may be comparable, but NHL players absorb it 3 or 4 times a week, sometimes the next day. The NFL boys take a week off in between to study film and make X’s and O’s, with the occasional “bye” – i.e. two week rest. If the NFL started offering a home/away consecutive day matchup between two rivals, then we could start the conversation… When the NFL plays an 84 game season then we’ll have something to compare. Until then, hockey gets my nod.

  5. NHL players play 81 games instead of 16 games for NFL players. NFL players play on grass, hockey players play on ice which can destroy your face plus pucks going at 100 mph, can take out eyes because their helments are about 1/4 the size of the NFL players and dont have a front cage. NFL players basically get the wind knocked out of them, so it looks worse on TV. Everything about the idea of “football players being tougher then hockey players” makes sense and is completely true, when looked at in detail you will realize that hockey players are way way tougher. Football players can be really tough sometimes tho

  6. The only arguments I ever hear from hockeys players or fans is they play 82 games a year, or they play on ice! Lol… First off it is not possible to play more than 16 games a season in football, the next day you can barely walk let alone move. You need the week to recooperate and get rest. Obviously it doesnt take the whole week at times.But also you do need to study your next opponent and get the proper strategy ready, and if you played more than 16 games in a season your more likely than not going to lose half your team to injuries, there is no point in playing more than 16 games when you risk having a majority of your players injured for playoffs. As it goes for hockey being a tougher more physical sport because it is played on ice is complete BS.. Hockey players wear 3 times more padding than football players… Also how does it make hockey players tougher because someone gets their throat cut by a skate??? It rarely ever happens plus is it part of the sport? Are you suppose to try to cut players with your skates? lol. If you ask me hockey players get too butt hurt every time they get hit they go looking to intentionally hurt the other players if you look at the injuries in hockey its because someone gets nailed from behind into the boards head first or a player is about to miss a check and they stick their elbows out aimed at the guys head, if your going to miss the hit, then miss it. You dont need to hurt the other player in the process. Hockey is filled with a bunch of little whiny rich kids, do you know what it costs to play hockey, and the cost of hockey equipment lol its ridiculous. A “majority” of football players aren’t as fortunate when it comes to money they usually grow up in a broken environment or in a family that can barely afford for them to play any sports. Hitting someone into the boards while your covered in padding is way different than hitting someone head on wearing only a helmet and shoulder pads..Open ice hits rarely happen in hockey! Another thing is football players are twice the size of most hockey players, which in my mind makes up for the extra speed of being on ice while making hits. I believe hockey is the third toughest/physical sport to play. 2nd is Football than MMA/Boxing takes #1 in my opinion. Sorry if any of you hockey players take offence to this but it had to be said, no one is showing love for football.

    1. Wow obviously you have no clue about hockey. Lol. Hockey players dont wear much more pads. I played both sports and the only pads that hockey requires more than football is shin pads and the gloves are more padded. Yet football the helmet is way bigger and shoulder pads are much bigger as well. So padding is a wash. If anything id say football wears more pads. Another thing hockey speed is much faster and open ice hits do happen often and hits up against the boards arent no walk in the park. Size is a little bit different in the NFL but thats only the lineman other than that size is about the same. And 90% of the time a lineman hits a lineman so your hitting someone the same size as you most of the time. Btw in hockey you can fight so no buddy you need to re-evaluate your claims.

  7. Having played both sports. I will say hockey is more fun and more taxing on you cardio wise. Football is a tough sport because of the constant collisions and the size of the players. I stand at 5’7 190lbs played safety in football and a center/defensemen in hockey. Hockey gets my vote as far as watching and playing the sport. I have alot of respect for football players. However the sport doesn’t appeal to me anymore. In my opinion both sports are tough. The NHL gets the nod with the amount of games played. And it takes a tremendous amount of leg strength to stay on two thin blades on ice taking a hit from a 210+lb man. Slight edge to hockey

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