With so much at stake night in and night out—huge contracts, endorsement deals, championships, history, the adoration of millions of fans—it’s hardly surprising that professional athletes can sometimes lose their cool in the heat of competition. We’ve seen this happen about 15 times already in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and we’re not even done with the first round. But sometimes the competition doesn’t merely take a turn for the worse. Sometimes, the competition takes a turn for the childish. And that’s when players end up with bite marks.
Yes, today we’re taking a look at biting in sports. It may seems pretty crazy, since most of us kicked the nasty habit by the time we finished the second grade, but we can’t go more than a year or two without some high profile biting incident making the cover of sports pages around the world.
So sit back and get ready to be amused by 9 of the most infamous cases of sports biting in recent memory.
Just a few weeks ago, English rugby player Dylan Hartley received an 8-week suspension from the International Rugby Board for biting Stephen Ferris in a match between England and Ireland back on March 17. Neither the refs nor the television cameras caught the incident when it happened, but apparently there was enough evidence (i.e., bite marks) to merit the suspension. This means Hartley will miss the rest of his club team's regular season (he plays for Northampton of the Rugby Premiership), but he'll be eligible for England's tour of South Africa this summer.
But you want to know the strangest thing about this case? Dylan Harley himself was the victim in another infamous biting incident just one year earlier...
9. Dylan Hartley
South African rugby player Pedrie Wannenburg took a bite out of the aforementioned Dylan Hartley during a Heineken Cup match between the former's Ulster and the latter's Northampton just last April. Apparently, this tactic rubbed off on Hartley. The guy probably figured that since Wannenburg didn't get suspended for his bite (which was caught on tape), he would be able to get away with it, too. He was obviously wrong about that.
8. Pedrie Wannenburg
It's not always the players who get carried away at sporting events. Sometimes the mascots get a little riled up too. Just ask former Auburn player Robert Baker, who almost had his junk bitten off by the Georgia Bulldogs' mascot, Uga V, back in 1996.
(In case you were wondering, we're now on Uga IX. I guess being the mascot for an SEC football team really takes a toll on a bull dog.)
7. Uga V
Everyone remembers this one, right? During last year's Stanley Cup Finals, Vancouver's Burrows bit the finger of Boston's Patrice Bergeron during a scrum at the end of the first period in Game 1. It's hardly a nasty bite—probably didn't even leave a mark. And the NHL didn't levy a fine against Burrows because you can't really tell from the video if he actually chomps down. But Burrows already had a reputation for being one of the most annoying players in the NHL, so the incident received quite a bit of attention. For their part, the Boston Bruins certainly wouldn't let the guy forget it. Later in the series, the Bruins' Milan Lucic taunted Burrows by offering up his finger for a nibble.
6. Alex Burrows
There aren't a whole lot of things you can't do in UFC. But, alas, biting is one of them. Of course, this technicality didn't stop Tim Hague from gnawing on Joey Beltran's knee at UFC 113 in Montreal.
Well, okay. Maybe he didn't really bite down. But there is definitely some mouth to knee contact here, so as far as I'm concerned, it counts. (Hey, this isn't a court of law.)
5. Tim Hague
On January 6, 2009, the Ottawa Senators' Jarkko Ruutu allegedly bit the finger of Buffalo Sabres enforcer Andrew Peters. I say "allegedly" because, although it's clear Peters sticks his gloved finger up in Ruutu's mouth, there's no way of telling from the video whether Ruutu actually bites down. All we really know is that Peters does one hell of a job of selling it. And the NHL certainly bought it: they suspended Ruutu for two games and fined him $31,700.
4. Jarkko Rukko
The most famous bite in NBA history came during a 1983 playoff series between the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics. Atlanta's Tree Rollins instigated a brawl by elbowing Boston's Danny Ainge in the head. Then, as the two wrestled around on the floor afterward, Rollins chomped down on Ainge's finger so hard that the guy had to get stitches.
The incident led to one of the greatest sports headlines of all time appearing in newspapers across the country the next day: "Tree Bites Man."
3. Tree Rollins
Are you ready for this? In 2001, after his teammate Jose Antonio Reyes scored a goal, Francisco Gallardo of Sevilla FC decided to celebrate by BITING THE DUDE'S PENIS.
No joke. Reyes' teammates pile on top of him, and then Gallardo comes and shows his appreciation by nibbling his manhood.
The Royal Spanish Football Association fined and suspended Gallardo, very reasonably declaring this to be a violation of "sporting dignity and decorum." But Gallardo never really offered up an explanation. "I am sure I didn't offend anyone," he said. "I don't think what I did was very noteworthy."
Obviously, Francisco is a little out of touch with reality.
2. Francisco Gallardo
The most famous sports bite of all time occurred on June 28, 1997. Mike Tyson had a shot to regain the Heavyweight title from Evander Holyfield, but was disqualified after his bit off a chunk of the champ's ear. And that was pretty much the end of Tyson's boxing career—though he's since found a nice little career for himself making cameo's in movies and the WWE ring.
1. Mike Tyson
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