Sports bloopers have been an American pastime since the first ballplayer that got nailed in the groin with a line drive. But oftentimes, the true stories behind these classic hijinks are just as interesting. Let’s dig into some of your favorite viral sport videos, and figure out what’s really going on.
Toddler nearly gets totaled in World Series
Most people watch the NFL for hard hits, but even then, the chances of seeing a three-year-old get laid out by a grown man are relatively slim. Shockingly enough, that almost happened once, but not on the gridiron. In fact, it was during a baseball game, of all places.
It seems that Giants manager Dusty Baker wanted to give his three-year-old son Darren a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, letting him be a batboy during the 2002 World Series. Darren being, well, a three-year-old, was more interested in fulfilling his bat-retrieving duties than actually knowing what the hell was happening. So, of course, he wandered right into the middle of a play at the plate, nearly getting his head taken off in the process. If it weren’t for the quick thinking of Giants first baseman J.T. Snow, who snatched up the kid before he could get laid out, we might remember the 2002 Fall Classic for a much darker reason. Nothing like trampling a little kid to put a damper on those champagne soaked celebrations.
In fact, Baker’s toddler wandering around the middle of a live baseball game was such a scary incident, baseball soon implemented the “Darren Baker Rule,” making it illegal for anyone under 14 to serve as a batboy. That seems smart, until you realize how dumb the typical 14-year-old is too.
Tacklin' ref lowers the boom
It’s hazardous enough on the football field without worrying about refs bringing the pain too, but back in 2008, that’s exactly what happened.
In late October, college football fans found themselves doing a double take when SEC referee Wilbur Hackett Jr. seemingly lowered the boom on South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia, as he tried to run in for a touchdown. This was no mere instance of wrong place, wrong time — this zebra-striped mofo lowered his shoulder and went in for a hit.
But … why? Was he taking a little action on the side? Did Garcia sleep with his wife? The official line from the Southeastern Conference office was that Hackett was in the proper position, and raised his arm to defend himself. Huh? Were they watching the same play as the rest of us? Did they forget he’s a ref, and not a player? While we don’t know exactly what went through Hackett’s head, there’s a decent chance he flashed back to his glory days as a Parade High School All-American linebacker and later team captain for the University of Kentucky in the late ’60s. Sometimes, instincts kick in at the worst possible moments.
DeSean Jackson's premature celebration habit
If you’re a football fan, chances are you know what “Pulling a DeSean Jackson” is. We’ve all done it: gotten a bit over-excited and finished before we meant to. It’s totally normal. Nothing to judge, or really make that big a deal about. Unless you’re Mr. Jackson, who just keeps doing it.
It all started on Monday Night Football, where the rookie receiver made a name for himself by catching a beautiful pass and running it in for a touchdown. At least, it looked like a touchdown. Upon review, it quickly became clear that his celebration started a tad too early, dropping the ball a yard before the goal line. As “oopsie dunkles” moments go, this one’s pretty bad, but you can’t blame the kid for being excited. Besides, he’s a pro — there’s no way he would make the same mistake twice.
Well, that’s what you would think, unless you were a fan of Jackson from his high school days, and remember when he performed a pre-touchdown flip during the U.S. Army All-American Game, forgetting the ball at the one-yard line. Honestly, DeSean, it’s not a big deal. It’s happened to every guy at some point.
Randy Johnson commits fowl play
Randy Johnson possessed one of the most feared fastballs in the history of baseball. Don’t take our word for it — just ask the pile of feathers left behind when Johnson drilled a severely lost dove with his heater back in the spring of 2001. Talk about a fowl ball.
But as sad as the bird’s funeral must have been, the story behind one of the most bizarre incidents in MLB history is just as wrought with tears. You see, PETA, the controversial animal rights organization, decided they couldn’t leave well enough alone, and threatened to sue the towering lefty on the bird’s behalf. This all seems good for a laugh (it’s not like bird families have funeral costs to deal with), but Johnson apparently took the avicide pretty hard, being the animal lover and conservationist that he is. He refused to speak about it for years, outside of saying he “didn’t think it was all that funny.”
He’s since come to grips that he ball so hard, modern dinosaurs can’t handle it. He even made the logo of his photography company a dead bird, in honor of his fallen foe. Oh, and PETA’s lawsuit threat was nothing but talk. They’re good at that.
Broadway Joe wanted to kiss you
Just about the only person likely to forgot Joe Namath’s drunken disaster of a sideline interview with Suzy Kolber back in 2003 is Broadway Joe himself, but that’s what happens when you put back a few (dozen) too many.
The rest of us will forever have his lecherous smile burned into our heads, as he leaned into Kolber and professed, “Ah wanna kissssshhhh you.” What you may not know is that, according to Jenn Sterger — the lucky fan who turned a three second shot of her in the FSU stands into a full-fledged sports career — she may have played a part in helping Joe arrive in such a sauced state. According to an interview she gave on comedian Bert Kreischer’s podcast, she and a friend had been partying with Namath in the VIP lounge before the spot, getting him in tip-top shape to blow the interview in epic fashion.
Considering Sterger was also the unwanted recipient of naughty no-no pictures from Brett Favre during his brief tenure with the Gang Green, maybe it’s just best if she steers clear of Jets QBs from now on.
Boom goes the dynamite
There are a lot of people out there who suck at things. We all phone it in or just don’t measure up sometimes. But it takes a special kind of man to do something with such utter incompetence, with such pants-wetting terror, that you break through the noise and become an avatar of failure itself.
Thankfully, Brian Collins is that special kind of man. Back in 2005, Collins was an undergraduate at Ball State, shooting video for the school’s station, when word came in that the sportscaster was sick. Seeing his big break within reach, he offered to fill in, and the rest is Internet viral video history. Full of nerves, and with no experience reading a telepromoter, he almost immediately lost his place. Stunned silence gave way to desperate attempts at commentary, but there was no getting back on track. Thankfully, he had a stack of script pages, but the pages were completely out of order, as was his ability to speak coherently by that point. With nothing left to lose, he decided to wing it and, emulating his SportsCenter heroes, coined the phrase “Boom goes the dynamite.” Which apparently means “cool shooting, bro.”
Initially depressed by the world wide exposure his meltdown got, it took Ball State alum David Letterman to help pull the freshman out of his funk, inviting Collins on The Late Show to have a little fun, and to put some boom back in his own dynamite. Not a bad reward for a few minutes of utter failure.
Jose Canseco: worst pitcher ever
Jose Canseco will forever be remembered for what may be the greatest sports blooper of all time, when a baseball bounced off his head and into the stands for a home run, like Bugs Bunny drew up the plans.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t laugh at the rest of his career, too. For a guy who put steroids on the map, and who writes one of the most batty Twitter feeds this side of a mental asylum, it isn’t a shock that he made a mistake or three hundred during his playing days. Perhaps the one with the biggest consequence was when he begged his Rangers manager, Kevin Kennedy, to let him pitch in a blowout game. Apparently, Canseco was a pitcher back in high school, and always dreamed of getting on the mound in the big leagues.
Kennedy knew that he had a five-tool player in his prime, with the looks of a superhero, and that part of his job was to give the slugger anything he wanted. That’s how Jose ended up tossing some of the worst professional pitches in over a hundred years of baseball. Jose, can you see? Because it sure looks like you’re pitching the ball a foot short of home plate.
Well, laugh as you might, Kennedy ended up not finding the outing so funny. Nor did Canseco, not after he tore a ligament in his right elbow thanks to his pitching debacle. He had to get Tommy John surgery, missing a year of play as a result. Oops.
Patrik Stefan gets beat by an empty net
There have been some pretty big busts in the world of sports. Sam Bowie. Ryan Leaf. Darko Milicic. But while these lucky few became household names for not making it, few had signature moments that truly defined their failures.
Sadly, that’s not true of NHL center Patrik Stefan, thanks to a wide-open net and an inability to put the puck in it. Unlike his fellow flops, Stefan will forever be remembered for this one, glorious botched effort, which saw him miss, fall over, and pass the puck to the other team for an easy goal. But here’s the thing that might surprise casual NHL fans. Stefan wasn’t just some unlucky journeyman blowing his big chance. In fact, he was the number one pick in the 1999 NHL Draft, selected by the Atlanta Thrashers because he theoretically didn’t suck, making his inability to score a sad metaphor for his entire career.
Cartwheeling goalie gets owned
When University of Hartford goalie Nenad Cudic started cartwheeling like a toddler high on Hershey Kisses during a penalty kick back in 2009, no one could have guessed the clip would go viral. He wasn’t a famous player, didn’t play for a famous school, and may not have even known he was being recorded, but something about the nutty behavior clicked, and the video blew up. It might have something to do with the cocky goalie immediately getting shown up by the kicker, who knocked out a cartwheel of his own to celebrate the made shot. Everybody likes to see a bully get taken down a peg.
The thing is, Cudic swears he isn’t the jerk he appears to be in the video. In fact, the humble student was cartwheeling under orders from his coach, who saw him whipping out the move in practice (thanks to his previous training as a gymnast) and thought it just might be crazy enough to work. Well, it certainly was crazy, but boy did it not work. Still, Cudic would like the world to know it wasn’t his fault, even if the video sort of says otherwise.
Leon Lett's brain freeze
Leon Lett had one of the most famous brain freezes in NFL history, during a snowy Thanksgiving Day game back in 1993, which unfortunately turned out to be the highest-rated regular season game in 20 years.
Being the tallest player on the team, the coaching staff decided to insert him with the field goal blocking unit. What they thought was a stroke of genius quickly backfired, when the ball got blocked and Leon ran for it. You see, NFL rules state that a blocked field goal is a dead ball, unless a player touches it. All Leon had to do was stay out of the way, and the Cowboys likely would have won the game, but good ol’ Leon never met a mistake he could resist.
Thinking this was more of a fumble situation, Leon ran through his fellow teammates, who were actively running away from the ball like they were supposed to, and dove on it. Unfortunately, because of the snow, it slipped through his fingers, and right into the hands of a Dolphins player. They recovered it at the one-yard line, kicked a field goal, and won the game.
Leon was devastated, as would we all be. Thankfully, a sweet little girl wrote him a letter not long after his boneheaded play, reassuring him that it’s OK, because everyone makes mistakes. As an example, she mentioned a football player who fumbled a sure touchdown-bound ball, inches away from the end zone, in the previous year’s Super Bowl. That player … Leon Lett. Oops. She meant well, anyway.
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