The 30 Most Embarrassing Plays in Sports History

Ross LipschultzAnalyst IJuly 28, 2011

The 30 Most Embarrassing Plays in Sports History

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    Ever had that dream where you are sitting in a crowded place, and everyone you know is staring at you, laughing, because you are in your underwear?

    Oh, and it's the pair that's dirtier than a congressman's love life.

    One word: embarrassing.

    Luckily for you, this is just your dream. But for athletes who perform in front of thousands of fans fixated on the action, those red-faced moments of shame can occur at any time.

    Sure, some bring it on by showboating, but others just can't help it. One lapse, and everyone is laughing.

    Keep your pants on, please. The slides are just a click away.

30. Todd Pinkston

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    Philadelphia fans are known for their undeserved mean streaks, but in the case of Todd Pinkston, every word, insult and curse is deserved.

    Football is a grown man sport, so when the ball is feet away and a defender is in your face, make a play on the ball! Don't turn away like the safety is Medusa.

29. Shawn Bradley

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    Shawn Bradley's business card now reads:

    Shawn Bradley

    Professional Springboard

    Available for basketball games and kids' parties.

    Okay, he may want to cross off the basketball part. Actually, he should've retired the second T-Mac landed.

28. Vesa Toskala

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    Goalies everywhere are saying, "I wish every shot was this easy." The Maple Leafs' Vesa Toskala was probably too busy finishing his memoirs by the time the puck traveled 197 feet and squeaked in for a goal.

    Here's why it's embarrassing. A completely supine man could've blocked the puck and safely held on. Toskala could've had a buddy post a picture of him planking, and the Islanders still wouldn't have scored.

27. Emanuele Giaccherini

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    His fault? No. Embarrassing? Yes. Two shots on goal from inside the box with little to no competition can't result in a goose egg—especially down 1-0 to a higher-ranking foe.

    Giaccherini's coach said, "It seemed impossible to miss, but he managed it." Knowing European soccer, odds are Cesena fans weren't as amicable.

26. Frederic Weis

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    By now, every sports fan has seen this video. Except for maybe the Weis family, as it must be the Voldemort of the household.

    Mr. Weis, meet Vince Carter's groin. Groin, Weis.

25. DeSean Jackson

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    Showboating is nice, but scoring is better. Much better. But in DeSean Jackson's rookie season, he seemed to have the scales of priority out of balance.

    When Donovan McNabb hit him with a strike in the second quarter that would've given the Eagles the lead, he decided to spike the ball early, leaving the ball on the 1-yard line. Luckily, Philly punched it in one play later, but it's great to see someone celebrate a fumble.

    Don't be too hard on Jackson, though: He has a history of this type of thing.

24. Tony Allen

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    Rooting for injuries should not be laughed at. But when it happens to someone who decides to boast during a dead ball, the "karma" stare is certainly allowed.

    In 2007, Tony Allen gets hand-checked on the perimeter but decides to keep going to the hoop. Two steps and a missed, uncontested tomahawk later, he no longer has a complete ACL or MCL.

    No smirking—just an eye roll.

23. Patrick Roy

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    Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy will always remain one of the best goaltenders in the business, but every legend has his mistakes. An essential own goal with a 3-2 lead in the 2002 Western Conference Finals qualifies with flying colors.

    Sure, he makes a great save on Steve Yzerman, but gloating by raising his glove à la the Statue of Liberty should not have been his next move. He should've secured the puck, which plopped out of his glove and was tapped in for the game-winner.

    To make matter worse, the Red Wings ended up winning the series and moving onto the Stanley Cup Final.

22. Joe Pisarcik

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    The Giants had the perfect trifecta: New York had the ball, a 17-12 lead and an opponent, the Eagles, with no timeouts. Quarterback Joe Pisarcik would win the game with a knee, the easiest play in football.

    Apparently, Pisarcik likes a good challenge. Too bad he didn't give one to the Eagles, botching the handoff to Larry Csonka and allowing Herman Edwards to scamper in 26 yards for the winning score.

    The best part may have been the call by Don Criqui, who had begun thanking the CBS staff and recapping how the Giants would affect the playoff picture.

    Never count your Eagles before they hatch.

21. Tommy Kelly

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    Tommy Kelly's public pantsing clears up the age-old question of "boxers or briefs."

    Oddly, he answers with some sort of thong accoutrement.

20. Ivan Vishnevskiy

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    Yes, with only 50 seconds left in the game, the Stars were bound to lose anyway. Even down 3-2, it would've been a tall task to come back.

    That being said, the Stars rookie couldn't control the puck. That may be lesson two in hockey, after learning how to skate.

19. Nyjer Morgan

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    Nyjer Morgan, who's having a quietly solid career, had the worst year of his career in 2010. That May may also have marked the low moment of his life.

    This kind of temper tantrum could earn a Teen Choice Award. Throwing his team under the bus and giving the other team an inside-the-park home run has never been such a spectacle.

    Maybe because it hasn't happened anywhere else...ever. 

18. Patrik Stefan

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    With the Stars up 5-4, Patrik Stefan had it made. He'd stolen the puck from the Oilers and had no one in sight as he skated slowly towards the goal. 

    But then, he didn't let go. He forgot. Something happened, and all of a sudden, Stefan was on his rump. The Oilers took advantage, taking the puck the length of the ice and scoring to force overtime.

    Coincidentally—or not—he retired after this season.

17. Steve Lyons

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    Let's be honest here: If you have so much dust on your pants that the amount of force to wipe it off brings your trousers to half-mast, you better have just crawled across the Sahara Desert.

    Give the White Sox utility man credit, though. He could have brought out the second moon with one more brush-off.

16. Landon Donovan

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    Landon Donovan may be the face of American soccer, but on this play, he made the country look like it had a facial tic.

    Sure, the U.S. was up 2-0 on its top hat, Canada, but the keeper had already dived, leaving the net wide open. It's Donovan's job to at least touch the ball, not face plant.

15. Dennis Wideman

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    I don't know much about hockey, but I know it's not an aerial sport. Apparently, that's more than Dennis Wideman knew.

    The goalie had to be thinking, "Easiest. Stop. Ever."

14. Ryan Raburn

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    Ryan Raburn's trying. He really is. Miguel Olivo's fly ball is over his head, and Raburn just wants to make a play on the ball. Looking back on the result, so did Olivo.

    Turning an out into a home run takes a lot of bad luck. Turning an out at the beginning of the warning track into a home run and then falling on your face takes a lot of skill.

13. Chris Brass

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    File this under "IN THA FAAAAAACE!" Bury's Chris Brass probably couldn't do this again if he tried.

    But who would want to? Brass was merely trying to make an overheard clearance out of the goalie box but instead wound up badly bruising his nose and giving Darlington the lead. 

    I believe that's known as a twofer.

12. Bill Buckner

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    As a first baseman, Buckner has probably made this play the past 1,000 times, and watching him look astonished is one of the sadder things in sports history.

    He lost the 1986 World Series on one of the easiest plays ever, and while pity may strike you first, it's downright embarrassing to watch a ball skitter through the wickets.

11. Jason Richardson

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    Five seconds into the clip, Jason Richardson appears in the clear, with LeBron James behind the three-point line. But in a close game, J-Rich should've known better.

    Or he should've just known that if he and the man-beast are on the same side of the court, James has a chance at the ball. In this case, he had much more than a chance, and Richardson had more than a seat on the baseline.

10. Paul Robinson

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    Someone needs to tell English goalie Paul Robinson that you get strikes in baseball, not footy.

    When right-back Gary Neville rolls the ball back to Robinson with the speed of a tortoise, there couldn't have been a more red-faced result for the keeper. Maybe if he kicked the ball off his face into his net. 


9. Jose Canseco

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    We know Jose Canseco isn't the sharpest guy around, but this play might explain the loss of brain cells.

    On May 26, 1993, the Rangers outfielder lost the ball in the sun—until the ball found his noggin, Abby Wambach-style, and bounced over the wall for a home run.

    In fact, his soccer skills were so appreciated that the National Professional Soccer League's Harrisburg Heat offered him a contract.

    No word if his feet are as skilled as his head.

8. Khalfan Fahad

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    When a professional misses a shot a paraplegic probably could've made, there's something wrong. And yes, that applies worldwide.

    Qatar's Khalfan Fahad almost had a goal without touching the ball after saving it on the end line. He just wanted the cool net motion of scoring a powerful goal.

    Instead, he should've got a quick kicking motion. Of his keister, by his coach.

7. Steve Smith

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    What a way to go. Tied 2-2 in the third period Game Seven of the 1986 NHL Divisional Finals, the Edmonton Oilers needed a win to continue their back-to-back title defense.

    Then Steve Smith unraveled it all, attempting a pass that ricocheted off his goalie's leg for Calgary's game-winner. With no one nearby, you have to imagine Smith's face was the only thing redder than the Flames' jerseys.

6. Leon Lett

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    You'd think the demoralized faces of all the Miami players and his teammates' celebration would've made Leon Lett think, "The game's over! We won!"

    But instead of joining the Cowboys' party after blocking the Dolphins' game-winning field goal attempt, he slid to recover the ball and slipped like he found a banana on the floor.


5. Steve Johnson

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    First problem: Steve Johnson dropped an uncontested touchdown catch in the end zone that would have given the Bills a huge upset of the Steelers.

    Second problem: He blamed it on God.

    Third problem: He only spared his deity 140 characters.

4. Leon Lett...Again

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    In Super Bowl XXVII, Leon Lett recovered a fumble that would have given his Cowboys an even larger blowout victory. He began to shimmy up the sideline and celebrate.

    As Lett ran down the field, he extended the ball and pointed it toward the stands, gloating about his soon-to-be score. Sadly for him, Don Beebe wasn't too fond of his manners and stripped the ball out, forcing a touchback.

3. Jim Marshall

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    This kind of play seems common...for Little Leaguers. So to excuse Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall, we'll call this an homage to his youth.

    Sure, football is a fast-paced game, but with no one in front of him, despite the play being a forward pass, he probably should have realized his mistake oh, say, 15 yards after the recovery.

2. Chris Webber

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    To be fair, Chris Webber was just trying to make a smart basketball decision.

    To be fairer, the smart basketball decision would be to know how many timeouts you have when there's less than 30 seconds left and you're down two.

    But hey, no one's perfect.

1. Fred Brown

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    After Michael Jordan's bucket in the 1982 national championship, Georgetown's Fred Brown pushed the ball up the court with one goal in mind: score.

    Sadly, he forgot it takes a team, and not the other team. He must be blue-white color blind.

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