For most guys, the closest you get to a sports injury is breaking your ankle while drunkenly jumping around in a Space Walk on your 27th birthday. The great thing about being "most guys" is that you get to revise those injuries to "coming down awkwardly after dunking on a big black guy" without getting called on your bullshit.
Unfortunately for professional athletes, their contracts say they have to tell the truth about why they're not working today. And hence we get honest accounts of wimpdom such as:
Ken Griffey Jr. pinches a testicle with his own cup.
Getting smacked in the balls during a game is probably the manliest injury you can sustain on the sports field short of taking a puck to the face or being mauled by a lion in the Roman Coliseum. Sure, it makes you jump around like a five-year-old girl who has to pee, but it's the only injury that offers definitive proof of your manhood. But when you administer the punishment yourself, you destroy the magic, wonder and sheer hypnotic rhythm of the nut shot, and go from "wounded soldier every man feels for" to "episode of America's Funniest Home Videos."
Griffey is a Hall of Famer when it comes to pussified injuries. He fell into a big slump starting in the 2000 season thanks to a list of bizarre injuries that would make the mother of a redneck backyard wrestler feel grateful. By 2006, he had been held out of play by eight unrelated injuries, the second most embarrassing being a broken throwing hand sustained while wrestling with his son on his yacht in the Bahamas. For his son, who presumably started going by Bone Crusher and wearing a cape to school, this had to have been awesome. For Griffey Jr., who has a reputation of being overpaid and injury prone, the yacht/kid combo probably wasn't so good.
But the pinched testicle injury managed to top it. Having your balls crushed, like we said is one thing, but there's just something inherently unmanly about the word "pinch." It's something sisters do to each other, or overly dramatic people do to themselves when something good happens. It's not something you should be doing to your own sack. And by doing it with the device that is supposed to protect your manhood, you're just adding a layer of Mr. Bean-like slapstick futility that makes people want to buy you an ice cream cone and chuck your chin more than watch you play baseball.
Could it have been worse?
He could have ripped his testicle clean out of the socket while getting it waxed.
Cardinals' kicker Bill Gramatica tears his ACL celebrating a field goal...in the first quarter
Prior to Bill and his brother Martin entering the NFL, it was hard to imagine a field goal kicker sustaining any kind of injury. They're on the field for an average of 10 plays for the whole game and there's actually a penalty that says other players aren't allowed to touch them when they're kicking.
However, the Gramatica's hail from Argentina, where people who kick things for a living are allowed to use the same bathrooms as the rest of the population and are in some cases even looked up to. Upon entering the NFL, and apparently having never seen an NFL game before, the Gramatica's proceeded to celebrate wildly after every made field goal.
Football fans knew it was only a matter of time until a linebacker would say fuck it and deliver a hit that would take that Argentinian joi de vivre down a notch. The only question was whether it was going to be an opponent or a player on their own team. What no one could have anticipated was that, while Gramatica's shunning of field goal kicker etiquette most certainly angered the other players on the field, it angered God even more.
He scored a field goal against the New York Giants in 2001 that gave his team the first kill on the scoreboard. Ignoring the fact that it was the first half and the field goal was all but meaningless, Gramatica jumped up in celebration and came crashing down on his leg and tore his ACL. It was like a Greek tragedy, and Gramatica's spastic celebration the very retarded tragic flaw that brought him crashing to earth. This would all be funny if the injury hadn't transformed Gramatica into the Job of field goal kickers. After recovering, he played two more seasons with the Cardinals, got cut and joined the Miami Dolphins, who also cut him after only one game when he missed his first attempt at an NFL extra point in a game his team lost by one.
He is now the very shaky kicker for the Arena Football League's Tampa Bay Storm, a team that most people probably assume is a member of the WNBA when he tries to use it to pick up chicks at the bar.
Could it have been worse?
He could still be playing for the Arizona Cardinals.
San Francisco Giants' Manager Roger Craig cuts his hand on a bra.
Most baseball careers see their share of highs and lows, but few have seen as many highs and lows hit at the exact same moment as Roger Craig's oddly symmetrical career. For every positive accomplishment, there was always a shattering negative aspect to the accomplishment to counterbalance it. As a pitcher and a master of the split finger fastball, he was best known for his bean-hurling days with the New York Mets where he won 15 of the 27 games he pitched in 1963. Of course this was the early '60s, when the Mets were famous for things like losing 18 straight games in a season, so his accomplishment is about as impressive as being the top sprinter in the remedial PE class that includes the kid who carries his asthma inhaler in a holster.
As a manager, Craig helped turn the San Francisco Giants into a power house in the 1980s. His first five seasons ended with winning records and he helped them pick up a National League Pennant, sending them to their first World Series in more than 25 years. That World Series just happened to be the one in 1989 that was interrupted by an earthquake. If Craig ever threatens to actually win a World Series, you'll be able to find us in our bunker preparing for a Biblical apocalypse.
So, it's only appropriate that in the early '90s Craig took the bench despite seriously cutting his hand on a bra strap. Even though not much is known about this injury, ESPN Page 2 confirmed it and Denver Post columnist Jim Armstrong said Craig admitted it and didn't even try to concoct a story to cover it up. Apparently, by that point in his career Craig had apparently resigned himself to a life of being close to doing something awesome and instead having something laughably terrible hurled back in his face.
Could it have been worse?
He could have cut his hand trying to undo his own bra strap.
9--Third degree Indian burn
Professional disc golfer Ron Russell swung his hand into a tree during a throw at the 2000 PDGA tournament.
Disc golf is not a sport you'd expect to be riddled with hotheaded, short-tempered John McEnroe types. In fact, many of you thought we'd end that sentence after the first six words.
You would be wrong on both counts. Meet Ron Russell. He forged a road to the 2000 Professional Disc Golf Association tournament made of anger, seething rage and flying spittle. If he could have Bob Knighted a folding chair across the course, he probably would have. Of course, the only things to throw on a disc golf course are Frisbees and hippies, and hippies make your hands smell all weird when you pick them up. So Russell used his puzzling rage to propel himself to disc golf "greatness."
Then fate bitchslapped him. On top of already giving him a gift as pointless as being good at throwing a Frisbee in the woods. For on the fifth hole of one of the gnarliest disc gold courses in America, Russell teed off into a gaggle of pesky trees and had to line up a particularly difficult shot to get out of the rough. Instead he unfortunately lined his hand up with a tree. A PDGA official was a few yards away and described the sound of the tree "rejecting" Russell's shot as the sound of a small gun being fired, probably wishful thinking since a small gun being fired would be the most manly thing to ever happen on a disc golf course.
As it is, Russell's getting his ass handed to him by a spruce is the manliest thing to ever happen on a disc golf course, but unfortunately one of the least manliest injuries to ever happen in professional sports.
Could it have been worse?
He could have been playing a real sport, and thus suffered his injury in front of non-hippie spectators.
8--Next in line for a swirlee
Manchester City's David Seaman broke a bone reaching for the TV remote.
Manchester City's star goalkeeper has had his fair share of injuries on and off the field. Of course, you're going to get a few boo-boos when you're constantly in the sights of a world's greatest forwards whose only job is to get the ball in the net, even if that means kicking it clean through your abdomen. What puzzles us is how such a tough guy can have so many sub-standard injuries off the field. Seaman's injury record ranks right up there with the all-time greatest English mysteries, right alongside the identity of Shakespeare and the fact that any man, let alone the most powerful man in Wales, would find Camilla Parker Bowles remotely attractive.
Seaman had a stellar soccer career with the Arsenal Football Club, helping them achieve some of their brightest days. In his first season, he allowed just 18 goals, led Arsenal to retain their league title, and set a club record five years later when he allowed 17 goals in all 38 games. Then the injuries began piling up like he was a one man emergency room following a bloody hooligan soccer riot.
First, he pulled a Larry Walker when he ripped out his shoulder trying to reel in a big carp on a fishing trip. But at least fishing is active. He was probably bragging about the fishing injury like it was a bullet he took for the Queen after he broke a bone while reaching for a television remote. We could speculate as to what terrifying booby trap he used to protect his remote control, or when the BBC started airing Mind of Mencia, the only show capable of making people reach for a remote quickly enough to break a bone, but instead we'll just wonder why the hell he didn't lie.
Yes, you're contractually obligated to tell people how you broke your hand, but there are about a million things you could have been reaching for that sound better than a remote and would look no different on an X-Ray. Say you were reaching for a chain saw. Say your hand was hurrying to adjust your immense package out of the way of oncoming traffic when it collided with your balls of steal. Say you were fending off a fucking kitten. This is an injury that you could and should lie about to the person in the next room from you, because they would never know any better."Ouch!"
"Ummm, nothing. I just punched the wall. Because I'm angry about stuff."
There, was that so hard?
Could it have been worse?
He could have injured himself trying to use The Clapper.
10--Pantsed during gym class
Danny Gallagher is a freelance writer, humorist, reporter and waterboy. His website is at DannyGallagher.net.
If you're not too busy rooting for Tom Brady to pinch a testicle today, you should see what Hitler has to say about the playoffs so far.