Everyone remembers the great moments in sports. The underdog United States hockey team beating the Soviet Union in 1980, Jessie Owens winning four gold medals in front of Hitler in 1936, the Immaculate Reception and Kurt Gibson’s dramatic home run in the 1988 World Series are just a few big plays that most hardcore sports fans can say a few words about if asked. Fewer, however, can recall the names and dates associated with the weirder moments. That jaw-dropping freak injury that silenced a roaring stadium might get discussed around office water coolers the next day, only to vanish from our collective consciousness the next week. We seem to have a long memory for great plays, but a short one for accidents, mishaps and screw-ups. But why?
Maybe our short memory for sports accidents has something to do with the way we view our sports heroes. After all, professional athletes are living, breathing symbols of success. Players who not only survive but thrive at the highest level live on in our memories forever because we can’t help but appreciate their superhuman dedication and commitment to excellence. It’s inspiring to watch an athlete break records, leave opponents in the dust or make it to the championship and come home a victor; what we want to see when we turn on the game is the best of the best racking up big, dramatic wins. Yet, when our superhero athletes suffer an injury while doing a victory dance, or sleepwalk into broken glass they fade from our memories and we find another athlete to follow– at least temporarily, until our old favorites manage to recover from that weird injury or embarrassing play.
This list was compiled by examining several incidents, accidents, and injuries, evaluating the effect each had on the world of sports. This list won’t include freak accidents that resulted in tragedies, but rather injuries that while you feel bad for those who got them, you can’t help but laugh at the incident.
15. The Shaving Cream Pie that put Chris Coghlan on the DL
After a heady 11-inning victory over the Braves, the Marlins’ Chris Coghlan was inspired to run over to his teammate Wes Helms, jump into the air and plant a shaving cream pie on his face. The party was cut short, however, when Coghlan realized that he hurt his knee. “It’s a game of emotions, and the emotions get the best of you,” Coghlan said. Manager Edwin Rodriguez banned the shaving cream pie ritual following the revelation that Coghlan had torn his meniscus during the celebration.
14. Maurides Roque Junior’s Fateful Somersault
Running across the field like a maniac is the normal thing to do after you score your first professional soccer goal. Attempting a backflip, however, is advisable only if you really know what you are doing. The 19-year-old rookie Brazilian soccer player Maurides Roque Junior took the chance and paid the price. Now, when he thinks of his first goal he’ll also have to remember being carried off the field in a stretcher.
13. The Home Run Victory Lap that Ended with a Loud Snap
Kendry Morales was so pumped after hitting a game-winning grand slam against the Mariners that he forgot to notice the home plate in the final stretch of his home run victory lap. He landed funny, slipped on the plate and then all 225 pounds of him came hurdling down on his ankle. The doctor’s report revealed that the injury was more than just a sprain, it was a break. Ouch.
12. Glenallen “Spiderman” Hill
After getting spooked after dreaming about spiders, Glenallen Hill stumbled around his home and wound up covered in glass. Luckily, the injuries weren’t that bad, just a few scrapes and bruises. But that didn’t stop the media from jumping all over the story and awarding Hill the nickname “Spiderman.” “I’m uneasy with spiders, but I don’t think it’s spiders that caused that nightmare,” Hill said, shortly after the accident. “It might’ve been diet, might’ve been stress– more of a sleeping disorder. Spiders just happened to be what I dreamt about that night.”
11. Sean Peyton Tears MCL While Coaching
It’s not every day you’re going to see a coach suffer a painful injury during a game. Sean Payton happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in a 2011 game when the Saints played Tampa Bay. With Jimmy Graham being tackled along the sidelines, the tight end’s helmet collided with Payton’s leg, breaking the coach’s tibia and tearing his MCL. Payton would have to coach the rest of the season with a knee brace and stay a lot further from the action than NFL coaches normally do.
10. Arm Wrestler Ben Ross Breaks his Arm on Live TV
With an audible snap, former NRL player and arm wrestling champ Ben Ross broke his arm on live TV during a match against arm wrestler Wendell Sailor. The injury happened seconds after host Beau Ryan kicked off the competition. “Oh, yuck!” Ryan yelled, upon witnessing Ross’s gruesome injury. The studio audience was dead quiet while Ross screamed and squirmed, writhing in agony. The next day, Ross challenged Sailor to a left-handed rematch. Sailor, however, announced his retirement from the arm wrestling world shortly after the freakish accident.
9. John Smoltz Irons Himself
Okay, so maybe an accident was bound to happen when John Smoltz was trying to do this, but it’s too weird to leave off. The legendary Braves pitcher had a severe brain fart when in 1990, he tried to iron a shirt… while he was wearing it. As you can imagine, Smoltz burned himself in the process. While Smoltz denied this story (who wouldn’t?) media outlets ran with this story and Smoltz soon grew tired of denying it, though he never outright admitted it. Only Smoltz knows for sure if he did this or not.
8. Sammy Sosa Sneezes His Back Out
Sammy Sosa must have dumped out a whole pepper grinder over his nose, because one day, he sneezed so hard he sprained a ligament in his back. He was forced to miss some time with the injury. Could you imagine him having to explain to his manager why he couldn’t play? What was crazy is that Sosa was actually a pretty durable player, having only gone to the disabled list four times in his 16-year career (at that point).
7. Greg Luganis Bleeds in a Pool – 1988 Olympics
Greg Luganis went to Seoul in 1988 as the defending gold medalist in both the three-meter springboard and 10-meter platform events. During the preliminary rounds in Korea, Luganis struck his head on the springboard, suffering a concussion and causing him to bleed into the pool. He would go on to defend both of his golf medals, but would shock the world with the revelation that six months before the games, he had been diagnosed as HIV positive. The blood in the pool posed no danger to anyone else, but that didn’t stop all but one of Luganis’s sponsors from dropping him once the truth was told. Such was the culture of ignorance and fear at the time.
6. Milton Bradley Gets Restrained, Tears ACL
Milton Bradley wasn’t the easiest teammate to have. He was known as a real hothead throughout his career and one day, it came back to haunt him. While playing for the San Diego Padres in the 2007 season, he was arguing a call at first base and his manager, Bud Black tried to restrain him. While Black was restraining him, Bradley tore his ACL. He missed the last week of the season and the Padres would lose their wild card lead, falling to the Rockies in a one-game playoff.
5. Paulo Diogo Loses Finger
Paulo Diogo lost most of a finger after jumping up on a fence during a celebration following a goal. His wedding ring got caught and he tore off most of his ring finger. He also got penalized with a yellow card for delaying the game.
4. Bill Gramatica’s Fateful Jump for Joy
Sometimes it’s hard to fault kickers for wanting to have a little fun. They have a pretty thankless job and only seem to get attention when they screw up. Bill Gramatica didn’t screw up his kick, but he forever discouraged other kickers from celebrating a job well done. Bill Gramatica jumped in the air following a successful field goal in 2001. Then he came crashing back down to earth with a torn ACL. Pat Tillman handled the kick on the ensuing kickoff.
3. Michael Saunders Trips in Sprinkler Hole
Michael Saunders was one of the Blue Jays’ offseason acquisitions, but his Toronto tenure got off to a disastrous start earlier this year. While fielding some fly balls in spring training, Saunders stepped onto an exposed sprinkler head in the outfield. In the process, Saunders tore his meniscus, which many feared would keep him out of action until the All-Star break. He returned earlier than expected, but has since suffered a bone bruise from that same knee which has kept him out of action. Baseball’s a wacky sport.
2. Chris Hanson is a Punter, not a Chopper
With his Jacksonville Jaguars off to a rough start in their season, coach Jack Del Rio decided to fire up his team by having them chop pieces of wood with an ax. The underlying message was, “keep chopping wood”. Well, punter Chris Hanson clearly wasn’t made to live in the wilderness, as he missed the wood when trying to chop it, instead slicing his leg. Hanson would miss the rest of the 2003 season and you’d have to think Del Dio isn’t going to be trying this experiment in Oakland.
1. Stephen Tulloch Sack Dance
Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch tore his ACL while imitating Aaron Rodgers’ famous “discount double-check” touchdown dance. Later, Tulloch denied that he was trying to mock Rodgers on Twitter: “First off I wasn’t doing the discount double check when I got hurt. So my man A-Rod can’t stop promoting his discount double move.” For getting a stupid, unnecessary injury while mocking an opponent and then lying about it later, Stephen Tulloch earned the number one spot on our list.