Florida Football 100 For 100, No. 74: Jack Youngblood, The Toughest Gator Ever

There are 19 days until Florida's September 1 opener with Bowling Green. There are 74 entries left in the 100 For 100 series. Four per day from here on in.

There are football players, there are tough football players, there are insanely tough football players, and there is Jack Youngblood. The man with the best football name ever wore No. 74 at Florida from 1968 to 1970, where he developed from a 195-pound freshman into an sophomore letterwinner at defensive end and kicker and finished as a 245-pound All-American defensive end. His list of awards is astounding, and he was justifiably part of the first group of players inducted into Florida football's Ring of Honor and the first Gator elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (He's also fun on Twitter.)

But this is about toughness. And so here's the NFL Films segment recounting his decision to play in the 1979 NFL playoffs and Super Bowl XIV with a broken leg and enthroning that month of temporary insanity as the gutsiest performance in NFL history.

And here's what Youngblood said about that day:

The guard picked me up and flipped me over, and the fibula snapped, just above the ankle. Trainers come out, we go to the locker room, and I said "You need to tape this thing up." He goes, "I'm not gonna do that." I said, "You're gonna do this." He gets the pictures back about that time, he says, "See, here, it's broke." I go, "Well, I understand that." I said, "Tape it up! I can still go play!"

I thought it was my responsibility as the captain of the team. You didn't have the opportunity to go play in playoffs that many times. Let's go take advantage of it.

Youngblood wasn't all that bad on one leg, either, recording a sack of Roger Staubach in the Los Angeles Rams' upset of the Dallas Cowboys in a divisional playoff game. I think my favorite part of the saga is that he started in the Pro Bowl after losing the Super Bowl — I'm guessing the trip to Hawai'i was part of that decision.

Oh, and Youngblood's performance isn't the only one by a Gators player in the top five of that NFL Films list, thanks to Emmitt Smith's incredible game with a separated shoulder ranking No. 4.

When you discuss the gutsiest performances in NFL history, you can't even have a legitimate discussion without mentioning two Gators. And there's no way anyone can tell me or most of Gator Nation that Jack Youngblood isn't the toughest Gator to ever suit up and play.

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