The 25 Most Violent Off Field Incidents in Sports History
Passion, intensity, and enthusiasm are all buzz words used to describe sports. We expect our favorite athletes to be superhuman and put on spectacles that we as fans cannot fathom doing.
500-foot home runs, 360 dunks, and hole in ones are all sensational feats that only the best in the world can achieve.
Then there are the fans. We come in all shapes and sizes and what we do best is talk, and drink, and talk some more. Unfortunately, this is not a great combination.
Whether because of a big moment, a frustrating outcome, or a heckling fan, even the greatest athletes lose their cool once in a while.
Sometimes, there is no controlling the beast. Here is the top 25 most violent off field incidents in sports history…
25. Patrick Kane Beats Up Cab Driver..for 20 Cents
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This comes from the “you can’t be serious” collection.
Patrick Kane, Stanley Cup champion, Olympic silver medalist and NHL young gun and his cousin, attacked a cab driver because he did not have the proper 20 cents in change that he requested.
Kane and is cousin were charged with felony robbery and misdemeanor charges.
This is certainly an interesting way to get in trouble and to make your name as tough guy in the league.
24. Woody Hayes Takes out Frustrations on the Other Team
During the 1978 Gator Bowl, Clemson nose guard Charlie Bauman intercepted an Art Schlichter pass and returned it down the OSU sideline.
When he was finally tackled, Coach Hayes punched Bauman in the throat, leading to a brawl.
Watching the video, it is still difficult to believe that an experienced and seasoned coach would punch a collegiate athlete. Hayes was fired after shaming both OSU and himself.
23. Shaun Ellis' Snowball Fight
The reason that we are going to call this violence is because the fan did press criminal charges.
Ellis believed that it was all in good fun, and after a tough loss to the Seahawks in the snow, he thought of no better way to have “fun” than to throw a snow BOULDER at an unsuspecting fan.
22. Zidane Confuses His Opponent with the Ball
This is another on the field incident that occurred during a dead ball situation.
Zidane head butted Marco Materazzi in the 110th minute of the 2006 World Cup final. It was a vicious, yet creative way to get his attention and inflict some pain in the process.
Zidane does not regret his decision, despite the team’s loss on penalty kicks.
21. Celtic Pride
Fast forward to 8:30
A premature Celtics celebration led to a violent attack on referee Richie Powers by a Celtics fan that clearly was unhappy with the ruling of adding more time on the clock.
In addition to this assault, the Suns bench was aggravated by screaming Celtics fans all night.
Stay classy 1970s Boston fans.
20. Randall Simon Hates Sausage
First, if you do not like the Milwaukee Brewers sausage race, you have no soul. Now that we have gotten past that small detail, let us analyze the Randall Simon sausage assault.
During the race, coming down the third base line, Simon took a swing at the Italian sausage. He connected and knocked down the beloved character, leaving everyone in shock.
Though it truly was in poor taste, the newscasters did treat the story as if there it was a murder of some sort.
19. Camera Man Gets Dennis Rodman's Bad Side
When people think of Dennis Rodman, they immediately think of different, crazy hair colors, a rebounding machine, and a hothead. Well, this particular Rodman incident has them all.
Some call it the heat of the moment, while others cannot justify his actions one bit.
Either way, the Chicago Bull’s forward acted on his anger and viciously kicked a camera man in the groin, leaving those watching speechless and in awe.
18. Kellen Huston Sucker Punches a Missouri Fan
After Missouri’s 41-24 victory over Nebraska, fans came on the field to celebrate the schools first victory of NU since 1978.
Nebraska senior Kellen Huston did not appreciate the gesture.
He knocked out a Missouri student cold, on camera, for the whole world to see. He was suspended one game and fined a small amount.
Talk about adding insult to injury.
17. Postrace Meeting Between Biffle and Harvick
It is difficult to fathom going over a 150 miles per hour and being within inches of your opponents. The margin for error is minutely slim and one slight mistake will send a fellow racer into the wall.
Different than knocking a guy out for a few plays or sending him to the bench, slamming a car into a wall is dangerous to the driver, and usually tears up the car.
Greg Biffle did this to Kevin Harvick at Bristol in 2002, prompting Harvick to wait for Biffle after the race. It was like going out for a joy ride and meeting your angry father upon your return.
In this case, a fight broke out, and probably for good reason.
16. Eric Cantona Puts His Best Foot Forward
In 1995, Eric Cantona was sent off after a hard foul on Crystal Palace defender Richard Shaw.
As he was walking to the tunnel, Cantona lunged into the crowd, feet first, trying to take out a Crystal Palace a fan. He then proceeded to land a few more punches before being subdued.
He was fined and suspended, as expected, leaving us with one of the craziest and violent attacks on fans in soccer and sports history.
15. Carlos Zambrano Can't Keep His Hands to Himself
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
Fight your teammate once and it is a bad day. Fight two different teammates on two separate occasions, and you are just bad news.
Carlos Zambrano has had two separate off the field dugout fights with teammates over disagreements over who knows what.
The common denominator is that when things go bad, Big Z is the last person you want to reason with.
14. Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry Now Includes Groundskeepers
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Is this what Steinbrenner meant when he referred to the pride of the Yankees?
During Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox were using their better judgment. The game had already experienced a brawl that saw 72-year-old Don Zimmer get tossed to the ground.
In the top of the ninth, Yankee reliever Jeff Nelson asked a Red Sox groundskeeper to stop openly rooting for the Red Sox in the bullpen.
He did not comply and both Nelson and right fielder Karim Garcia started to beat on the Sox employee before Boston Police came to the scene.
Oh how I miss the real Yankees-Red Sox rivalry…
13. Kermit Washington Punch
While this happened on the court, we will have to accept it because it occurred after the play had ended.
Washington unloaded on Houston Rocket and future coach Rudy Tomjanovich, breaking his jaw in addition to bones in his face. It was one of the most gruesome injuries in NBA history and ended Tomjanovich’s season.
Washington was levied the longest suspension in the NBA at that time (60 days) and is known as one of the most brutal acts to take place on a basketball court.
The doctors compared putting Tomjanovich’s skull and face back together to taping up a battered egg shell.
12. Tie Domi Picks a Fight with a Fan
When I was in kindergarten, my teacher would tell us to leave the kid in timeout alone. He was already a troublemaker and did not need any more attention.
This also goes for the NHL penalty box.
Domi squirted water at a Flyers fan, and in retaliation, the fan lunged over the glass and into the box.
Domi decided that this was fair game to go after the rather unintelligent fan. A small beating later, and the fight was broken up.
Of all people to pick a fight with, the guy with the third most penalty minutes in NHL history is probably not the man.
11. Larry Holmes V. Trevor Berbick Street Fight
Who needs a boxing ring when you can have a perfectly good street fight? Larry Holmes and Trevor Berbick would agree.
In 1991, 10 years after their first fight, their feud spilled over into a public brawl that culminated with a Larry Holmes flying drop kick off the hood of a car.
No, that was not a typo…A FLYING DROP KICK.
10. LeGarrette Blount Sucker Punches Byron Hout
Oregon and Boise State played their first game of 2009 on national television, resulting in a 19-8 lose on the smurf turf. Blount rushed for minus-8 yards and minus-2 points (solid day at the office).
When the game was over, Blount gave Boise State defensive end Byron Hout a love tap to the face, and proceeded to back away.
Police had to take Blount to the locker room, but not before he yelled at Boise fans and really put the icing on the cake of a great night.
He was suspended 10 games for his gentlemanlike ways.
9. Monica Seles Stabbed
During a 1993 quarterfinal match in Hamburg, Germany, a crazed Steffi Graf fan stabbed Monica Seles during a changeover.
The man ran from the stands and stabbed the tennis star with a small blade, causing her to fall to the ground.
She overcame her physical injury, but did not return to the court for two years. She gained a great deal of support from the international tennis community, and would eventually make a comeback.
The man who stabbed her was declared mentally unstable and never went to jail for his actions. Seles has vowed never to play in Germany again.
8. Frank Fransisco Adds Stadium Seating
During a 2004 altercation, Francisco threw a folding chair into the stands. A fan started with a fellow Rangers reliever, and Francisco finished it.
Oakland Coliseum is a big place, but I think the Rangers righty was just trying to give the chair to an usher who had been standing the entire game. These random acts of kindness are rare these days.
Unfortunately for Frank, he hit a poor woman in the face and was suspended for the rest of the season. He was traded by the Rangers this past offseason to the Toronto Blue Jays.
7. Tom Gamboa Attacked by Fans
Fast forward to 1:07
Going to baseball games with your father is an American past time. Charging the field and knocking over a defenseless first base coach is not.
A father and son combo randomly and unsuspectingly attacked Tom Gamboa in the top of the ninth inning of a game between the Royals and the White Sox.
All players and fans were shocked to see the heinous act occur; the Royals bench and bullpen sprinted to their coach’s aid and subdued the assaulters quickly and forcefully.
It was an incredible scene and an image branded into baseball fans’ minds.
6. Tyson-Lewis Press Conference
Their 2002 bout became much more personal when a brawl broke out during the pre-fight press conference.
Entourages were involved and punches were thrown. At one point, Tyson bit the WBC president Jose Sulaiman and went off on a profanity-laden tirade.
Who would have thought that this same man would one day provide a cameo in The Hangover and star in his own show about raising pigeons?
The world is a crazy place people.
5. Bruins in the Stands in 1979
After a hard fought, chippy 4-3 Bruins victory, Rangers goalie John Davidson decided to take a little detour to the locker room into the Bruins zone. There, havoc ensued.
The bruins Al Secord and the Rangers Frank Beaton began to fights. This fight would not be contained; Boston's Stan Jonathan got involved and it began to pour over into the stands at MSG.
This image is still one of the most famous in hockey history, and rivals the Pistons-Pacers brawl as the most intense player-fan fight.
Talk about making the game more interactive for the fans.
4. Tonya Harding Calls a Hit on Nancy Kerrigan
If you do not know the story of Kerrigan and Harding, you need to move out from the rock you are currently living under.
This story has everything. Crowbars, a hired hit man, and fierce figure skating drama.
All jokes aside, this is one of the most violent attacks in sports history. Kerrigan was not able to skate shortly after the injury, and the story rose to national prominence.
Breaking someone’s leg is a storyline we are accustomed to in an episode of the Sopranos, not ice dancing.
3. A NHL Beat Down...Rob Ray Style
Dumb Quebec Nordiques fan, meet Mr. Rob Ray. Ray, meet Nordique moron.
Hey Nordique fan, Ray is what we call an enforcer. Besides play the game of hockey at a subpar level, his role on the team is to protect the best players on the Sabres and fight goons throughout the league.
I hope this is a lesson learned that you should not take on a bench full of the toughest athletes in the world.
The best part of the video is that another, legitimate hockey fight was going on in the background.
Once they saw some pencil pusher getting the snot beaten out of him they just kind of looked on. They must have been thinking, so are we done here…or….
2. Malice in the Palace
I do not want to elevate the Pistons-pacers brawl to the level of a national disaster, but it definitely goes along the lines of an event that I will always know where I was, when I saw it happen.
Watching Artest’s ascend into the crowd was like watching a wild bull wreak havoc on innocent spectators.
Artest has always had problems keeping his cool, but his inexcusable action created a shock wave of violence that is incomparable to any American sporting event.
In total, players were suspended 147 games, and millions of dollars were lost to these suspension. The fans that started the fight were banned from the arena and had to give back their season tickets.
This incident lead to a litany of NBA security changes and will go down as the most violent off the field incident in sports history.
1. Andres Escobar Killed After World Cup Own Goal
Though the violent incident is not shown in this footage, its origins are.
Andres Escobar, a revered Colombian defender scored an own goal during a 1994 World Cup match versus the United States.
The violent act was commitment outside of a bar upon his return to his hometown of Medellin. Humberto Castro Muñoz, the man who later confessed to the murder, shot and killed Escobar, reportedly screamed "Gol!", in reference to Escobar's own goal.
Escobar was living during a very volatile time in Colombia and his death was a tragic example of how soccer is more than a game in many parts of the world.