Every time there is news about pro football, people immediately start talking about player safety. Concussions and other life-shortening injuries have made everyone sit back and wonder if it's all worth it. Others ask the obvious question: "If they know the game is shortening their lives, why do they keep playing?"
The answer is that many pro athletes are fucking insane. Let us show you some examples.
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You didn't have to be crazy to play as a hard-hitting safety back in the "injuries are a sign of weakness" era of the NFL, but it sure as fuck helped. For proof, we have 49ers great Ronnie Lott. In 1985, Lott happened to misplace his pinkie finger, and he found it in a red mist after two colliding helmets exploded the living hell out of it.
This is where most normal men would have passed out and/or run squealing to the nearest emergency room. But Lott knew that having surgery to repair the finger would probably have ended his season -- you have to let that shit heal. And he was not the kind of guy to let a splintered nub of a finger slow down his ability to deliver equally devastating injuries to other players.
So, he had that shit cut clean off. Because fingers are for little girls, not multimillion-dollar athletes.
"Padded gloves ... I'm just living a lie."
A legend circulated saying that Lott cut his finger off in the locker room immediately after it happened, when in fact he waited a couple of days, probably so he could show his mushy stump to his kids or something. Regardless, Lott finished out the season, and went the rest of his life without the hunk of finger:
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And when he types, he's only missing, like, three keys, tops.
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Super Bowl Sunday, 1998. The Denver Broncos were taking on the Green Bay Packers, with Denver riding the legs of running back Terrell Davis to the big game. It's the second quarter, and things are going great for Davis when, at the end of a play, he gets kicked in the head and goes out cold.
This sort of thing happens in football, of course, and after waking up, Davis told everyone that he was fine. He went to the sideline and then watched as the world went dark around him. While most of us would have just chalked that up to another power outage or possibly the apocalypse, Davis realized that he had just gone blind.
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On the plus side, he didn't have to see the Packers fans anymore.
This is when you'd think you'd take a moment to reconsider your life -- it's not a sane person's line of work that asks you to take blows to the head so hard that your goddamn eyes just stop working. After presumably feeling around his face to make sure the last hit hadn't knocked his eyeballs out of his skull, Davis went to sit down when the coach told him he was needed back in the game. He went in (of course) and ran one play, unable to see a goddamn thing.
The trainers then hauled Davis to the locker room and gave him migraine medication (temporary loss of vision can be a symptom of migraine headaches, something Davis suffered from). He sat there for what had to have been the longest 15 minutes of his life, wondering if he would go down forever as the guy who got hit so hard at the Super Bowl that he went fucking blind.
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"I always thought that if this ever happened it'd be due to my chronic masturbation."
When he could finally see a little bit in front of him, Davis returned to the field for the second half of the game. And he dominated -- Davis went on to rush for an additional 103 yards and two touchdowns in the second half, for a total of three. For comparison, the most touchdowns scored by any running back not named Terrell Davis in Super Bowl history is two.
When you think of what a brutal sport hockey is, you tend to think about the fights, or guys getting slammed into the wall. But you would think there'd be more horror stories involving the fact that everyone playing has razor-sharp blades on their feet. Well, they did almost murder a dude once, so there's that.
"Why should hockey masks have all the fun?"
It was March of 1989, and Clint Malarchuk's Buffalo Sabres were facing off against the St. Louis Blues. Malarchuk, who was in goal, was fighting a puck out of the crease when St. Louis winger Steve Tuttle flipped over. Tuttle's skate zipped up through the air and sliced Malarchuk's jugular vein open. Yeah, that jugular vein.
The fountain of blood that spurted from his neck was enough to give audience members heart attacks while players puked all over the ice.
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This was different from the vomiting that usually accompanies watching the Buffalo Sabres.
This is the part where normal, non-Canadian hockey beasts bleed out and die in a matter of minutes, traumatizing thousands of spectators for life. Malarchuk was having none of that (at least none of the first part, anyway). Malarchuk controlled his bleeding by sticking his glove directly inside the wound (in case that doesn't mean anything to you, hockey gloves tend to be so putrid smelling that shoving it in somebody's face on the ice is about as insulting as it gets).
Malarchuk calmly skated off the ice -- "so that my mother, who was watching the game back home on TV, wouldn't have to see me bleed to death" -- and the team trainer held a towel over the wound until they could get Malarchuk into surgery.
Tragically, the flashbacks got so bad, the towel would later hang itself.
Ninety minutes of surgery and 300 stitches later, doctors managed to save his life. And Malarchuk, presumably riding the high you receive when you punch Death right in his dick, wasn't about to hang around in a hospital bed with PTSD like some pussy. He spent just one night in the hospital and returned to practice four days later. A week after that, he was back in goal.
Well, shit, who could possibly top that?
Below is not a video of a player getting very, very sleepy in the middle of the game. This is what someone does when their heart stops and they die:
Anthony Van Loo's the guy in the video, and at the time it was documented he was, literally, dead. He had a pre-existing heart condition that probably should have kept him off the field, but he had been fitted with a nifty little device called a defibrillator. It works by defibrillating the everliving daylights out of your heart to restore it to its normal rhythm after it, you know, stops beating or some shit.
Pictured: Not playing possum.
When he dropped dead on the field, his entire team knew what had just happened. After all, the guy had a pre-existing condition, and it's never good when a person who was standing relatively still crashes to the ground. Well, it only took a few seconds for his built-in miracle of modern medicine to kick his slacker heart's ass into gear, and we see Van Loo sitting up shortly thereafter. He joined that tiny, elite group of humans who can tell you exactly what it's like to be dead.
"Coach? I just might need to call in sick for the rest of today's game."
Not only did he return from his trip off of this mortal coil, but he continued playing soccer, and in fact is still playing today.
Wait, how can there still be one entry left? We've had dudes get digits lopped off, throats slashed, and freaking die on the field of play. So what could possibly be left?
WARNING: DISTURBING CONTENT. PLEASE STOP READING.
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Few things these days really separate the men from the boys. Rugby's one of those things. There are a few criteria to meet before playing, such as being a hardened Englishman with a crew cut and loving the shit out of collars and horizontal stripes.
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Although it could be worse.
To understand this injury, it should be understood that there are certain developments over the course of a rugby match that basically all consist of demolishing each other, but have been given clever little names like "scrum" and "rucking." And outside of some ear protection (you know, so they don't get ripped off) and the cushion of some enormous balls, nobody wears any padding.
Anyway, Wayne "Buck" Shelford was a professional rugby player in New Zealand. It was 1986, and the opponent was the French rugby team. The match was so incredibly intense that they named it the Battle of Nantes, after a major French Revolution battle.
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Key differences: more headbands, less pelvic gyrating.
About 20 minutes into the match, Shelford found himself at the bottom of one of those gnarly "ruck" things we mentioned earlier, which is actually a writhing pile of really, really tough dudes in cleats who will do basically anything to get that ball. Any men reading this ought to grab their junk and a vomit bowl before they read the rest of this sentence, because we're about to tell you that Shelford had his scrotum ripped open by a cleat, and he jogged off the field with a testicle hanging out of him. Literally. Hanging.
To help get rid of that mental image, here's some puppies playing in the snow.
So what did Shelford do? Of course he's a tough dude, but come on -- a torn nut sack would make Superman curl into a whimpering ball.
But instead of passing out and/or dying, Shelford had the trainer stitch him up right there on the bench. They even filmed the surgery and broadcast it on TV to the French people watching at home. And then Shelford went right back in and kept playing. WITH A TORN SCROTUM.
Kittens on a warm summer day.
So, the next time you are considering calling in sick for work because you have a hangover, remember Shelford's ball sack. Then print out a picture of a torn scrotum and pin it to the wall of your cubicle to motivate yourself.
For more truly bat-crazy athletes, check out 5 Insane True Tales of Wrestlers Refusing to Break Character and The 5 Most Badass (And Possibly Insane) Athletes Of All-Time.
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