The NFL has changed a lot over the years. From becoming more of a passing league, with rules favoring offenses, the days of hard hits on quarterbacks and defenseless receivers are becoming a thing of the past. And while player safety should be a focus of the league as more and more comes out on the issues of concussions and their long-term effects, young fans will rarely get to witness the ferocity of days gone by.

Tampa Bay linebacker Scot Brantley came to the Buccaneers from the University of Florida and brought a hard-hitting reputation with him. A third-round draft pick from the Gators, Brantley missed most of his senior season with a head injury (surprising huh?).

Still, Brantley was a high round draft pick and spent eight seasons in the NFL with the Buccaneers. However his most well-known play is still this hit on Lions quarterback Eric Hipple back in November of 1985.

Not only would this hit most likely resulted in a penalty in today’s NFL, it would have also warranted a suspension from the league. Tampa Bay’s overall history in NFL lore isn’t great, despite winning a Super Bowl title, but even during the lean years, the Bucs were known for a tough punishing defense. Players like Brantley, Mark Cotney, Hugh Green, Davis Lewis, and John Lynch would all have a hard time staying on the field in today’s NFL.

This isn’t a commentary on the NFL and their rules, just stating facts.

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at
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4 years ago

Looks like a legal hit by today’s standards. But, they would probably flow a flag.

Reply to  Iowabucfan
4 years ago

Opp. I meant throw. I hate auto correct sometimes.

4 years ago

Brutal! THE most vicious hit in Buccaneer history. I have seen this many times and still wonder how Hipple ever recovered. Type about a car crash!

4 years ago

That looked clean to me. , but there is no doubt there would’ve been a flag in today’s game. Probably the cleanest and most recent bomb I can remember is pre-season two years ago, when Kwon leveled poor Mccown . It was the purest most beautiful tackle I’ve ever seen. They were parallel for a split second, and that’s when I knew I loved me some Kwon. haha.

4 years ago

I was there watching that one live.

4 years ago

The hardest hit in team history was Curtis Buckley’s called shot on Brian Mitchell. Read about it here: Curtis Buckley was a beast and a bright spot on some bad teams as a guy who gave 1000% effort.

4 years ago

Why would that have been illegal by today’s standards?
A) Hipple was across the line of scrimmage and would have been considered a runner, not a protected QB
B) Brantley, didn’t leave his feat launching into the opposing player, didn’t use his helmet as a weapon, hit Hipple in the shoulder and chest, with his shoulder.
C) Even though Hipple lost his helmet, replay clearly shows there was no helmet to helmet contact.
D) The hit was in bounds.

Seriously, what about the rules today make that an illegal hit?

4 years ago

Sorry, but I disagree.
Hardest hit I ever saw was when Mark Cotney connected with Redskin receiver Frank Grany who was running a deep cross in 1977.
Cotney got his shoulder pad up in Grants face mask and not only decleated him, he KO’d him and broke his nose.
The last we saw of Grant in that game was the trainer walking him off the field with Grants nose hangiing down to his chin.
Hipple, I believe, came back to finiish and win the game for the Lions.

Michael Hotaling
4 years ago

Not bad but please…. That was a slow weekend for John Lynch.
He knocked out his own brother in law!

Here’s just a few highlights –