Warning: The content you are about to witness is some of the most gruesome footage from the world of sports. Chances are, if you’re an avid sports fan you have seen your fair share of injuries, and I’m not just talking about a basketball player coming down awkwardly on their foot either.
I’m talking about knee twisting, arm bending, stomach churning injuries. With LeBron James cramping up in Game 1 of the NBA Finals this week, perhaps it would be a good time to show what real injuries look like. Dislocated elbows and fingers bending the wrong way are some of the most common injuries that doctors report seeing. There has also been an increase in the amount of ligament tears in the knees and other joints, a trend that has encouraged coaches to start to preach how to protect yourself as a player a little more than in previous years.
The following are some of the most brutal injuries to occur in the world of sports in the past several decades. For the most part, these athletes came out alright in the end. But at the time of the injury, there was no doubt that fans were thinking the two worst words you’d want to hear as a professional athlete; career-ending. If we missed any, feel free to drop a line in the comment section and help add to the list!
10. Navorro Bowman (San Francisco 49ers) — Torn ACL/MCL
During the 2014 NFC Championship, NaVorro Bowman had one of the nastiest knee injuries football fans around the country had ever seen in real time. The 2013-14 Pro Bowl Selection recorded 145 tackles and five sacks for the San Francisco 49ers during the season before he was carted off the field against the Seattle Seahawks after tearing his ACL and MCL in his left knee. The injury could have been a lot worse, but Bowman still had to have surgery and he is expected to be recovered by the time the 49ers open up their new stadium this fall.
9. Rashad Johnson (Arizona Cardinals) — Severed Finger Tip
It’s not very often that you get to see a professional athlete lose a finger, but don’t tell that to Rashad Jennings. During week three of the 2013-14 NFL season, Jennings lost the tip of his middle finger after he jammed it into the ground. Originally, Johnson thought it was caught in a opponent’s facemask, but he explained that his glove wasn’t torn or ripped so that couldn’t have been it. In a show of solidarity, the Arizona Cardinals came out with special foam fingers with the tip of the middle finger ripped off to show support for Johnson.
8. Tim Hudson (Atlanta Braves) — Broken Ankle
As Atlanta Braves’ starting pitcher Tim Hudson went to cover first base on a ground ball, everything seemed to be routine. That was, until Eric Young Jr. tried to beat out the throw at first and unintentionally stepped on Hudson’s ankle. Hudson’s ankle was bent to a disturbing degree and he was quickly carted off the field. For the record, Hudson did catch the ball from Freddie Freeman and he was able to record the out for the team.
7. Kevin Ware (Louisville Cardinals) — Broken Leg
Usually when an athlete breaks a leg it is talked about for a period of time and quickly forgotten. In Kevin Ware’s case, it was a break that would follow him for the rest of his collegiate career. Ware attempted to contest a three point attempt during the first half of Louisville’s Elite Eight matchup versus Duke during the 2013 NCAA Tournament, but he landed awkwardly and his leg snapped at a right angle. With the bone piercing through the skin, CBS Sports continued to show the replay to the millions of viewers that were watching the game before they finally pulled it.
6. Clint Malarchuk (Buffalo Sabres) — Lacerated Throat
On March 22, 1989, Buffalo Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk was the recipient of a nasty collision in front of his net when two players collided and a skate caught Malarchuk in the jugular. As you can tell from the video, blood immediately poured from his neck onto the ice and he was able to make it off the ice on his own. Malarchuk was just 1/8 of an inch from bleeding out within two minutes on the ice and he later received 300 stitches in the hospital. Because of the injury, all goalies are now required to wear neck protection.
5. Wilis McGahee (University of Miami Hurricanes) — Torn ACL/MCL/PCL
With the blink of an eye, Willis McGahee’s professional career almost vanished. With 12 minutes left in the 2002 National Championship game, McGahee caught a screen pass in the middle of the field and tried to juke back across the field when he was tackled around the 40 yard line by an Ohio State defender. Although he was just a sophomore, the game was set to be his final game as a college athlete before declaring for the NFL draft. McGahee’s leg bent under the weight of the pile up and he torn almost every major ligament in his knee. Despite the injury, McGahee was still selected in the first round of the draft by the Buffalo Bills and he has made the Pro Bowl twice as a pro.
4. Jessica Dube (Canadian Figure Skating) — Lacerated Cheek
Whoever said figure skaters aren’t tough clearly hasn’t met Jessica Dube of Quebec, Canada. Along with her partner, she has won several championships and has gone on to represent Canada at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics. In February 2007, Dube was struck in the face by the blade of her partner Bryce Davison’s skate at the Four Continents Championship in Colorado Springs. Dube was taken to the hospital where she received 83 stitches on her left cheek and was later treated for post-traumatic stress disorder. She later returned to the ice with the same partner within a month.
3. Steve Moore (Colorado Avalanche) — Broken Vertebrae/Concussion
On March 8, 2004, the tension and emotion between the Colorado Avalanche and the Vancouver Canucks reached its climax and ended with Avalanche forward Steve Moore being carried off on a stretcher. After winning a fight in the first period, it wasn’t until the third period that retaliation by the Canucks had caught up to Moore, thanks to Todd Bertuzzi. After Bertuzzi skated onto the ice, he grabbed Moore’s jersey and sucker punched him in the head. After the punch, Moore’s motionless body smashed head first into the ice with the weight of Bertuzzi on top of him, as well as the rest of the players that went after Bertuzzi. The result: Moore suffered three broken vertebrae, facial lacerations, and a concussion, effectively ending his career as criminal assault charges were filed against Bertuzzi off the ice.
2. Mike Cameron (New York Mets) — Broken Nose/Jaw
As New York Met outfielders Carlos Beltran and Mike Cameron ran full speed for a pop fly, its apparent neither of them saw each other before colliding in the air. As the collision happened, the ballpark went silent and the Mets’ dugout emptied as the players ran to their aid. Cameron was helped off the field with several facial fractures and a concussion, the fractures which would eventually need surgery. Beltran came out a little better off, suffering a concussion and minimal facial fractures which did not need surgery. To this day, it is one of the most violent outfield collisions in baseball.
1. Joe Theismann (Washington Redskins) — Broken Leg
As one of the most well-known injuries on this list, Joe Theismann’s broken leg is one of the many examples of why playing the quarterback position requires so much toughness. On November 18, 1985, Theismann dropped back in the pocket to throw a pass, only to be met by Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor. During the hit, Taylor’s knee came down on Thiesmann’s right leg and snapped his tibia and fibula. At the age of 36, Theismann was forced to retire from the NFL as the compound fracture led to insufficient bone growth of his leg and to this day remains shorter than his left leg. The injury also became a leading reason as to why the left tackle is the second highest-paid player on the field; to protect the quarterback at all costs.