A casual comment by Hall of Famer Sam Huff was compelling: Today's NFL players are too nice.

They're entertainers, not warriors. Too worried about dancing with stars, posing for a Madden cover or tweeting about nightclubbing.

The only clubbing Chris Hanburger ever did was to receivers. Pat Fisher literally scared teammates in the huddle by foaming at the mouth. They wondered if he was rabid.

The NFL is now about helping up opposing players after tackles because everyone thinks of himself not as a Washington Redskin or a Dallas Cowboy but as an NFL player. It's not personal because chances are an opponent one day will become a teammate.

Do nice guys still finish last? They would if they ever were on the field with Huff, who inspired a TV show built around his violent world, once nearly scrapped with John Riggins almost 20 years after Huff's career ended.

"You almost have to have a killer instinct," Huff said. "Vince Lombardi was not nice. Mike Singletary is not nice. Is Ray Lewis nice? Dick Butkus nice? Chuck Bednarik nice? None of us are. You can't play this game and be nice. I wasn't even nice in practice."

It's a lifestyle that continues long after the game. Huff learned to temper his on-field persona when discussing business after he intimidated people too much. Stories of Bednarik's iron persona continue four decades after he retired. Jim Brown could still lay you out right now. About the only one who became a nice guy was Fisher, who amazes people that this small fellow (150 pounds) was once among the more feared defenders in football.

Nowadays, Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels is as nice a person as you'll meet, but also one of the hardbodies on the team. He says there's still plenty of testosterone on the field.

"Some of the best players I've seen were cocky, aggressive. You have to be that way sometimes," Daniels said. "I think you need a combination of both. You need that aggressiveness to do whatever, but you need a little bit of mix."

It's a business nowadays -- big business. The passion is more measured. They play the game to win, but also to get paid so true retirement comes whenever finished with football. The sad truth is nearly all athletes must find jobs afterward in the business world, where going along to get along is the real game.

Is being nice a bad thing? Maybe so on an NFL field.

Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more at TheRickSniderReport.com and Twitter @Snide_Remarks or e-mail rsnider@washingtonexaminer.com.