Top 10 Greatest Urban Legends in Sports
At times, sports can act like a good story, one that keeps the fans engaged and something that we remember for a long time. Throughout the history of sports there have been countless stories and memories, but only a select few have elevated into urban legend status.
These urban legends gained traction throughout the years and overtime exploded with the spread of the internet. Sometimes the truth is revealed from the horse's mouth, but the stories are so ingrained that we cannot even believe what the truth may be and thus the urban legend sustains. Here are the 10 biggest urban legends in sports history.
10. Oklahoma Football Team was Poisoned
Oklahoma was in the midst of the greatest streak in the history college football. That was until Notre Dame paid a visit to Owen Field and defeated Bud Wilkinson's team 7-0, ending the Sooners' 47-game winning streak. As the legend goes, the Sooners, who had no trouble scoring that season, looked so out of whack and physically disoriented that the only explanation was food poisoning orchestrated at the hands of their opponent.
Oklahoma went on to win the rest of their games in 1957, which fed even more fire into the feeling that something fishy happened day. Years later, the story grew into a legend.
9. Wade Boggs Pounds Brew
"I’ve never seen anyone drink as much beer as [Boggs] did in my life," Nelson said in a radio interview. "I’d say, on a typical road trip, east coast to west coast, say a road game to Seattle...Wade would drink anywhere between 50 and 60 beers...I know how crazy that sounds, and I wouldn’t believe it myself unless I saw him do it...numerous times. And he drank nothing but Miller Lite."
Boggs may have denied it, but a teammate vouching for the story has helped it survive well passed Boggs' retirement.
8. Kevin Mitchell: Cat Killer
The legend grew out of Doc Gooden's 1999 autobiography titled "Heat." In it, Gooden goes into vivid detail about a time he went to Mitchell's girlfriends house to pay a visit to his former teammate who he found in an enormous fit of rage.
The story goes that the knife-wielding Mitchell had melted down at his girlfriend and was screaming profanities and threatening her. Then, Mitchell grabbed his girlfriend's cat and chopped of its head with one clean shot.
Years later, neither Gooden nor Mitchell claimed responsibility for the story. Gooden denies putting in the book while Mitchell denies it ever happened, leaving the legend to grow and grow.
7. Dock Ellis' No-No Trip
In 1984, Ellis claimed that on June 12, 1970, he threw a no-hitter while completely under the effects of LSD. If true, how he managed to it is amazing in itself. If true, it might take the "urban" out of the legend, but doesn't take the legendary out of the feat. Decades later, the secondary result was one of the greatest YouTube videos of all time.
6. Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx
The <i>Sports Illustrated</i> Cover Jinx is simple. If a player or team appears on the cover, that player or team will experience some kind of misfortune in the near future. Recent examples including the pictured SI cover from November, three months before Peyton Manning threw Super Bowl-clinching interception against the New Orleans Saints.
Other recent examples include the "Favre On Fire" cover two weeks before the Vikings lost to the Saints in the NFC Championship Game. In September 2008, Tom Brady appeared on the cover of the 2008 SI NFL Preview edition and promptly had his knee blown out in the opening minutes of the Patriots' first game.
5. Madden Curse
More popular than the SI Cover Jinx is the fabled "Madden Curse." The "Madden Curse" has taken down a number of high profile players including Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper, and Marshall Faulk.
Vick, pictured, was perhaps the most notable evidence of the curse. Vick was on the cover of the 2004 edition but suffered a broken leg in a preseason game ONE DAY after the game's release. The Falcons missed the playoffs after going 9-6-1 the year before.
Daunte Culpepper was on the cover of the 2002 edition, but suffered a blown out knee in 2001 and required multiple seasons before he was any semblance of his previous self.
Faulk appeared on the cover of the 2003 game, but was slowed by ankle injuries that dropped his production under 1,000 for the first time in his career and the Rams missed the playoffs.
4. Cal Ripken and Kevin Costner
The legend was born out of a 1997 rumor regarding the cancellation of a game. The story goes that Cal Ripken returned home to find his house guest, Costner, in bed with his wife and that Ripken handed Costner a beating. He then called the Orioles and informed the club he was too upset to play. In an effort to preserve his consecutive games played streak, the Orioles canceled that night's game on account of electrical failure.
3. Josh Gibson
Josh Gibson spent his entire career in the Negro Leagues and thus never received the exposure or recognition that historians say would have confirmed his standing as one of the greatest ballplayers of all-time.
There was not the same statistical analysis in the Negro Leagues as Major League Baseball and thus Gibson's actual accomplishments are somewhat vague and unconfirmed. Stories of 600-foot home runs and nearly 800 career home runs added to his legend.
Unfortunately, Gibson's sudden death in 1947 prevented historians of gaining a more accurate portrayal of his career. Thus, much of it remains as a sort of folklore in the annals of baseball history.
2. Wilt Chamberlain and His Women
Wilt Chamberlain was already a legend of the NBA for his 50-point scoring average and 100-point game. However, Wilt became a legend to men when later in life he declared that he had slept with over 20,000 women in his lifetime. Men and women alike corroborated over the years just how sexual driven Chamberlain was, but still, that math equates to more than one person a day for his entire adult life.
1. Jimmy Hoffa's Body
The location of Jimmy Hoffa's body was an urban legend that crossed the lines of sports and Americana. Hoffa was a former union leader who disappeared in 1975 in what was expected as a mob hit. 1975 was also the year Giants Stadium was being built. Decades later, the rumor grew into legend that Hoffa was buried under the goal line at Giants Stadium.
However, the supposed site of Hoffa's final resting place is now under 13 feet of concrete as what was the goal line of Giants Stadium is now a parking lot, sealing Hoffa's place as the greatest urban legend in sports.