The 15 Worst Career-Ending Injuries in Sports

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The 15 Worst Career-Ending Injuries in Sports

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There are so many reasons to love sports. Unfortunately, injuries are not one of them. It is one thing for a player to go down with a pulled muscle, broke bone or even a concussion. However, it is completely different when a player suffers a career-ending or life-threatening injury on the court, field, or diamond.

There have been too many times in recent years, particularly in football, where head injuries are creating a major concern. Doctors still are unaware of the complete effect concussions have on the brain, which is a big reason why the NFL is cracking down on helmet-to-helmet hits. Former Green Bay Packers safety Nick Collins saw his career cut short because of a neck injury, while tight end Jermichael Finley is faced with a similar predicament. Even quarterback Peyton Manning is one bad hit away from his career coming to an end or worse.

There have been some vicious hits and collisions over the years that have caused career-ending injuries. Then there are the injuries that sort of happened on their own or are due to numerous injuries that piled up. Either way, it is never fun to watch someone suffer and have their hopes and dreams ripped from them because of an unfortunate mishap.

Make sure to click through the slideshow to see the 15 worst career-ending injuries in sports. Also, make sure to comment below if there is anything not on the slideshow that you think belongs on the list, or if you agree with everything.

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15. Cam Neely

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Cam Neely’s 13-year playing career eventually came to an end due to a string of bad injuries, more specifically, his multiple knee injuries in 1991. He received a hard check from Ulf Samuelsson in Game 3 of the 1991 Prince of Wales Conference Finals. It was just three games later when he suffered another knee injury. Neely developed myositis ossificans in his knee due to multiple traumas, which is a big reason why he only appeared in 162 games over the rest of his career.

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14. Daunte Culpepper


Quarterback Daunte Culpepper had a devastating knee injury in 2005 in which three major ligaments were torn. The signal caller would only play in 24 games over the last several years of his career.

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13. Sterling Sharpe


Sterling Sharpe was on all set to have a Hall of Fame career before tragedy struck in 1994. He suffered a tough neck injury that forced him to take a long look at his life and career. Sharpe made the decision that retiring was the best choice, which was a shame considering Brett Favre hadn’t even spread his wings yet. It’s a shame fans didn’t get to see Sharpe’s full potential, especially since brother Shannon Sharpe who is in the Hall of Fame, has even said that the wide receiver was the better player.

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12. Bubba Smith


Defensive end Bubba Smith suffered a horrific knee injury during a preseason game in 1972 after he ran into a steel pool that was used to mark yardage. Unfortunately, he missed the entire regular season and never became the same Pro Bowl player once he returned the next year.

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11. Kirby Puckett


Kirby Puckett was a tremendously talented baseball player who saw his career cut short after he broke his jaw due to a fastball in 1995. Once it was revealed that he had glaucoma and couldn’t see out of his right eye, the 10-time All-Star was forced to retire.

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10. Mack Strong

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The numerous hits caught up to fullback Mack Strong in 2007 when he suffered a herniated disk in a contest against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Strong was informed that he could avoid talk about the possibility of paralysis as long as he never suited up again. The decision was an easy one as he retired on Oct. 8 of the same year.

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9. David Busst


Soccer player David Busst saw retirement come early after a gruesome injury in 1996. He had two compound fractures in his right left after a nasty collision with two players. The injury was so severe that there was actually talk of the possibility of amputating his leg. He underwent 26 surgeries in the following years to fix his leg.

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8. Kevin Everett


A collision during a kickoff return in Week 1 of the 2007 NFL season is why Kevin Everett is on the countdown. A cervical spine injury forced Everett to call his career short because it wasn’t even known if he would walk again. Thankfully, Everett eventually regained the ability to use his arms and legs, which proved that hard work and determination definitely pays off.

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7. Reggie Brown

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Linebacker Reggie Brown played in just 26 games before he called his career quits. The reason was because he suffered a spinal cord contusion in 1997 after a vicious hit. The medics at the game were forced to give him CPR in order to save his life. It’s the only reason he’s not in a wheel chair.

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6. Steve Moore

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In 2004, center Steve Moore was the victim of a cheap shot in the back of the head by Todd Bertuzzi. The hit caused three fractured vertebrae in Moore’s neck as well as a concussion. He spent five months in the hospital and never suited up again.

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5. Tom Browning


Pitcher Tom Browning’s 12-year career came to an end after numerous injuries took a toll on his body. The final straw was a gruesome arm injury in which his pitching arm broke and separated from his shoulder. Browning’s season was over but he still managed to pitch in two more games the following year. However, it was simply too much as he retired prior to the start of the 1996 season.

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4. Darryl Stingley

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In 1978, wide receiver Darryl Stingley had a compressed spinal cord and two broken vertebrae after a vicious hit at the hands of defensive back Jack Tatum. The injury forced Stingley to use a wheel chair for the rest of his life and was the eventual reason he died in 2007 after quadriplegia is said to be partially responsible for his pneumonia.

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3. Joe Theisman


The most famous injury on this list is quarterback Joe Theisman’s broken leg that he suffered on Monday Night Football in 1985. Linebackers Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson combined for the incredibly hard to watch hit that broke Theisman’s leg in two places. The injury ended his career on the spot.

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2. Mike Utley


Offensive lineman Mike Utley was paralyzed from the waist down after he suffered an injury to his sixth and seventh vertebrae. The unfortunate injury is why he began the Mike Utley Foundation with the purpose to find a cure for paralysis.

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1. Eric LeGrand

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The most recent injury on this slideshow also happens to be the worst career-ending injury. Eric LeGrand was originally said to be paralyzed from the neck down after he collided with kick returner Malcom Brown in a contest in 2010. He originally needed a respirator to breathe but he now can take in oxygen on his own and is regaining sensation in his arms.

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