Bo Jackson – L.A. Raiders/K.C. Royals, RB/OF
What can you say about Bo. He was like the robot from Terminator. He was like a speeding train. He was like a Monstar playing against a bunch of Tweety birds. The man literally appeared to be indestructible, until one day an injury destroyed him. That injury singlehandedly deprived sports fans of some of the greatest sports highlights we would have ever seen. Bo knew everything except how to stay healthy. The highlights say it all.
Penny Hardaway – Orlando Magic, PG
L’il Penny was the man, wasn’t he? I mean, Big Penny was good too, but after Shaq-Fu left town and Penny got his knees busted up worse than Nancy Kerrigan at the 96 Winter Olympics, that little puppet dude was about the only cool thing Big Penny had going for himself. Too bad a few injury-riddled years would lead to Nike dropping that ad campaign like a bad habit. In any case, Penny was truly a high-flier and someone who most NBA fans expected to be a perennial All-Star until injuries messed him up.
Bill Walton – Portland Trailblazers, C
Was it injuries or was he just high? We’ll never know, but Walton spent the majority of his career watching from the sidelines after winning a championship with the Blazers in ’77(really, is it any coincidence he was drafted by a team in the Pacific Northwest called the BLAZE-rs?). Somehow, Walton still maintains this incredible mythic status among basketball writers/historians which I can’t really crap on since I never saw him play. But they still make the point that without those injuries he could’ve been one of the greatest centers of all time, and maybe he would have. Either way he definitely takes the title for oddest superstar of all time, and maybe even whitest teeth too.
Terrell Davis – Denver Broncos, RB
You could probably make a top-5 just of running backs who had their knees messed up, but that’s no fun. So if I’ve got to choose one, I’m going with TD. It’s hard to take out a collection basket for a guy who won the NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP, as well as three Pro Bowls, but considering a knee injury in his fourth year of 1999 basically ended his reign at the top of the game, he deserves mention. He had just run for 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns the year before, only to tear his ACL a couple games into the season and never be the same.
Mark Prior – Chicago Cubs, SP
You can scream from the hilltops about Kerry Wood, but I’m just not giving him this spot. Wood’s still playing and has figured out how to be an effective reliever in some scenarios. Prior, on the hand, hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2006. He was pretty freaking dominant in his first two years, finishing 3rd in Cy Young voting in his rookie season and leading the Cubs to 88-wins and an NLCS appearance in ’03, only to be foiled by Steve Bartman and Alex Gonzalez. Prior just had bad luck, including being pelted by a 117-mph comeback line drive by Brad Hawpe on his throwing arm in 2004. He could have been real, real good.
Yao Ming – Houston Rockets, C
I’m a little biased because I’m one of the biggest non-Asian Yao Ming fans you’ll find — but there’s no athlete that I feel more sorry for than Yao. This giant human being was subjected to all-year-round playing schedules between the Chinese national team and his NBA teams, and wow go figure the 7-foot-7 guy got hurt. He’s been slowed for the past 5 or so years by injuries — and it seems pretty clear that even if he does come back he won’t be the same Yao we knew from before. At least he can avoid getting blocked by Nate Robinson.
5 Players Who Could Have Careers Derailed By Injury In The Future
Jose Reyes – New York Mets, SS
The inspiration for this post. Reyes runs hard, swings hard, high-fives hard, and even smiles hard. All of which Mets fans fear could lead to him pulling a hammy at any given momen—wait, too late. Reyes tweaked his hammy-lammy-ding-dong this past weekend against the Spanks, and the fact that the one and only Mets training staff is saying it’s a minor injury and he could be back in a few days means that it’s probably the worst injury of all-time and he won’t be back for a few years. Jose, previously the inspiration for the greatest end-of-night chants at bars down the Jersey Shore when the Mets were good (think “Ole” except with “Jose”), now is in danger of becoming just another punch line in Mets history, or worse yet, the hero for another MLB team come playoff time. God help us all.
Sidney Crosby – Pittsburg Penguins
I’m not a hockey fan so I don’t watch much of it, but there are few things more horrifying to me than seeing a hockey player get shouldered in the head during a game and then lay on the ice for like 10 minutes without moving. That happened to Sid the Kid recently, according to the 3 people in the world I know that watch hockey, and fans are a little unsure if he’ll be the same player when he comes back. He’s pretty damn good, and I do like watching him face off with Ovechkin, so hopefully he comes back to full strength.
Ike Davis, NYM, 1B
Is it fair to go with 2 Mets on this list? Maybe not. And Ike is very young and this is his first injury, but Ike’s injury updates over the past few months have been less than comforting. In fact, they read a little like a 5th grader stalling when the teacher asks for his homework. First, it was a few days. Then, he needed a boot. Then, he “shed the boot to improve blood flow.” Now, he’s “thinking about running” some time in the near future to “test if he should get surgery”. At this point I’d rather pay for a tarot card reading from Miss Cleo than trust a statement from the Mets organization.
Andrew Bynum – L.A. Lakers, C
This one is pretty self-explanatory, but for those who don’t know, Bynum has been sidelined by injuries since high school. In fact, he only played something like 6-10 games in his senior year of HS because of it, but was still picked for almost every HS All-Star team out there, including the McDonald’s All American Game, which is supposed to be based on high school performance (not AAU, cough, cough). Not that I’m bitter or anything. In any case, Bynum could be a monster but if I’m the Lakers I would deal him. His limbs don’t seem to be able to handle his own weight. Maybe his diagnosis should just be Lay Off The Damn Big Macs.
Wild Card: Plaxico Burress – ???, WR
There are a lot of reasons to leave Plaxico off of this list. There are also a lot of reasons to put him on. Yes, he shot himself in a club and didn’t get hurt on the field. Yes, his absence wasn’t because of the injury per se but rather because the po-po decided to make an example of him. Yes, he already had the game-winning catch in the Super Bowl and is in his mid-thirties now. But, he still had his career derailed right in the middle of his prime and might still have something to give to an NFL team, which means for the next 2-3 years we can watch closely to see if Plax can come back from this whole ordeal. Plax’s injury is really that his brain is injured, so over the next few years just watch to see if he does anything crazy like wave his pistol at reporters or talk about how he got reconstructive surgery on his balls after he shot them and now they are the size of grapefruits. For him, those are the same indicators as seeing a guy fall down on the field grabbing his leg. Congratulations Plaxico, you’ve established a new injury category: Dumb As Fuck.