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.

7 thoughts on “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.

  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

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