50 Things That Terrify Athletes

Amber Lee@@BlamberrSports Lists Lead WriterJanuary 18, 2014

50 Things That Terrify Athletes

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    Many athletes, whether they play at the college or professional level, are automatically assumed to be tough guys. And, more often than not, they probably are to some extent—some to a further extent than others. 

    Of course, we all know that even the toughest tough guys are usually scared of something. Except for Chuck Norris, who doesn’t have any fears. Fears have Chuck Norris. 

    A lot of athletes claim they’re not afraid of anything, which is ridiculous. Being afraid to admit at least one weakness technically counts as a fear. Generally when pressed, though, they’ll cop to at least one thing that terrifies them. 

    And that’s a good thing. Anything an athlete can do to humanize himself will ultimately decrease the chance of him getting pegged in the dome by an errant beer or plate of nachos at some point in his career. 

    That being said, let’s take a look at a few things that terrify athletes—or at least kinda scare them.

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America

    In an interview with Sam Alipour of ESPN The Magazine, Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was asked what is his biggest fear on Earth.

    His response:  “People. You can’t trust people.”


Jhonas Enroth, Buffalo Sabres

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

    Sabres backup goalie Jhonas Enroth is like countless people in the sports world, and the world at large, with his “irrational” fear of flying


Sam Fuld, MLB Free Agent

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    Ed Zurga/Getty Images North America

    MLB pitcher Sam Fuld told ESPN The Magazine that he’s absolutely terrified of roller coasters. On them he said specifically: 

    “Roller coasters. I’ve never been on one. I realize that millions of people do them and survive them, so it doesn’t make sense, but I won’t ride one.”

    What a baby. 


Matt Frattin, Los Angeles Kings

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    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images North America

    The Kings’ Matt Frattin is terrified of a very specific kind of shark—it’s geographically specific. Frattin says he’s afraid of the sharks in South Bay. 

    I’m assuming San Francisco’s South Bay, but I could be wrong. 

    Follow Matt on Twitter

    *Firsthand Source 

Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat

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    Chris Trotman/Getty Images North America

    Heat superstar Dwyane Wade confessed his fear of birds on Instagram in October 2013. Wade posted a video of him quietly lamenting a flock of seagulls sitting out on his dock, obviously just waiting to make their move. 

    Birds are pretty shifty. 


Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America

    NASCAR great Jimmie Johnson is straight up terrified at the prospect of randomly forgetting how to drive a race car. He’s probably safe on that one. 

    Unless it’s me on a bike. That whole thing about never forgetting how to ride one is total garbage. 


Todd Spitzer, Former College Football Player

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    savannahnow.com, Disney Pictures

    Todd Spitzer, a former quarterback at Western Carolina University and the University of Cincinnati, is one of a surprisingly large number of people who suffer from achondroplasiaphobia. Which you may or may not (probably not) know is a fear of little people or dwarves

    *Firsthand Source

Khalif Barnes, Oakland Raiders

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    Source: Brian Bahr/Getty Images North America

    The Raiders’ Khalif Barnes told Athlon Sports that the one thing that terrifies him most is disease. Any and all disease. 


Rashad Evans, MMA

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America

    MMA fighter Rashad Evans is obviously a tough guy, which is why he wasn’t afraid to tell sports reporter Kavita Channe that ghosts scare the bejeezus out of him. 


Teddy Bridgewater, University of Louisville

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images North America

    In a recent interview with the Houston Texans, Louisville quarterback draft prospect Teddy Bridgewater said his biggest fear was just simply letting people down. 


James Harrison, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America

    Most people would agree that calling Bengals linebacker James Harrison one of the scariest people in the world isn’t a gross exaggeration. Turns out, Harrison is terrified of the one thing on Earth more terrifying than him: Clowns.

    Nothing could be more perfect. 


Jeff Cross, Retired NFL

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    No joking about this one. Like many of us, retired Dolphins defensive end Jeff Cross’ biggest fear in life is cancer

    *Firsthand Source

Maria Sharapova, Tennis

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images AsiaPac

    Nothing scares Russian tennis goddess Maria Sharapova on the tennis court—she’s comfortable with all the various surfaces. One surface that really scares her though? A red carpet

    That’s actually got to be quite difficult, given what a fashion…monger…Sharapova is. Yeah, fashionmonger. 


Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America

    At some point in time Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson told ESPN The Magazine about his ridiculously easy to avoid “fear.” 

    Said Wilson, “Jumping out of a plane. I could never do that.” Yeah…neither could most of us. Way to really explore your boundaries, bro.


LeBron James, Miami Heat

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    Al Bello/Getty Images North America

    If you’ve seen him ball, you probably already know that nothing scares Heat superstar LeBron James. Well, nothing except failure…which he really doesn’t have to worry about.

    Must be nice. 


Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America

    It’s surprising to learn that anything scares notoriously tough Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith. The only “irrational fear” he has is breaking a knee

    Doesn’t sound too irrational to me. Sounds just about right, actually. 


James Shields, Kansas City Royals

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images North America

    Royal pitcher James Shields has the most irrationally hilarious of irrational fears. He told ESPN The Magazine his most irrational fear is: 

    “I’m always scared I’m going to lose my shoe on the mound. A shoe coming off while pitching is pretty irrational, considering they’re laced up. But I really need my shoe, man.”



Alex Collins, University of Arkansas

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    Twitter: @Budda03

    Arkansas stud running back Alex Collins was the standout star on an otherwise very bad team last season. That doesn’t mean he thinks he’s invincible; Collins' biggest fear is death

    Follow Alex on Twitter

    *Firsthand Source

Joba Chamberlain, Detroit Tigers

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images North America

    Tigers pitcher Joba Chamberlain told Sports Illustrated, “I’m not a big heights person. I can get through it, but I don’t like heights.”

    So maybe he’s not terrified, but it counts. 


Kenyon Martin, New York Knicks

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    Elsa/Getty Images North America

    Back when he was playing for the Nuggets, the Knicks Kenyon Martin said his biggest fear was: “Motorcycles. I don’t fool with motorcycles.” 

    Good call, boss. Very good call. 


LaMichael James, San Francisco 49ers

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images North America

    Niners running back LaMichael James is terrified of Disneyland’s Space Mountain. Yeah…him and everyone else in the world. 

    Sorry, but roller coasters are scary. 


Hal Gill, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America

    The Flyers' Hal Gill was asked what his biggest fear is by Athlon Sports back in 2012. His response: “Bats, I don’t like bats. I’ve never been comfortable with them. They don’t know where they’re going. They’re blind. They just come by and get in your hair. They’re nasty.”

    They really are nasty. 


Tammy Sutton-Brown, WNBA

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    WNBA player Tammy Sutton-Brown has to deal with one of the greatest fears of all females (and maybe even some fashion conscious males) who travel frequently, which is losing your luggage.

    “I’m afraid of my bag not making it when I travel, so I always pack a pair of @VictoriasSecret in my purse.”

    It probably doesn’t sound terrifying unless it’s actually happened to you. 

    Follow Tammy on Twitter

    *Firsthand Source

Marty Simpson, Former College Football Player

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    This one may not count as a persistent fear, but Marty Simpson, former University of South Carolina kicker and the team’s first High School USA-Today First Team All American football player ever, gave the best answer of all the athletes I asked personally. 

    Simpson's biggest fear is a recurring dream in which he has to kick a field goal during a game, but he’s wearing church shoes and a suit! Apparently he still has that dream today, more than 15 years later. 

    *Firsthand Source

Tiger Woods, PGA

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    Warren Little/Getty Images Europe

    Apparently Tiger Woods is a practicing germaphobe. He’s so concerned about germs that he even makes his own beds in hotels to avoid the grubby mitts of strangers contaminating his sleeping space. 


David Ragan, NASCAR

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    Jerry Markland/Getty Images North America

    NASCAR driver David Ragan took a page right out of Ricky Bobby’s book when asked what his greatest fear is. Not much scares Ragan, except the possibility of never winning again

    If you ain’t first, you’re last. 


Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America

    You probably wouldn’t know it to look at him, but the Grizzlies' Zach Randolph is terrified of cats. In an interview with Sam Alipour of ESPN The Magazine, Randolph confessed: “I’ve got a crazy phobia about cats. For some reason, I’m always thinking they’re going to scratch me. If a cat walks up, I’m going, ‘Oh no, this dude about to scratch me—I know it!’ Cats scare the hell out of me.”


Riley Cooper, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Elsa/Getty Images North America

    Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper can deal with NFL defenders climbing all over him, but he would freak out if snakes were crawling all over him. 

    *Firsthand Source

Michael Huff, Denver Broncos

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America

    Awhile back Broncos safety Michael Huff was asked about his biggest fear by Patrick Snow of Athlon Sports. His response was classic and probably pretty relatable to other reformed troublemakers: “That would be my mom. Oh yeah. I was an only child, grew up with my mom. I don’t know if I can say this, but she beat me a few days when I was a bad little kid. I deserved it, obviously. Yeah, mine would be my mom.”

    To be fair, Huff's mom does sound pretty scary.


Travis Gerrits, Canadian Freestyle Skier

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

    Olympic skier Travis Gerrits is completely fine with triple backflips 60 feet in the air, as long as it’s nowhere near open water. Safe is, clearly, a relative term. 

    Follow Travis on Twitter


Ronda Rousey, MMA

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    Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America

    Many people out there think nothing scares MMA fighter Ronda Rousey, but they’re wrong. According to her, there is at least one thing that scares her. Sayeth Rousey: 

    “I am really scared of getting camel toe on national television. That just scares the crap out of me. If you notice, I’m constantly pulling my pants down when I fight, because those are some tight little spandex shorts.” 


Kevin Martin, Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America

    Apparently during a Fox Sports North broadcast of a Timberwolves game last October, the broadcasters mentioned the fact that Kevin Martin is afraid of buildings.

    There wasn’t really any additional information offered up, so feel free to speculate. 


Justin Jackson, Dunedin Blue Jays

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    Blue Jays prospect Justin Jackson is terrified of mayonnaise, which would make him “squeal like a child with a broken toy” if forced into some kind of physical contact with it. 

    Follow Justin on Twitter


Travis Rice, Snowboarder

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    Cameron Spencer/Getty Images AsiaPac

    In January 2013 American snowboarder Travis Rice told ESPN The Magazine that his most irrational fear was: “Anything form paralysis to confined spaces, but they’re pretty rational.” 

    They are, in fact, pretty rational. Particularly paralysis. 


Jordon Dizon, Retired NFL

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

    Retired NFL linebacker Jordon Dizon, who last played for the Lions in 2009, is very understandably afraid of car accidents

    By the way, no one was seriously injured in that insane car crash pictured. 


Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images North America, Al Bello/Getty Images North America

    Chiefs safety Eric Berry has a well-known fear of horses, which makes things complicated when the mascot (which is obviously a horse or this wouldn’t be relevant) takes the field at Arrowhead. 


Usain Bolt, Jamaican Sprinter

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    Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images Europe

    There are only two things that scare the fastest man in the world, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt: Deep water and African killer ants


Dexter Stacey, NASCAR

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    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images North America

    Bolt may be afraid of African killer ants, which actually makes a whole lot of sense, but NASCAR driver Dexter Stacey is afraid of regular old ants.

    Individually they aren’t very intimidating, but in groups they’re horrifying. 

    *Firsthand Source

Rafael Nadal, Tennis

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    Mark Kolbe/Getty Images AsiaPac

    Sexy tennis star Rafael Nadal may be a beast on the court, but he’s a bit of a scaredy cat in his everyday life. Apparently Nadal is scared of dogs, spiders, storms, motorcycles and even the dark.

    Poor Rafa.


Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1

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    Paul Gilham/Getty Images South America

    Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton has been afraid of spiders since the day he was old enough to recognize they have way “too many legs.”

    Arachnophobia is one of the most common of the many phobias and the only one (that I know of) that's been turned into a major motion picture.


Josh Freeman, Minnesota Vikings

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images North America

    Vikings quarterback Josh Freeman has had a serious fear of elevators ever since he got stuck in one at the dentist office.

    Said Freeman, via Adrian Asis of TheRichest.com, “It was only like five minutes, but it felt like forever. Yeah, the elevator is horrible.”


Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America

    Spurs big man Tim Duncan was actually a pretty impressive swimmer in his youth, but he had to give it up when practices were moved from a pool to the ocean following a hurricane.

    Duncan’s extreme fear of sharks made it prohibitive. At least the whole basketball thing worked out.


Keegan Bradley, PGA

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images North America

    Golfer Keegan Bradley’s greatest fear is being average. Specifically, he doesn’t want “to go through [his] career without being noticed.” 

    He’s fighting an uphill battle there, but best of luck to him! Golf needs more stars. 


Serena and Venus Williams, Tennis

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    Graham Denholm/Getty Images AsiaPac

    The Williams sisters, particularly Ms. Serena, are two of the toughest women in sports. Good luck trying to terrify them…unless you have a horror movie!

    If only Sharapova could get them to play The Exorcist during a competition, she might actually beat Serena someday. 


Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees

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    Al Bello/Getty Images North America

    The fact that Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez is afraid of needles is one of the many things to be learned from the Biogenesis investigation.

    Apparently A-Rod had to be injected with…what have you…by noted slimeball Anthony Bosch. 


Wayne Gretzky, Retired NHL

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images North America

    When asked by the Los Angeles Times about his greatest fear in December 1993, Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky said, “I don’t think there’s any question my biggest fear is that I can’t protect my kids

    So it’s safe to say that daughter Paulina is, officially, his worst fear. This is why parents always want to have boys—which I can say, being a girl. 


Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images North America

    Way back in August 2002, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady told Bill Beuttler of Boston Magazine: “My biggest fear is to end up being a one-hit-wonder.” 

    Well, looks like everything is coming up Brady…as usual. 


Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America

    The Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard has a fear of historical statues that he traces back to his college days at Weber State.

    He visited a wax museum, and the room of political figures just really freaked him out. 


Ilya Bryzgalov, Edmonton Oilers

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    Source: Marianne Helm/Getty Images North America

    In April 2012, Ilya Bryzgalov, then with the Flyers, was asked if he was concerned about facing off against the Penguins. He made it clear that there’s only one animal out there that scares him—and it damn well isn’t a penguin. 

    Said Bryz, via CBS Sports, “I’m only afraid of bear, but bear in forest.” Apparently he knew someone who was once mauled to death by a bear…a bear in the forest. Russia is so scary. 


Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America

    In March 2013, Lakers great Kobe Bryant was asked about the team’s struggles and whether or not he was afraid of failure. Lakers beat writer Dave McMenamin tweeted Bryant’s response: “Kobe when asked about ‘fear’: “I don’t f- -k with bees, man. Other than that, I’m not afraid of nothing.” 

    Nothing except bees