Injuries in sports are nothing to laugh about. Normally. Sometimes, however, athletes just do something on or off the field that is so unusual, so hard to believe, that you can’t help but laugh. Here’s our picks for the 10 dumbest sports injuries of all time.
10. Sammy Sosa
Sosa’s one of the top home run hitters of all time, and home run hitters notoriously have bad backs, so the fact that Sammy would have missed some action during his playing days due to back problems really isn’t a big shock. Only in May 2004, the former Cubs slugger sprained a ligament after sneezing and would be forced onto the disabled list. The 35-year-old Sosa sneezed not just once, but twice. You see, it’s that second sneeze that makes all the difference, and that’s the reason why Sammy just sneaks onto the list in the #10 slot.
9. Ken Griffey Jr.
While it seems as though Junior has racked up more injuries than home runs in his career, one in particular stands out. According to baseball lore, Griffey once missed a game after his protective cup slipped, pinching one of his testicles and forcing him temporarily out of action in more ways than one. Hey, I know this is supposed to be a humorous list, but I’m sure the other guys out there will agree with me, there’s just nothing funny about damaging your twig and berries. Junior, my man, you have my sympathies.
8. Paulo Diogo
Diogo, a midfielder, has been playing professional soccer since 1994, but his biggest claim to fame has to be an unfortunate accident in 2004 that cost him the ring finger on his left hand. While playing for Servette FC, a Geneva-based Swiss soccer club, Diogo assisted on a goal late in the game. In celebration, he climbed the fence that separated the pitch from the fans in attendance. However, without his knowing, his wedding ring got caught on the fence, and when Diogo jumped off the fence, most of his finger was ripped off his hand. To add insult to injury, as Diogo lay on the ground writhing in pain, and as match officials frantically searched for the rest of the lost digit, he was given a yellow card for excessive celebration. Sadly, doctors could not reattach it, and were later forced to amputate what remained of the finger.
7. Kevin Johnson
Sometimes your teammates can be your worst enemy. There have been many examples of this throughout the years, including the post-touchdown celebration that once knocked Ohio State WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr. out of the national championship game. Former Phoenix Suns guard Kevin Johnson suffered an injury similar to Ginn’s. Once after hitting a game-winning shot, he was bear-hugged by then-teammate Charles Barkley. As it would turn out, though, Barkley was a little TOO pumped-up about the basket and wound up dislocating K.J.’s shoulder. Let that be a lesson for you, future pro athletes of the world. Sometimes a simple high-five is good enough.
6. Kevin Mitchell
Mitchell played for nine different baseball teams during his career. He was a two-time All-Star, was named the National League MVP in 1989, and would later to go on to be the highest paid player in the history of Japanese baseball. Mitchell also holds another distinct honor, though. He’s the only athlete on this list to be honored for not one, but two boneheaded injuries. Once, he reportedly strained an abdominal muscle while vomiting, which resulted in a trip to the DL. More famously, however, he chipped a tooth after leaving a frozen donut in the microwave too long, making it too hard to bite into. The latter incident kept Mitchell out of spring training for several days, and ultimately led to the need for a root canal. Given Mitchell’s weight problems near the end of his career, it’s actually a wonder he didn’t chip more teeth, if you know what I mean.
5. Vince Coleman
During the pregame warm-ups before Game 4 of the 1985 National League Championship Series, the speedy Coleman suffered a bizarre injury when the machine that rolled up the tarp caught his leg. He would be trapped for a good 30 seconds, suffering knee and leg injuries that would knock him out for the rest of the preseason. Coleman would be involved in another dumb sports-related injury later in his career — though not as a victim but rather as a cause — when as a member of the New York Mets he injured pitcher Dwight Gooden by swinging a golf club in the team’s clubhouse in 1993.
4. Tony Allen
Basketball players like to show off. We all know that. But somebody, somewhere needed to tell Boston Celtics guard Allen that there’s a time and a place for everything. In January 2007, Allen was on the floor playing in the final minutes of a big Boston loss to the Indiana Pacers. The referee blew the whistle, and Allen went to the hoop to throw down an impressive dunk. Of course, when he landed following his meaningless basket, he came down awkwardly and wound up blowing out both the ACL and MCL in his knee. Whoops. Fortunately for him, it didn’t wind up being a career ending injury, as Allen did see action for the Celtics in 2007-08 — which officially makes it okay for all of us to point and laugh at the sheer stupidity of his pointless display of machismo.
3. Joel Zumaya
As a rookie in 2006, Detroit Tigers pitcher Zumaya set the league on fire with the amazing and consistent velocity of his fastball. However, he would miss three games during the American League Championship Series due to inflammation in his pitching arm. Makes sense, considering how hard he throws, right? True, only that’s not why he was hurt. No, the real reason for the injury, it was later revealed, was an overdose of the Guitar Hero video game. While the team asked Zumaya to stop and he was fine for the World Series, the fact is that this genius put his team’s playoff success at risk so he could sneak in a little extra PlayStation time. Then again, who’s to say we wouldn’t have done the same thing? After all, Guitar Hero is a pretty kick-ass game.
2. Gus Frerotte
In 1997, Frerotte was the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins and fresh off a Pro Bowl season. Washington was 6-5 heading into their Sunday Night game against the New York Giants on November 23, and Frerotte scored the game’s first touchdown on a one-yard run in the second quarter. So how did he celebrate? By ramming his head into a padded cement wall in the back of the end zone. He left the game following the self-inflicted injury and was replaced by backup Jeff Hostetler. The game ended in a 7-7 tie, and depending upon who you ask, Frerotte either suffered a concussion or a strained neck as a result of the incident. I don’t remember for sure, and I’m pretty certain ol’ Gus doesn’t either.
1. Bill Gramatica
When your sole claim to fame as a professional athlete is the manner in which you gave yourself a serious injury, you’re pretty much a lock to top a list like this. Such is the case with former Arizona Cardinals kicker Bill Gramatica, who on December 15, 2001, kicked a 42-yard field goal in the first half of a game against the New York Giants. So happy with this accomplishment was Gramatica that he began inexplicably leaping up and down with joy, and promptly tore his ACL in the process. The whole thing played out like a Monty Python routine, with puzzled and bemused football fans watching on at home wondering just what the hell this little half-pint kicker was doing. Without a doubt, this is THE dumbest sports injury of all time, bar none.
There are literally dozens and dozens of worthy candidates that could have been included on this list, from Padres pitcher Adam Eaton accidentally stabbing himself while trying to open a DVD, to Jaguars kicker Chris Hanson slicing open his leg with an axe that was being used as a locker-room motivational tool, to Spanish goalkeeper Santiago Canizares missing two World Cup games after dropping a bottle of aftershave on his foot and cutting a tendon. Which dumb injury is your favorite? Log in and share your comments with us today!
Written by Chuck Bednar