They try to be role models and team leaders. They're good players who bleed for their sport, and try to do all the right things.
But sometimes, well, stuff just happens.
The following are a number of incidents where good athletes—iconic players and talented individuals with high potential—ended up on the losing side of painful or embarrassing exchanges on the field of play. Some of them are unlucky injuries, others are just instances of good guys being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Luck may favor the prepared, but it certainly isn't reserved for the scrubs.
Reggie—we hardly knew thee.
Former New Orleans Saints running back (now with the Detroit Lions) Reggie Bush received a thunder-shot from the Philadelphia Eagles’ Sheldon Brown during a 2006 NFC playoff game.
I don’t know if this is the exact reason Bush hasn’t been able to fully assimilate to the NFL, but I know it didn’t help.
Wayne Gretzky didn’t get hit often—but when it happened, the announcers didn’t miss the opportunity to commemorate the occasion.
Short-time Toronto Maple Leafs player Bill McCreary only played 12 games in his NHL career, but during his second professional outing in 1981 he made a hit that far outlasted his playing career—clobbering a young Wayne Gretzky for the first time in “The Great One’s” early professional career.
Former Xavier guard Jordan Crawford was playing in a game at the LeBron James Skills Academy when he elevated and threw down on King James.
Granted, Crawford is a very good basketball player (now with the Celtics), and James jumped late.
But no matter how many rings James wins, some guy will always be like “Hey, remember when you got posterized at your own basketball camp?"
Brian Cushing had racked up three tackles and two assists in the early minutes of a 2012 game against the New York Jets before terrible misfortune struck the Houston Texans’ star linebacker.
With 10 minutes to go in the second quarter, Cushing was following in pursuit of the Jets’ Bilal Powell when his left leg was buckled by a Matt Slauson chop-block.
Cushing had shed the guard, and Slauson had then heaved himself at the linebacker’s legs in an attempt to block him. The chop-block tore Cushing’s ACL and sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Love or hate Calipari, you hate to see a young man with as much talent as Nerlens Noel go down like this.
After jumping and blocking Florida’s Mike Rosario at the end of a 2012 SEC conference game, Noel landed and slammed his left knee into the goal pad at the bottom of the basket.
The blow tore Noel’s ACL, and has cast doubt on his potential as a lottery pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Click-clack! Kurt Warner did not hear Bobby McCray coming.
Former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner was blasted into another dimension after throwing a pick in a 2010 NFC playoff game against the New Orleans Saints.
After throwing the interception, the veteran quarterback went in pursuit of the ball carrier, but was caught unaware by the Saints’ Bobby McCray, who lit him up like a slot machine at Binion’s with a hard (and legal) block.
Warner wasn’t knocked completely out after the hit, but he would only return to the game for a few downs.
Tracy Porter is a talented coverage cornerback, but stopping the run has never been his forte, as evidenced by this clip of Marshawn Lynch stealing his soul during a 2011 playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints.
In some countries, that kind of treatment of another man counts as an official adoption ceremony.
SHOW ME YOUR DUNK FACE!
Pistons guard Brandon Knight was in the right place at the right time, and he paid dearly for it.
Chris Paul lobbed the ball to DeAndre Jordan, who rose into the atmosphere and threw down 31 flavors of dunk on Knight. To Knight’s credit, he tried to stand his ground. Lesser men would’ve ran out to parking the lot had Jordan flew at them, wheels up like a 747.
Unfortunately for Knight, I can confidently say this will be his crowning moment in the NBA.
Head to the 7:27 mark for the block.
The Chicago Bulls’ Carlos Boozer is one of the loudest, most (vocally) competitive players in the NBA.
That being said, never has Boozer been quieter than after receiving this posterizing block from Indiana’s A.J. Moye in the 2002 NCAA tournament.
Boozer receives the ball and turns to put away an easy basket for the Duke Blue Devils, but is met in mid-air by Moye, a 6’2” point guard.
The block is credited as one that saved the game for Indiana—who had been 17 points in the first half—and allowed the No. 5 seeded Hoosiers to stun the No. 1 seed Blue Devils and bounce them from the tournament.
She wasn’t a star athlete, but Janet Jones was married to one and was on the unlucky end of a nasty hockey accident in 1997.
The Chicago Blackhawks were playing the New York Rangers when the Blackhawks’ Ulf Samuelsson checked the Rangers’ Sergei Krivokrasov into the boards, dislodging a heavy sheet of rink-side glass. The sheet hit Jones who suffered a concussion and was taken to a Manhattan hospital.
Lets not get into the “NASCAR-athlete” argument, and instead, talk about Danica Patrick getting screwed over by hitting a shoe.
A spectator at a Nationwide Series race in Montreal tossed a shoe onto the course at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, which Patrick ended up running over as she led the race around the track.
Sure, a shoe doesn’t seem like much, but immediately after the incident Patrick’s car (which had been among the best on the day to that point) began experiencing steering problems and she eventually had to pit and would finish six laps down from the race leader.
Don’t talk trash to Steve Sullivan unless you want some higher power to play a cosmic joke on you.
Former Chicago Blackhawks winger Steve Sullivan was bleeding from a high stick he took in a 2001 game against the Colorado Avalanche when a fan began taunting him.
That’s it? That’s the end of this unfortunate story? No, this bad occasion has a big, beautiful silver lining.
Sullivan wiped off the blood and kept playing, and eventually an errant clear by the Avalanche’s goalie sends the puck flying into the stands and hit—you guessed it—the jerk who had been making fun of him.
The forward also scored two goals after the puck incident, and presumably converted thousands of hockey fans into a believers of karma.
No man can hide from a Metta World Peace “celebration.”
Former Oklahoma Thunder guard James Harden found himself staring down the business end of a technical knockout during a 2012 game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
After a strong finish at the rim by Metta World Peace, Harden quickly stepped toward the baseline to receive an in-bounds pass and was walloped by a “celebratory” World Peace elbow.
The act wasn’t as unlucky on Harden’s part as it was intentional on World Peace’s, but nonetheless Harden was the recipient of an unearned cold-cocking to the dome.
The Blackhawks’ Duncan Keith took a puck to the kisser during Game Four of the NHL Western Conference finals in 2010. Keith left the ice with seven of his teeth missing, but would return to the game shortly thereafter with a mouthful of Novocain.
The hit that looked as though it could’ve ended Adrian Peterson’s career was a gut-wrenching experience for fans around the league.
No one likes seeing a man with such athletic ability succumb in their prime to an ACL-MCL injury.
As we all know, however, the injury was by no means a death sentence to All Day.
Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson was the victim of a horrible accident in 2011 when his Achilles tendon was slashed by a skate blade during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The slashing ended the former Norris Trophy winner’s season, but he may be returning in time for the 2013 NHL Playoffs.
Jason Terry played a large role in the Dallas Mavericks' denying LeBron James his first championship ring in the 2011 NBA Finals.
James would have his vengeance, however, and this dunk on Terry (now with the Celtics) had all the potential to mash the 35-year-old baller to glue.
Warning: Video depicts a graphic, awful injury.
South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore experienced two major injuries during his collegiate career, the latter being this particularly gruesome injury against Tennessee in October, 2012.
Miraculously, five months have passed and Lattimore is back in action and cutting up Pro Day drills for NFL scouts.
Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby took a puck to the face Saturday during a game against the New York Islanders.
A Brooks Orpik slap shot deflected off a defender and shot up under Crosby's visor, fracturing his jaw and knocking out several teeth. Crosby would have to leave the game, and is currently out indefinitely after having oral surgery.