Brian Spallina vs. NFL linebackers

This post is part of a series geared toward generating hype for the upcoming MLL season. Non-lacrosse and non-MLL fans can get to know the league’s stars better through these comparisons to NBA, NFL and NHL players. Some analogies are based on playing styles and others are based on off-field personality, but none are based on spending habits. We aren’t quite at the point where MLL players can drop $5,000 each week at Cheesecake Factory, but we’ll get there someday.

After a slew of NBA comparisons, it’s only fitting that Brian Spallina is the first player of this series to be linked to an NFL player. The six-time MLL champion is an absolute enforcer on the field. My only issue: Finding one NFL player who wholly describes Spallina.

In my mind I have flipped between at least six NFL players who adequately describe one aspect of Spallina, but fail to capture his entire game. I’ve decided to open the door to a … drumroll, please… #SPORTSDEBATE. I’ll make a case for a number of players. You tell me which one is most like Spallina.


They’re both everywhere. Insane instincts and veteran savvy helps them get to the right spots. Sideline-to-sideline, these guys are competing their fannies off.

An obvious case against Lewis would be the pre-game dramatics. Lewis loved to dance, deliver chilling speeches and express himself. Spallina is a bit less flashy in that regard.

Plus, the worst on-the-field reputation Lewis ever had was for jumping on piles and padding his stats. Lewis was respected as a hard-hitter, but never criticized as a cheap shot artist. Although I don’t agree with it, Spallina is more widely regarded as a “dirty” player than Lewis ever was.


Let me begin by saying I don’t endorse this comparison one bit. I’d be cheapening the integrity of this #SPORTSDEBATE if I’d omitted it, though. Plenty of people find Spallina to be a dirty player. In an InsideLacrosse poll asking whether he is a “Hooligan” or a “Hero,” a slight majority of voters (51%) deemed him a “Hooligan.”

But is he as much of a hooligan as the frequently fined Ndamukong Suh? I vote no. Spallina’s “cheap shots” never cross the line like Suh. The Lions’ defensive tackle has quite the temper. I could never picture Spallina doing anything like this:



Like Suh, Harrison is often fined by the league for his hits. Unlike Suh, Harrison’s these hits typically occur between the whistles. This makes Harrison more comparable to Spallina. Check out this sequence by Spallina. He flattens two Machine attackmen [#19 Joe Cummings at 0:02 and #2 Marcus Holman at 0:06].

Was the first hit slightly in the back? Sure. Was the second hit a bit late? Maybe. Was either hit malicious like Suh’s stomp? NO!

Spallina does not strap on the pads and take the field each week with the intent to injure. He just competes. Like Harrison, he competes a bit too hard at times. If MLL Commissioner David Gross dished out fines like Czar Goodell, then I’m sure Spallina would receive a few. And I’m equally sure that a @FauxQuintKessenich twitter account would have abused the jokes about the fines.



Hear me out on this one. I know Talib has never won a Super Bowl. He has nowhere near the credentials required to be in this conversation. If you watch the Patriots play though, you’ll see a major difference when he is in the game. The intensity he brings to that defense is unparalleled.

Talib takes it personally when he gets beat. You saw him scrap with Steve Smith on Monday Night Football. He hates to lose. The rest of the Patriots defense shows a similar passion when Talib is on the field. In that way, he is like Spallina. He came into New England midseason and created an identity for a hopeless secondary.

There’s a reason why Spallina has won six MLL titles. Somehow every team he has played on has completely bought into his competitive nastiness. He must keep a fridge full of fight milk in the locker room. There’s no other explanation.

More from this series:

Mike Sawyer versus Stephen Curry

John Grant Jr versus Zach Randolph

Paul Rabil versus LeBron James

If you have any comparisons that you’d like to see featured, e-mail them to with the subject “MLL versus.”

Comments are closed.