NFL players with tattoos

For a tattoo artist, professional athletes represent a holy grail of sorts: These are dudes with gobs of money, more workspace that the average human, and can offer exposure for the artwork to hundreds of millions of eyeballs. The following are some examples of our favorite work from contemporary NFL players.

Donte Moncrief tattooDonte Moncrief, Jacksonville Jaguars: Superman and the Spartan

As though the awesome rendition of Superman on his arm (done up in, informs the DC Comics geek, a hybrid of the styles 21st-century Superman artists Ed McGuinness and Frank Quitely) were enough to grab the attention of a tat-lover, check out the work on the man's back. First revealed to the public in February 2016, the full-back tattoo incorporates Donte's number 10 (though tentatively, he'll be wearing #15 for the Jaguars), a Spartan warrior and a landmark water tower from his Mississippi hometown. Holy scintillating juxtapositioning, Batman!

Chris Long, Philadelphia Eagles: Ups and Downs

Entering into his 11th season in the NFL, Chris Long still holds the NFL title of Most Illustrated Man, a position he’s held since Vernon Davis retired. The centerpiece among the colorful pastiche that is Long’s body is the pirate ship on a moonlight ocean emblazoned on his left arm. Chris had the work done while he was between gigs with the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots; the work was loaded with personal meaning, was packed with a wonderful range of blues and was done by Ben Miller of Ben Around Tattoos, in Charlottesville, Virginia, the man to whom Chris has gone for his entire body of work (so to speak).

Vernon Davis, retired: The Song of Songs

Vernon Davis has been adding work of various sorts to his body his entire adult life, but only once has he gone to a cantor for inspiration – that was in 2005, while Davis was at the University of Maryland. Through a tutor, he met Cantor Levin, who found a verse from the Song of Songs which summarized a sentiment Vernon wished to express. Cantor Levin drew up the verse “I have found what my soul has sought” in Hebrew script, and Vernon himself designed the ring of roses around the work.

colin kaepernick tattoo nflColin Kaepernick, blacklisted: A riff on tribal Samoan art

The 2012 San Francisco 49ers may not have won Super Bowl XLVII, but starting with the battery of Colin Kaepernick and Vernon Davis, this squad is already in the discussion of Greatest NFL Tattoo Teams of All-Time. Check out the incredible Samoan tribal-themed art combined with graffiti-like lettering covering the pecs. Radical – literally!

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys: His mother’s cartoon bear

Sometimes simplest is best: The cartoon bear on Dak Prescott’s neck is based on a doodle his mother was fond of drawing. When she became terminally ill, he asked her for one last drawing of the bear and he made it permanent.

Malik Jackson, Jacksonville Jaguars: Sack tallies

And sometimes simplicity belies some serious badassery. Several beat reporters have noticed the runs of old-fashioned tally marks running up one of Malik Jackson’s legs. The story behind them? One tally mark per quarterback sack. As Malik himself once put it, “I wanted to not only let myself know the accomplishments I have made, but for the world to know too. I got the tally marks to signify what I was able to do and make sure I can tell myself who I am when I look back [at my career] as a pass rusher. It makes me want to earn and get more.”

Malik added eight more of the sticks after the 2017 season for a grand total of 29 going into ’18 – and with as scary as that Jags defense increases, here’s to thinking the tallies’ll be occupying more space with ink in spring ’19…

Arthur Moats, Pittsburgh Steelers: Don’t cross the Moats

Lots of folks have tattoos commemorating a life-changing occasion or historical event, but how many can claim their tattoo is representative of the moment they became the answer to a trivia question? In his rookie season of 2010, Arthur Moats’s Buffalo Bills went to Minnesota to play Brett Favre’s Vikings. On the Vikings’ first drive, Moats cut through the Minnesota OL and sacked the QB, taking him out of the game. That was Favre’s 297th consecutive start in the NFL; he would not get a 298th.

Said Moats to a Sports Illustrated reporter in 2017: “From there I was like, you know what, I’m going to make that my thing and I got a nice little tattoo on my back. It took, man, nine or 10 hours in one session.”