Sometimes you get this sick feeling in the bottom of your stomach. You know you’re going to upchuck that expensive steak you had for lunch, or that hot dog you had for breakfast. Hey, you gotta eat what you gotta eat. That sensation can only be amplified when you’re in the middle of a competition or athletic event.
Professional athletes are no different, and when the chucks start flying, they have to be able to keep playing. If anything, it’s even worse for them because there are at least five different camera’s there to pick it up, and air it on national television. With the advent of internet videos and social media, the contents of a popular athlete’s lunch are becoming just as popular as the athlete themselves.
Some, like Bill Russell and Jim Kelly, throw up before every game they play. While that can’t be too healthy, they say it’s a great way to get rid of the butterflies. Mark Schlereth, former NFL Lineman who won multiple Super Bowls with John Elway, in a book titled NFL Unplugged , stated “Somebody, usually myself or Tommy Nalen, would start heaving and it would be a chain reaction. Next thing you know, four or five guys are puking over the trash can.”
It’s good to know that pro athletes aren’t the only ones to get butterflies, though it’s slightly more respectable than a third grader puking because he’s about to sing at a recital. I’m not saying that was me just… saying.
What's worse are those professionals throwing up in the middle of a national broadcast and acting like it never happened. It’s gross, and you have to play on that field without worrying about not getting tackled face first into a pool of your teammates breakfast. Unfortunately, it happens all the time, so without further ado, here are the top 15 athletes who threw up during a game. There will be, however, further nastiness, I assure you.
*Most of the videos included here show them puking in action, so be careful if you also have a weak stomach!
15 Michael Irvin’s Vomit and Long
Back in 2009, Dallas Cowboys legend Michael Irvin hosted a reality show in which athletes competed for a spot on the Cowboy’s roster. Now I know what you’re thinking, a reality show in which average guys played for a chance to be on an NFL football team? What a joke.
But that’s not the case. One notable player on the show was Jesse Holley, who you may remember for that amazing 77 yard catch in overtime against the Raiders in 2011. Or Andrew Hawkins, who signed a $13.6 million deal with the Browns last off season.
What’s really notable about the show is how Irvin treated the contestants, like this guy for example, who’s name remains a mystery, which is probably a good thing for him.
14 Cole Beasley Gets the Wind Knocked Out of Him
Not to pile up on “America’s Team,” but they’ve produced quite a lot of bile over the years.
In 2012, then rookie Cole Beasley and the Cowboys were playing the San Diego Chargers in the pre-season. Up to that point, he was actually having a good game, catching six passes. On the final drive of the game, he made another catch, going all the way to the San Diego 8 yard line before being tackled.
That’s when it happened. Beasley ran off the field, and as he was being congratulated by teammates, threw up on the sideline at the feet of Dez Bryant. “The reason I came off was because I landed on the ball and the ball knocked the wind out of me and made me have to throw up a little bit," he said.
13 Robert Ferguson Hugs the Trashcan
NFL journeyman receiver Robert Ferguson was with the Minnesota Vikings in 2007 when he found his way onto this list. In a game against what appears to be the Chicago Bears, some fans caught video of Ferguson hugging a trashcan, and holding for his life.
The video goes on for 20 seconds as medical personnel surround him, not too interested in the health of their player. Maybe it was all those games playing with Tarvaris Jackson at QB?
12 Carter Woods Vomit’s on the Football
On December 6th, 2014, the Arizona Wildcats were losing to the Oregon Ducks 51-7. You could forgive the Wildcats for feeling sick. In fact, linebacker Scooby Wright already cashed in that sympathy card after vomiting on the field earlier in the game.
The sickness didn’t stop there though, as Center Carter Woods can attest to. It was second down, eight yards to go, and the play was about to start. He knew his team was losing and knew his team needed an advantage. So he did the only thing he could think to do: he vomited on the football, and snapped it to his quarterback.
Any credit this guy gets for continuing to play for sick and losing so badly is negated to throwing up on the ball. You couldn’t tilt you head even a little? He might have been called for being offside, but in this case, the quarterback might have preferred it.
11 Sean Williams Christmas Special
The Dallas Mavericks had a rough start to the 2011 season after winning the NBA title the previous season. It was so bad, even their players were sick to their stomachs.
The day after Christmas, reserve Center Sean Williams finally saw action in a game against the Denver Nuggets. Unfortunately, so too did the janitors at the American Airlines Center.
After scoring 12 points in 11 minutes, Williams removed himself from the game and immediately started throwing up on the Maverick sideline. His teammates, and even owner Mark Cuban, got a laugh out of it, but coach Rick Carlisle chose to take away the positive.
"He did a terrific job. He brought energy, brought athleticism, made plays. He was playing so hard, he threw up. That tells you that he was going at it the way you need to."
Way to go coach, way to go.
10 Riley Cooper Running Chunks
When not vomiting up verbal abuse and racism, Riley Cooper is playing Wide Receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles and, before that, the Florida Gators.
He was playing a game in college, one of his last, in 2009 against Charleston Southern (go Buccaneers!) when he caught a pass. His celebration was a bit unusual, to say the least. He threw up. As he was running off the field. While he was still running.
Credit where credit’s due, he did a good job of not getting any on himself at least.
9 Chris Perez Celebrates 20th Save
Much like Cooper previously, Cleveland Indians Pitcher Chris Perez celebrated his 20th save of the season in 2012 in a bizarre way. Needless to day, it didn’t involve tap dancing.
As his teammates ran over to congratulate him, Perez started walking to the dugout and projectile vomited. He got down on one knee, then steadied himself before walking back on the field and throwing up again.
The most interesting thing is that the broadcast showed him vomiting multiple times, but the play callers didn’t have anything to say about it. It’s a shame, because at least then baseball might be half way interesting. So we decided to use a video where Vince McMahon comments on his puking. Much better.
8 Lawrence Timmons Vomit Dispenser
Last year, in a Monday Night Football game against the Houston Texans, Steelers linebacker Lawrence Timmons did what would eventually land him on this list in the number 8 spot. However, it was the way in which he did it that made it so… wonderful.
At first it was the run of the mill, stay in position and vomit in front of you while continuing to play. The “wonderful” part comes next.
Walking off the field, knowing more was on the way, he started tapping his helmet. It was as soon as he started doing so that the chunks started to fly, as if he were some kind of Pez Dispenser for vomit.
7 Lionel Messi’s Nerves
Arguably the world’s greatest soccer/football star, Lionel Messi shouldn’t have much to worry about. But playing for the Qatar Air-sorry, Barcelona in January 2014, Lionel Messi showed that nerves can get to us all.
The star had been suffering through a string of vomiting attacks during games in the previous months and tests revealed that this was in fact due to nerves.
It wasn’t much this time, just a bit of bile, less than usual, and if I continue this sentence I might get sick myself.
6 Donovan McNabb – The Super Bowl Puker
Insert Chucky Soup joke here.
The once great quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles became the poster child for vomiting athletes in 2007, when new, modern high definition cameras picked up McNabb puking before a snap against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The results weren’t pretty.
There was also some speculation as to whether McNabb vomited during a huddle in the Super Bowl in 2004. Cameras didn't notice it, but former teammates Lito Sheppard and Jon Ritchie both admitted later that he had puked.
Which begs the question, why would his teammates sell him out like that? He was already known as a puker, and now he’s the Super Bowl Puker. Poor guy.
5 Lionel Messi Does his Best
As if Messi didn’t have it bad enough, his vomiting streak had to come on the cusp of the World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the world. Before that huge event, he was playing for Argentina in a friendly game against Romania.
Messi is seen valiantly trying to hold it in by covering his mouth with his hand, and for a while he holds out. But nothing can stop it once the floodgates are open, not even his goal keeper. But he keeps playing anyway.
Will this string of vomiting be over in time for the World Cup? (Spoiler: it won't).
4 David Beckham is Dehydrated
Before spearheading the growth of soccer in the United States, David Beckham was busy bending it and bending over while vomiting.
In the 2006 World Cup, playing for England against Ecuador, Beckham threw up before scoring the game winning goal. Not many athletes are able to win a game after being sick like that, especially if they’re dehydrated.
The English team doctor examined him after the game and declared that he had been dehydrated, not unusual given the extreme heatwave Germany was enduring at the time of the World Cup that year.
3 Pete Sampras and his Racket Crutch
Tennis legend Pete Sampras didn’t become an icon of his sport because it was easy. He did it through winning and doing it the hard way. The hard way, which involved playing sick, puking on the court, continuing to play, and winning.
That’s exactly what happened in the 1996 US Open, against newcomer Alex Corretja. But the story doesn’t end with his lunch making a dreaded return. After throwing up on the base line in the fifth set, a referee told him in no uncertain terms that if he caused another delay, he’d be disqualified from the match. That’s when Sampras pulled himself together, stomach bug and all, and won.
2 Lionel Messi Needed a World Cup
No, Messi didn’t recover from his nerves in time for the World Cup.
On July 13th, 2014, in a 1-0 loss to eventual champion Germany, Messi’s nerves struck again, this time on the world stage. It would happen in the World Cup Final, where they lost to Germany. He’s seen gagging for several seconds before finally biting the bullet and then throwing that up as well.
You can hardly blame Messi for having butterflies, especially during the World Cup. If anything, you have to be concerned for his health. On the other hand, making an estimated $38 million a year for kicking a ball around usually makes people less sympathetic.
1 Jason Witten has a Dallas Cowboys Moment
Apologizes to Cowboys fans, and to Dallas sports fans in general, for seemingly piling on you, but you have to admit, your sports have a lot of classic vomit stories.
In September 2013, in a game against the New York Giants, Cowboys QB Tony Romo is seen walking along the sideline. In a bit of perfect comedic timing, TE Jason Witten is seen in the background upchucking while sitting on the bench.
He was having a good night as well, catching seven passes. That’s not a great way to show appreciation for the guy who just threw you two touchdowns passes, is it?