The Most Suspicious Injuries in Sports
With player safety coming to the forefront in recent years, particularly in the NFL and NHL, and the long-term consequences of playing certain sports, the discussion has obviously taken a very serious tone. It's been particularly somber in the wake of a number of suicides by retired players such as Chargers great Junior Seau.
Perhaps it's this change in tone and newfound emphasis on safety that makes it especially irritating when players seem to be faking injuries or lying about the details to cover their tracks or explain their poor performance. This isn't a very common occurrence, but it does happen from time to time.
Let's take a look some of the more recent sports "injuries" that have raised eyebrows.
20. Playing Like Crap, Kolb Conveniently Injured
When people, including fellow NFL players, took to Twitter to publicly accuse Bears quarterback Jay Cutler of faking a knee injury during the 2011 NFC Championship Game against the Packers, I thought they were insane. Just because you don't like Cutler's face, that doesn't mean he's not out there doing his best.
When people took to Twitter to suggest that Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb was faking a rib injury during the 2012 Hall of Fame game against the Saints, I thought they were probably right. The oft-injured Kolb got things started by throwing an interception on his first pass of the season, before going 1-of-4 and leaving with a rib contusion.
Maybe Kolb wasn't faking and it was just fortunate timing that allowed him to continue his downhill skid. But maybe he was.
19. Alex Burrows Is Severely Injured, Rebounds with 2 Goals
Down 0-2 in a game against the Predators in January 2010, the Canucks' Alex Burrows dug down into his old bag of tricks and dramatically lashed around on the ice after barely being touched by Nashville. Burrows went on to score two goals in the Canucks' 3-2 loss.
Apparently his equally dramatic recovery irked the officials, too; Burrows claimed the referee threatened to "get (him) back" in a game a few days later.
18. Arkansas' Brian Walker Embarrasses Himself, His School, His Sport, His Mom
Way back in 2007, (then) Arkansas catcher Brian Walker was hit by a pitch in a game against rival Ole Miss. Walker was obviously seriously injured, because he spent the next few minutes hopping around like an idiot trying to deal with the pain.
He eventually musters the courage to go back up to bat before striking out, freaking out at the umpire, and getting ejected from the game. Walker's dog and pony show would have been a little bit less pathetic if the instant replay didn't reveal that he was never even hit.
17. Bengals' Jerome Simpson Hit by the Hand of God
I'd like to admonish Bengals wide receiver Jerome Simpson for is ridiculous flop against the Browns in November 2011, but I just can't! It was a thing of beauty.
Obviously faking an injury (or whatever he's trying to do) is shady and stupid, but I just can't be mad when someone sells it so well. Go on with your bad self, JS.
16. Blake Costanzo Punks the Patriots
The Patriots are well known for their back breaking no-huddle offense. Quarterback Tom Brady has been befuddling defenses with his two-minute magic for what seems like eternity to fans of teams that, even all these years later, still have no answer for it.
Well in November 2010, Browns linebacker Blake Costanzo finally found an answer for it, and Cleveland went on to stun the Patriots 43-14. Too bad his answer was looking around frantically after the play and then collapsing to the ground in a heap.
Come on dude, you're better than that.
15. Cal Lineman Meanders Back to Line, Promptly Collapses
In a game against Oregon in 2010, Cal defensive lineman Aaron Tipoti returned to the line of scrimmage after a play and then inexplicably dropped to the turf like a pile of cheating, overacting bricks. Tipoti certainly looked unharmed after the previous play, but out of the blue he reaches for his leg and keels over onto the ball.
Naturally, the clock was stopped—the refs hands are tied in situations like these—and the Ducks' momentum was momentarily stopped. The Razzie award winner didn't miss any significant playing time after his injury and quickly returned to the field to help Cal lose.
14. LeBron's Leg Cramps Raise Eyebrows
During the final minutes of Game 4 of the 2012 NBA Finals, Heat superstar LeBron James was stricken with leg cramps before being dramatically carried off the court. The Heat hung on to win the game and take a 3-1 lead over the Thunder, and after the game there were two interpretations of the incident that were both way off base.
LeBron haters took to the Twitter machine to call him a faker, or a baby, or publicly wish for a very serious injury. LeBron lovers and the more ridiculous members of the sports media took the opportunity to draw a comparison between the instantly famous "cramp game" to Michael Jordan's legendary "flu game."
I'm not sure which is more ridiculous. Maybe LeBron's cramps were suspicious, but at least they weren't stupid.
13. Ndamukong Suh's Mysterious Car Crash
After losing his appeal of a two-game suspension for the Thanksgiving day stomping of an opponent, Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was involved in a very mysterious car accident in Portland, Oregon. There were immediate reports that Suh lied to the police both about how the accident happened and the extend of the injuries suffered.
Although he wasn't injured in the accident, it seems others were, and the whole incident was suspicious. Surely Suh hoped it would all go away, but a complaint filed in July 2012 accuses him of trying to bribe a passenger with $700 to keep quiet and prevented her from calling 911 to report the accident and her injuries.
The accident has officially gone from quietly suspicious to a another major headache for the Lions.
12. Olexandr Aliyev's Quick Recovery
In November 2008, footballer Olexandr Aliyev suffered what looked to be a life-threatening injury during a game against Arsenal. Aliyev looked to be in agony as he thrashed around on the ground trying to attract an emergency vehicle, or a red card.
When it became clear nobody was gonna bite, Aliyev miraculously recovered and got back to playing football. It's almost as if nothing was ever wrong to begin with (wink wink, nudge nudge).
11. Terrell Suggs' Achilles Injury Is Shrouded in Mystery
The Ravens suffered a major setback for the 2012 season, four months before the season even began. In early June it was reported that super-stud linebacker Terrell Suggs suffered a substantial injury to his Achilles while playing basketball that would likely keep him off the field for most of the regular season.
Suggs denied he was playing basketball and insisted the injury would cost him the entire season. Despite his denials, rumors have persisted that Suggs was, in fact, playing basketball and many in the media were addressing the situation with a wink and a nod.
10. Gilbert Arenas Fined for Faking
In October 2010, (then) Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas was fined by the organization for faking a knee injury to get out of playing in his team's home preseason opener. Arenas' "injury" raised immediate suspicions and he was forced to fess up after viewing his ridiculously poor excuse for an acting job.
Dude, if you're gonna fake it, you gotta sell it!
9. Plaxico Burres Shoots Himself in the Foot Via His Thigh
When (then) Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself in the thigh while at a New York night club in November 2008, he was initially under the mistaken impression that he could quietly receive treatment and no one would be the wiser.
Perhaps Burress thought he could pass the wound off as the hamstring strain that he was nursing at the time. He refused questioning from the police the following day, but unfortunately for Plax, the suspicious police officers launched an investigation that quickly uncovered the ridiculous details of the event.
The most amazing part is that Burress obviously thought he could pass off this injury as something else to the Giants organization.
8. Badminton Players Lay It on Thick
We're only a few days removed from the great Olympic badminton scandal of 2012. For those of you who don't care a lick about badminton, let me catch you up.
Four women's doubles teams were disqualified from the London Olympics after suspicious injuries, mysterious illnesses and deliberate bad play led the IOC to the conclusion that they were throwing matches to gain more favorable seeding down the road.
Apparently this is common practice, particularly in China, among the top players in the game (it's not a sport).
7. The Patriots' Shady Injury Reporting
The Patriots have a long history of playing it fast and loose with the NFL injury report. Head coach Bill Belichick has a way of getting into the head of the opposition, and the way the organization has handled injuries is just one of the tricks up his cut-off sweat sleeves.
In fact, hasn't Tom Brady been probable in every game since 2002? Plenty of people have complained about Belichick's sometimes shady practices, but the Pats injury report [listing 16 players as questionable or probable] prior to the 2012 Super Bowl against the Giants suggest he's still up to his old tricks.
They all pulled it together for the big day, though! Something tells me Billy B. wasn't sweating it.
6. Karma Bites Habs' Alexei Kovalev
In the 2004 NHL playoffs, the Candiens were facing the Bruins in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. The game was in double overtime when Habs' forward Alexei Kovalev took the slightest slash in history, courtesy of the Bruins' Travis Green.
Rather than playing through it and hoping for a call, Kovalev decided to test his acting chops for the referee. Kovy took off his glove and completely lost focus; he careened into a teammate, which allowed Glen Murray a breakaway goal.
He showed up to his post-game interviews with his hand wrapped in ice, but Kovy's teammates were peeved in the immediate aftermath because the win gave the Bruins a 3-1 series advantage. Lucky for him the Habs managed to bounce back and take the series in seven, but they went on to be swept by the Lightning in the next round.
Karma is a b-word.
5. NFL Award for Best Dramatics in a Football Game: NY Giants
In September 2011, the Giants showed absolutely no indication they were Super Bowl bound when defensive back Deon Grant and linebacker Jacquian Williams simultaneously faked injuries in a squeaker against the Rams. The G-Men may have won that game, but it was probably the worst they looked all season—with or without their shenanigans.
With the new-found emphasis on player safety, the refs had no choice but to stop the play, even though it was more than obvious what was happening. After the game, league spokesman Greg Aiello said that fines would be issued in the future if faking injuries could be proven.
It's suspect and weaselly and generally loathsome, but without these fakers the Giants could have lost the game. And if the Giants had lost the game, they probably would've missed the playoffs. So, I'm guessing nobody has lost any sleep over this one!
4. J.R. Smith's Catastrophic Knee Ailment Doesn't Require Treatment
In November 2011, J.R. Smith went down with appeared to be a very serious injury in his first game as a member of the Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Bulls. Smith dramatically limped off the court after what looks to be him barely stumbling to the basket, but ultimately having the ball stolen.
Smith was unable to walk on his own accord, yet after the game he refused all medical attention and was taken back to the team hotel. Eventually team doctors coaxed him to the hospital to have an MRI performed, where it turned out he wasn't injured in the slightest.
The GM of the Golden Bulls was quick to accuse Smith of faking the injury, which was pretty reasonable, because he obviously was.
3. Stanford's "Injury" Doesn't Slow Ducks
For the last several years Oregon has had one of the fastest and most dominating offenses in college football. The Ducks have frustrated countless defenses over the years and in October 2010, Stanford didn't respond well to the heat they were feeling in the second half.
Despite a seven-point lead in the third quarter, Stanford was obviously feeling the pressure and linebacker Chase Thomas tried to slow the pace of the game by faking an injury.
Thomas milked it for a few minutes on the field before dramatically hobbling off the field with coaches. He was back on the field for the next play and the Ducks fans let them know they were wise to his nonsense.
2. 2009 AFC Championship: Limas Sweed's Phantom Injury
Former Steelers wide receiver Limas Sweed is known for nothing outside of Pittsburgh, but inside Pittsburgh he does have one career-defining/ending moment that most fans won't soon forget. In the 2008 AFC title game against the Ravens, Sweed dropped a sure touchdown pass that nearly cost the Steelers a Super Bowl.
Instead of getting up like a man and trying to redeem himself, Sweed faked an injury and cost the Black and Gold a critical timeout. He's just lucky he didn't cost the Steelers the game, or things probably would've gotten much uglier in the Steel City.
1. Paul Pierce Wheeled off Court, Promptly Runs Back
In June 2008, the Celtics were facing the Lakers in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The Lakers had just a four-point lead in the third quarter when their superstar Paul Pierce suffers an injury so severe that he is taken off the court in a wheelchair. Surely the Celtics thought they were sunk, as The Truth would never deceive.
Or would he? Pierce's dramatic exit was short-lived; within three minutes he returned to the court and heroically led the Celts to a healthy 10-point victory. It was a Bean Town miracle! Or he was lying.