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The most shocking sports injuries in history

Shortly after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed during “Monday Night Football,” former NFL star Ryan Clark somberly opened up about his opinion on sports injuries.

“In our job, we use the cliches: ‘I’m ready to die for this. I’m willing to give my life for this. It’s time to go to war,’ ” Clark said on ESPN. “I think sometimes we use those things so much, we forget a part of living this dream [as a professional athlete] is putting your life at risk.”

As Clark mentioned, athletes often give their all to their profession, which can lead to a myriad of injuries, from a basic contusion to a torn ACL. But Hamlin suffering cardiac arrest on the field against the Bengals is a part of the terrifying and irregular. It will go down as one of the most horrific scenes in sports history, joining a number of other occurrences.

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) lies on the turf after making a tackle on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins, blocked from view, as Buffalo Bills linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (49) assists at the end of the play during the first half of an NFL football game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills, Monday, Jan. 2, 2023, in Cincinnati.
Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the turf after making a tackle against Bengals receiver Tee Higgins.

Football fans pray outside the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field during the Monday Night Football NFL showdown with the Bengals in Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S., January 2, 2023.
The sports world is now praying together for Hamlin’s swift recovery after the safety went into cardiac arrest.


The Buffalo Bills gather as an ambulance parks on the field while CPR is administered to Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) after a play in the first quarter of the NFL Week 17 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills at Paycor Stadium in Downtown Cincinnati. The game was suspended with suspended in the first quarter after Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin (3) was taken away in an ambulance following a play.
The Bills-Bengals game was suspended and eventually postponed after the horrific incident.


Here is a look into some of the most shocking sports injuries in history:

Steve Yeager getting pierced with a broken bat

A freak accident. When the former Dodgers catcher was waiting in the on-deck circle, he was accidentally pierced in the neck by a stray piece of teammate Bill Russell’s broken bat. Yeager required surgery and was back on the diamond less than a month later. His injury caused the invention of a throat protector for catchers.

Paul George’s leg snap

During a Team USA scrimmage in the 2014 off-season, George, then just a budding star, suffered a gruesome compound fracture after he slammed his foot into the base of a backboard stanchion. George luckily recovered from the injury fairly quickly and returned to the hardwood toward at the end of the 2014-15 NBA season.

In this Aug. 1, 2014, file photo, Indiana Pacers' Paul George is taken off the court after he was injured during the USA Basketball Showcase game in Las Vegas.
George suffered a gnarly fracture after his foot hit a backboard stanchion during a Team USA scrimmage.
AP Photo/John Locher, File

Bryan Berard’s eye injury

A former first-overall NHL pick, Berard suffered a career-ending injury after a stick clipped his right eye. The defender had to get his retina reattached and nearly lost his eye because of the incident.

Napoleon McCallum needing six surgeries to repair a broken leg

McCallum’s time as an NFL running back came to an end in 1994 after getting his left leg so severely damaged that there was a chance his leg had to be amputated. The former Raider went through six surgeries to repair nerve and artery damage.

Joe Theismann getting his leg ‘mangled’

After getting sacked by the Giants’ Lawrence Taylor in 1985, the former Washington quarterback got his leg “mangled” – to the point his bone was popping out of his leg. Theismann told the Washington Post his career-ending injury sounded like “a shotgun going off.”

Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann lies on the ground after he injured his right leg during second quarter action in Washington, Nov. 18, 1985, against the New York Giants at RFK Stadium. Theismann is attended to by Redskins Mark May, and an unidentified assistant.
Former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann’s injury was so bad he said it sounded like a shotgun going off.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Clint Malarchuk accidentally getting his throat slashed

One of the most violent injuries in NHL history, Malarchuk’s jugular vein was sliced while he was defending the net. The former Sabres goalie required about 300 stitches to patch up the injury and returned to the ice only two weeks after the incident.

Christian Eriksen going into cardiac arrest during Euros

While playing for Denmark on one of soccer’s biggest stages in the UEFA Euro 2020, Eriksen suddenly collapsed on the pitch against Finland, leading to the match being immediately suspended. The midfielder luckily had a swift recovery and currently plays for Manchester United.

Denmark's Christian Eriksen receives medical treatment after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021.
The Danish midfielder suddenly went into cardiac arrest during a UEFA Euro match.
AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool

Prichard Colón’s brain bleeding

The budding boxer was going into his 17th fight undefeated in 2015 before suffering brain bleeding during his bout with Terrel Williams. The horrific injury put him in a coma for multiple months and left him in a vegetative state.

Chuck Hughes dying mid-game

Hughes is the only player to die during an NFL game. The receiver was looping back to the huddle while playing for the Lions in 1971 when he suddenly fell to the field from a coronary thrombosis, which led to his death just hours later at the age of 28. The Lions retired his No. 85 after his death.

Eric LeGrand graduates college, May 18, 2014.
Eric LeGrand graduates college, May 18, 2014.
Getty Images

Rutgers’ Eric LeGrand paralyzed making a tackle

On a kickoff, Rutgers special teamer Eric LeGrand was paralyzed making a tackle. The scary injury ended up being a major moment in football. The NFL would go on to change the rules of kickoffs to make them less violent and dangerous. LeGrand has since become a businessman and voice for safety in football. But the scary injury sent shockwaves across football from pee-wee leagues through retired players.

The Jets’ Dennis Byrd freak collision with teammate

“Get up, Dennis,” teammate Kyle Clifton said to Dennis Byrd on the ground. “I don’t think I can; I think I’m paralyzed,” Byrd replied. In a collision with a Jets teammate on Nov. 29th, 1992, Byrd shattered his fifth cervical vertebra into pieces, paralyzing him. He eventually went on to walk again, thanks to heavy rehabilitation. Byrd died prematurely in a car accident in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2016 at the age of 50. He was an inspiration to many in the game as one of the few who beat paralysis.

Ray “Chappie” Chapman dies after being hit by a pitch

In 1920, Chapman stepped to the plate at the Polo Grounds against Yankees pitcher Carl Mayes. At the time, players did not wear helmets at the plate and were not required to until 1971. Chapman was hit in the temple with a pitch during the top of the fifth inning. He was able to make it off the field under his own power but collapsed again shortly after and was rushed to the hospital. He was pronounced dead the following morning and is the first and only Major League Baseball player to have died as a result of being hit by a pitch.

Avalanche fan, Derek Staudt, 19, of Arvada, in his jail costume, that he got from e-bay, taunts Todd Bertuzzi during warm-ups
Avalanche fan, Derek Staudt, 19, of Arvada, in his jail costume, that he got from e-bay, taunts Todd Bertuzzi during warm-ups
Denver Post via Getty Images

The Todd Bertuzzi cheap shot on Steve Moore

Fighting is a small part of the NHL these days. But in 2004, it was a considerably larger part of the sport. Steve Moore of the Colorado Avalanche fought a member of the Vancouver Canucks. Later that game, Todd Bertuzzi attempted to instigate a fight with Moore. As Moore was skating away, Bertuzzi grabbed Moore by the jersey and punched him in the back of the head, rendering him unconscious. Moore was motionless on the ice for eight minutes before being stretchered off. The cheap shot fractured three neck vertebrae, caused a grade three concussion, amnesia and led to criminal assault charges for Bertuzzi. The hit ended Moore’s NHL career.

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