Mac Engel

Where does Allen Hurns’ rank among the worst sports injuries ever? A list of candidates

Cowboys quarterback Day Prescott, left, watches as teammate Allen Hurns is taken off the field on a stretcher during the NFL Wild Card playoff game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019.
Cowboys quarterback Day Prescott, left, watches as teammate Allen Hurns is taken off the field on a stretcher during the NFL Wild Card playoff game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019.

Now that Allen Hurns has had successful surgery and the Cowboys receiver is expected to make a full recovery from his broken ankle, let the twisted and dark fun begin.

Because, unfortunately, you can’t get enough of this stuff.

The desire to look away from his injury on Saturday night against the Seahawks was easily trumped by a person’s innate curiosity to see just how bad these things look.

And in the immediate moments of watching Hurns’ poor leg bent in a direction it was not intended, some of the more painful looking injuries in sports came to mind. While Hurns’ is not No. 1, or even No. 10, he belongs in the following discussion of all-time worst sports injuries.

For the purposes of this debate, it’s been kept to North America and the four majors ... plus a UFC.

10. Moises Alou, Montreal Expos

In a 1993 game in St. Louis, the Expos outfielder rounded first base and was running towards second when he stopped. As he hit the brakes to return to first, his cleats got stuck to the fake turf and his leg snapped and he dislocated his ankle, too.

Even the umpire had to look away as Alou sat on the field looking at his foot that was pointed in the wrong direction.

He returned to play a long, successful career which ended in 2008 when he was 41.

Watch the Alou injury here.

9. Napoleon McCallum, L.A Raiders

One of the more painful looking NFL injuries that is often “overlooked.”

During a Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers to start the 1994 regular season, the Raiders running back suffered a career-ending knee injury in a collision with Ken Norton that is too painful to write. McCallum suffered tears to all major knee ligaments. His calf and hamstring muscles were torn. His nerves and arteries were also damaged.

There was a chance McCallum was going to lose the leg. After several surgeries, the leg was saved but his six-year NFL career was over.

Watch the McCallum injury here.

8. Kevin Ware, Louisville Cardinals

In an Elite Eight NCAA tournament game in 2013, Ware sustained a compound fracture after he attempted to block a 3-point shot by a Duke player. When Ware came down on the floor, his tibia broke.

The reaction from the crowd and the CBS crew said enough.

Ware returned, and eventually transferred to Georgia State where he had a successful career. He also played professionally in Europe.

Watch Ware’s injury here.

7. Tom Browning, Cincinnati Reds

Pitchers normally suffer injuries you can’t see, but the left-handed starter of the Reds is an exception. In a May 1994 game in San Diego, Browning delivered a routine pitch and his left arm just snapped, and he collapsed.

The pop of his arm could be heard in the press box. He snapped the bone between the elbow and the shoulder.

Known for pitching a perfect game in 1988, and winning a World Series in 1990, Browning was never the same after the injury. He made two starts for the Royals in 1995 and was done with baseball at the age of 35.

Watch Browning’s injury here.

6. Trent McCleary, Montreal Canadiens

Hockey players often will drop to the ice to block slapshots, one of the dumbest sounding ideas ever conceived. In the NHL, it’s routine.

Most of the time, nothing happens. When a puck actually connects with flesh, the results are what you would expect.

In a 2000 game between the Canadiens and Flyers, McClearly stopped a puck with his throat. He hit the ice and immediately began kicking his legs. He was unable to breathe. He suffered a fractured larynx and a collapsed lung.

He tried to make a comeback that fall, but quickly noticed his stamina was no longer the same and retired. He played seven NHL seasons.

Watch McCleary’s injury here.

5. Shaun Livingston, L.A. Clippers

Livingston was once of the highest drafted players to come out of high school, and while he has won NBA titles he is easily best known for this moment on Feb. 26, 2007.

During a game against the Bobcats, Livingston stole the ball and dribbled towards the basket for a fastbreak layup. His knee gave way and he collapsed.

He would not return to the NBA until 2009. He bounced around between a few teams before eventually catching on as a valued reserve for the Golden State Warriors where he has won multiple NBA titles.

Watch the Livingston injury here.

4. Anderson Silva, UFC

A nasty injury in boxing or MMA is no surprise, but Spider Silva’s leg is noteworthy, mostly because of the stage, and the stature of the fighter. Spider was one of the most successful UFC fighters ever, and he was the favorite to defeat Chris Weidman in the 2013 bout for the middleweight title in UFC 168.

Didn’t take. Weidman was the superior fighter, but in the second round during a “leg check” Silva’s leg snapped when it struck Weidman’s leg. The results were about as bad as you can imagine.

Silva made a full recovery and eventually returned to the octagon.

Watch Silva’s “big moment” here.

3. Daryl Stingley, New England Patriots

Raiders defensive back Jack Tatum delivered the most infamous play in NFL history when he hit Stingley that left him paralyzed. The play came in a game in 1978 in Oakland, on a passing attempt over the middle when Tatum crushed Stingley.

At the time, it was a legal hit and no penalty flag was thrown. Tatum never apologized.

Watch the infamous Tatum hit here.

2. Joe Theismann, Washington Redskins

Pretty much sums it up. On a 1985 Monday night game in D.C., New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor sacked the Redskins quarterback in such a way Theismann’s leg snapped.

LT, one of the most feared players of his era, immediately stood up and waved to the sidelines for trainers.

When Theismann healed, one leg was shorter than the other. The hit ended Theismann’s career.

He did not see the hit until 20 years later when he watched it with a New York Times reporter.

Watch the injury here.

1. Clint Malarchuk, Buffalo Sabres

For those familiar with the NHL, they know the most famous injury in the history of the league, and in sports. This is the standard of unwatchable sports moments.

Malarchuk was a goalie for the Sabres in 1989 during a March game when Steve Tuttle of the St. Louis Blues crashed into crease. Tuttle’s blade cut Malarchuk’s neck, and severed an artery.

Blood immediately started to flow from Malarchuck’s neck. The Sabres’ trainer had been a combat engineer in Vietnam, and he tried to keep the player calm.

Malarchuk was taken by ambulance to an emergency room, and the game stopped. Once the league was aware Malarchuk would be OK, the game resumed.

He underwent 90 minutes of surgery, and doctors applied 300 stitches. Because he’s a hockey player, he returned to the game less than two weeks after almost dying on the ice.

Watch if you dare. This is not for a weak stomach.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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