Other things get crushed, too: body parts. The unpredictability of sports means that things don’t always go as planned for the althetes and high-impact collisions occur on the field of play. And, because most major sports events air live on television, millions of people see these horrific injuries as they happen.
Below, we take a look at the most gruesome sports injuries in history. It should go without saying that those with weak stomachs need to get the heck out of here right now.
Clink Malarchuk gets his jugular severed by a skate blade
Let’s start this list off with a bang. Or, rather, a slash. Clint Malarchuk was a goalie for the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and he came within seconds of death in front of thousands of fans during a 1989 game against the St. Louis Blues. Malarchuk was cut on the neck by the skate blade of Blues forward Steve Tuttle during a collision in front of his net. Malarchuk’s jugular vein was severed and, as you can see in the video above, blood began gushing from his neck and painting the ice a sickening shade of red.
The scene was so horrific (picture) that it caused the television commentators to beg their production crew to cut away. Allegedly, nine fans fainted at the sight and two suffered heart attacks. Team trainer Jim Pizzutelli, a medic who had served in Vietnam, saved Malachuk’s life by literally reaching into his neck and pinching the vein closed. Doctors later estimated that Malarchuk would have died if he had been cut only 1/8 of an inch higher. It took over 300 stitches to close the wound and doctors told Malarchuk to take the rest of the hockey season off to recover, but he missed only four days of practice and was playing after only a week. Hockey players are as tough as they come.
Years later, in 2008, Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik suffered an eerily similar injury (video). He, too, was cut on the neck and began bleeding profusely all over the ice. Incredibly, Zednik has the presence of mind to skate to the bench, where he received medical treatment that may have saved his life.
Mere months after the Zednik incident, Malarchuk once again found himself near death from blood loss. His wife returned home to find him bleeding from the mouth and chin after he shot himself in the face with a .22 calibre rifle. Malarchuk was rushed to the hospital, where the bleeding was stopped. Though there was speculation that the incident was a failed suicide attempt, police ruled the shooting to be accidental.
Olympic weightlifter’s elbow pops out
Hungarian weightlifter Janos Baranyai’s first Olympics didn’t exactly go as planned. While attempting to lift 148 kilograms in the men’s 77 kilogram snatch at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Baranyai’s elbow said “I’ve had enough of this crap” and promptly dislocated itself. It took Baranyai two years to recover from the brutal injury, and he says that he received only $14 dollars from his insurance company during that time, but he made it all the way back to compete in weight lifting on the world stage.
The best part of this video, apart from how polite the Australian commentators are while asking not to be shown any more of the horrific scene, is the way the Beijing Olympics crew rushes in with boards so he can experience agony in privacy.
Johnny knox gets bent in half
Sometimes, football commentators describe a big hit by saying that a player got “folded in half.” For wide receiver Johnny Knox of the Chicago Bears, it was literally true. Anthony Hargrove of the Seattle Seahawks delivered a crushing blow to Know during a December, 2011 game, bending Knox’s body in a way that the human body most certainly isn’t supposed to bend. Miraculously, Knox wasn’t paralyzed on the play. He did crack a facet joint in his spinal column, however, and he faces a long road to recovery.
Andrew bogut shatters his arm
The title of this video does a pretty good job explaining exactly what happened. Andrew Bogut, center for the Milwaukee Bucks, broke his arm after attempting a dunk. You can see it coming, as he hangs precariously from the rim. Nothing can prepare you for the direction his arm bends as he hits the floor, though. As the commentator says, this one is “in the Theismann category.”
Lawrence Taylor crushes Joe Theismann’s leg
Speaking of Joe Theismann, here he is. This incident has been surpassed in overall gruesomeness by recent injuries, but it deserves inclusion in this list because it kind of kicked off the whole “greatest sports injuries” phenomenon. The sight of Theismann’s leg buckling under the weight of Lawrence Taylor is still enough to make most people cringe.
Sid Vicious snaps his leg
Accidents aren’t limited to real sports. Though the outcomes in wrestling matches are predetermined, much of the bodily damage wrestlers endure in the ring is very real. When you decide to jump off the turnbuckle with more weight on your body’s frame than you were meant to carry (thanks, steroids!), sometimes your body gives way. That’s exactly what happened to “Psycho” Sid Vicious at the WCW Sin pay-per-view event in 2001. He broke both his tibia and fibula and reportedly had shards of bone sticking out through his flesh.
While this injury is absolutely gruesome to look at, WCW apparently had no problem showing gratuitous replays of it the next night on Nitro. Stay classy, wrestling industry.
Jake Brown falls five storeys
This list could include hundreds of horrific skateboarding accidents, but there simply isn’t the time or space for that. If you want to watch kids break their limbs trying to pull off tricks they have no business attempting, do it on YouTube.
This is the one skateboarding accident to rule them all because it happened on the big stage (the X Games) to one of the world’s best skateboarders and it includes a fall that’s hard to believe, even after you’ve seen it over and over. Jake Brown fell an estimated 50 feet, or the equivalent five storeys. Incredibly, he walked away from this wreck. And he won the silver medal, too.
Diver’s face meets diving board
It’s a good thing there are no sharks in diving pools, because the water was ripe with blood after this accident (picture). This is Chelsea Davis, an American diver. She screwed up a dive at the 2005 World Aquatics Championships in Montreal and smashed her face against the diving board, opening up a gash that required stitches to close.
Skier falls 4,000 feet
Fatal skiing accident are not uncommon, but I made the executive decision to omit them from this list. At a certain point, things stop being gruesome and become just morbid.
In the video above, Bridget Mead loses control of her run and plummets 4,000 feet, over the course of a harrowing 75 seconds, down the mountain at the 1997 World Extreme Skiing Championships. She survived the fall, but not without significant damage–she broke her back, but eventually recovered enough to ski again.
Daredevil breaks arms, leg, back and more
Get More: Daredevil Crash
If you don’t have the required speed as you approach the ramp, maybe you should abort instead of going up the ramp. That was the lesson that daredevil Doug “Danger” Senecal learned as he practiced for a world record jump of 249 feet. Because of his reduced takeoff speed, Danger slammed into the landing ramp, catapulting his body over his handlebars and breaking both of his arms, as well as one of his legs and his back. Thoughout his career, Danger made something of a a habit out of messing up his jumps, but perhaps that comes with the territory when your chosen occupation is daredevil.
Bonus! The Least Gruesome Sports Injury of All Time
Bill Gramatica tears his ACL celebrating field goal
This is NFL kicker Bill Gramatica suffering perhaps the most embarrassing sports injury of all time. After converting a routine field goal, he celebrated like an idiot and tore his ACL, ending his season. To add insult to injury, the commentators call him by the name of his his brother, Martin Gramatica.