Mr. Glass Award: Counting Down the 15 Most Fragile Athletes

Ed NoveloCorrespondent IIIMay 6, 2011

Mr. Glass Award: Counting Down the 15 Most Fragile Athletes

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    Mr. Glass. 

    The name says it all.

    In sports, injuries occur frequently. In fact, an athlete should expect to be injured at one or many points in his career—it's an inescapable truth.

    After all, Iron Men like Brett Favre and Cal Ripken Jr. are a rarity. 

    Even so, only so many athletes incur injury so frequently that it's considered an act of God anytime they're healthy enough to lift a bowl of cereal.

    This slideshow is here to highlight such men.

    I'll be counting down, in my opinion, the 15 most injury-prone athletes in the history of sports, ultimately crowning who I feel to be the true Mr. Glass.

    Let's get started with a potential Mr. Glass in the making...

Honorable Mention: Matt Stafford

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    Qualifications

    2009: knee injury, shoulder separation; played 10 games

    2010: injured shoulder, has surgery for joint repair; played just three games

     

    It's too early to say, but if Stafford continues on his current path, he'll be a true Mr. Glass nominee in no time. 

    I would hate to see this happen, as I like Stafford and think he has great talent and potential. Unfortunately, I fear he may become the next Chad Pennington. 

    Oh, don't you worry, I'll get to him in a minute.

15. Shaquille O'Neal

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    CHICAGO - FEBRUARY 22:  Shaquille O'Neal #32 of the Miami Heat points to the Heat bench after injuring his knee in the first quarter against the Chicago Bulls on February 22, 2005 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly ac
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Qualifications

    Note: Shaq, for the most part, has suffered many minor, nagging injuries. In other words, it's just easier to list seasons in which he's missed significant time, instead of listing all of his individual injuries.


    1995: missed 28 games

    1996: missed 31 games

    1997: missed 22 games

    1998: missed 33 games

    2005: missed 22 games

    2006: missed 42 games

    2007: missed 21 games

    2009: missed 29 games

    2010: missed 45 games

     

    The thing is, Shaq is technically obese. He's a bruiser, and it's really not that much of a shock that he's missed a significant amount of games in his career.

    It's strange, because, until recently, I really wouldn't have considered him as all that fragile. Maybe it just didn't occur to me until I looked at the stats, but the guy truly hasn't been the picture of health.

    I guess when you're that awesome, it's easy to overlook it, especially when he's been so productive in the time he's played—this isn't in reference to his past four years or so. 

    These days he's a liability, and no, Celtics fans, he won't save you from the Heat. I truly hope he retires soon. Even if somehow he manages to get another ring, it won't be because of anything he's done. 

    You know, guys on the bench get rings too.

14. Kris Jenkins

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 18:  Kris Jenkins #77 of the New York Jets is helped off the field after being injured in the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands on October 18, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    Qualifications

    2004: shoulder injury; missed 12 games

    2005: torn ACL; missed 15 games

    2009: torn ACL; missed 10 games

    2010: torn ACL; missed 15 games

     

    Is there anything left of this guy's knee? 

    On the bright side, when he does play he's productive. In the six seasons he was healthy, he made the Pro Bowl four times, and he only missed six regular-season games out of 96. 

    It's strange that a guy could be so durable, yet so fragile. If he keeps this up, he'll quickly find himself climbing up the Mr. Glass ladder.

13. Byron Leftwich

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    HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 31:  Byron Leftwich #7 of the Jacksonville Jaguars gets attended to after getting injured in the first hafl of the game against the Houston Texans won by the Texans 20-6 on October 31, 2004 at the Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
    Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    Qualifications

    2002: broken left tibia

    2005: broken ankle; missed five games

    2006: ankle injury; played in just six games

    2007: sprained ankle; appeared in three games

    2009: elbow injury; appeared in three games

    2010: knee injury; played one game

     

    In my opinion, whether Leftwich stayed healthy or not, he would have sucked, so at least these injuries kind of take him off the hook. 

    For goodness sake, he eventually lost his job to David Garrard, and that was when he was healthy! That's never a good thing.

    Leftwich finds himself low on this list because, as far as I'm concerned, he didn't have much potential to begin with, and a lot of his injuries came when he was a backup anyways, which just makes it funny that the few opportunities he did have fell apart before they began.

    At least, I find it funny, anyway.

12. Greg Oden

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    PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 10:  Greg Oden #52 of the Portland Trail Blazers, who is out for the season after under going micro fracture surgery in his knee, sits on the bench to watch a pre-season game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Rose Garden on Oc
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    Qualifications

    2007: microfracture surgery on right knee, missed entire rookie season

    2008: injured foot, starts only 39 games and misses a total of 21 

    2009: injured left knee, chipped right kneecap, fractured left patella; played just 21 games

    2010: microfracture surgery on left knee, ending season 

    2011: runs out of Nutty Professor potion, is seen looking real age, 86; pelvis shattered while attempting to sit on toilet.

    OK, the last one is made up...for now.

    Greg Oden's injuries have some thinking he's the next Sam Bowie, though it's far too soon to say that, and it's because of that that he isn't ranked higher.

    Bowie at least had some seasons where he played the vast majority of games, though his performance was largely mediocre.

    Considering Oden is clearly an old ass man trapped in a young man's body, I wouldn't count on him having a long, productive career.

11. Vince Carter

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    CLEVELAND - MAY 08:  Vince Carter #15 of the New Jersey Nets winces in pain after getting injured late in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2007 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Are
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Qualifications

    2001: developed Jumper's Knee; missed 20 games

    2002: underwent knee surgery; missed 39 games

    2007: high ankle sprain

    2008: knee, ankle and hamstring issues

    2009: sprained left ankle

    2010: sprained left shoulder, hip flexor (slipped on wet spot, seriously), sprained left-knee

     

    Carter has a way of going down looking like he just got shot, as you can tell in the picture.

    Ever since he wowed the world with his NBA Jam-like dunks in the 2000 NBA Dunk Contest, he's been on a steady decline.

    Sure, he's had some pretty good seasons, but nothing worthy of superstar status, in my book.

    Had he not had so many nagging injuries, it's possible he could have been one of the all-time greats, but as it stands, he'll surely be remembered as the guy who everyone expected to go down when the going was good.

10. Tracy McGrady

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    Qualifications

    2005: severe back spasms, played just 47 games

    2006: continued back spasms, missed 11 games in total

    2007: elbow, ankle and knee sprain, knee surgery, missed 16 games total 

    2008: lingering knee issues, played only 35 games

    2009: knee and ankle injury, played 6 games with Rockets and just 24 with Knicks

     

    Yes, that's McGrady on a stretcher, suffering from severe back spasms.

    That night would begin a serious downward spiral, and he would never truly be the same.

    McGrady has never played a full 82-game season. He's also never gotten past the first round of the playoffs, but that's an issue better saved for my You Suck at Life awards.

    Up until 2005—eight seasons into his NBA career—he stayed relatively healthy, which is why you'll find him here. 

9. Yao Ming

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 04:  Yao Ming #11 of the Houston Rockets reacts in pain after injuring his knee in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on M
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Qualifications

    2005: osteomyelitis in big toe in left foot, missed 21 games

    2006: broken right knee, missed 34 games

    2007: stress fracture in left foot

    2008: hairline fracture in foot, requires surgery

    2009: missed season recovering from surgery

    2010: stress fracture in left ankle

     

    It's hard to believe that Yao only missed two games in his first three seasons, considering how his legs fell apart upon landing on every jump thereafter.

    It's my theory that God made him so tall that he didn't have to jump, but he sinned with every dunk, and God had to smite him. 

    Sometimes I think too much.

8. Chad Pennington

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    Qualifications

    2003: fracture dislocation of his left hand; missed six games

    2004: injured rotator cuff, required surgery; missed three games

    2005: re-tore rotator cuff, underwent surgery

    2009: injured shoulder; played just three games

    2010: injured shoulder; played just one game

    2011: tore ACL 

     

    How many times can this man injure his shoulder before he calls it quits?

    At this point, I assume it's probably being held together by a mixture of paper mache and toenail clippings.

    Even after tearing his ACL this year in a game of pickup basketball, he reportedly still wants to give it another go. 

    Don't get me wrong, he's had a few decent years—enough to earn him two Comeback Player of the Year awards—but nothing worthy of continuously subjecting himself to the pain and recovery time that comes with these injuries.

    I know if it were me, I'd get the hint when I'm holding my second Comeback Player of the Year award.

7. Kerry Wood

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    Qualifications

    1998: missed month with elbow soreness

    1999: Tommy John surgery, missed season

    2004: missed 2 months with strained triceps

    2005: missed season

    2006: surgery on injured knee, torn rotator cuff

    2007: pain in throwing arm; 60 days on the DL

    2010: upper-back muscle strain

     

    Kerry Wood hurt himself falling out of a hot tub. 

    That's right, a hot tub.

    He didn't miss any significant amount of time because of it, but it pretty much sums up how durable this man is. 

    I don't think I need to say much more.

6. Bob Sanders

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    Qualifications

    2006: knee injury, plays just four regular season games

    2007: high ankle sprain

    2008: knee injury, high ankle sprain; missed 10 games

    2009: arm injury, injured reserve; played two games

    2010: torn biceps, injured reserve; missed 15 games

     

    I never really understood how analyst after analyst talked as if Bob Sanders was the greatest safety they had ever seen.

    The fact of the matter is, in seven seasons, he's only been healthy for two.

    How exactly can they come to the conclusion that he's awesome? 

    Do the math: That's 19 regular-season games played out of a possible 80, and that's not including potential games missed for the playoffs.

    I don't care how good you might look in those two seasons, that's not nearly enough playing time to warrant such praise. 

    Breaking news (get it?): Sanders reportedly broke every bone in his body reading this. Evidently, it upset him so much that he stood up and immediately collapsed into a pile of mush.

    They immediately took his remains to the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.  

5. Grant Hill

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    Qualifications

    1999/2000: broke ankle

    2000: lingering ankle issue; played just four games

    2001: lingering ankle issue; played just 14 games

    2002: lingering ankle issue; played just 29 games

    2003: doctors re-fractured his ankle and realigned the bone, developed

    methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus shortly thereafter; missed season

    2004: bruised left shin; missed 15 games

    2005: groin injury, sports hernia; played just 21 games

    2006: left knee and ankle problems; missed 17 games

     

    Hill's ankle injury is largely what derailed his career. As it turns out, he feels the injury was mismanaged and misdiagnosed, which could explain a lot.

    Whatever the case, for eight-straight years Hill found himself missing scores of games and has never really returned to his former glory prior to 2000. 

    Surprisingly, he has managed to stay relatively healthy is the past four seasons in Phoenix. 

4. Sam Bowie

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    1 Feb 1993:  Sam Bowie of the New York Nets looks on during a game. Mandatory Credit: Layne Murdoch  /Allsport
    Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

    Qualifications

    1981-82: shin injury; missed two full college seasons

    1985: fractured right tibia; missed 44 games

    1986: tibia injury; played just five games

    1987: missed season

    1988: lingering injury; missed 62 games

    1993: numerous nagging injuries; played just 25 games

     

    If you don't know already, Bowie was the guy that was taken a pick ahead of Michael Jordan, so in all fairness, he was absolutely screwed from the beginning.

    Short of being extraordinary, there was nothing this guy could have done to make people feel good about him being chosen No. 2 in the draft.

    Of course, it didn't help that he fell apart not only in college, but in his first few seasons with the Trail Blazers. 

    Obviously, he's ranked ahead of Oden because Oden isn't done falling apart yet, but in time it's possible that Oden could surpass Bowie in bench warming and visits to the doctors.

    I hear on the 18th visit you get a free sub.

3. Ken Griffey Jr.

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    Qualifications

    2001:  torn hamstring

    2002:  torn knee tendon, hamstring

    2003:  dislocated shoulder, torn ankle tendon

    2004:  partial hamstring tear, ruptured right hamstring later that year

    2005:  strained a tendon in right foot, then had arthoscopic surgery on left knee

    2006:  broke wrist

    2007:  season ending groin strain

     

    Overall, Griffey would find himself on the DL eight times with the Reds. That's one too many times by my estimation.

    Despite the injuries, he was still able to hit over 600 HRs in his career, and as far as people can tell, they were hit steroid free. 

    Nevertheless, seven-straight years of injury place him firmly at No. 3.

2. Mark Prior

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    Qualifications

    2002: strained hamstring

    2003: shoulder injury; missed three starts

    2004: achilles tendon injury; missed two months

    2005: elbow strain; missed 15 days

    2006: strained shoulder, strained left oblique; missed three months

    2007: shoulder surgery; missed entire season

    2008: shoulder surgery recovery, tear in pitching shoulder; 120 days total on DL

     

    Mark Prior is the only guy on this list who has his own section dedicated to his injuries on Wikipedia. That's a sure-fire sign that it's time to give it up. 

    At the same time, it has to be a compliment that teams would still be interested in you despite your frequent injuries, and apparently the one or two games he played for them was worth the trouble.

1. Bill Walton

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    Note: As with Shaq, it's just easier to show the scope of how many games Walton missed due to multiple injuries, ultimately leading to 36 orthopedic surgeries, by his count. Let's take a look.

     

    Qualifications

    1974: missed 47 games

    1975: missed 31 games

    1976: missed 17 games

    1977: missed 25 games

    1978: missed entire season

    1979: missed 68 games

    1980: missed entire season

    1981: missed entire season

    1982: missed 49 games

    1983: missed 27 games

    1986: missed 72 games

     

    Poor Bill Walton, such a kind, gentle man. 

    His injuries were so severe that he actually considered suicide at a time. When a guy hits that point, it's because he breaks so often that it's unbearable—and that's why he wins the award.

    Congratulations! Especially for still being alive. 

    An icon in college, Walton only managed to play a combined 468 games out of a possible 820 in his NBA career. Now, that's just 57 percent of potential games, which is unfortunate for such a talent.

    On the bright side, he did somehow manage to still win two championships, even earning the league MVP in 1978 and the Finals MVP in 1977.

    Now for a look at his prize. And sorry Bill, it's not weed...

The Prize

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    Dexter Jackson: Unbreakable

    I'll be honest with you, I don't know who this guy is or what he's about, but if the cover of his DVD is to be believed, the dude is UNBREAKABLE.

    I don't know about you, but I'm sold. Apparently, he'll give you "the will to win, [and] the strength to endure!" which is good, because you need it, Bill.

    He's got huge biceps and everything. Plus, he's got a pretty sweet earring to boot, and you can't beat that. And I can't say for sure, but I think his skull might have muscles.

    I know it's too late for you Walton, but hopefully this...instructional video (?)...gives you all of the hope you need to stop breaking all the time.

    Here's to being whole, both physically and emotionally...