Injuries are a way of life in professional sports. Top-tier athletes can be downed for an entire regular season all because of taking a misstep during a sporting event or even during a practice. Then, there are the more gruesome injuries. Fans have been witnesses to broken legs, neck injuries and other serious injuries that have occurred during football, soccer and basketball games. Some of those incidents are still, to this day, downright difficult to watch and one hopefully would not wish such a problem on even the most hated or the most controversial of athletes.
Not every case of an athlete picking up an injury has been an unfortunate occurrence of circumstance or the result of a blatant foul committed by an opposing player. There have, over the years, been numerous times when great athletes, men who are supposed to be physically superior to mere mortals, have been made spectators all because of bizarre and embarrassing off-the-field injuries that they probably would have preferred remain secret. No sport, as you will see, is immune to these odd and humorous tales. National Football League athletes, Major League Baseball players and professional footballers all check in on the list.
A New York Giants defensive end found his name in the headlines in the summer of 2015 because he suffered serious injuries following an accident that could have been avoided. He, believe it or not, was not the only case of a NFL player being involved in such an incident. There is the case of the quarterback who missed games because he was knocked silly by a teammate. Sneezes, spider bites and car rides – yes, car rides – have injured baseball players in the past. Try as athletes do to stay healthy, fate and also stupidity can make such efforts all for naught.
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20 C.J. Wilson vs. Fireworks
July 2015 was a rough month for NFL players choosing to handle fireworks. Cornerback C.J. Wilson was a couple of weeks away from joining the training camp of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when he reportedly lost two fingers following a fireworks accident. Wilson informed the club that he was stepping away from football for a time, but he will be able to return to active duty if he chooses to do so and he can pass a physical. Memo to all professional athletes: It is a plus to have all ten fingers and all ten toes. Let somebody else handle the fireworks during events such as July 4 celebrations.
19 Randy Orton vs. Garbage
Randy Orton has had multiple nicknames during his World Wrestling Entertainment career. He was, for a time, known as “The Legend Killer.” He has more recently been known as “The Viper” and “The Apex Predator.” It seems, per Jimmy Traina of FOX Sports, that we can remove “The Garbage Carrier” from the list. Orton reportedly suffered a dislocated shoulder in October 2015 when he was carrying out the garbage. That is not the type of “RKO out of nowhere” that Orton and wrestling fans have gotten used to seeing since Orton began using his famous finishing move. Those rolling trash cans can be a life-saver.
18 Sammy Sosa vs. Sneezing
Those “nothing to sneeze at” headlines and jokes were flowing strong on sports websites and newspaper headlines in May 2004. Sammy Sosa sprained a ligament in his lower back when, according to reports at the time, he was the victim of a violent sneeze. The slugger of the Chicago Cubs who was known for hitting baseballs out of ballparks and also for being accused of using certain banned substances was forced to miss games all because of that one sneeze. Anybody who has ever sneezed with that kind of force knows that this injury is no laughing matter.
17 Sandy Alomar Jr. vs. Car Ride
Sandy Alomar Jr. of the Cleveland Indians decided that he wanted to drive down to Florida for the start of spring training back in 1993. The catcher arrived to the club with a sore back, one that had been aggravated while Alomar was in the car. Alomar, as those who have ever met him know, is a large man who towers well over 6-foot. It is thus not all that shocking that spending several hours inside of any car, even a luxury vehicle, would lead to Alomar being sore. The hope here is that other athletes have learned from this story and have elected to spend money on flights for these types of journeys.
16 Jimmie Johnson vs. Golf Cart
You know those warnings that appear before certain video footage that advises you to please “don't try this at home?” Jimmie Johnson would have been wise to have listened to that warning back in December 2006. The NASCAR champion suffered what was reported to be a broken wrist that holiday season when he “took a sharp turn” and fell out of a golf cart. While this is the type of incident that makes one shake his head, the reality of the matter is that Johnson could have been seriously injured because of his handling of a golf cart. Those carts don't drive like your Sunday vehicles, Mr. Johnson.
15 Chase Blackburn vs. Cotton Swab
Former New York Giants linebacker Chase Blackburn was merely cleaning himself up after a football game when he placed a cotton swab into his ear while inside of the crowded locker room. A reporter, per an ESPN story, bumped into Blackburn and the linebacker dropped to the floor in pain. While some may scoff at the thought of a tough football player going to the ground because of such a collision, it was later learned that the Big Blue linebacker nearly ruptured his ear drum. This serves as a reminder to young reporters out there that they have to pay extra attention while inside of locker rooms.
14 Enner Valencia vs. Tea Cup
Are you one of those people who does not like wearing shoes while inside of your home? Here is a story that may have you reconsidering that practice. Enner Valencia, serving as a West Ham United forward in March 2015, required emergency surgery on his toe after he suffered a freak injury that was caused by the footballer standing on a broken tea cup. Adding injury to the injury and the insult is that it was Valencia who broke the cup. Valencia, according to The Mirror, dropped the cup because it was so hot. Now you know why restaurants have those “Caution” warnings on the side of to-go coffee cups.
13 Geno Smith vs. Teammate
There have, since he first started playing in the NFL, probably been some frustrated New York Jets fans who wanted to take a swing at quarterback Geno Smith. Then-New York linebacker IK Enemkpali did just that in the summer of 2015 after the two had a disagreement inside of a locker room. Smith was sidelined for weeks and Enemkpali was released by the Jets. While Enemkpali linked up with the Buffalo Bills and former Gang Green head coach Rex Ryan, Smith ultimately lost his starting QB job to Ryan Fitzpatrick. One has to wonder if that one punch will serve as the beginning of the end of Smith's NFL career.
12 Matt Bonner vs. iPhone
While the ailment has a funny name, “Tennis Elbow” can be a serious and painful injury. It was nevertheless strange that Matt Bonner of the San Antonio Spurs would be suffering from that type of injury. The 3-point shooter for the Spurs, per an ESPN story, apparently picked up that knock in 2015 all because he was not used to the size of the new iPhone. That iPhone was admittedly bulkier than prior versions of the device. It was not, however, so big and so heavy that a professional athlete should be feeling a strain in any portion of his arm.
11 Glenn Healy vs. Bagpipes
Music can hurt in more ways than one. Ask National Hockey League personality Glenn Healy if you don't believe us. Healy was playing goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs when he chose to take some time away from hockey to enjoy a favorite hobby; playing the bagpipes. Part of owning bagpipes is cleaning them from time to time and Healy was performing that maintenance when he, per Sportsnet, cut his hand. This was not an ordinary cut that a bandage can cover. Healy, according to the report, required 40 stitches in his hand. We hear the flute can be a fun and safe musical instrument.
10 Dave Beasant vs. Jar of Salad Dressing
Dave Beasant was the first-choice Chelsea goalkeeper at the start of the 1993-94 season. Beasant made what he probably thought was a responsible choice when he elected to eat a salad. A salad is naked without dressing, of course, and that was not lost on Beasant. Beasant lost control of the jar, according to a Telegraph story, and he reacted by sticking his leg out. That motion led to the jar falling onto his foot and Beasant severed a tendon in his big toe because of the incident. We always knew that our parents were putting us in danger when they told us to eat our vegetables.
9 Brian Giles vs. Spider Bites
Those of you who have what you consider to be a completely rational fear of spiders may want to skip ahead to the next portion of this piece. Brian Giles was, in his prime, a baseball player who was seemingly built out of granite. Giles had shoulders that were bigger than the arms of some fans. He was not immune to spider bites, though, and the Cleveland Indians had to keep Giles out of a few games back in 1998 because of such bites. If those spider bites could keep an athletes such as Giles out of action, what might they do to regular people?
8 Lionel Simmons vs. GameBoy
Readers of a certain age may be left scratching their heads upon seeing the term “GameBoy.” Lionel Simmons was a rookie on the roster of the Sacramento Kings back in 1991 when he, as explained in a Denver Post piece, “developed tendinitis in his right wrist and forearm.” Simmons picked up those injuries because he spent a little too much time playing his Nintendo GameBoy. Those of us who grew up in the early 1990s can understand Simmons' situation. That hand-held device was a blast at the time, even if it no longer holds up today in a world of smart phones and tablets.
7 Joel Zumaya vs. Guitar Hero
Joel Zumaya was set to feature out of the bullpen for the Detroit Tigers in the 2006 edition of the American League Championship Series. Zumaya was sidelined, however, because of what a Deadspin piece referred to as “right wrist and forearm inflammation.” That type of injury is not uncommon for a professional pitcher. It was later learned, however, that Zumaya was a fan of the video game Guitar Hero. His injury was attributed to the game. We get it. Those early versions of Guitar Hero were a lot of fun and unlike anything else that was available at the time.
6 Kim Clijsters vs. Dancing
Kim Clijsters was the reigning Australian Open champion in December 2011 when she, as do many around the world, attended an April wedding. Clijsters was a bit unlucky on that night, however, as she injured her ankle while she was dancing barefoot. Fortune would again be against her in June, as he re-injured her foot at that time. The second injury caused Clijsters to withdraw from that year's Wimbledon event. Maybe wearing flat shoes at the wedding would have helped Clijsters avoid those woes.
5 Tommy Moe vs. Bar
Tommy Moe was an accomplished downhill skier in the 1990s. He was also, however, a victim of misfortune on multiple occasions during his career. The story that stands out as it pertains to this piece involves Moe being at an Austrian pub. Moe, according to the previously-mentioned Denver Post piece, attempted to hoist himself over a bar that was inside of the pub. He did not notice the broken glass, however, and Moe suffered a severed thumb ligament. That may have been an embarrassing moment for the skier, but it is also an injury that sounds plain nasty. Watch yourselves out at the bars, everybody.
4 Manny Fernandez vs. Hair Care
What is it with NHL goaltenders and embarrassing injuries? Manny Fernandez was playing in the league back in 2005 when he went to dry his hair using either a towel or by blow-drying. Regardless of what he was doing at the time, Fernandez reportedly suffered a shoulder injury because of his actions. This takes us back to memories of the sitcom Home Improvement when character Tim Taylor built the “Man's Bathroom” that included built-in dryers. Then again, an athlete would just probably manage to burn himself while using those.
3 Marty Cordova vs. Tanning Bed
It is not a coincidence that we went from a joke about athletes potentially burning themselves to a true story about one such instance. Marty Cordova was playing for the Cleveland Indians back in 2001 when he suffered burns from a tanning bed. Cordova was advised to avoid sunlight, which understandably restricted when he was available to the Indians. What is especially embarrassing about this injury is that Cordova played a sport that involved him being outside for the majority of the time from February up through late September. He easily could have picked up a tan the natural way.
2 Rio Ferdinand vs. Coffee Table
Remember this tale the next time that you consider resting your legs on a coffee table for a long period of time. Rio Ferdinand was one of the best defenders in the world back in 2001 when he rested a leg on a table while inside of his home. That action, per a BBC Sports piece, resulted in Ferdinand suffering a strained tendon in his knee. The injury kept the talented player who was featuring for Leeds United out of action for multiple matches. Everybody deserves opportunities to rest now and again, but it is also important to not remain in unnatural positions for too long. Ferdinand learned his lesson back in '01.
1 Jason Pierre-Paul vs. Fireworks
There are multiple aspects to the Jason Pierre-Paul story that baffle the mind. Pierre-Paul was on the verge of becoming one of the highest-paid defensive ends in all of the NFL for at least the 2015 season when he suffered a brutal hand injury following a fireworks accident that occurred on July 4th. The New York Giants were without Pierre-Paul for half of the season and the talented athlete is now set to make only a fraction of what he would have earned had he allowed somebody else to control the fireworks during that summer outing. Whether or not JPP will ever be the same player has yet to be learned.
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