One of the greatest defensive backs in NFL history was Ronnie Lott. He carried on the type of physical play that made Jack Tatum feared by receivers in the 1970’s. Lott was drafted out of USC in 1981 by the San Francisco 49ers as a safety, yet had to play out of position as a cornerback his first 5 seasons. He supported the run as fiercely as the pass and made plenty of hits on receivers crossing into his zone. His highlight package contained here have more bone jarring collisions once he was moved back to safety starting in 1986.
A notable point to make about Lott’s aggressive play was how clean it was. You’ll see him close on a receiver and always hit him with a shoulder or forearm and never lead with his helmet. Furthermore he didn’t hit receivers in the head either. As the modern NFL is changing the rules to protect defenseless receivers, Ronnie’s play shows that you can hit these players without it being a cheap shot. There were several times when he came out on the short end of the stick. I can remember once in 1982 when he was knocked cold by powerful Atlanta Falcon RB William Andrews, as he was by the Vikings RB Alan Rice #36 9shown here) in the ’87 playoffs. It’s the will to stick their nose in and take on all comers that make great hitters immortal.