5 Mind-Blowingly Stupid Ways Pro Athletes Tried To Cheat

Some elite athletes will do anything they can to gain a competitive edge.
5 Mind-Blowingly Stupid Ways Pro Athletes Tried To Cheat

Sports are intense, and elite athletes will do anything they can to gain a competitive edge. Usually that involves cunning strategy, mind games, or sheer hard work, but every now and then, they say to hell with all that and just resort to whatever their inner jackass five-year-old tells them to do. Look at how ...

NFL Pileups Are Basically Mounds Of Guys Mauling Each Other's Balls

A football game is like a chess match where every move produces a pile of 300-pound men. Now, for a sport based around exchanging concussions, the NFL has some very strict rules about how you can and cannot hit another player. But those rules mostly vanish when you're at the bottom of a flesh pyramid, because refs and cameras can't see dirty plays if they're obscured by half a dozen very big boys. And so things can get nasty.

One former NFL player recounted how during a scramble for a loose ball, a teammate "worked somebody's acorns over." Another, annoyed by the trash talk he was getting from a young opponent while trapped in a pile-up, asked a teammate with a free hand to punch the kid "right in the nuts." He complied. In a third tale, this one regarding the 1996 Thanksgiving game between the Chiefs and the Lions, a Lions player recovered a loose ball, and a Chiefs' player yelled at a rookie teammate to "Grab his nuts!" until the confused player did as he was told. The Lion dropped the ball in his effort to defend himself, and the Chiefs were able to grab it to demonstrate the power of nut-shot-related teamwork.

While testicles appear to be the most common target, players have also complained of scratched necks, bent fingers, gouged eyes, bites, suffocation, nasty verbal abuse, and even unorthodox avenues like tickling. It was at its worst in the '70s and '80s, but even to this day, players will "get physical." In December 2018, Patriots wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was fined $13,369 for a flagrant groin grab that was caught on camera.

We're sure the NFL has a fancy formula that arrived at that strangely specific number, but it really does seem like they were trolling Patterson for being dumb enough to get caught.

Related: The 6 Ballsiest Sports Cheats Of All Time

A NBA Player Was Fined For Repeatedly Untying Other Players' Shoes

Sometimes there's only a fine line between the tactics of games played by professionals making millions of dollars and those employed in games played by kids at recess. Shooting guard J.R. Smith no doubt dreamed of becoming a big-time basketball player as a child, but he apparently later forgot that succeeding meant he had become a grown-ass man. And so, during a 2014 game, he bent down and untied the shoelaces of an opposing player, as if he had just discovered the concept of a prank.

The NBA rolled its eyes and issued him a warning which we assume amounted to "Hey, don't do that, you goofball." Smith looked at that warning, nodded, and promptly did it again in his next game. The result was a $50,000 fine. Yes, a man was fined more than many people make in a year for doing something that usually only gets you told off by your kindergarten teacher.

The best part of the whole debacle was the, ahem, straightlaced language used by everyone involved. The league made a statement, Smith issued an apology, his coach criticized him, and sports journalists had to report on all of it like it was an intense foreign policy dispute and not the latest antics of a man who'd already been fined or suspended for using inappropriate language, getting in an on-court fight, pleading guilty in a reckless driving case, violating the league's anti-drug program, getting involved in an "incident" in a nightclub, flopping, and posting an "inappropriate photograph of a woman" (read: his girlfriend's ass) to his Twitter account. It's honestly kind of adorable that he decided to tone it down and get through the grind of playing for another terrible Knicks team by pulling a troll move that a six-year-old would consider immature.

Related: 7 Great Sports Moments (That Might Have Been Fixed)

The NHL Had To Force A Player To Stop Licking His Opponents

Hockey has a reputation as an intense, physical game in which disputes are solved with fists, but one player decided to take a somewhat more sensual approach.

5 Mind-Blowingly Stupid Ways Pro Athletes Tried To Cheat
"You've got a little ice on your face. Here, let me get that."

That's Boston Bruins left winger Brad Marchand in one of two incidents wherein he licked an opponent to try to ... throw them off their game? Awaken intimate feelings they didn't know they had? It's unclear.

Marchand raised eyebrows and gag reflexes the first time he deployed the strategy, and after a second incident a couple weeks later, the NHL publicly announced that he had been told to knock it off or face punishment. Because dammit, this is a sport where you rile someone up by smacking them in the face, not by making it look like you're filming the plot part of a weird Canadian porno. But at least Marchand learned his lesson, and he stopped the unsanitary practice so he could get back to his true talent of getting fined and suspended for taking cheap shots at other players' heads. The system works!

Related: Cheating Means Survival: 5 Realities Of An NCAA Athlete

A Major League Pitcher Decided To Intimidate Another Team By Hitting Every Batter

Even if your knowledge of baseball is limited to "Home runs are good, right?" you've probably heard of that time Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter while on LSD. But that wasn't the only time Ellis resorted to an, uh, unorthodox strategy. Four years after his most infamous feat, he decided to turn baseball into a blood sport.

Via Wikipedia
Instead of chewing tobacco, he packed his cheeks with rage (also, like, a shit-ton of narcotics).

Ellis' Pirates were playing the Cincinnati Reds, who in 1974 were the class of the league and not a half-forgotten wasteland where talent goes to be squandered. Ellis was worried that his teammates were intimidated by their bitter rivals, and so he decided to send a message to both teams in a way that only a man whose entire career was built on substance abuse problems can.

The game started with legendary Reds hitter/gambler Pete Rose stepping to the plate. Ellis threw a warning shot at his head, then another behind his back, and then finally hit Rose in the side. Rose trolled him right back by gently tossing the ball to Ellis and sprinting to first base like he'd just made an incredible play, but Ellis wasn't done. He hit the next batter in the kidneys with his first pitch, then took two whole pitches to bean the third batter.

By this point the Pirates were freaking out, because they wanted to actually win the damn game instead of give the Reds a free early lead. Back in spring training, Ellis had talked about using this exact strategy against Cincinnati to mess with them, but everyone thought the famously eccentric pitcher was joking. He was not. He walked the fourth batter he faced, but only because he failed in his four attempts to hit him. After taking two cracks at hitting the fifth batter, the Pirates' manager came out and yanked Ellis from the game, possibly by telling him to go drop some acid in the shower.

Now, pitchers will occasionally hit batters to send a message, but aiming at five straight to start a game is like hitting yourself in the face five times in the first round of a boxing match to send the message that you know how to take a punch. The Pirates lost the game 5-3.

Related: 5 Dumb Ways People Have Won At Sports

There's A Professional Soccer Player Who Just Periodically Bites People

Soccer (and yes, before you angrily rush to the comments, we know that most of the world calls it kickball) players have a reputation for being wimpy. But we think that's unfair, because there's nothing cowardly about taking the field while knowing that you might be bitten at any time. Uruguayan star Luis Suarez has a literal taste for competition, having bitten his opponents three times. In 2010, he was suspended for seven games for a bite on the shoulder during a Dutch league game.

Undeterred, in 2013 he went to Britain and bit an opponent on the arm, this time earning a ten-game suspension and the harshest criticism British commentators can muster: disdain expressed in a slightly raised voice.

5 Mind-Blowingly Stupid Ways Pro Athletes Tried To Cheat
"Needs ketchup."

And then, in 2014, he went for the back of a player's neck during the freaking World Cup, picking up a nine-game ban and a four-month suspension from any soccer-related activity -- the harshest punishment ever handed out at the sport's premier tournament.

Julian Finney/Getty Images
Now he is forever cursed to play center-forward whenever the moon is full.

At least there was some variety in the body parts he was targeting? But hey, if there's one thing history has taught us, it's that you can't judge a man for something he's only done three times. After all, when Suarez isn't trying out for the Transylvanian national team, he's ... uh ... diving, elbowing people in the head, and getting suspended for flinging racial abuse. It must be a real thrill to line up against him and wonder what you're getting into today.

Keep in mind that Suarez isn't some fringe player brought on for his ability to cause trouble. He's an award-winning prolific scorer who commands one of the biggest paychecks in the sport. Every now and then, he just feels the need to be a violent asshole. And for his obnoxiousness, he's punished with a bunch of judgmental headlines and some time off before he's allowed to continue accruing fame and fortune at a rate that most of history's royalty would be jealous of. Let that be a lesson about the importance of balancing your raw talent with a professional attitude, kids!

Mark is on Twitter and wrote a book, because his soccer career ended in high school.

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