Belly up to the bar, friend. I’ve got a few sports stories to tell—stories with a splash of soda and a whiskey back.
While alcohol and professional sports may have a freckled history of bad endings, every encounter between ballplayer and booze doesn’t end in a public apology and community service.
No, sometimes alcohol gets involved and amazing happens.
The following is a collection of treasured drunk moments in sports history. To be clear, this isn’t a rundown of the heaviest drinkers or dumbest drunken arrests in sports history. These are moments when alcohol and sports came together and magic happened.
With that said, it’s time to kick back, strap on the beer goggles and take a dive into 20 Great Drunk Moments in Sports.
Remember Allen Iverson’s famous “Practice” speech?
Of course you do, it’s only one of the best press conferences rants in NBA history. Iverson wielded the word “practice” like a blacksmith does a hammer—slamming it down over and over again in front of a pool of dumbstruck reporters.
His tangent has since been immortalized, and recently former Seattle Supersonics great Gary Payton let us in on a secret concerning its origins.
According to Payton, he and Iverson were out knocking back drinks one summer night when the Philadelphia Sixers guard asked him his secret to career longevity. Payton told him his coach didn’t let him practice.
Iverson took Payton’s words as gospel, and proceeded to follow the inadvertent “advice.” Thank God for whatever those two men drinking, because without it, the world would’ve never learned an important lesson about practice.
At the beginning of this interview with UFC fighter Chuck Liddell, this TV host’s voice quivers a bit.
Is it nerves? Probably not.
More than likely, it’s due to the fact he just realized he’s on live air with a guest who's three-sheets to the sun and speaking with the verbal command of Don Corleone.
"You alright, Chuck?" the host asks.
Oh yea, he's feeling no pain.
Warning: Video contains footage of a drunken Kenneth Faried speaking candidly about his genitals.
A TMZ reporter was out late one night this summer doing TMZ things in Hollywood when he ran into Denver Nuggets power forward Kenneth Faried.
The reporter didn’t know who this large man was at first, which prompted Faried to pull out a copy of ESPN The Magazine’s recent “Body Issue" with his naked body on the cover.
In turn, the reporter asked Faried if he felt shy at first while modeling nude for the magazine. Faried responded he was not, because he’s a big-swinging power forward, and a sexy individual to boot.
"Bad shot lead to bad passes."
That's not a grammatical error on my part—that's a direct quote from Bobby Huggins, who showed up seemingly slam-faced to a presentation at a Nike basketball clinic in 2012.
West Virginia's head coach was allegedly slurring his words, swaying back and forth and dropping F-bombs in front of a large audience of players and observers.
Watch out for those Bloody Mary's, Bobby. The first one's tasty and refreshing, but the fourth will jump right on top of you.
There’s a reason the line “Do you know who I am?” doesn’t have a high rate of success as a negotiating tool. It repels people—people who clearly have the upper hand on you at the moment.
Danish striker Nicklas Bendtner figured out this embarrassing truth in 2011, when he drunkenly attempted to coerce the owner of a Copenhagen pizza parlor into giving him a free slice. The restaurant’s card reader had denied Bendtner’s card, at which point the then Sunderland striker attempted to extort himself some delicious pizza.
“Do you know who I am?” Bendtner asked. “I can buy the whole pizzeria.”
The restaurant’s owner stood his ground for several minutes until two female customers stepped forward and offered to pay for the striker's food.
Drinks the bar’s entire tequila supply, then messes around and nearly puts up a triple double.
This story is hearsay direct from Bill Simmons via his old ESPN Page 2 blog, but if the rumor about Ricky Davis' night out in Memphis is true, is one of the most ridiculous NBA drinking stories ever.
As Simmons’ tale goes, some time in the early 2000’s a trainer with the Memphis Grizzlies went out for a night on the town with Davis (then with the Grizzlies). According to the trainer, Davis and his entourage gulped down 19 bottles of Patron tequila and then attempted to set the Elvis memorial on fire.
After all this, the trainer says Davis went out and nearly put up a triple double.
There are several different levels of intoxication.
The lightest level is “buzzed” drunk, which is the best level for awkward dinner parties. The next tier is drunk-drunk, which usually ends up with you eating anything in the freezer that resembles food.
The most advanced state of intoxication, however, is “too drunk to fly”—which the entire Russian youth national team managed to reach in 2011 after winning gold at the World Junior Hockey championship in New York.
The 20-year-olds managed to get their hands on alcohol (as 20-year-olds will do) and wound up becoming too belligerent to even board their flight at Buffalo Niagra International airport.
The team was blocked from boarding a Delta flight and rebooked for a later time.
After winning the gold medal at 2008 Summer Olympics, everyone and their brother wanted a piece of Hope Solo and the US Women’s soccer team.
The team, however, just wanted a moment to enjoy themselves. According to Hope Solo, they partied all night after winning the gold and showed up Farva-drunk to a live edition of the Today show.
“Vince Vaughn partied with us,” Solo told ESPN the Magazine. “When we were done partying, we got out of our nice dresses and got back into our stadium coats...at 7 a.m. we went on the Today show drunk.”
And America cheered, as they well should.
Czech referee Tomas Fidra is a man—a drunk man, albeit—but a man nonetheless. And if he wants to throw out three players for no reason, well, there's nothing in the book that says he can't.
Fidra showed up to a match between Czech clubs Jestrabi Lahota and Tynec-Nad-Labem smelling “like a brewery.” The visibly intoxicated official told several players he had just celebrated a birthday, and red carded three of them for asking if he was still capable of refereeing the match.
Was it a legal move? Technically yes, according to a Jastrabi Lhota official, who pointed out the fact there’s no rule against a drunk referee from taking charge of a match.
In other words, the ref pulled an Air Bud and was allowed to officiate the rest of the match on a technicality. The match was later annulled.
There’s a time for cocktails and there’s a time for work.
Howard Cosell had trouble distinguishing between the two, and it was no secret amongst his colleagues that the late Monday Night Football color commentary man occasionally mixed himself a drink or nine while on the air.
His drinking typically led to slurred words and lost thoughts while broadcasting, but the most outrageous drunken moment occurred during the broadcast of a Giants-Eagles game in 1970.
Cosell drank before and throughout the sportscast, and eventually became so intoxicated he puked on co-caster Don Meredith’s cowboy boots. It was an outrageous and ridiculous moment, even by the standards of the 70's.
What would a drunken sports slideshow be without a slide in honor of John Daly—the sportsman who has cashed in on his reputation for gratuitous alcohol consumption with his own alcohol beverage brand.
While he’s forgone the sauce since 2010, Daly came out in 2011 and admitted to The Charlotte Observer that he “Played better drunk.”
Touché, John, and worry not—this admission could never hurt sales of John Daly Sweet Tea Lemonade.
When nature calls, you must answer.
When you have to answer the call on an airplane, however, make sure the door you're trying to open leads to the bathroom, and not a 35,000 foot drop to the ground.
A Sri Lankan cricket player failed to make this distinction while searching for the lavatory on a British Airways flight in July. The player and several teammates had been drinking for hours, and feeling the need to urinate, wobbled to his feet and began pulling on the pressurized cabin door, believing it led to the restroom.
The man was eventually stopped, and no arrests were made.
52 cans of beer in one flight, and no that’s not a typo.
The former Australian cricketer had one hell of a journey in 1989, going halfway around the world from Australia to England with his team and finishing over two cases of beer in the process, according to The Daily Mail.
For context, a flight from Sidney to London generally takes around 21 hours. That means Boon was averaging over 2 beers an hour for nearly a day.
Even more amazing, Boon managed to leave the plane under his own power. Not bad for an athlete.
Boggs denies the number, but legend holds that the former Boston Red Sox star pounded 64 beers over the course of a cross-country flight from New York to the West Coast.
The number might have been inflated, but even if Boggs only made it to 45, he still managed the feat in about 16 hours. Not too shabby, Wade.
There are plenty of funny or ridiculous drunk field invasions, but this one holds a special place in my heart.
The Green Bay Packers were playing the Cincinnati Bengals in a tight game in 2005. With minutes to go, Brett Favre was attempting to lead his team to game-tying touchdown when a drunken fan slipped onto the field and took the ball out of his hands.
There are so many things that go right in this particular rush, most notably the manner in which this drunk idiot splits the first two security guards. The two men collide like dumb animals, and the fan slips free—for one more moment, at least.
*Sniff* It’s just so...beautiful.
Patrick Rafter didn’t want to play drunk, but play he did. The crazy part thing is—he won.
The Australian tennis pro felt honest remorse after playing a 1997 Davis Cup match while intoxicated. Rafter had been out all night partying the evening prior to the Sunday match, but still managed to put away his opponent David Rikl in three sets.
He certainly didn’t make a habit out of playing drunk, but it’s incredible that anyone could play professional tennis with beer goggles and still pull out a victory.
Warning: Video contains NSFW language.
Drinking booze, taking acid and washing it down with a couple of Benzedrines is not good for your health. You might as well scoop out your cerebral cortex and throw it in the spin cycle.
In Dock Ellis’ case, however, the aforementioned cocktail was the formula for a no hitter.
In 1970, the Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher took advantage of a rest day between games to drink some booze and gulp down a lump of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Long story short, Ellis woke up the next in a friend’s house and took some more acid before being alerted that he was slated to pitch against the Padres that afternoon.
Ellis managed to fly into San Diego in time for the game, grabbed a few Benzedrines (an amphetamine) at the ballpark and proceeded to no-no the Padres while feeling “high as a Georgia pine.”
Only 23 pitchers have ever thrown a perfect game in the MLB, and one of those pitchers did it with a fifth or so of booze sweating out of his face.
That man was David Wells, who threw a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins in 1998 with “monster breath and a raging, skull-rattling hangover,” as told to Sports Illustrated.
Wells had been up all night partying at a Saturday Night Live cast party, and managed three or less hours of sleep before having to report to the stadium for the game.
Think of the manliest man you know. Now forget him.
You have a new idol, and his name is Fuzzy Thurston—the legendary Green Bay Packers guard who got slam-towned before the famous 1967 Ice Bowl and still helped his team beat the Dallas Cowboys.
The temperature was 15 below zero, and players prepared for the cold the best they could. How did Fuzzy prep for the game? Oh, the usual—stretching, taping up and guzzling “about 10 vodkas” as mentioned on ESPN.com.
I can’t drink six vodkas and make it home with my debit card. Fuzzy ripped 10 and went home with an NFL Championship.
It’s difficult to overstate the greatness that was Joe Namath’s drunken advance on ESPN’s Suzy Kolber in 2003.
Web sites have been named after this encounter, to give you a grasp of how well-loved this moment is in America. It’s not every day a Hall of Fame quarterback hits on a sideline reporter and tells the nation he doesn’t care about his former team.
According to Namath, he had been drinking all day before the game—a Saturday night matchup where he and other former Jets were honored for their accomplishments.
Namath’s “interview” is a national treasure—a crowning jewel in the meridian of sideline sports interviews, and perhaps the greatest drunk moment in sports history.
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