15 Hilarious Things Athletes Are Scared of

Matt Haupert@@matthaupFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2014

15 Hilarious Things Athletes Are Scared of

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Life as a professional athlete can be a terrifying thing.

    Not only is the pressure intense and the risk of injury high, but athletes have to face unyielding daily terrors such as bunnies, mayonnaise and their own mothers.

    Don't laugh.

    These are three of the completely real yet profoundly irrational fears that haunt athletes-to-be-named-later to this day.

    Apparently, even professional athletes—paragons of strength, size and physical ability—can be sent crying for mommy by some of the same things that probably gave you nightmares in the days before you were even potty trained.

    So the next time you feel stupid because you wet your pants during a scary movie or still use a nightlight when it gets too dark, take solace in the fact that the fears of superstars Yasiel Puig, Andy Roddick and Damian Lillard are far more embarrassing.

    Take a look through 15 athlete fears that are hilarious, absurd and simply inexplicable.

Damian Lillard: Historic Statues

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    GREG WAHL-STEPHENS/Associated Press

    Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus have all been dead a long time—but not long enough for Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard to feel entirely safe.

    Lillard used Twitter to explain his fear of statues:

    I like DC. I wana come back and visit the memorials  even though I'm scared of statues

    — Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) November 28, 2012

    According to USA Today, Lillard later clarified that it was only historical statues that gave him the jitters:

    I've always been scared of historic stuff like that. If I see statues of Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr. — all that stuff kind of gives me a funny feeling

    I'm not sure what it is about those three that is so frightening to him.

    If Lincoln were to magically come back to life, he might be able to lend a hand to all the folks bickering in Washington, and based on everything that's written about him, Jesus seems like he was a nice enough guy.

    Oh well. To each his own.

    In the meantime, let's make sure Lillard doesn't get his hands on a copy of Night at the Museum.

Sam Fuld: Roller Coasters

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    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    The next time you hop onto a roller coaster and buckle in, give yourself a pat on the back—you've accomplished a feat that Minnesota Twins center fielder Sam Fuld would never dream of attempting.

    Fuld explained his crippling fear to ESPN The Magazine: "[I'm afraid of] 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."

    I've never considered myself a "survivor" for making it off of a roller coaster alive, but I like the sound of it. Anyone who wants to purchase an "I Survived" T-shirt, let me know.

    Mr. Fuld, you unfortunately don't qualify, but if you really want, I can whip together an "I Survived a Year with the Twins" shirt for you.

    That must be far more traumatic than any roller coaster.

Eric Berry: Horses

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    With a live horse as a mascot at games, Kansas City is a bad place to play football for anyone with a horse phobia. Such is the predicament that safety Eric Berry finds himself in every single week.

    Recently ranked as the No. 2 most dynamic safety by NFL.com's Bucky Brooks (h/t KC Kingdom), Berry doesn't fear his opposition. Wide receivers and tight ends don't scare him. Offensive playmakers don't make him nervous.

    But the mascot walking laps around the field is a different story.

    Opposing offensive coordinators take note: The point at which the Chiefs defense is the most vulnerable has very little to do with what's happening on the field and a whole lot to do with how many animals are standing just outside it.

Michael Phelps: Water

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    Fear of water is a totally understandable thing.

    Coming from the undisputed greatest swimmer of all time, however, it doesn't make much sense.

    And yet, just as Bruce Wayne overcoming his fear of bats allowed him to become a superhero, Phelps overcoming his fear of putting his face underwater—as explained in the video above—allowed him to become an Olympic champion.

    This makes me feel really good about myself. I've been afraid of getting hit by a pitch since Little League—now I know this must mean I'm headed straight for the majors.

Adrian Beltre: Having His Head Touched

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    When Bruce Banner gets angry, he turns into the Incredible Hulk.

    For Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre to hulk out, all it takes is for someone to touch his head.

    It is well-known throughout the league that Beltre has a deep-seated fear of people touching him on the head, and as he explains in the video above, he doesn't even let his kids get near his precious scalp. This, of course, has made Beltre the butt of a perpetual joke among ballplayers.

    Here's a marketing idea for every opponent of the Rangers: Adrian Beltre "All-You-Can-Touch" Bobblehead Night.

Zach Randolph: Cats

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Zach Randolph is 6'9" and weighs 260 pounds.

    The average cat is 1'6" and weighs 8.6 pounds.

    A size advantage of five feet and 250 pounds isn't enough for Randolph to feel safe around his feline enemies. The Memphis Grizzlies forward explained his fear to Sam Alipour of ESPN The Magazine:

    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. I love animals, but I’m no cat lover. Guys usually aren’t.

    I have two thoughts following this absurd quote.

    First off, calm down, Zach. The cat isn't a "dude," and he probably has a lot on his mind other than trying to attack you. You know, things like eating and sleeping.

    And second, don't try to justify your fear by generalizing the entire male gender. Maybe you're right that "guys usually aren't" cat lovers, but that doesn't mean cats give the rest of us nightmares, buddy.

Yasiel Puig: Thunderstorms

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    A troubling All-Star weekend revealed a number of the fearless Yasiel Puig's debilitating fears:

    1. The pressure of the Home Run Derby.
    2. Felix Hernandez's fastball.
    3. Thunderstorms (see the Instagram video above).

    It's all right, Yasiel, those aren't so bad.

    Hernandez is amazing. And it doesn't rain in LA, so I totally get the little freakout.

    And as for the Home Run Derby...

    OK, that one was pretty embarrassing. Better luck next year?

Michael Huff: His Mom

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    Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

    You can always run inside your house to get away from a thunderstorm.

    It's easy to spend an entire life avoiding roller coasters.

    But you can never, ever hide from your own mom—which is bad news for Michael Huff, who didn't hesitate to tell Athlon Sports that his greatest fear was his own mother.

    You know, I really can't blame the guy for this one.

    When I got in trouble as a kid, I would have rather faced a room filled with giant police officers, angry NFL defensive linemen and hungry lions than my own mother.

Mathias Kiwanuka: Potholes

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    They represent the great unknown—black holes speckled throughout our streets, waiting patiently for their chance to suck us into the abyss and spit us in to space before throwing our cars into the midst of oncoming traffic and eventually ending the world as we know it.

    This, my friends, is the danger of the pothole—at least through the eyes of the New York Giants' Mathias Kiwanuka, who explained his fear to Athlon Sports:

    I’d say [my biggest fear is] the potholes in New York City. I feel like they search my rims out just to do damage. I’ve got one I have to fix right now. Honestly, that’s what scares me. I have to remind myself not to swerve the car when my daughter’s in there because I’m so used to jerking the wheel at the last second.

    This raises an interesting question: What really is the greatest danger on the road? Is it the pothole? Or is it Kiwanuka trying to avoid the pothole?

    Woah. This is getting too existential. I think I'm just going to take the train from now on.

Andy Roddick: The Easter Bunny

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    Mike Groll/Associated Press

    Most children go to sleep hoping the Easter Bunny will bring candy, colorful eggs and joy.

    Andy Roddick goes to sleep fearing the Easter Bunny will bring mischief, torture and evil.

    According to Deadspin, Roddick's fear became public knowledge when he panicked in the presence of an Easter Bunny mascot at a brunch before the Davis Cup in 2002.

    Upon further consideration, however, Roddick's fear may actually be the most rational of all.

    When you think about it, the fact that most kids are raised to think that giant bunnies breaking into homes is normal is probably the cause of a lot of the problems the world has today.

Justin Jackson: Mayonnaise

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    According to Walter White from the hit television drama Breaking Bad, hydrofluoric acid is strong enough to dissolve metal, rock, glass and ceramic (partially disproved by MythBusters).

    According to basic common sense, mayonnaise is capable of doing none of these things.

    Nevertheless, Toronto Blue Jays prospect Justin Jackson told Bleacher Report's Amber Lee that mayo was his greatest fear and "if it got on me [I'd] squeal like a child who broke their toy."

    And just like that, I suddenly have a great idea for a prank that would work on Jackson at lunch time on every single day of the baseball season.

    Can somebody get me a few of his favorite sandwiches and a spoonful of mayonnaise?

Ronda Rousey: Camel Toe

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Any fighter—any competitor, really—would probably love to know what is going through Ronda Rousey's head as she systemically destroys her opponents during MMA fights.

    As it turns out, it's nothing motivational or inspirational. Rather, it's something like, "How do my shorts look? How do my shorts look? How do my shorts look?"

    Rousey revealed her deepest fear to Tony Markovich of Complex Sports: "I just have this phobia that I’m going to get camel toe when I fight, and I’m constantly pulling my pants down. That’s really the only thing I’m scared of."

    Some things, it seems, are too terrifying for even the most fearless warriors to handle.

Dwyane Wade: Birds

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Dwyane Wade was years away from being born when Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds was released in 1963.

    No matter. The Miami Heat star told ESPN The Magazine that he was "petrified of birds."

    Perhaps he saw the film and didn't roll his eyes at the outdated special effects, as he now goes through his life with the constant fear that birds are waiting for him to walk outside and become their prey. 

    While birds can definitely be terrifying, I think Wade will be just fine. I'm 75 percent sure The Birds was fictional and 63 percent sure if birds wanted to eat Wade they would have gotten the job done a long time ago.

Joakim Noah: Pistons Mascot

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    Last season, the Detroit Pistons could do little to instill fear in their opponents.

    While the team wasn't doing the job on the court, the Pistons mascot decided to take things into his own hands in the tunnel.

    As Joakim Noah exited the stadium following a Bulls victory, the mascot leaped out of the dark and terrified the Chicago star, getting a wonderfully childish reaction out of a relatively large and intimidating figure (OK, so the little bun in his hair isn't that intimidating, but still).

    Any chance Detroit can work on that mascot's shot and get him on the court for next season?

    Hey, at this point, anything is worth a shot.

Glenallen Hill: Spiders

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Retired baseball player Glenallen Hill is the vintage "weird phobia" guy—the one who was afraid of irrational things before being afraid of irrational fears was cool.

    And he took his phobia—albeit inadvertently—to the next level.

    Ian Hunter of The Blue Jay Hunter explains the ironic fate of the unfortunately arachnophobic athlete:

    [In 1990,] Hill landed himself on the disabled list because he woke from a nightmare about spiders chasing him, and in a frightened semiconscious state, he fell through a glass table and suffered scrapes and bruises on his feet, knees and elbows.

    Spiders, Hill learned, are far more dangerous in dreams than in real life, and even spiders in dreams are no match for a glass table.

    Think I'm a genius? An idiot? Let me know on Twitter.

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