50 famous sports goofs
World-class athletes can seem immortal. They run faster, jump higher, and hit harder than any other human beings on the planet. But when these mythical players trip, fumble, or screw up in hilarious ways, fans get to relish in the briefest of moments when these surreal characters prove themselves to be mere mortals after all. Fans—even in their laughter—can empathize with a player's plight on the field, finding a momentary connection to the humanity of their heroes.
Thanks to technology like instant replay and social media, sports goofs are indelible. Adoring fans around the world can like, share, and laugh over and over again at the often-tragic moments that occur in these rare, fallible instances.
Stacker investigated some of the most embarrassing, craziest, and strangest sports goofs in history to help fans and wannabe athletes alike get a good laugh and feel a little less bad about their feats in their own sporting lives. The unique list draws from several sources and includes embarrassing bloopers across different sports. From a mix-up leading to a 54-year marathon time to premature celebrations to running the wrong way on the field, this gallery includes some of the most well-known goofs (and many you may not have heard of).
Click through for a list of 50 famous sports goofs that will bring about a sense of nostalgia for witnessing greatness fail for the first time. But don't feel too bad for the offenders—most of these athletes are still making millions.
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Chris Webber calls a timeout
It was April 5, 1993. The Michigan Wolverines had the Fab Five (an all-freshmen starting lineup) consisting of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson. They were playing against perennial favorite North Carolina in the NCAA Championship game and were down by two points with 11 seconds to go. Webber infamously grabbed the ball and called a timeout, not realizing the Wolverines were out of timeouts. He was assessed a technical foul for the mistake. As a result, Michigan lost the game and Webber will forever be remembered for the mishap.
Bill Buckner makes a blunder
In Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, the score was tied in the 10th inning and the Boston Red Sox were up three games to two against the New York Mets. This was the year that the Red Sox were going to break the famous Curse of the Bambino...until Mets outfielder Mookie Wilson hit a routine ground ball to first baseman Bill Buckner and the ball miraculously rolled through Buckner's legs. The Mets won the game and eventually the series. It took 18 more years for Red Sox fans to forgive Buckner when they finally won the World Series again in 2004.
Steve Bartman interferes
The Chicago Cubs were another cursed team. Heading into the 2003 baseball season, the team hadn't won a World Series in 95 years. The '03 team had the third-best record in the league and it seemed possible that they would finally break the Cubs' losing streak. Except on Oct. 14, 2003, during Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, Steve Bartman happened. Florida Marlins player Luis Castillo hit a pop-up down the left line, and when left fielder Moises Alou went for the catch, he collided with Bartman's outstretched glove and missed the ball. The Cubs quickly unraveled and lost the series and Bartman.nearly had to go into witness protection because of the anger Cubs fans directed at him. Luckily, he reconciled with the team after the Cubs won the 2016 World Series and was given a championship ring.
Mark Sanchez butt fumbles
The New York Jets are generally considered one of the worst teams in the NFL. They haven't won a Super Bowl since 1968, and almost always finish with a subpar record during the season. That's why the “Butt Fumble” wasn't all that surprising. Partway into the second quarter, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez was running a play against the New England Patriots when, just after the snap, he ran directly into the butt of teammate Brandon Moore, fumbled the ball, and the Patriots recovered and scored. Typical Jets.
J.R. Smith doesn't realize game is tied
LeBron James had just played the best game of his career in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors couldn't stop James, who put up 51 points that night. The one thing that did stop him, however, was his Cleveland Cavaliers teammate J.R. Smith. With the score tied 107-107 and almost five seconds left, Smith grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw, rushed the ball out, and threw a bad pass to George Hill, who then missed the game-winning shot. Smith was confused and didn't realize the game was tied; if he had the team could have used their remaining timeout and called a decisive play. The Cavs lost the game and the moment is forever memorialized in a classic LeBron meme.
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Leon Lett has a premature celebration
In Super Bowl XXVII, the Dallas Cowboys were facing off against the Buffalo Bills. On a pivotal play, Cowboys star Leon Lett recovered a fumble and ran all the way to the endzone for a sure-thing touchdown. Lett, however, celebrated a tad too early, and when he got to the two-yard-line, Bills player Don Beebe knocked the ball out of Lett's hand, preventing the score. Fortunately for Lett, the Cowboys destroyed the Bills 52-17 and the play is merely a footnote, rather than the worst mistake in Super Bowl history.
Carl Lewis throws the first pitch
After winning nine gold medals over the course of his Olympic career, track star Carl Lewis was invited by the Seattle Mariners to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in 2003. What came next was quite possibly the worst first pitch in MLB history; the ball took six bounces to make it to home plate. His rendition of the National Anthem wasn't much better.
Jim Marshall goes the wrong way
Jim Marshall is widely recognized as one of the best defensive ends in Minnesota Vikings history. Marshall is also infamous for one of the biggest blunders in NFL history. On Oct. 25, 1964, the Vikings were playing the 49ers and Jim Marshall recovered the ball on a fumble. Marshall then ran 66 yards in the wrong direction, and instead of touchdown for the Vikings, it was a safety instead. Luckily for Marshall, the Vikings still won the game.
DeSagana Diop misses a free throw
While playing for the Charlotte Bobcats in 2012, DeSagana Diop was fouled and got his requisite time at the free-throw line. Unfortunately for him, he missed the basket by about three feet and will forever be remembered for shooting the worst free throw in NBA history. Diop's days playing professional basketball ended about a year later and he now coaches for the Utah Jazz—hopefully with some better free throw tips.
Gronk dents Lombardi
When an NFL team wins a Super Bowl, they're rewarded with the Vince Lombardi trophy, named after legendary coach Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers. When the New England Patriots won Super Bowl LIII, they were asked to come out for the first pitch with the Boston Red Sox. Patriots star and team clown Rob Gronkowski decided to play around with the trophy and took a pitch from Julian Edelman using the trophy as a bat. Gronk jokingly feigned a bunt but accidentally hit the ball anyway, denting the trophy. Fortunately for the Patriots, they have five other Lombardis in pristine condition.
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