The world of sports is full of amazing tales of folly and achievement. Such incidents are usually on the backbone of the intense physical conditioning these athletes put themselves through, day-in and day-out, all year. Sometimes, though, the world of sports is a tough mistress.
The next five videos are, in my opinion, the worst instances when sports came back to bite the athlete.
5. Sid Vicious
Two-time WCW Heavyweight Champion
Two-time WWF Heavyweight Champion
WCW United States Heavyweight Champion
Pro Wrestling Illustrated Comeback of the Year (1996)
Sid Vicious is looked at by some to be one of the greatest, and most intense, men to ever take the ring. He was involved in some pretty insane matches throughout his career, and in conjecture with the “true” elements of wrestling, many of the injuries he sported were actually kayfabe. Except this one:
The worst part about this video is the repetition of it. On January 24, 2001, at the Sin pay-per-view in Indianapolis, Vicious attempted a top rope big boot to Scott Steiner, in which he landed awkwardly and compound factured his tibia and fibula. This, of course, comes after pressure from WCW Management to “expand his repetoire” of techniques and use some aerial moves, despite Vicious’ apprehension of doing so.
Vicious would later sue WCW for the pressure they placed on him, and coincidentally WCW would be bought by the WWF before years end.
4. Willis McGahee
Two-time NFL Pro Bowl Selection
AP NFL Comeback Player of the Year (2004)
BCS National Championship (2002)
Consensus All-American (2002)
First-Team All-Big East (2002)
Big East Offensive Player of the Year (2002)
While running the gridiron at The U, McGahee was a force. His Sophomore season consisted of many of the mentions as noted above, and his stats were insatiable: 282 carries, 1,753 yards, 6.2 yards per carry, and 28 TD’s. Not to mention, this guy also hadd an additional 335 yards receiving. Many NFL backs never achieve those numbers. Alas, even after sprinting Miami to a perfect season and a BCS Championship berth, McGahee’s college career came to screeching halt.
Of course, like a true competitor, McGahee decided to forgo his insurance policy and go into the NFL anyway, being selected by the Buffalo Bills at #23 overall in the 2003 NFL Draft. McGahee would miss the entire 2003 season due to rehabilitating his knee, and after he made some snide remarks about the city of Buffalo, Ralph Wilson and his buddies dealt him to Baltimore, where he thrived.
It’s interesting to note that Will Allen — the guy who jumbled McGahee’s leg in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl — suffered a similar injury while a member of the Miami Dolphins in 2009.
3. Joe Theismann
Two-time Pro Bowl Selection
Two-time All-Pro Selection
Super Bowl XVII Champion
NFL Most Valuable Player (1983)
Pro Bowl MVP (1983)
Washington Redskins Ring of Fame
Many of us have seen the incident. Many of us are sickened by it. Many of us are confused about how it anatomically could have happened. Alas, if there is anything we’ve already established with the previous entries into this list, it’s that in the world of sports, anything is possible.
Theismann’s leg was broken by one of the most-feared linebackers of all-time, Lawrence Taylor. For those of you who may not know, Lawrence Taylor (or L.T., as he was called) was like a clone of Deacon Jones, and for those of you who don’t know Deacon Jones, let’s just say he’s the true all-time sack leader and there has not been a defensive end like him — before, or after.
I could build this up all day, but I think I’m just going to cut straight to it.
Of the multitude of videos on YouTube showing us the tragic end to Joe Theismann’s career, I opted for this one, since the woman speaking in the video does a great job at giving an explanation as to how fast these things really happen. It really did take four seconds between the ball being snapped and Theismann’s career ending. Thismann also has the distinction of being the first guy on this list to have his career ended by the showcased injury. McGahee obviously went on to have a so-so career in the NFL and Sid Vicious did return to the ring some years later. Thiesmann’s return to the NFL was in the broadcast booth.
It really does lend credence to the old adage: “Gone in the blink of an eye.”
2. Shaun Livington
Illinois Mr. Basketball (2004)
Shaun Livingston is a perfect example of not only the woes that have plagued many NBA Draftees in the post-Jordan Era, but is also an example of how horrible the luck of the Los Angeles Clippers has been. <— Bill Simmons also talks about a curse.
Shaun Livingston was selected 4th overall in the serviceable 2004 draft, alongside such names as Dwight Howard, Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Devin Harris, and Andre Iguodala. Livingston was a force for the Clippers, who — alongside Sam Cassell, Corey Magette, Cuttino Mobley, and Chris Kaman — lifted the 2005-06 team to what is considered by many to be the best year in the history of franchise, going 47-35, winning their first playoff series since moving to California (4-1 over the Nuggets), and making a series out of the second-round matchup with the Phoenix Suns (which they lost in Game 7).
That next year, the Clippers were 26-29 and somewhat underachieving expectations. Not even four minutes into this home game against the Charlotte Bobcats, this happened.
Sorry about the terrible quality, but this video is completely unobstructed. What sets this injury apart from Theismann’s — and in turn, makes it more severe — was that Livingston was untouched on a fast-break when this occurred. He landed awkwardly on his leg, and yes, destroyed it. Hell, after looking at the laundry list of things Livingstone did to his knee in that landing, doctors speculated his leg may have needed to be amputated at the knee. I mean, take a look at this:
- ACL tear
- PCL tear
- lateral meniscus tear
- severe MCL sprain
- dislocated patella
- dislocated tibia-femoral joint
Damn. Basketball is dangerous! I mentioned earlier about the significance of this injury. When Livingston was on the draft board, he was very heavily discussed and touted to be an instant force for whomever he ended up playing. After Livingston’s return from the injury, he was not pursued by the Clippers and became an unrestricted free agent. From 2008 through today, Livingston has been on eight different squads — the Miami Heat, the Tulsa 66ers (NBA D-League), the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Washington Wizards, the Charlotte Bobcats, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Washington Wizards, and currently, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
1. Clint Malarchuk
Clint Malarchuk didn’t do much on the ice, by way of actual hockey, but has become somewhat of hockey rock star. Honestly, the incident we all remember is a little ditty that took place on March 22, 1989, in Buffalo, against the visiting St. Louis Blues.
Is that not the craziest thing you’ve ever seen? When we think of sports injuries, we assume broken bones and torn muscles. We never think about a severed artery! Much less a severed carotid artery! That’s one that kills people when cut… quickly!
So, no, Clint Malarchuk didn’t become the third person in NHL history to die on the ice, but he came damn close, and it was a miracle he survived. The man who saved his life — trainer Jim Pizzutelli — was a former Army medic during Vietnam. If the skate would have hit 1/8″ higher on Malachuk’s neck, he would have been dead within two minutes. If the incident would have occurred on the other side of the side, Malachuk would have died, since the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium only had locker rooms on one side if the ice.
All in all, Malarchuk missed death by the width of a human hair. However, his injury did cause eleven people to faint, two people to have heart attacks, and three NHL players to vomit on the ice. But, Malarchuk’s story doesn’t end there.
After the injury, his performance declined (naturally) and he ended up retiring from the NHL. He fell into a deep hole of obsessive-compulsive disorder — which he also battled since he was a child — nightmares, and alcoholism. He made an ill-fated attempt to re-enter the world of hockey in 1996, but it never really became anything. He once again retired as a player, but then decided to give coaching a try, which he has been successful in.
That’s still not all in the saga of Clint Malachuk.
In February of 2008, Malachuk was shown the injury sustained by Richard Zednik of the Florida Panthers, to which Malachuk was taken aback by the memories of his own injury. That October, while hunting, Malachuk shot himself in the chin. Both he and his wife would deny it was a suicide attempt and the police begrudgingly stopped investigating, labeling the case “accidental under suspicious circumstances”.
During a 2011 interview with Deadspin, Malachuk jokingly told reporter Rob Trucks, “I’m walking around with a bullet in my head and a scar on my neck.” He went on to talk about the different ways he views death and how he, specifically, would like to go out. You can read Trucks’ interview with Malachuk here.
And so, the number one sports injury of all-time is the cut throat of Clint Malachuk. As a parting gift, I leave you all with the scar our favorite goalie sports everyday.