The thrill of victory. The agony of defeat. The distress of injury.
Sports is our chance to see incredible athletes push themselves to the limit in the quest for immortality as they try to enter their names in the history books as champions and record-setters. It’s also an opportunity for these gifted individuals to mangle their bodies in a way God could never have imagined when he was creating his blueprints for Adam and Eve.
Sometimes, athletes push their bodies to the breaking point — the point of breaking bones while crowds and viewers look on in utter horror.
Disabled lists are littered with reports of pulled hamstrings and torn ACLs, but every once in a while there’s one injury that is so grotesque it transcends the DL and becomes a moment frozen in time because it is so off the charts. Here are some of the more notable ones.
Do yourself a favor and make sure you’re not eating when you watch these.
Hayward was a prized free agent signing playing in his first game as a Boston Celtic during the team’s season opener in 2017 when he went up for a dunk and came down with his ankle busted. Yeah, ankles break, but when you see how Hayward’s has been twisted like a Bavarian pretzel, you’ll immediately know it’s brutal.
The NBA star was playing in a USA Basketball scrimmage in 2014 when he fell under the basket and suffered a compound fracture of both bones in his lower right leg. The injury was so awful the rest of the game was canceled.
Malarchuk was a goalie for the Buffalo Sabres in 1989 when the blade of an opposing player’s skate cut his jugular vein and blood began spewing all over the ice for perhaps the most physically disgusting injury you will ever see. It was so intense that reports surfaced 11 fans fainted and two others had heart attacks, while three players tossed their cookies on the ice. Now, THAT’S a gross injury.
Malarchuk has some company in the cut throat injury department. Back in 2008, Florida Panthers winger Richard Zednik had his artery slashed by teammate Olli Jokinen’s skate. It’s as a bad as it sounds. He was never in danger of dying, but still, come on — a cut throat is just plain scary.
Theismann was the veteran quarterback of the Washington Redskins playing against the New York Giants on “Monday Night Football” in 1985 when ferocious Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor broke his leg while sacking him. The injury ended Theismann’s decorated career and the play, which occurred long before things could go viral, has become one of the most replayed clips over the years when it comes to injuries that will make you squirm.
University of Louisville sophomore basketball player Kevin Ware was trying to block a show against Duke in the Elite Eight of the 2013 NCAA Tournament when he landed awkwardly and broke his leg, with the bone jutting out. It’s just all-around horrific. Side note: Louisville went on to win the national title that year.
In 1999, Tampa Bay Devil Rays pitcher Tony Saunders broke his arm throwing a pitch, crumpling down to the ground in pain like a house of cards. The lefty missed the rest of the season and then sadly broke his arm again the next year, ending his career.
A decade before Saunders broke his arm, San Francisco Giants pitcher Dave Dravecky endured the same tragedy, with even more devastating results. In August 1989, Dravecky returned to the mound after battling cancer in his arm. He won his first start, but broke his arm throwing a pitch during his next outing. A few months later, doctors discovered the cancer had returned and in 1991 his arm would be amputated.
In 1967, rising Boston Red Sox star Tony Conigliaro — the youngest player to reach 100 home runs — was hit in the cheekbone by the Angels’ Jack Hamilton. The pitch also hurt his retina. Coniglaro managed to come back and had a few more productive seasons, but he had to retire at the age of 30 because of vision problems stemming from the Hamilton pitch.