Toughest back for Mike Curtis to tackle? It wasn't Jim Brown

Former linebacker Mike Curtis tackled many running backs during his career ... some of them Hall of Famers ... but one, he said, stands out above the rest. And his name wasn't Jim Brown.

Talk of Fame Network

Former linebacker Mike Curtis tackled a raft of great running backs in his career, but one was more difficult to catch than the rest … and, no, his name wasn’t Jim Brown.

"Sayers," Curtis said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast.

That would be Hall-of-Famer Gale Sayers, and while his career wasn’t long (seven years) it was so spectacular that he was chosen to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.


"I would play against all of them (running backs)," said Curtis, "but Sayers I thought was the best physically and mentally for me to play against. He could change directions at full speed without coming to stop, let's put it that way."

So could Curtis, a four-time Pro Bowler and one of the hardest hitters in the sport, though his most famous tackle wasn’t of an opposing ballcarrier. In fact, it wasn’t of an opponent at all. It was his take-down of a drunken fan who wandered on to the Memorial Stadium field in Baltimore and tried to run away with the game ball during a 1971 game with Miami.

It happened between plays, with the Colts in a defensive huddle. When Curtis realized what was going on, he broke from the circle, dashed toward the spectator and dropped him, driving him hard nto the ground.

"I tell you what: I didn’t give it any thought," said Curtis. "What I didn’t want was our team to be distracted because of something outside of the game. What we needed to do … I was the captain … and I just needed to make sure that we weren’t distracted (by anything) that would affect our game. That’s the reason I went to counseling."

(Mike Curtis photo courtesy Indianapolis Colts)

(Jim Brown photo courtesy Cleveland Browns)