The 20 Most Gruesome Injuries in Professional Sports

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The 20 Most Gruesome Injuries in Professional Sports


There is so much to love about sports that sometimes people forget athletes put their bodies on the line for the joy and entertainment of others. Injuries occur every week in every sport. However, it is the gruesome ones that really stand out and make one question if there is a way to avoid such horrific injuries. Unfortunately, it is a part of the game that will never go away, at least not anytime soon.

Several athletes listed in the slideshow suffered such horrendous injuries that it actually made their career come to an end. In some cases, they almost lost their life or had to have a limb amputated to save their life. It proves just how dangerously physical sports can be, which is obviously something most fans take for granted. It also is something a majority of players take for granted as so many deliver hard hits without truly thinking about the consequences of their action.

I am all about football and hockey being physical because that is one of the main reasons fans enjoys watching the games. I am even a huge fan of home plate collisions because it brings excitement to the sport. With that being said, I never like to see a player get seriously hurt.

Make sure to click through the slideshow to see the 20 most gruesome injuries in professional sports. Also, make sure to comment below if you believe there are other horrific injuries that weren’t included on the list that should be.

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20. 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 as quadriplegia was said to be partially responsible for his pneumonia.

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19. Preston Burpo

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Goalkeeper Preston Burpo suffered a horrific injury in which he broke his tibia and fibula after he challenged and then collided with opponent Dan Richards. Many spectators at the 2010 match compared it to quarterback Joe Theismann’s hard-to-watch broken leg incident.

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18. Mick Foley

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As much as I hate to say it, professional wrestling is technically a professional sport. That means Mick Foley, also known as Mankind, is also technically a professional athlete. Anyways, Foley suffered his fair share of gruesome injuries. However, it was in 1994 in a match against Vader that was one of the worst. While performing a stunt in between two ropes, Foley tore two-thirds of his right ear off. Instead of stopping, Foley continued to wrestle while the referee pocketed the ear for safekeeping.

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17. Paulo Diogo

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Swiss soccer player Paulo Diogo was so excited after he scored a goal in 2004 that he decided he had to celebrate with the fans. Diogo leaped up on the metal perimeter fence and began to cheer with the faithful. Unfortunately, his wedding ring got caught in the fence and when he jumped back down to the pitch half of his finger came off. The bone was visible as Diogo screamed to the sidelines to signal that he needed assistance. To make matters worse, he was given a yellow card for excessive celebration and he was forced to amputate his finger down to the first joint.

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16. Ewald Lienen

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In 1981, soccer player Ewald Lienen required 23 stitches to repair a gut-churning gash in his thigh after fellow player Norbert Siegmann cleated him with his spikes. Lienen sat on the field in shock as blood gushed out from the incredibly gruesome wound. Amazingly enough, Lienen was back practicing just 17 days later.

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15. Marc Mariani

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Marc Mariani was on his way to being one of the best return specialists in the game. Unfortunately, he broke his leg in a preseason contest in 2012 after his teammate accidentally stepped on his foot, which twisted his leg. The injury isn’t as gruesome as the others on the countdown are, but it was incredibly painful.

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14. Buster Posey

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Catcher Buster Posey suffered a horrific injury due to a home plate collision with Scott Cousins in 2011. Posey fractured his fibula and tore ligaments in his ankle. The collision is about as gruesome as it gets in a baseball game, and it has become one of the main reasons why Major League Baseball intends to pass a rule that will ban home plate collisions.

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13. David Busst


Soccer player David Busst suffered 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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12. Shaun Livingston

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Shaun Livingston suffered one of the most gruesome knee injuries in NBA history on the night of February 26, 2007. Livingston missed a layup and came down awkwardly on his left leg. His knee snapped and he tore every ligament around the area. He also dislocated the patella and tibia-femoral joint.

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11. Steve Zakuani

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Soccer player Steve Zakuani broke his leg after a hard tackle by Brian Mullan. Zakuani fractured his tibia and fibula in a painful manner. He had to be carted off the field, and didn’t return to professional soccer for 15 months.

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10. 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. He retired prior to the start of the 1996 season.

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9. Evander Holyfield

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Boxer Evander Holyfield got a part of his ear bitten off by lunatic Mike Tyson in a rematch titled Holyfield vs. Tyson II. The crazy part about it is Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear earlier in the match and was on his way to a disqualification when Holyfield said the fight could continue. Tyson then bit a second time, which is when the top part of Holyfield’s ear was removed.

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8. Richard Zednik

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Richard Zednik suffered a severe neck injury that nearly cost him his life after a skate blade cut an artery in his neck. Blood flowed everywhere as team trainers attempted to stop the bleeding until the proper emergency medical personnel could get Zednik to the hospital. He underwent surgery that stabled his condition, and returned to the ice the next season.

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7. Chris Kuper

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Offensive guard Chris Kuper broke his ankle in the regular season finale of the 2011 season. The ankle was so severely broken that his foot actually faced the opposition direction. Miraculously, Kuper returned in 2012 and played in seven games. He even got elected to the Pro Bowl.

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6. Dave Dravecky

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Pitcher Dave Dravecky suffered numerous bad fates in a span of just a few years. In 1988, a cancerous tumor was found in his throwing arm. Surgery removed some muscle, but he was able to pitch again in the majors in August of 1989. In his second start of the season, he broke his humerus bone and instantly collapsed on the mound. Dravecky would break his arm again just a few weeks later while celebrating the National League pennant win. It was revealed that the cancer had returned, and two years later, his arm and should had to be amputated.

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5. Sid Vicious

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Professional wrestler Sid Vicious was asked to add some aerial moves to his routine practically against his will. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a terrible idea. He snapped his tibia and fibula after a jump from the second turnbuckle went horribly wrong.

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4. Borje Salming

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Defenseman Borje Salming took a skate to the face after Gerrard Gallant accidentally stepped on him during a game in 1986. Salming’s wound required 200 stitches and facial reconstructive surgery to fix the damage.

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3. Napoleon McCallum

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Running back Napoleon McCallum’s career ended during a Monday Night Football game in 1995 after his left knee hyperextended to the point where it faced a different angle. He also tore three ligaments as well as his calf and hamstring. The doctor said that it was the most horrific injury he had ever seen in regards to sports.

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2. Joe Theismann


Quarterback Joe Theismann suffered a vicious broken leg on Monday Night Football in 1985. Linebackers Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson combined for the incredibly hard-to-watch hit that broke Theismann’s leg in two places. The injury ended his career on the spot.

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1. Clint Malarchuk


By far the most gruesome injury to occur in professional sports is that of Clint Malarchuk. The goaltender had his jugular vein sliced after Steve Tuttle’s skate made contact with Malarchuk’s neck. Blood spurted all over the ice, which caused panic in the stands. It was reported that three players vomited, two fans had heart attacks and 11 more fans fainted. Malarchuk was prepared to die and even called for a priest. However, team trainer Jim Pizzutelli saved his life, along with several doctors who repaired the wound.