10 Great Sporting Blunders of All Time

June 29, 2014
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Most people love all kinds of mistakes and embarrassing situations that don’t involve them directly. Sports are no exception to some of the most enjoyable schadenfreude moments in history. Here are 10 instances that – unfortunately for their protagonists – will be remembered forever.

Leon Lett Meant to Score in Style

There’s more than one Leon Lett moment that could make this list, but for the sake of variety, let’s just go with the 1993 Super Bowl incident. After recovering a fumble and running back towards the end zone, Lett started slowing down to showboat after reaching the 10-yard line. What he didn’t see was a Bills player who chased him down from behind and knocked the ball out of his outstretched hand, resulting in a touchback and no touchdown. The Cowboys still won the game easily, so the outcome wasn’t as bad, but it still ranks very high among the most bone-headed plays ever; especially on a Super Bowl.

Jose Canseco Heads It Out of the Park

Back in 1993, chasing a fly ball by the Indians’ Carlos Martinez, Jose Canseco reached the warning track, got under the ball, looked away to avoid the sun and… yep, it hit him on the head. The ball bounced off his dome and went over the fence for a home run. He probably couldn’t do that if he actually tried.

Stanford’s Band Celebrates a Bit Early

Sometimes you don’t need to be a player to ruin things for your team. In 1982, with four seconds left on The Big Game between Stanford and Cal, Stanford kicked the ball off with a one point lead. Feeling the win had already been clinched, Stanford’s band members rushed to the field to celebrate, but the play wasn’t over! Cal’s Kevin Moen received the ball, used five laterals and went through 55 yards (and a few band members!) to get the touchdown and the dramatic win for Cal.

Steve Bartman’s Costly Souvenir

Chicago Cubs fans are some of the most loyal in the world. The team hasn’t won a World Series title since 1908. In 2003, though, they were very close to reaching the World Series. The Marlins’ Luis Castillo hit a foul ball in the eight inning with two outs when Steve Bartman, an excited Cubs fan, saw the chance to grab a souvenir. What would have been the last out of the inning didn’t happen till the Marlins took the lead and eventually the game. Florida would go on to win game 7 and the World Series, while Steve watched on TV, mainly because no one in Chicago would talk to him, presumably.

Chris Webber Calls a Timeout

It should be said that Michigan wouldn’t have made it as far without its best player, and C-Webb was certainly that. It was the NCAA Championship game in 2003. Michigan’s Fab-Five was trailing North Carolina by 2 points. There were 19 seconds on the clock, and Webber called a timeout for Michigan to draw their last play. The only problem was they had used all their timeouts already, and instead got a technical foul for it. North Carolina won the title with a 77-71 victory.

Zinedine Zidane’s Head Games

Your head could cost you a World Championship. That’s what Zinedine Zidane learned during the 2006 World Cup Finals against Italy. Zizou – perhaps the best player of his generation and France’s unquestionable leader – had given his team the lead earlier, but after an Italian defender made a comment about Zidane’s mother during game action, the French midfielder simply head-butted the guy, getting immediately thrown out of the game. Italy then won it all and this was Zidane’s last time on a World Cup.

Jim Marshall Goes the Wrong Way

In a 1964 game against the 49ers, Minnesota Vikings’ Jim Marshall recovered a fumble and ran 66 yards into the end zone. The only problem? It was his own end zone! Still thinking he had just scored an impressive touchdown, Marshall threw the ball away in celebration, landing out of bounds and resulting in a safety for the 49ers. The Vikings still won the game, but the nickname “Wrong Way” has followed Marshall the rest of his life.

Andres Escobar Scores Lethal Own Goal

Colombia had its best team ever in the 1994 World Cup, and many considered them a championship contender. In the second match they played the United States, and trying to deflect a pass from American midfielder John Harkes, he scored an own goal, involuntarily helping the U.S. to win the game 2-1. The incident turned quite tragic after Colombia’s elimination and Escobar’s return to Medellin, as he was killed by the bodyguard of members of a Colombian cartel, presumably for gambling consequences.

Bill Buckner Watches the Series Slipping Through

Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. In the ninth inning, with two outs and a tied game, the Red Sox were one out away from their first title in almost 70 years. Mookie Wilson hit a grounder to first base, only to see it slip through Buckner’s legs. The Mets won that one and then game 7, leaving Boston’s fans claiming for Buckner’s head. It’s tough, man. This is a guy who won a batting title, was an all-star and finished with 2715 hits in 22 years in the majors, and yet his name is mostly associated with this play. Sports can be a bitter world…

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  1. Zidane headbutting Materazzi was possibly the biggest shock I have ever seen in sport. What a way to end his last game in a world cup final.

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