Most Ill-Timed Sports Injuries

When Colt McCoy got hurt on Texas’ first series in the BCS National Championship Game, the entire complexion of the contest had changed. With one hit, it was as if Texas’ chance of winning the game had ended and that sentiment seemed to be confirmed when Bama’s defense began abusing freshman quarterback Garrett Gilbert, McCoy’s backup. Although Gilbert rallied Texas to within a field goal with six minutes left, Bama ultimately prevailed by forcing five turnovers in their 37-21 win. The events that transpired on Thursday night got me wondering about other injuries to a player that meant as much as McCoy does to Texas, which also happened to take place on a stage as big as a National Championship Game. While McCoy’s injury tops the list, here are some others I could think of. Feel free to add to this list in the comments.

Carson Palmer knee injuryCarson Palmer injures his knee vs Steelers in ’05 AFC playoffs

It was the Bengals first playoff game in 15 years and their star quarterback got hurt on his first pass play of the game. Kimo von Oelhoffen dove into Palmer’s knee and absolutely shredded every ligament he had. Jon Kitna came on and went 24-40 for 197 yards, one touchdown and two picks. The Bengals lost 31-17 and the Steelers went on to win the Super Bowl.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar injures his ankle in ’80 NBA Finals

The Lakers’ center had been tearing it up in the Finals against the Sixers, going for 33 and 14 in Game 1, 38 in Game 2, and 33 and 14 again in Game 3. Kareem twisted his ankle in Game 5 and left the floor but returned to convert a three-point play late in the game that helped put the Lakers up 3-2 in the series. Abdul-Jabbar was hurt too badly to play in Game 6 so the Lakers moved Magic Johnson to center in the title-clinching game.

LaDainian Tomlinson injures his knee in ’07 AFC Championship Game

This was actually the first of two ignominious endings to seasons for LaDainian Tomlinson as the next year he lasted just five carries against the Steelers because of a groin injury. Tomlinson carried the ball just two times for five yards as the Chargers lost to the Patriots with a Super Bowl berth on the line. LT was the league’s leading rusher and scorer that year but he departed from the game early with a knee injury, coming out looking worse because both Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates played despite being doubtful for the game. Tomlinson was pouting most of the game on the sidelines after the injury.

Yao Ming breaks his foot in ’09 NBA Playoffs

The Rockets seemed to have finally turned a corner by getting past the first round of the playoffs, beating Portland in six games. They were 1-1 with the Lakers in the Western Conference semis when star center Yao Ming injured his foot in Game 3. Though he played most of the game, it was later revealed that Yao had a broken foot which has kept him out all of this season as well. Houston managed to extend the Lakers to seven games before ultimately succumbing.

Willis McGahee tears up his knee in ’03 Fiesta Bowl

Willis McGahee knee injuryWillis McGahee was having the best season ever by a Miami running back, rushing for a school record 1,686 yards and 27 touchdowns. He had 67 yards and a touchdown in the title game for the Canes against Ohio State before getting hit by Will Allen and leaving the game with a badly torn up knee. Jarrett Payton took over once Willis got hurt, and he was an obvious downgrade. The Canes managed to tie the game at 17 and send it to overtime where they won 24-17. Until a bogus pass interference call gave the Buckeyes new life and Ohio State won in double OT. Bitter Cane fan in the house.

Can you think of any others?

Around The Web

  • http://simononsports.blogspot.com simon

    Karl Malone was injured in the NBA Finals against the Pistons in his last hoorah to win an NBA title.

  • Travis

    Jim Kelly getting knocked out in the 1st quarter of Super Bowl XXVII.

  • jason

    Bengals Tim Krumrie early in Super Bowl 23 against 49ers

  • http://psamp.com tecmo

    this year’s stanley cup finals game 7. some douche from the red wings blatantly interferes with sidney crosby an busts up his knee early in the game. he only takes one more shift in the 3rd period. luckily, max talbot scored twice and marc andre fleury was on acid

  • Keith Jones

    How about Jim Rice getting injured in the 1975 season? If he stays healthy, Boston might have ended the curse thirty years before they actually did.

  • Chris

    Isiah Thomas getting hurt in the 1988 NBA Finals against the Lakers

  • MattS.

    Hey, Bitter ‘Cane Fan…….O-H..!!!

  • Jon


  • arnie

    willis reed

  • Zac

    The first one that popped into my head was Kenyon Martin breaking his leg in the first round of the Conference-USA tournament. That cost Cincinnati the tournament championship, the #1 ranking, a #1 seed and possibly a national championship.

  • http://LarryBrownSports Greg

    Vince Colman getting run over by the automatic tarp machine before the 1985 NLCS game 4 in St Louis. That still haunts me today.

  • http://si.com todd

    Rollie Fingers ’82 series.

  • Ed

    2006 BCS Championship – Ted Ginn Jr gets his foot broke after returning the opening kickoff by his own teams celebration! Would have been a different game.

  • Jeff J

    Milton Bradley in 2007 when he was injured when his own manager threw him to the ground trying to stop him from fighting. I know this wasn’t in the playoffs, but this was the year San Diego played the Rockies in that amazing extra inning game for the NL west tiebreaker. Who knows what could have been if Bradley had been there.

  • R A L

    1992 AFC Championship Game — Elway goes down with a leg injury in the first quarter at Buffalo. With Kubiak at the helm, Broncos lose only 10-7.

  • http://si.com Joe

    How soon they forget, eh? How about Major Harris, who finished third in the Heisman voting that year, injuring his left shoulder on the THIRD PLAY OF THE GAME in the NCAA championship game against Notre Dame. West Virginia lost 34-21.

  • RT in KC

    Jim McMahon getting dumped on his shoulder right before the 86 NFL Playoffs by a cheap shotting Packer. Prevented the Bears from repeating as Champions.

  • ockfener

    Sterling Sharpe 1994.

  • John

    Close to the top of this list should be Bob Lanier’s knee injury in 1970. The St. Bonaventure basketball team made it to the final four, with a great chance to win it all. But Lanier’s knee injury did not allow him to play, and the Bonnies were eliminated.

  • ed

    Wally Pipp – gave Lou Gehrig his shot.

    Nick Harper, then with the Indianapolis Colts, 2005/06 playoffs vs. Steelers. Jerome Bettis fumbles, and Harper picks up the ball, racing uncontested for the winning touchdown. The problem? His girlfriend/wife STABBED HIM IN
    HIS KNEE the night before. Running on one knee, he was hauled down.

    Derek Anderson, Kentucky Wildcats, 1996-97. Blew out his knee, crippling UK’s chances of a 3-peat.

    Leon Powe, Kevin Garnett, celtics, 2008-09. First Garnett goes down, then his backup goes down in the playoffs.

  • Mike

    Roger Clemens tearing his hamstring in game 1 of the 2005 World Series

  • Brian

    Going way way back, Scott May of Indiana broke his arm in a game against Purdue in 1975. IU was undefeated until they lost 92-90 to Kentucky in the regional final without May.

  • John

    How about both Lakers starting backcourt guards, Magic Johnson and Byron Scott both getting injured before and during the NBA finals vs the Detroit Pistons?

  • Mike

    Kenyon Martin for University of Cincinnati before they entered NCAA Tournament as #1 seed.

  • Anonymous

    N-O !!!