Nobody likes seeing their favorite player go down with a groin injury or a high ankle sprain. However, while those kinds of injuries can keep players on the disabled list for a long time, at least they usually don’t endanger their careers. Not all sports injuries are so mild. In fact, some are so gruesome that they make your stomach turn. And, obviously, those are the ones we’re looking at today.
It should go without saying, of course, that this list of the most gruesome sports injuries of all-time features some very graphic videos and images. But I’ll say it anyway: this list contains some very graphic videos and images. So if you’re particularly squeamish, you might want to click through the slides quickly while squinting your eyes. And it’s definitely not appropriate for children.
Ready for the carnage? Well okay, then, let’s get started.
Playing for England in a 1989 World Cup qualifier, Terry Butcher received a nasty gash on the head that required stitches. Being a trooper, he got the stitches and then returned to the game. However, repeated headers opened the gash up again, and the bandage wasn’t nearly enough to contain the blood.
The result was this gory image.
What can I say? Sometimes your eye just gets poked right out of its socket. That’s what happened to Villanova guard Allan Ray against Pittsburgh in the semifinals of the 2006 Big East Tournament.
In putting together this list, the first thing I had to do was decide what “gruesome” would actually mean. Eventually, I decided that “gruesome” is any injury that makes you cringe and look away.
With that definition, this ridiculous incident from 2009 involving Panthers goalie Tomas Vokous and his own teammate, Keith Ballard, definitely qualifies as gruesome.
Hungarian weightlifter Janos Baranyai grossed out the world when he popped his elbow out at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Rene Bourque suffered this scary slash during a November 2006 game against the Blue Jackets. The guy is lucky to be alive and still playing in the NHL today.
Before being signed by the Patriots to be Wes Welker’s replacement in New England, Danny Amendola was a standout receiver for the St. Louis Rams. However, he missed a lot of games thanks to this nasty elbow injury at the start of the 2011 NFL season.
Chelsea’s John Terry was kicked in the face by Arsenal’s Abou Diaby during a 2007 League Cup match. Apparently he almost choked on his tongue and died while lying unconscious on the pitch; however, he was released from the hospital that same night and is still playing today.
Jessica Dube had her face slashed by the skate of her partner, Bryce Davison, during a pairs competition in Colorado Springs back in 2007. The gash required a whopping 80 stitches.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, no, Dube did not immediately dump Davidson. After both underwent post traumatic stress counseling, they skated together until 2011.
On this single play from a 2007 NBA game, Shaun Livington tore both his ACL and MCL, dislocated his patella and his tiba-femoral joint, and damaged his lateral meniscus.
I don’t even know what all that means, but it sounds really, really bad. Nevertheless, he returned to the NBA two years later.
Pro volleyball player Morgan Miller didn’t sustain this nasty injury playing volleyball. She sustained it while playing golf with her famous husband, Bode Miller. How’d it happen? Golf ball to the face, of course.
While playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2011, Darryl Boyce got checked face-first into one of those camera cut-outs in the glass. This was the result.
British hockey player Craig Peacock got this disgusting gash from a skate blade while playing for the Belfast Giants in December 2012. Afterward he tweeted this photo, asking rhetorically, “Chicks dig scars right?!”
South Carolina junior running back Marcus Lattimore suffered this nasty knee dislocation back on October 27, 2012, after a hit from Tennessee’s Eric Gordon. Despite how it looks, and despite the fact that this was his first season back from another knee ligament surgery, doctors said that they did not think the injury would end Lattimore’s career.
French long jumper Salim Sdiri learned an important lesson in the very hardest way possible back in 2007: never turn your back on a javelin thrower. In this case, the spear thrown by Finland’s Tero Pitkamaeki stabbed Sdiri in the back. Fortunately, the guy lived to have a good laugh (or possibly night terrors) about it.
Broncos receiver Ed McCaffrey suffered this nasty leg break on Monday Night Football on September 10, 2001. Unfortunately, the sympathy we all had for him lasted about 12 hours.
In 2003, the Miami Hurricanes’ Willis McGahee tore both his ACL and MCL on this tackle against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. Of course, he’s now a 10-year NFL veteran, so this horrific injury didn’t keep him down.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist Renzo Gracie suffered this nasty injury at the hands of Japan’s Kazushi Sakuraba at a Pride Fighting Championships event on August 27, 2000. It was officially scored a “technical submission,” which is funny because “technical submission” doesn’t sound quite as painful as “arm broken in half.”
Catchers are not very good runners, usually, on account of all the squatting they have to do. However, they’re usually not as bad as Jason Kendall, who broke his right ankle while trying to beat out a bunt against the Brewers in 1999. Obviously, he missed the rest of that season, but he did return in 2000.
Ryan Powdrell, a former linebacker, tranferred to USC in 2006 and started playing fullback. Then he had a great first game, rushing for nine years, catching four passes for 72 yards, and scoring a touchdown. Unfortunately, in his second game against Nebraska, this happened. The injury ended his season and college career.
Interestingly, the guy has been signed to the practice squads of four different NFL teams. However, each time he has re-injured himself and gotten released. Then he signed on to play with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League…and got dropped by them, too.
This injury to French soccer player Djibril Cissé occured during a match between Liverpool and Blackburn back in 2004. But here is the really, absolutely astounding part: he suffered pretty much the same injury just two years later while playing in a World Cup warm-up for France against China. The only difference? It was his other leg.
It’s a miracle this guy is still playing.
This is the first of two horrific injuries to Arsenal soccer players on this list. Maybe the club is cursed? In any case, Eduardo da Silva suffered this nasty injury—a broken fibula combined with a dislocated ankle—back in 2008. He would return a year later, scoring in his first game back.
Hooray for happy endings!
The shot Brandon McCarthy took off his noggin in 2012 was probably more life-threatening, but it definitely was not as horrifying to look at as the liner Red Sox pitcher Bryce Florie took on September 8, 2000. Talk about a gory scene.
In the third-most famous skate slashing incident in NHL history—stay tuned for numbers one and two—Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik nicked an artery during a game against the Sabres in 2008. Luckily, the guy did not die. He did, however, miss the remainder of the 2007-08 season.
Unbelievably, Jacon Olesen didn’t even break anything in this horrible incident. The striker for Denmark’s Viborg FF “merely” dislocated his ankle and was back in action “only” six months later.
Raiders running back Napolean McCallum suffered this career-ending knee dislocation on Monday Night Football on September 5, 1994. He ruptured an artery, tore three ligaments, tore his calf and hamstring from the bone, and suffered nerve damage.
The CFL may not be quite as good as the NFL, but the injuries are just as gruesome. This one comes from the 2012 CFL Playoffs. Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Matt Nichols got sacked and wound up with his foot pointing in the wrong direction. Amazingly, though, no bones were broken. This was just a severe ankle dislocation, so hopefully this guy’s career will resume this summer.
You don’t think that the sport the English call “football” is as violent as the sport Americans call “football.” But then a guy goes and snaps his leg in half the way Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey did last February, and your opinion changes a little.
Portugese beach soccer player Bruno Torres suffered this horrific knee injury during a 2012 Euro Beach Soccer League game against Spain. The reaction of the players standing around the guy says it all.
Hey, remember when Mike Tyson bit off a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear back in 1997? Well, that was nothing…
In 1994, during a WCW match against Vader, legendary pro wrestler Mick Foley tore two-thirds of his right ear off while performing a stunt between the top two ropes. Did he stop? No. The referee picked up his ear and the match continued. Later that year, Foley was scheduled to have his ear surgically reattached, but he postponed the surgery so he could take part in the WCW’s Slamboree, where he was scheduled to win the tag-team title.
Foley’s only regret? That the WCW didn’t work his lack of an ear into the storyline.
What would a list of gruesome sports injuries be without an entry from Australian Football? This one comes from a 2011 Western Australian Football League game between South Fremantle and Subiaco. The injured? That’s Jaymie Graham. The injurer? A guy you never want to mess with named Danny Hughes.
Seattle Sounders forward Steve Zakuani suffered this insanely gruesome leg break as the result of a hard tackle by Colorado’s Brian Mullan. Then, incredibly, Zakuani made his triumphant return to soccer 14 months later…against Colorado and Brian Mullan. It resulted in a rather amazing display of sportsmanship between the two players after the game.
When you look at this image, taken at a game between Alabama and Florida in 2005, you have to wonder how in the hell Tyrone Prothro’s foot didn’t just fall right off. The guy suffered complete factures of both bones in his leg, and despite numerous surgeries, he was never able to play football again.
New England Revolution goaltender Preston Burpo may have an awesome name, but the guy has zero luck. First, he snapped his tibia and fibula on this play from a game on May 29, 2010. Then, after the season, the Revolution decided not to pick up Burpo’s contract option. Then he entered the MLS re-entry draft and was selected by…no one. So after that, the guy just retired.
Denver Broncos guard Chris Kuper broke his leg during the last game of the 2011 NFL season. Fortunately, after a long and painful recovery, he was able to make it back to the NFL. Kuper played 7 games for the Broncos in 2012.
While playing for Swiss soccer club Servette FC in 2004, Paulo Diogo decided to celebrate a goal he’d just set up by hopping up onto a wire fence behind the goal and waving to fans. Unfortunately, Diogo was wearing his wedding ring at the time, and it got stuck in the fence. Thus, when he jumped down, off came his finger.
Oh, and the referees? They gave him a yellow card for excessive celebration—a real classy move.
In 2008, Houston wide receiver Patrick Edwards suffered a compound fracture when he ran into a motorized cart parked just beyond the endzone during a game at Marshall.
Why was a cart parked right behind the endzone? Good question. At first Edwards laid the blame on the referees, saying that it was their job to make sure the field was safe for playing. Later, however, Edwards decided to sue the folks at Marshall, and I really can’t blame him.
Regardless of whose fault it was, the bright side of this story is that the injury didn’t end Edwards’ career. He returned to the Cougars in 2009 and today he plays for the Detroit Lions.
This Tennessee Titans wide receiver suffered a gruesome ankle-break in a pre-season game back on August 23, 2012. It was just the latest on a long list of unfortunately pre-season NFL injuries.
This one comes from a 2010 German second division game. Bochum defender Matias Concha slid to beat Union forward Macchambes Younga-Mouhani to the ball and ended up with his shin shattered.
(FYI, you get the best look at the play at the 1:29 mark.)
In 1986, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Börje Salming had his face (accidentally) stepped on by the Detroit Red Wings’ Gerrard Gallant. The resulting laceration required a whopping 200 stitches, and made Salming the most badass-looking hockey player in the history of the game.
When we say a basketball player had a bad landing, we usually mean he rolled his ankle and suffered a sprain. However, when Texas A&M’s Derrick Roland had a “bad landing” back in 2009, he broke both bones in his leg. And since this was Roland’s senior season, the injury marked the end of the kid’s career.
You might assume that this injury just made the list because it was relatively recent, and because it involved a very high-profile player. But if you look closely, you’ll see why it definitely is one of the most gruesome baseball injuries of all-time.
In this 2011 incident, BMX rider Terrell remained remarkably calm for a guy who just had his leg snapped like a twig.
Former German soccer player (and current coach of AEK Athens) Ewald Lienen suffered this disgusting injury while playing in the Bundesliga for Arminia Bielefeld in 1981. He got caught by the spikes of a guy named Norbert Siegmann, and the wound required 23 stiches. However, despite the fact that it looked like he was attacked by a velociraptor, Lienen was back on the pitch just 17 days later.
American long jumper Llewellyn Starks was just 24 years old when he suffered a compound fracture during a jump at the 1992 New York Games. As you can imagine, this was the end of the poor guy’s career.
This clip has a number of nasty MMA injuries, but without a doubt the most revolting is the one suffered by Cory Hill. It comes at the 1:16 mark, and it’s tough to watch.
Unfortunately, I have no idea who this is, and the YouTube comments weren’t any help. What I do know, however, is that I’m glad I haven’t eaten my lunch yet.
If you know anything about this, by all means please let me know!
This one comes from a South African Futbol League game between the Mpumalanga Black Aces FC and the Carara Kicks. Oupa Ngulube of the Kicks races Felix Muamba-Musasa of the Black Aces for the ball, and in the process, gets his leg broken to bits by Muamba Musas’s shoe. It was one of the most horrific injuries I’ve ever seen.
This injury may not be the most gruesome on this list, but it certainly is one of the most famous. This unlucky tackle by the legendary Lawrence Taylor in 1985 resulted in a compound fracture for Super Bowl-winning Redskins QB Joe Theismann, ending his career.
Behold the most gruesome sports injury of all-time.
On March 22, 1989, an NHL hockey game between the Buffalo Sabres and St. Louis Blues suddenly turned into a scene from a slasher flick when Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk had his jugular vein slashed by a skate. Amazingly, though he almost died that night on the ice, the guy would end up missing just five games.
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