Worst Reasons Athletes Have Missed a Game

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2014

Worst Reasons Athletes Have Missed a Game

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    Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

    To be a pro athlete, it takes strength, speed and a mentality to be the best—well, most of the time.

    As we've seen from a few before, just because they get paid to play a sport, doesn't always mean that they love their job as much as we would all like to think.

    And just like you or I sometimes do by calling in sick or blatantly playing hooky, there have been a few really lame reasons that athletes have missed a game—and these are just a few of the worst.

Michael Taylor

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Excuse: Cut finger while throwing away gum.

    Talk about bursting a bubble.

    In one of the most bizarre cases of an athlete getting injured, Oakland Athletics outfielder Michael Taylor might have just learned to be more careful with his gum.

    That's because the dude actually missed a week of spring training games last year after tossing the flavored treat away and cutting his pinkie finger when hitting it on a light fixture.

    It might not have been an excuse he would have preferred to use, but unfortunately it was the truth.

Clint Barmes

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Excuse: Broken collarbone

    While using a broken collarbone as a reason to not play in a baseball game is legit, doing so because the injury occurred after falling down while carrying a bag of deer meat isn't.

    After getting the hook-up from then teammate Todd Helton, former Colorado Rockies infielder Clint Barmes had this happen to him, leaving him beat up enough to be forced to the disabled list during his rookie season in 2005.

    Even worse than the time off, Barmes has struggled to ever regain the same form he had before the injury.

Monta Ellis

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Excuse: An injured ankle

    Like a few other excuses on this list, the one given by current Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis isn't paltry in its reasoning—an injured ankle is a valid reason—but it's how Ellis sustained the injury that is questionable.

    After originally trying to convince his then employers, the Golden State Warriors, that he got hurt playing a pickup game, the truth came out that he actually got it from a moped accident.

    And for 66 million reasons—as in dollars—Ellis lied to try to avoid punishment. It didn't work, as he was suspended 30 games for breach of contract.

Jose Cardenal

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Excuse: He couldn't blink.

    For anyone who has ever had a swollen or infected eye that has prevented them from either fully opening or closing it, you can probably sympathize with former MLB player Jose Cardenal.

    Still, that doesn't mean the reason he missed a game back in 1974 wasn't wussy.

    After sleeping funny and not being able to blink, Cardenal was scratched from the Opening Day lineup. Oh yeah, and this is the same guy who missed a game two seasons earlier because crickets in his hotel room had kept him awake all night.

    Looks like he should be in the excuses Hall of Fame.

Jermaine O'Neal

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    Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

    Excuse: Passport issues

    For someone who has been in the Association for 17 years, you'd think the Golden State Warriors big man Jermaine O'Neal would have a routine down by now that would prevent forgetting something.

    Unfortunately, O'Neal fell victim to the sometimes common forgotten passport problem that other athletes have endured before.

    The little gaffe cost him from entering Canada, forcing him to miss a game earlier this week against the Toronto Raptors—which his team ended up losing.

Rickey Henderson

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Excuse: Frostbite

    Former MLB outfielder Rickey Henderson might have been known for his speed during his 25-year career, holding the record for most stolen bases of any player in history, but he also had a moment that froze him up a bit—literally.

    Back in 1993, Rickey passed out with an ice pack on his ankle, causing him to get frostbite that was so bad that he was forced to sit for three games.

    Looks like there was a way to slow down the speedy Henderson.

Ian Stewart

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Excuse: Injured nose

    Los Angeles Angels player Ian Stewart isn't off to such a great start with his new ball club.

    That's because he finds himself on the shelf after taking a headbutt to the schnoz, causing him to sit out a few days of spring training.

    And if that's not bad enough, the injury occurred while playing with his 4-year-old daughter.

    Talk about friendly fire.

Chris Hanson

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Excuse: Sliced Foot

    In one of the more famous instances of a pro athlete being a bit too overzealous in getting motivated, former Jacksonville Jaguars punter Chris Hanson endured one of the weirdest injuries ever back in 2003.

    As a slogan to help inspire his team, then Jags head coach Jack Del Rio used an axe and wood in the locker room as a metaphor to "keep chopping wood" to get the work done.

    The bad part? Del Rio's punter took a swipe at the wood with the axe—and missed—leaving the punter with a gash on his non-kicking foot that kept him out for four to six weeks.

    A motivational speaker may have been a much more useful tool.

Vince Coleman

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    Anonymous/Associated Press

    Excuse: Run over by the tarp

    For a guy who led the National League in stolen bases in 1985, Vince Coleman sure found out that the tarp wasn't something to try and outrun.

    As fast as Coleman was, the tarp ultimately got him out—of the 1985 World Series—as it rolled over his leg during the playoffs and injured him, forcing him to miss the Fall classic.

    The Cardinals would lose the series in seven games without that year's NL Rookie of the Year.

Nate Burleson

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Excuse: Broken arm

    A football player breaking his arm isn't anything new.

    But a football player breaking his arm while trying to protect his pizza from sliding all over his car certainly is.

    Detroit Lions wideout Nate Burleson was the unfortunate player who became known for the injury—which cost him some games—after he got in a car accident last season while trying to protect his meal.

    The good news? Burleson not only poked fun at himself after scoring a touchdown in his first game back, but he also got free pizza for a year from frozen 'za company DiGiorno's.

    As embarrassing as this all was, maybe he actually got the better end of this deal.

Jeff Baker

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Excuse: A sprained thumb from a high five.

    I've given you a few instances of ballplayers who have sustained some random injuries, but giving a high five?

    Yep, just talk to former Texas Rangers infielder Jeff Baker about that one. He missed a game last season after failing to properly execute one.

    Taking a slap from a teammate, Baker's hand swelled up and prevented him from gripping a bat, making him not too happy about having to sit the day after.

    Come on, man. Just look at the other guy's elbow and slap, that's not so difficult.

Joe Sakic

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Excuse: Breaking three fingers

    As someone who grew up in the cold and snowy winters of Northeastern Ohio, I know all too well how frustrating it can be to yank on a cord of a snow blower to try and get it to work.

    Still, even I can say I've never had one beat me down.

    Former NHL player Joe Sakic wasn't so lucky, though, as he was forced to miss significant time in 2008 after a mishap he had while trying to clear his driveway.

    The injury was so bad that it ultimately led to the retirement of the Colorado Avalanche great just a few months later.

Sammy Sosa

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    DARREN HAUCK/Associated Press

    Excuse: Back spasms

    A lot of pro athletes have been forced to miss games due to back spasms.

    Not too many have been held out of games because of back spasms caused by sneezing, though.

    And as great as a power hitter as former major leaguer Sammy Sosa was, one of his more memorable moments came in 2004 when the slugger was sidelined for doing just that.

    A game or two would be understandable, I guess, but the spasms were so bad that Sosa found himself on the 15-day disabled list.

    Holy histamine, Sammy! That must have been one mighty sneeze.

Chris Coghlan

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    Excuse: Torn meniscus

    I've never torn my meniscus—thank god—but I'd imagine it's something that doesn't feel too great.

    But it has to feel a hell of a lot worse when it occurs during a shaving cream celebration after a teammate just won a game for your team.

    And former Miami Marlins Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan would certainly know, because it happened to him back in 2010, forcing him to the disabled list.

    After seeing something like this happen, I'm shocked the celebration is still this prominent after baseball games.

Rajon Rondo

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    Stephan Savoia/Associated Press

    Excuse: It was his birthday

    Going to the University of Kentucky at the same time as Rajon Rondo, there was always something about him that just rubbed me the wrong way.

    Maybe it was his smug attitude and self-entitlement?

    And I'm sure it's the same thing Boston Celtics fans are feeling with Rondo, too—especially after seeing him allegedly miss a game a few weeks ago to celebrate his 28th birthday.

    While the point guard insists it's not really the reason, he hasn't exactly come up with a better excuse—meaning he's still on the hook until he gives one that proves he wasn't blowing out the candles.