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The Most Awesome Tattoos in the NFL

by Danny Gallagher   January 30, 2012 at 12:00PM  |  Views: 21,008
New England Patriots’ Aaron Hernandez Tattoo

Football players have to put up with a lot of pain whether it's overcoming sore muscles from a daily practice or getting clocked by a 400 linebacker in front of 80,000 screaming fans. Despite this life of pain, there are some players who actually use their downtime to let a stranger take a hot needle to their flesh...for fun. These are the best inked bodies in the National Football League.

Carolina Panthers' Jeremy Shockey

Carolina Panthers’ Jeremy Shockey

Photo: David Rojas/Contributor/FilmMagic

This former New Orleans Saint has a dangerous set of arms operated by a very deranged mind. All it takes is one look at how the head decided to decorate those arms to realize that. His arms are covered with American style designs including a giant bald eagle on one and the American flag, all of which took just under 24 hours to finish. Just about every inch of his shoulders to his biceps are covered in red, white and blue ink, making them the most patriotic appendages in professional sports.

Philadelphia Eagles' Jason Babin

Philadelphia Eagles’ Jason Babin

Photo: Rob Carr/Staff/Getty Images Sport

This Jets defensive end doesn't give two hoots about making his body designs meaningful or making sure they provide him with some daily affirmation every time he looks in the mirror. Babin admits the tribal designs that runs across his arms and chest that he personally designed in college don't have any deep connection to his place in the universe or how he became such a powerful defensive force in the NFL. He just thinks they look cool.

St. Louis Rams' Chris Hovan

St. Louis Rams’ Chris Hovan Tattoo

Photo: Al Messerschmidt/Contributor/Getty Images Sport

Something has to be said for simplicity, especially when it comes to tattoos. If you get the wrong guy and you want something really complex, your body can look like a Magic Eye puzzle with no solution. Hovan is the walking mantra of this ideal (until the day he tattoos that mantra on his face) by keeping his body art as simple as possible without destroying whatever coolness it retains, with the traditional barbwire design on his upper bicep and the single color American flag on his opposing arm.

Baltimore Ravens' Ray Rice

Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice Tattoo

Photo: John Grieshop/Contributor/Getty Images Sport

Rice's tats also follow the "simplest is sweetest" mantra, although his choice of designs show a lot more cajones than most athletes' ink until Terrell Owens gets a picture of his cajones drawn on him. One arm simply has the word "gifted" and on the other the word "one". He says he doesn't consider himself the most gifted player in the league, just "gifted to play in the NFL". He also said he wasn't always at the top of his game when he started out and had to work hard to get to his place in life and appreciate where his life has taken him, even if it to Baltimore. 

New York Jets' Rex Ryan

New York Jets’ Rex Ryan Tattoo

Photo: Al Pereira/Contributor/Getty Images Sport

Players aren't the only one with ink on them. These days, the image of the suit and fedora sporting football coach has died a quick death and even some of the coaches have ink on their skin that didn't come their ink stained playbook. The Jets' head honcho got a mountain scene painted on his leg from his calf to his ankle. The coolest part is why he got it. He told ESPN that he admits it was the result of a mid-life crisis. Sure it might be a cheap way of cheating age, but at least it's honest.