Plaxico Burress is back in the news. In my mind, this is only a good thing—every time I hear about him, I start laughing. Come on!! The guy shot himself in the leg because he stuffed a gun down his pants. I am not laughing at the injury itself, I am laughing at the stupidity Burress demonstrated that caused the injury.
This got me thinking about other injuries that were caused entirely by poor decision-making on the part of athletes. These athletes make millions of dollars on their bodies, their livelihood is based on the fact that they are bigger, faster, and stronger than the rest of us. They should know better than to do things such as, say, keeping a gun in the waistband of a pair of sweat pants.
But frequently, they do not know better. They may be bigger, faster, and stronger than the rest of us, but they usually are not smarter. That said, here are my top ten stupidest injuries in sports history.
Bret Barberie may be known, especially to sports fans in Florida, as the man who got the very first regular season hit for the Florida Marlins. He also may be known as probably the only player in baseball history to miss time due to an injury caused by nachos. In the process of making his delicious, cheesy treat, complete with jalapenos and all, Barberie neglected to wash his hands. He then proceeded to put in his contacts, ending up with chili in his eyes, and was scratched from the lineup of his next game because he could not see straight.
Alex Stepney was the goalkeeper for Manchester United during the mid 1970s, a time that saw incredible underachievement for the English giants, including a relegation to the second division. In an effort to get his team motivated during a game in 1975, Stepney managed to scream so loudly that he dislocated his own jaw.
He may be a great pitcher, but that does not mean he is immune to making mistakes off the diamond. Smoltz missed time after scalding himself while ironing a shirt. Well that might not sound so stupid; after all, irons are hot. Any of us could do this. So what is the catch? Well the shirt, as it turns out, was not on an ironing board, but in fact on Mr. Smoltz while he was ironing it. That sort of stupidity is very deserving of a spot on this list.
This is a particularly funny one, as it happened while the player was riding the bench. Perry Groves was sitting for Arsenal when a goal was scored for his team. He jumped up to celebrate and smashed his head on the dugout ceiling. That on its own is not that funny—we all hit our heads every now and then. But Groves managed to knock himself unconscious. Hitting your head is funny, hitting your head and knocking yourself out cold is freakin' hilarious.
Face it—Jose Canseco could easily have his own top ten list of embarrassing moments, and I really did not want to leave him off this list. We all remember when he let a fly ball bounce off his head and go over the fence for a homer. But people do not remember how that season ended for the 'roided up slugger. Only three days later, during a blowout loss against the Red Sox, Canseco requested to pitch the eighth inning. Manager Kevin Kennedy obliged. Canseco went in, blew out his arm, needed Tommy John surgery, and missed the remainder of the season.
We all love a good hockey fight. The gloves and helmet getting thrown off, the punches flying are very exciting stuff. Well, towards the tail-end of a playoff loss to the New Jersey Devils, Jagr tried to give the fans what they all wanted and threw a punch at Devils' forward Scott Gomez. Well, he tried to throw a punch. Jagr whiffed completely and threw out his shoulder, needing surgery to repair the damage.
Selected seventh overall in the NBA draft after a spectacular college career at LaSalle University, Lionel Simmons was a highly touted rookie for the Sacramento Kings in 1991. While he did have a good season, finishing as the runner up in Rookie of the Year voting, he suffered one of the more childish injuries you will ever hear about. He missed a few games with a case of wrist tendinitis which he developed through excessive use of his Nintendo Game Boy. I'll admit, Tetris was a very addictive game, but that is simply ridiculous.
Marty Cordova had a decent major league career, spanning over nine years, playing for four teams, and ending as a career .274 hitter with 122 homers. He also had a fairly unique injury, one which resulted in his temporary inability to play in day games—night games were fine. Cordova made the mistake of falling asleep in a tanning bed, resulting in a serious burn. Doctors ordered him to stay out of any direct sunlight, and Cordova had to miss a few games. One must wonder, after explaining this to his teammates, was Cordova blushing or was it just the sunburn?
I seriously considered putting this at number one, largely because it is so well known. But in the end, I decided to leave it right here. Bill Gramatica was a rookie kicker for the Arizona Cardinals in 2001. After kicking a fairly meaningless field goal in the first half of a game against the New York Giants, Gramatica jumped in the air in an unnecessary show of celebration. Of course, what goes up must come down. And when he came down, he did so a bit awkwardly, tearing his ACL, and missing the rest of the season,
Gus Frerotte was the quarterback for the Washington Redskins in 1997, when he gave himself one of the most bizarre injuries you will ever see. Much like Gramatica, Frerotte pulled it off celebrating. Frerotte gets the nod at number one because his celebration was stupider than Gramatica's. Frerotte scored on a one yard touchdown run, and in celebration continued running through the end zone, out of the back of the end zone, and headfirst into the wall behind the end zone. Yes, he intentionally headbutted a wall to show his joy about scoring a touchdown, and could not play the second half of the game. Mr. Frerotte, I do not think that is what your mom intended when she told you to use your head...