Athletes get injured all the time. Really, its part of the job description. On occasion injuries are so severe they end careers. In other cases, injuries do nothing but prove that some men are above things like pain, doctors orders, and common sense. In the interest of fairness, I do want to warn everyone that the injuries detailed below are kind of gross. I’m not responsible for any lightheadedness caused by reading this piece. I also recommend that anyone under 12 click away now (unless your parents aren’t paying attention, in which case go for it)
You’ve probably never heard of Salim Sdiri. That’s mainly because European track and field competitors aren’t the most prominent athletes featured on ESPN. Salim Sdiri is a French long jumper who finished fifth in the World Championships in 2005 and won Gold twice at the Mediterranean Games (think Olympics, but only taking place between Northern Africa, Southern Europe, and two countries and Asia, and with an uglier flag).
In 2007, Sdiri was competing in a meet in Rome for the IAAF Golden League. It also happened to be Friday the 13th. While waiting between jumps, Tero Pitkmaki, a Finish javelin thrower (javelinist?) and world champion in his own right, was called for his second attempt of the afternoon. Sdiri would soon become aware of this fact.
Pitkmaki is normally renowned for his accuracy with a javelin. But on this particular day, he was slightly inaccurate. And by slightly inaccurate, I mean he threw his javelin 80 meters off target and straight through the back of an unsuspecting Sdiri.
Sdiri was immediately surrounded by trainers and medical staff, and rushed to a nearby hospital. Astoundingly, Sdiri was discovered to not have life threatening injuries, and was released relatively quickly. However, in what can only be considered the worst Friday the 13th in recorded history, it turned out the Doctors were wrong and he wound up back in the hospital, where kidney damage and a hole in his liver were discovered.
Sdiri would spend several months undergoing intense medical treatment to ensure that renal failure would not set in, but returned to the French national team, where he would set the French national record for the long jump in the process of winning one of those gold medals I mentioned earlier. So overall, not bad for a guy who would have died if he had been standing a few inches back of where he was.
Everyone who’s ever met Teddy Bruschi considers him a pretty good guy. He was renowned during his playing career for his good naturedness and his nearly constant media availability. In addition to this, he’s beloved in the Boston area for his charity work, and for being a positive role model for kids. So yeah, everybody likes Tedy Bruschi.
In early 2005, Bruschi suffered an unexpected stroke that left him partially paralyzed. This really bummed everyone out because, like I said, most people really like Tedy. It was an even bigger bummer when Bruschi announced he was going to sit out the 2005 NFL season. Well, that is, until he kicked his stroke’s ass and changed his mind.
In October 2005, exactly 8 months after suffering an affliction that kills more people worldwide then everything except heart disease, Tedy’s doctors informed him that he was medically cleared to run full speed into other human beings again. Bruschi immediately returned to the Patriots, where he would eventually win the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award, and lead his team in tackles the very next season.
So to recap, Tedy Bruschi 1, Stroke Induced Paralysis 0. Feel free to write your own jokes about Tedy Bruschi’s manliness.
Its tough to live up to a guy who told a blood clot in his brain to fuck off, so Anquan Boldin decided he was going to do something different- he was going to get injured ON the field (known as Theismann-ing in league circles).
On September 28, 2009, in a game against the New York Jets, as the final seconds ticked off the clock, quarterback Kurt Warner hurled a pass towards Boldin who had made a break for the end zone. Three defenders converged on Boldin immediately, one of whom hit Boldin from behind and another of whom hit Bouldin in the jaw with his helmet.
Eric Smith, the second player who hit Boldin was immediately knocked unconscious. He fared much better then Boldin, who not only was knocked unconscious, but dislocated and fractured his jaw and fractured his paranasal sinuses. In laymen’s terms, Anquan Boldin had a broken fucking face. He was carted off the field and taken immediately to the hospital where his injuries were diagnosed.
Boldin would undergo surgery to repair the fractures and, during his recovery, reportedly refused to take any medication to help with the pain. Oh, speaking of his recovery, he had the wires removed from his jaw three weeks early so he could return to playing. And to test his surgically repaired face, he decided to head butt his teammates in practice.
Eric Smith earned a $50000 fine and one game suspension for his helmet-to-jaw hit on Boldin, but likely gained a far worse punishment: the eternal ire of a man so tough he head butts his teammates to stress test his shattered face.
Big Van Vader
When I was a kid, there were only two things that kept me up at night: the groups of stray cats that roamed my neighborhood like street gangs defending their turf, and Big Van Vader.
Big Van Vader, or just Vader as friends call him, gained his fame as a professional wrestler in the late 80s/early 90s, following a brief NFL career. He initially gained notoriety in Japan as a monster character modeled after a legendary Japanese warrior and anime character. In his first match for New Japan Pro Wrestling, Vader defeated Japanese hero and mega star Antonio Inoki, causing the fans in attendance to riot, and getting NJPW banned from its home venue.
Vader became New Japan’s heavyweight champion shortly after this, and in 1990, would meet fellow American (or Gaijin, as they’re known in Japanese wrestling) Stan Hansen. There are two important things to note here. First, in Japan, wrestlers are much more heavy handed with each other, throwing legitimate punches, kicks, and chops, all of which are not only expected but required by fans. Second, Stan Hansen, who is arguably the most popular Gaijin in the history of Japanese wrestling, is almost completely blind without his glasses.
At the time, Vader and Hansen was considered a dream match, and it was heavily promoted as such. Stories on the start of the match differ, but many, including Vader himself contend that Hansen, who again, can hardly see a thing, struck Vader in the face with a bull rope during his entrance. This lead to the two behemoths exchanging increasingly stiff blows, exacerbated by Hansen’s inability to see Vader as anything more then a gigantic angry blurr with fists, until Hansen hit Vader so hard that Vader’s eye was knocked out of its socket.
I’ll repeat myself, because I don’t think saying this once conveys the mind blowing brutality of this moment. Stan Hansen hit Vader in the face so hard, so many times that Vader’s eyeball fell out.
Vader, in a moment that no amount of adverbs or adjectives could ever do justice, responded by removing his mask and shoving his eyeball back into his face. He then proceeded to finish the remaining 15 or so minutes of the match like nothing happened. During this time, the only thing keeping Vader’s eyeball in place was his swollen eyelid, as Hansen also broke Vader’s eye socket with his blows. [Here's a link to the match itself, but I honestly can't recommend watching it.] Vader would undergo reconstructive surgery to repair the broken bones and keep his eye in place, and miss little ring time.
By the way, Vader and Hansen, were then and still are close friends in real life.
Anybody who has even a passing familiarity with hockey in the 1980s should recognize the name Clint Malarchuk. Not because he’s particularly skilled or hold any records. Clint Malarchuk is noteworthy pretty much everyone agrees he should probably be dead.
In March of 1989, Malarchuk was net minding for the Buffalo Sabres against the visiting St. Louis blues when, mid game, Steve Tuttle of the Blues and Malarchuk’s own defender became entangled in pursuit of a loose puck near the net. Both men crashed into the net, causing Tuttle’s feet to leave the ice, wind up pointing upward, and slashing Malarchuk’s throat.
Malarchuk immediately recognized what had happened to him, and clutched his throat while Buffalo and St. Louis players signaled to the bench for their respective trainers. Buffalo trainer Jim Pizzutelli reached Malarchuk almost immediately, and used skills picked up as an Army medic in Vietnam to pinch off the bleeding in Malarchuk’s carotid artery, and held his hand in the wound until doctors arrived to close it.
Three things, that can only be explained by luck, saved Malarchuk’s life. The first was Pizzutelli’s Army medicine expertise. The second was the fact that his goal was right in front of the tunnel teams took to the locker room. At that time in the NHL, it was common for both teams to exit the ice via a common tunnel behind one goal rather then behind the bench. Had modern locker rooms been installed in the arena, or had Malarchuk been at the opposite goal, he likely would have bleed out. Third, and perhaps most astoundingly, is that had Malarchuk’s carotid been severed a fraction of an inch higher, it would have killed him before doctors could arrive to close the wound.
Most people, given such a near death experience, would at the very least take their time recovering before returning to the ice. Malarchuk is clearly a man who’s never met a piece of medical advice that he couldn’t disregard, as he was present the arena just two days later and returned to practice four days later. He played again not long after that. When asked why he returned so quickly, Malarchuk responded “I play for keeps.”
Perhaps most interestingly, in 2008 Malarchuk suffered what should have been a second fatal accident, this time off the ice, when he accidentally shot himself in he face. He initially refused medical treatment until officers convinced him to go to the hospital because, you know, he had shot himself in the face.
I don’t know who or what is keeping Clint Malarchuk alive, but I do know when December 21st rolls around, I want him nearby. Just in case.
Don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter @30CarPileup. Or not. Its a free country.