Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett vividly remembers the moment he was introduced to the harsh realities of playing in the NFL.
During his rookie season, Pickett experienced one of the toughest hits of his career while facing off against New York Jets defensive tackle, Quinnen Williams.
Speaking on the Green Light podcast hosted by Chris Long, Pickett didn’t hesitate to identify Williams when asked about the hardest hit he endured during his first year in the league.
“Quinnen Williams. Easy answer,” Pickett stated. “Against the Jets, I came in, and I think they ran a stunt or something, and he came in and got me right under the chin. And I got up laughing. I’ve never been hit that hard in my life.”
Though Pickett has faced concussions from hitting the ground, he emphasized that Williams’ hit was on another level. The sheer force of the collision left a lasting impact on the young quarterback as he stood tall in the pocket.
The first-round pick struggled, throwing three interceptions in a 24-20 loss in the game.
Meanwhile, Quinnen Williams continued to establish himself as a dominant force on the defensive front. He recorded an impressive career-high 28 quarterback hits and 12 sacks during the 2022 season.
His stellar performance earned him the prestigious All-Pro honors, and the New York Jets acknowledged his contributions by awarding him a lucrative four-year, $96 million extension.
The deal included a historic $66 million in guaranteed money, making it the highest in franchise history.
As Pickett progresses in his NFL career, he understands that he’ll likely encounter more bone-crushing hits. However, he can take some comfort in knowing that the Jets and Williams won’t be on Pittsburgh’s 2023 schedule.
Nonetheless, Pickett remains aware that the league demands resilience and fortitude from all its players, especially its quarterbacks.
Taking it a step further, who do you think is the hardest hitter in NFL history?
What is the single hardest hit you’ve seen?