Injuries are a natural part of any sport. When you repeatedly engage in any physical activity for an extended period of time, sooner or later your body is going to break down, one way or another. Every athlete is bound to experience some sort injury during their career. In some instances the injury is something minor and easily treated, like a hangnail. Other injuries, like a concussion or a broken leg, are more serious and can even be career threatening. While other injuries, like the ones on this list, are completely imaginary.
Most often when an athlete fakes an injury, the reason for it is simple, they want to win. Players, coaches, and managers are all competitors and they get into their sport not only for the money and the joy of doing something they love, but also because they want to be the best. They want to come out on top. However, not every team is comfortable taping seven years worth of football practices, stealing playbooks, and deflating footballs, so they must find another way to gain a tactical advantage. That’s where embellishment comes in.
Embellishment happens in every sport in almost every game. How many times have you watched a soccer game and witnessed a player lying on the field a little longer in hopes of drawing a red or yellow card against his opponent? If you’ve watched any number of hockey games, you’ve probably seen a player fall to the ice with very little contact from an opponent’s stick to draw a penalty. Basketball players are often seen flopping to induce foul calls. For the most part we complain about these actions, but we tolerate them because they’re part of the game. However, sometimes the exaggeration goes too far. Sometimes a player’s attempt to make an impression on the referee is so blatant, so egregious, that we must call them on it. We must laugh and ridicule their absurdity. So with that, here are the worst 15 worst faked injuries in sports:
15. Vince Carter
After missing a midrange jumpshot in the dying seconds of the second quarter of a 2013 game between the Dallas Mavericks and Golden States Warriors, Mavericks forward Vince Carter fell to the floor and hobbled to his feet with what appeared to be an injured ankle. After rubbing his ankle down with his hands, Carter miraculously recovered a few seconds later, laying down a massive dunk to end the first half.
14. Daniel Carcillo
The recently retired NHL agitator is no stranger to controversy and in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs he added faking injury to his repertoire. Down 1-0 in Game 3 of the Flyers first round series with the Devils, Carcillo reached for a puck while defenseman Mike Mottau attempted to swat it out of the air. Mottau’s stick only came up to chest level, but Carcillo swung his head back and began rubbing his mouth to suggest he had been struck by a high stick. The referee didn’t buy it and Carcillo and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette began yelling at the referee. The Flyers would go on to win the game 3-2 in overtime with Carcillo providing the game winner.
13. Derek Jeter
The Yankees shortstop appeared to take a pitch on the elbow in a 2010 game against the Tampa Bay Rays and acted as such, jumping around in pain and requiring the trainer’s attendance as he made his way to first base. However, replays showed that the ball had actually hit the end of Jeter’s bat and not his elbow. Upset with the call, Rays manager Joe Maddon came out to argue the decision and was ejected. After the game, Jeter admitted that the ball hat hit his bat and said, “”He told me to go to first base. I’m not going to tell him I’m not going to first, you know.”
12. Chris Bosh
In a 2011 game between the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls, Heat forward Chris Bosh fell to the floor after taking an apparent elbow to the head from Bulls forward Carlos Boozer. Bosh lied on the floor holding his head while Boozer was charged with an offensive foul. However, Replays showed that Boozer’s elbow had missed Bosh’s head completely and that Bosh had flopped in an attempt draw the foul call. When the NBA instituted a no-flopping policy, Chris Bosh was fined $5,000 for a separate flop in the 2013 NBA Finals.
11. Mick Pennisi
In a 2012 Philippine Basketball Association game Mick Pennisi of the Baraka Bull fouled the Petron Blaze’s Will McDonald. An upset McDonald reacted by throwing the ball off Pennisi’s head. After a couple of seconds delay Pennisi flopped to the floor and began holding his head. McDonald was ejected from the game and Barako would go on to the victory. When asked about the incident after the game Pennisi replied, “‘I think I’m going into acting when my career is over.”
10. Narcisse Ekanga
Equitorial Guinea midfielder Narcisse Ekanga chipped the ball past a defender and tumbled to the ground in a 2012 African Cup of Nations match against Senegal. After looking around to see if any penalty was called, Ekanga clutched his leg and began writhing around in pain. Play continued on as everyone ignored the acting display that was taking place. When play was stopped, trainers came to Ekanga’s aid and he was stretchered off the field.
9. Victoria Azarenka
After taking the first set 6-1, Azarenka was up 5-4 in the second set against Sloane Stephens during the semifinals of the 2013 Australian Open, but was having trouble closing out the match. Having lost five match points, Azarenka was visibly shaken and with Stephens about to serve she left the court to take an injury timeout. After an unusually long timeout that lasted 10 minutes, Azarenka returned and closed out the match. Although she would later claim that the timeout was due to chest and back injuries, in the on court interview following the match Azarenka said that she was “overwhelmed” and was having “trouble breathing”, essentially admitting that her nervousness got the better of her and was the real reason for her extended absence.
8. Brian Walker
While batting for Arkansas in a 2006 game against Ole Miss, Brian Walker acted as though he had taken a pitch on the elbow, even though replays clearly showed that the ball never came close to hitting him. Walker jumped around holding his elbow in pain and the trainer came out to examine him, but Walker wasn’t able to convince umpire Nelson Graham of his injury and had to continue his at bat. After striking out Walker began yelling at the umpire and upon being ejected he threw his helmet and bat and continued to yell at Graham. Walker later apologized to Graham for the incident which has garnered him over 1.2 million views on YouTube.
7. Aaron Tipoti
When the NCAA’s Oregon Ducks were dominating opponents during the 2010 season, it became a common occurrence for teams to use injury timeouts to try to slow down the pace of the football game. The most egregious faked injury came during a November game against California. After completing a tackle, California defensive lineman Aaron Tipoti got up and looked as though he was ready to continue playing. However, after a look to the sidelines he suddenly grabbed his leg and fell down on top of the football.
6. Mike Ribeiro
Mike Ribeiro is often criticized for his diving, due in large part to what happened in a 2004 Stanley Cup playoff game between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins. After taking a hit from Bruins forwards Mike Knuble, Ribeiro fell to the ice and lied there, writhing in pain, holding his chest, and flailing his legs. Moments later Ribeiro returned to the Canadiens bench and proudly began laughing and taunting the Bruins players.
5. Norbert Meier
In a 2005 Bundesliga game, Duisburg coach Norbert Meier became involved in an argument with Koln midfielder Albert Streit with the two coming face to face. Shortly after the two began yelling, Meier fell to the ground of an apparent headbutt and Streit tumbled after. Assuming Meier was the victim, the official gave Streit a red card for his actions. However, slow motion replays showed that it was in fact Meier who had headbutted Streit and then feigned injury. After the game Meier said “a player cannot behave like that” in reference to Streit even though it had become apparent by that point who the perpetrator of the headbutt was. For his actions the German federation suspended Norbert Meier for three months. Shortly thereafter he was fired by Duisburg.
4. Paul Pierce
In the third quarter of game one of the 2008 NBA Finals, Pierce collided with Celtics teammate Kendrick Perkins and fell to the ground clutching his right leg in pain. Pierce had to be carried off the floor by several teammates and was put in a wheelchair and taken to the locker room. A few minutes later Pierce returned looking as though nothing had happened. After missing less than two minutes of playing time, he checked back into the game and quickly hit two three pointers while helping the Celtics to victory.
3. Roberto Rojas
Trailing 1-0 to Brazil in a 1989 World Cup qualifying match, the Chilean goalkeeper fell to the ground after it appeared he had been struck by a flare that had been thrown onto the field. Rojas was carried off the field holding his bloody head and the match was halted. However, video footage of the incident later revealed that the flare had landed about a metre away from Rojas and that he had used a razor blade hidden in his glove to cut his own head. FIFA awarded Brazil a 2-0 victory and banned Chile from the 1994 World Cup for the incident. Rojas, Chilean coach Orlando Aravena and team doctor Daniel Rodriguez all received lifetime bans. Rojas had his ban lifted in 2001.
In an April 2009 Heineken Cup rugby match, Harlequins wing Tom Williams exited the match with a bloody mouth to get kicker Nick Evans into the game. The only problem was that Williams had used fake blood capsules in his mouth as a means to draw the blood. As his mouth was repaired by team doctor, Dr. Wendy Chapman, Williams convinced her to cut his lip to make the incident appear real.
Williams got caught, partially because he winked at the bench as he left the field, and after an investigation it was discovered the Harlequins had done this on several other occasions. For his role in the incident Williams recieved a one year ban which was later reduced to four months. Harlequins Director of Rugby, Dean Richards who had orchestrated the plot was banned for three years. Physiotherapist Steph Brennan who supplied the capsule was banned for two years, but later had his ban overturned. For cutting Williams’ lip, Dr. Chapman was suspended by the General Medical Council. The team was also fined nearly £260,000.
1. Charlie Rowan
The former amateur MMA fighter took the faking injury idea a little further by faking his own death. Prior to Rowan’s scheduled fifth fight in Traverse City, Michigan in 2013 his teary eyed girlfriend Rosalinda Martinez called the organizers of the fight to inform them that her boyfriend had died in a car accident on the way to the fight. Rowan’s former trainer Scott DiPonio and partner Christos Piliafas set up a benefit fight and raised $1,350 for Rowan’s family. A friend of Rowan’s, Michael Bowman, picked up the money and was visibly upset over his friend’s “death”.
However, one month later, Bowman, Martinez, and a very much alive Rowan were charged with armed robbery and assault with intent to murder after beating a 74-year-old shop owner with a hammer. No one knows why Rowan attempted to fake his own death, but it was later revealed that this was the second time he was suspected of doing so. No matter his reason, the traumatic and financial damage he caused make this easily the worst faked injury in all of sports.
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