Originally written on The Penalty Flag  |  Last updated 8/5/12

Imagine yourself a defensive end in 1996, actually, imagine yourself Pat Swilling, the Oakland Raiders starting right defensive end on opening day of the 1996 NFL season. You’ve been in the league 10 seasons, been to five Pro Bowl’s, you’ve had a good run, but you know you’re on the down side of your career. You’re just trying to finish out the rest of it without getting hurt too badly or to lose the respect of the coaches and fans. Imagine what Mr. Swilling thought that first game in 1996, in Baltimore, when the sun first went behind a gigantic object that settled itself across the line of scrimmage from him. When Swilling looked up and saw what some would later call a brick wall and prompted one of the greatest defensive players of the modern age, Michael Strahan, to say “He’s a laugher!… You see him, you think to yourself this guy is not mean enough to handle the mean guys out there in the NFL. Jonathan would rip your limbs off, and he’d smile…and wave your arm in front of you.” Pat Swilling that day, had the unfortunate luck of facing Jonathan Ogden on his first day as a member of the Ravens, all 6’9” 345 pounds of him.

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