9 Most Iconic Sports Injuries of All Time
We could make a list hundreds of entries long that show the most graphic videos of injuries on the field. It would be pretty awful, honestly. So while this list takes inventory of in-game sports injuries, it doesn’t feature the terrible Paul George–type things that make you walk around all pale for the next four hours. Rather, these are the iconic sports injuries more akin to battle scars. They’re cool, not disturbing. At least, I think so. Your mileage may vary.
This came about, course, after J.J. Watt shared photo of a HUGE bruise he got when he was playing last year. It’s more impressive than it is gross, and it reminds you the regular beating that NFL lineman give each other even on the most routine plays.
So here are a few of the worst injuries that athletes have played through. We kept MMA and boxing off this list, because those can get really graphic, and we’re more looking for the kinds of injuries that produce iconic images.
Are we using pretty specific criteria here? Yes, we want this to be about sports and the spirit of competition, not gore porn. (Because we already did that list.)
Take a look…
Ahh, the aforementioned, recently-discovered bruise. He sustained it against the Bills, and you can get the full story on it right here. A nice, fun way to kick things off, no?
9. J.J. Watt’s BruiseThis is the last J.J. Watt entry. I swear. It might not be a bruise the size of Utah, but this one was a little more iconic because we knew of it as it was happening. Playing the Raiders, J.J. Watt took a shot to the face in the third quarter. He was bloodied, as you can see, but he stayed in the game after getting six stitches to the face. When he was asked how he got he bloody nose, he simply replied, “I hit people for a living.” That quote sounds like something that Patrick Swayze would say in Road House. Which is to say, awesome.
8. J.J. Watt’s NoseThe Suns lost to the Spurs in game 1 of the second round of the 2007 NBA playoffs, but I don’t think that you can put that one on Nash. Nash got hit in the face with an elbow, breaking his nose and causing it to bleed something fierce. You can see after the incident that his nose is no longer straight. He got 31 points and 8 assists playing through it, but it wasn’t enough. This finesse guy showed some grit that night.
7. Steve Nash’s NoseNolan Ryan was a force of nature into his early 40’s, and you don’t get that kind of durability without a toughness. We’ve seen it from Nolan many times, most notably when he headlocked and pummeled Robin Ventura after the White Sox player charged the mound. However, this one is my favorite. Ryan is still on the mound, throwing heat after getting drilled in the mouth by a Bo Jackson line drive. He wasn’t doing it to be tough. He was doing it because he WAS tough.
6. Nolan Ryan’s Bloody MouthHere’s a fun one. Red Sox fans and Red Sox haters all know about Curt Schilling’s bloody sock resulting from surgery stitches that opened back up while he took to the mound shortly after getting his ankle/foot treated. There was a little blood, and a huge deal was made of it. Rightly or wrongly, that’s in the eye of the beholder. However, the underlying scar was pretty ripe and nasty at the time. It’s not as iconic, but it’s pretty impressive nonetheless.
5. Curt Schilling’s Sock
This guy was playing in a 1989 England World Cup qualifier, when he cut his head and got some stitches put in during the game. The stitches didn’t keep, and his wound opened back up. It looks like he murdered everyone on the field, judging by the blood stains on his jersey. I’m not sure if he would be allowed to play all covered in blood like that in 2015. I can’t believe he was allowed to play like that in 1989.
4. Terry Butcher’s Head Laceration
Ok, so it’s not really a gun shot wound, but if he wasn’t wearing a Texans uniform, he could pass as a corpse on a slab in a Law & Order episode. It’s not clear how Cushing got the forehead laceration, but it was the third time in the 2011 season that he needed to be bandaged under his helmet. That’s pretty cool. Not healthy, but cool.
3. Brian Cushing’s Gun Shot Wound to the Head
This pic comes from way back in 2002, when Chris Bober, a center, was dueling against Redskins lineman Dan “Big Daddy” Wilkinson. He was told that he tore his bicep completely off the bone, but was later told that it was only HALFWAY off the bone. So he’s only half-tough for sticking through this one and only playing the game with one arm.
2. Chris Bober’s J.J. Watt-Sized Bruise
A lot has been made of Kerri Strug’s performance in the 1996 Olympics that allowed the team to clinch the gold. The fact is that she just need to finish the vault on her feet to mathematically clinch the gold. Something that likely any gymnast on the floor that day could have done. However, Kerri Strug had sustained an ankle injury and was literally limping to the runway, so landing upright wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Spoiler alert from ’96: She stuck the landing, the US got the gold, and Kerri got a Wheaties box.