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The Most Awesome Tattoos in the NFL

by Danny Gallagher   January 30, 2012 at 12:00PM  |  Views: 20,610

Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson

Tennessee Titans’ Chris Johnson Tattoo

Photo: Rick Stewart/Stringer/Getty Images Sport

If you're going to get tattoos, you might as well commit to the principle and go all out with it. Johnson took that principle to heart as well as his chest, his arms, the rest of his torso and perhaps even his actual heart. His body is a temple to tattooing as it's covered from neck to waist with more ink than an office supply store. The most notable is a pair of wings just above his collarbone and the phrase "'Cause IM A Star" on his chest. He must have the same mental condition that Guy Pierce had in "Memento".

New England Patriots' Aaron Hernandez

Photo: Elsa/Staff/Getty Images Sport

New England Patriots’ Aaron Hernandez Tattoo

Athletes always like to give it up to God or fate or some invisible force for their performance. Hernandez's father, Dennis, always used to tell him as a boy, "If it is to be, it is up to me" and the phrase carried him through his college football career with the Florida Gators and eventually his appearance in the big show. Since then, he's gotten a body full of ink and most notably, that same phrase has been on his forearm all through his career.

Cincinnati Bengal's Rey Maualuga

Cincinnati Bengal’s Rey Maualuga Tattoo

Photo: John Grieshop/Contributor/Getty Images Sport

Too many guys and gals get cultural tattoos that couldn't have less to do with their actual lineage, just because they think they look cool. Hawaiian native Rey Maualuga has earned the right to wear his Samoan heritage on his sleeve along with his back, chest and most of his torso. He has some very elaborate Polynesian designs on his back and arms to remind him of where he came from and how he got where he was and just to drive the point home, his newest ink reads, "Never regret anything because at one point it was exactly what you wanted...".

Pittsburgh Steelers' Hines Ward

Pittsburgh Steelers’ Hines Ward Tattoo

Photo: George Gojkovich/Contributor/Getty Images Sport

When you think of a hardened athlete or a massive linebacker getting their skin inked, you probably imagine them asking for something equally badass like a large bald eagle carrying away the disembodied head of their enemy over their opponent's firebombed home stadium. Ward gets a bunch of cool points for going the opposite route by getting a tattoo of Mighty Mouse pulling a Heisman Trophy pose on his upper arm because he just considers himself "a happy guy playing football".

Buffalo Bills' Shawne Merriman

Shawne Merriman Tattoos

Photo: Rick Stewart/Stringer/Getty Images Sport

Merriman may not have turned his entire body into a giant coloring book with his designs, but they've easily got the most personality of any NFL pro with a frequent inkers card in his wallet. On one arm, he has a whole host of religious symbols and designs and on the other is a cluster of Chinese symbols (that we're sure have some deep meaning if we stayed away in our college classes) and a hilarious ode to his nickname "Lights Out".

Danny Gallagher is a freelance writer, reporter, humorist and tongue tattoo ink taste tester. He can be found on the web at www.dannygallagher.net and on Twitter at twitter.com/thisisdannyg.

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