No one wants to see their favourite athletes go down with injuries during games, but the fact is that freak accidents can easily occur in sports. Of course, normal wear and tear is also a consequence of being a pro athlete. For instance, Andre Dawson needed multiple surgeries on his knees because of the hard-as-rock artificial playing surface that he dealt with playing for the Montreal Expos. Legendary Pitcher Tommy John earned half of his career wins after undergoing revolutionary elbow surgery.
In other cases, some injuries can be very serious and often happen in the blink of an eye. Sports history is littered with terrifying incidents, like when college football defensive tackle Eric LeGrand broke his sixth and seventh vertebrae during a game, becoming paralyzed from the neck down. NHLer Clint Malarchuk is another scary example, having almost bled to death on the ice after a vein was cut in his neck by a skate.
2013 was filled with plenty of bad injuries including some that were so devastating that their videos should come with viewer discretion warnings.
What makes many of these injuries so brutal is that they can knock players out of the game for months at a time, if not end their career. This can also impact sports teams that lose key players and threaten postseason performance. The risks associated with losing so much time to an injury can be a true burden that no team would ever want to bear, but it is still a part of the game.
This listing of the most horrific sports injuries from the past year includes a number of injuries that proved costly to both players and teams alike. Not all of these injuries had bad endings as you’ll see, but the nature of many injuries that these people have experienced have proven that the world of sports can be a brutal place.
10. Kevin Huber – Cincinnati Bengals
Kevin Huber, a Cincinnati native, signed a five-year deal this past year with the Cincinnati Bengals to be the team’s number one punter. He’ll get $3 million per year during the first two years of the contract. Huber never saw any postseason action with the Bengals as he was injured on a hit from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Terence Garvin on Dec 15, 2013. He suffered a broken jaw and a cracked vertebra on the hit and was not surprisingly out for the rest of the season. The biggest concern about the play is that there were no calls for roughing the punter, a topic that the NFL did address a few days later, suggesting a penalty should have been called. The Bengals still won their division in spite of the injury but were eliminated by the Chargers in the Wild Card round.
9. Jason Heyward – Atlanta Braves
Jason Heyward was drilled in the face by a fastball from New York Mets pitcher Jon Niese in an August 2013 game. He missed more than an entire month of the season after suffering a broken jaw from the hit. Heyward was immediately taken to a local hospital and underwent surgery to repair the broken jaw the next day. Heyward was paid $3.65 million in 2013 and missed 58 games for the Braves due to the injury. This dramatic impact from a financial standpoint was much greater for the team than it would have been had the injury happened the previous year when Heyward was making only $565,000. Still, the Braves did win yet another division title even without Heyward who had become a very prominent player on the team.
8. Anderson Silva – UFC fighter
While the UFC does not necessarily divulge much of its financial information, the broken leg Anderson Silva suffered in a bout with Chris Weidman in December 2013 will be a huge blow to his long and successful career. He snapped his tibia on the impact of a kick which Weidman blocked with his knee. Silva had a ten-fight contract with the UFC prior to his injury and made $200,000 during an earlier fight with Chael Sonnen. He got a guaranteed $600,000 in his first fight with Weidman early on in 2013. Meanwhile, Weidman got only $24,000 in guaranteed money but he did make an additional $24,000 for defeating Silva during that first match. The UFC has not disclosed information on the total amount of money that Silva or Weidman were to get for their most recent bout, but after such a gut-wrenching injury, the bigger question is whether or not this is the end of 38-year-old Silva’s career.
7. J.A. Happ – Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays spent $121.2 million on their team in 2013 but the season was a massive bust as they went 74-88 and finished last in their division. J.A. Happ was paid $3.7 million for his pitching services and was heavily limited in action after taking a line drive to the head from the Tampa Bay Rays’ Desmond Jennings in May 2013. Happ was carted off the turf at Tropicana Field and was found to have suffered a fractured skull. While Happ did return three months after the injury, he struggled and ended the season with a 5-7 record. Still, this injury has sparked further debate on the use of protective headwear for pitchers as they are extremely vulnerable to such massive blows.
6. Marc Staal – New York Rangers
As one of the four members of the Staal family currently in professional hockey, Marc Staal is making nearly $4 million a year with the New York Rangers. His career was put in serious jeopardy after he took a slapshot to the face, suffering a broken orbital bone and torn retina in his right eye. Although he is back and playing for the Rangers, his recovery was slow and frustrating. He missed the final two months of the 2013 season and the playoffs. Staal is an important element on the Rangers roster as the team has been on the edge of playoff contention in the NHL’s new playoff format.
5. Robert Griffin III – Washington Redskins
A year after his ACL injury in the 2012 playoffs, Robert Griffin III suffered from various leg issues during his sophomore season and struggled to get back to his former self. This hurt the team dramatically with the Skins looking at a top five pick in the coming 2014 draft. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan benched RG3 during the final three games of the season out of fear of worsening his condition. However, Shanahan was criticized for not taking him out sooner from the 2012 playoff game in which he was initially injured. After a last place finish and a 3-13 record, Shanahan was let go as head coach on December 30, 2013. Griffin got $4.8 million for a year considered to be a bust when compared to his stellar rookie year when he made $3.8 million.
4. Tim Hudson – Atlanta Braves
Tim Hudson was seriously hurt during a July 2013 game against the New York Mets. Hudson’ ankle was crushed covering first base when Mets hitter Eric Young Jr. slid into the base trying to beat out the throw. Hudson underwent surgery and had a screw placed in his ankle. This effectively ended Hudson’s season which he finished with an 8-7 record. He was paid $9 million this past year and much of the money went to waste because of the injury. The Braves did at least reach the playoffs even though Hudson was injured for so much time. He did not appear during the team’s playoff loss to the LA Dodgers, and would later sign with the San Francisco Giants for $23 million over two years.
3. Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots
In 2012, Rob Gronkowski signed a six-year deal with the New England Patriots worth $9 million per year, making him the highest-paid tight end in NFL history. He missed the start of the 2013 season after arm surgery did not go as expected. He ended up missing the final month of the regular season and will be out for the 2014 playoffs due to a tough hit that resulted in a torn ACL, torn MCL and a concussion. This was one of the toughest injuries that a team could have experienced and was even worse for the Pats because Gronkowski has been one of the top targets for Tom Brady all season long.
2. Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins
Although Sidney Crosby is not the highest-paid player in the NHL (Nashville’s Shea Weber makes $14 million a year), Sid the Kid’s $12 million salary is still reflective of his talent and his profile as the face of the NHL in its post-lockout era. This past year, he missed an entire month of the season after getting hit in the jaw with a slapshot in a game against the New York Islanders. This was not as serious as the concussion that he experienced a few years earlier, but it was initially much more shocking. It also prompted the Penguins’ to trade for Jarome Iginla to bolster their roster heading into the postseason. Crosby did make it back into the lineup in time to beat the Islanders in five games in the first round of the playoffs. The Pens then got swept in four games by the Bruins.
1. Kevin Ware – University of Louisville men’s basketball
To say that Kevin Ware‘s leg injury during the Elite Eight is the most horrific sports injury of the past year would be an understatement. The injury was so graphic that is caused players to tear up on the court. Media outlets even had to remind people that they were not going to show the actual moment of impact due to the disturbing nature of the injury. Ware landed awkwardly after attempting to block a shot and suffered a compound fracture in his right leg. This was a serious problem as it could have seriously harmed Louisville’s basketball program, one that brought in a profit of $35 million over the past year. Still, this story does have a happy ending. The Cardinals ended up winning the national championship a few days later and after having a rod inserted into his tibia, Ware is currently playing with the Cardinals once again, although he may redshirt the 2013-14 season in order to ensure his full recovery.
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