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6 Sports Rumors That Are Total Bullsh*t
Few things lend themselves to exaggeration and hyperbole like the world of sports. People always want to believe that their athletes are superhumans or that magical forces are at work, guiding them to victory or striking them down with injury.
Well, that’s not really the case, no matter how many people believe it. And according to the following 6 urban legends about sports, a lot of people believe some pretty crazy stuff. Never underestimate the power of sports fans to suspend reason and just…believe. It’s what makes sports so great. It’s also what makes a lot of sports fans idiots. See below, gang.
6. Wade Boggs Knocks ‘Em Back
The fact that Red Sox star Wade Boggs was such a prolific hitter is made all the more impressive by the fact that he died of alcohol poisoning when he drank 64 beers on a cross-country flight. Well, he didn’t actually die of alcohol poisoning, but he would have. This story has almost ALL the hallmarks of an urban legend. An oddly specific number (64), which would indicate that he drank two cases, then a twelver, then he decided to just have four more, which is a rare amount of restraint for someone who drinks 64 beers. It also has no date. This is a story that just “happened” sometime.
Jeff Nelson relayed the story by saying he insisted he saw Boggs kill 50 beers on a cross country flight. That number somehow got inflated to 64 over the years, and understandably, Boggs was slow to deny the rumor, saying he though the number may have been inflated. Can’t blame him. If I had the reputation, I’d let people run with it as well.
Finally, the fact that Boggs played in Boston is the nail in the coffin. If you’ve ever been to Boston, you’ll know two things. Those guys like to drink, and they like to exaggerate a story. So when you combine those two elements, of course you’re going to walk away with a story about Wade Boggs drinking 768 ounces of beer.
5. The Madden Curse
Sports fans love to find curses where there aren’t any. It started off with the Sports Illustrated curse, then moved to the Madden curse, then, of all things, there were rumors of a Campbell’s Chunky Soup curse, which I’m guessing just has to do with people getting sick from eating Campbell’s Chunky Soup because it’s disgusting.
For this generation though, the Madden curse is the most palpable. The theory is that any player who appears on the cover of each year’s new Madden video game is essentially doomed to be injured that season. Most of the players that have appeared on the boxes have gotten injured the following season, but considering that they are football players and most of the players on the boxes play the high-risk positions of RB and QB, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
From 2000 until the current day, the box has been a veritable who’s who of NFL stars. But considering that over the past decade, the life expectancy of a star running back in the NFL has been about 2.5 years, it’s a little easier to say that football players are the ones that bear the curse, rather than just the ones that appear on the cover of Madden.
Still, it would be pretty amazing if John Madden was somehow injuring these players in some sort of cut-rate Final Destination scheme.
4. Wilt and His Torrent of Women
In his 1991 biography, A View from Above, Wilt claimed to have had sex with 20,000 women in his life. In order to have accomplished that fanciful number, he would have had to sleep with 1.4 DIFFERENT women per day from the age of 15 to the time of the book’s publishing.
While it is certainly not contested that Wilt had a thing for the ladies, the 20k number is widely rejected as wishful thinking by Wilt. He was a known womanizer throughout his entire life, but accounts of his teammates indicate that he was not having sex every night, and certainly not with a woman and another four-tenths of a woman every night. While he was hardly monogamous during any of these stretches, he did often sleep with the same women, which would have put the pressure on him to knock out more down the line.
Wilt silenced many doubters with the 100-point game, but this one stretches the credibility of a man who was capable of making the impossible possible.
3. The 1985 Draft Frozen Envelope
Fewer commissioners in the pro sports history have been as shrewd as Stern in handling the affairs of their leagues. Stern publicly demonstrates his actions to look out for the good of the NBA. So when people start discussing the possibility of Stern rigging the 1985 draft, the rumors get a little more credence. But again, the whole “there is no evidence to support this” angle comes into play.
The legend is pretty fun, though. The theory goes: Stern rigged the lottery by either freezing with dry ice or secretly folding the Knicks’ envelope so that he could pick it out (it was actually the second-to-last envelope picked), giving the NYC team the first pick, and consequently, Patrick Ewing.
So, we go to the circumstantial. Stern does live in NYC, and the NBA would probably be better served if the such a big market team was thriving, but someone as savvy as Stern would realize this isn’t the case. I mean, look at the Clippers. Thy have had every first draft pick for the past two or three decades and they couldn’t win a cake walk.
Further, unless Stern was Criss Angel: Mindfreak, he had to have been concerned that his sleight of hand could be called out by those watching, the risk of which would far outweigh any goodwill garnered by assigning one player to one team.
2. Michael Jordan Suspended for Gambling
Well, like the frozen envelope incident, it’s hard to debunk the evidence of an urban legend when there’s no evidence to dispute. So let’s discuss the legend and use some common sense.
After three championships and the murder of his father, #23 decided to step away from pro basketball at the height of his game. At the beginning of the 93-94 season, Jordan stepped away from the game, later pursuing a short-lived career as a minor league baseball player. Michael returned to the game of basketball in 1995 and picked up where he left off, raising hell in the NBA and leading the Bulls to three more consecutive championships.
It was after this stretch of success (and his subsequent retirement in 1999) that the conspiracy theories started to fly. The predominant theory was that Jordan, an admitted and well-documented gambler, did not actually retire in 1993, but was on a secret suspension handed to him by no less than Stern himself.
Like many other urban legends, there is no easy way to discredit this account, other than by examining circumstantial evidence. Namely: why would Stern suspend Jordan for gambling? If Stern wanted to preserve the sanctity of the NBA, Jordan could have just refused, forcing Stern to either go public or let him keep playing.
This legend stems from the public wishing to explain why the best in the world would walk away from their calling at their apex. Well, having proven yourself to be the best three years in a row and the untimely death of your father is a pretty good reason. There’s simply not a shred of evidence to the contrary.
1. Cal Ripken Beats Kevin Costner
This is perhaps the best example of a crazy urban legend run amok. The legend goes:
Kevin Costner was staying at Cal Ripken’s house immediately after filming The Postman (!) Cal was leaving to go play a game that afternoon when he realized he forgot something. He came home to retrieve it when he found Costner in bed with his wife. He then proceeded to beat the hell out of Costner, injuring himself in the process to the point that he wasn’t able to play and continue his Ironman streak. (Another theory supposes that Ripken was too upset to play.) According to lore, Ripken told the owner, who manufactured an electrical outage so that the game would be postponed and the streak would be intact. Ripken played the next game and life went on.
Well, the only game that was ever canceled at Camden Yards for an electrical error was in 1997, and Ripken had actually started that game, so there would have been no point in faking an electrical error. So no, Ripken sadly never beat the hell out of Costner for sleeping with his wife. Too bad.