Injury in any arena of highly athletic and physical competition is inevitable. We’ve seen players go down with sprained ankles, torn ligaments, broken bones — all suffered in the name of reaching a goal or helping a team. Who can forget Kerri Strug limping victoriously after landing her final vault, damaged ankle and all, at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta to win the Gold for the USA? Or who can shake the sight of Kevin Ware’s gruesome leg injury in the NCAA tournament before his Louisville Cardinals rallied to win it all? All of them, injuries in the name of victory, achievement and sacrifice.
The following do not fall under that category by any means.
We take a look at some of the most bizarre and embarrassing injuries suffered by professional athletes.
Alex Stepney, Manchester United, dislocated jaw from shouting
That’s right. In 1975, Stepney, then Man-U’s goalkeeper, shouted at his defenders so vehemently that he dislocated his jaw during a match against Birmingham. In that day and age, there were no goalkeeper substitutes, and the position had to be covered by midfielder Brian Greenhof. The instructions must have been taken seriously, as the Red Devils blanked Birmingham the rest of the game.
Adam Eaton, San Diego Padres, stabbed abdomen trying to open DVD
Eaton pitched in the majors from 2000 to 2009 for six clubs, earning a career ERA of 4.94. He won 71 games in his career, including 11-win seasons in 2004 and 2005. He also struggled so hard trying to unwrap a DVD in 2001 that he ended up stabbing himself in the stomach. Granted, those tight plastic wrappers have been the source of frustration since the first days of CDs. He made a quick trip to the emergency room and pitched another eight years just fine.
Kirk Broadfoot, Rangers Football Club, scalded by exploding egg
Broadfoot, a defender for the Rangers of the Scottish Premiere League, was already having a lousy time dealing with a foot injury and sidelined for a number of weeks. All the man wanted one day during his recovery was some poached eggs to lift his spirits. He microwaved the eggs, and when he returned to check on them, one of them exploded, spitting hot egg liquid at him and scalding his face. He was treated in the hospital and made a full recovery.
David Batty, Leeds United, run over by toddler’s trycicle
Honestly, the most damage from this tragedy likely came upon Batty’s reputation as a hard man in the Championship League. Batty was resting at home with an ankle injury when his young son randomly and indiscriminately rode his tricycle into the midfielder, damaging his Achilles tendons. The injury, the result of a case of seemingly junior road-rage, ended up sidelining Batty for an extra number of weeks.
John Smoltz, Atlanta Braves, burned chest while ironing a shirt as he wore it
Meet John Smoltz. He’s an eight-time All Star, a World Series champion, a Cy Young Award winner, a Silver Slugger — and he really doesn’t like wrinkles in his shirt. In the 1990 season, it was reported that Smoltz suffered burns to his chest from his attempts to iron a shirt while he wore it. Most of us have thought about it, but there has been a switch in the brain (again, for most of us) that reminds us of the potential consequences. Smoltz, apparently, ignored or overruled that switch.
Glenallen Hill, Toronto Blue Jays, sliced foot reacting to nightmare about giant spider
Anyone who suffers from arachnophobia knows that when you encounter a spider, you either freeze up or you jump away in sheer dread. There is something in our brains that recognizes a spider, says “I want absolutely nothing to do with that” and prompts the central nervous system to react accordingly, as Hill’s did. Hill was reportedly having a nightmare that he was being chased by a giant spider; in other words, one of the the most terrible nightmares one can have. As a result, while still asleep, he jumped out of bed and crashed into a glass table. Suffering cuts on his toes and his arms, Hill landed on the 15-day disabled list and was thus dubbed “Spiderman” by his teammates.
Robert Pratt, Baltimore Colts, pulled hamstring running out for coin toss
Co-captain and offensive guard Robert Pratt seemed all ready for a physical game against the St. Louis Rams. All that remained was the tossing of a coin to determine who would take over initial possession. Somehow, Pratt managed to pull his hamstring has he ran — jogged, really — onto the field for the toss. The incident prompted Coach Mike McCormack to remark: “I’m going to send the injured reserve players out for the toss next time.”
Nate Burleson, Detroit Lions, broke arm saving pizza in front seat
Early in the 2013 season, Burleson was leading the Lions with 19 receptions, until the September night he was injured in the preservation of a pizza. Burleson was driving on the freeway with two boxes of pizza in his front seat. At some point in the drive, the box on top apparently began to slip off the other and toward the vehicle’s floor. In what must have been a desperate, sudden, slow-motioned moment for Burleson, the 11-year veteran leaned over to save the pizza. As a result, he overcorrected the vehicle and crashed into the median, breaking his arm in two places and requiring surgery. It can only be assumed the pizza was ruined.