Zach Plesac injuring himself taking off his shirt joins list of most bizarre recent sports injuries

Being a sports nut, I can talk for hours about my sports heroes and their athletic exploits. But when you take an athlete and have him do something that is totally absurd, you can be sure that something is wrong. As Zach Plesac, an American football player, was preparing to play the game – in the most natural and safe way – he decided to remove his shirt. The problem was that what he was about to do was the most absurd thing he ever did.

There are a few things about Zach Plesac that make his latest injury even more bizarre. He’s a former University of North Carolina football player who was drafted in the NFL a couple of years ago, but played only two games before being waived. He also is a personal trainer and gym buff, a fact that made him take off his shirt when he took the field to attempt a tackle in last night’s game.

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Joe DeMartinoESPN Editor-in-Chief


    • Editor-in-Chief
    • At ESPN since 2006
    • Born in Massachusetts, graduated from Northwestern University.

Cleveland Indians pitcher Zach Plesac is on the injury list with a non-displaced fracture in his right thumb, a relatively normal occurrence for a pitcher in his line of work. The thing is, according to Terry Francona, Plesac wasn’t injured by being attacked or thrown too hard – he broke his thumb by rather aggressively ripping off his shirt. Seriously, though.

Now Plesak has joined a strange club: Athletes who have been injured in unconventional ways. From off-field accidents to missed celebrations, here’s a list of the strangest ways players have missed playing time in the past 20 years.


Jamie Squire/Getty Images

When he played for the Cardinals in 2001, Gramatica made a routine field goal to give his team a 3-0 lead in the first quarter against the Giants in mid-December. He jumped up to celebrate, landed awkwardly and tore his ACL. I can’t tell you right now what I’m going to do, Gramatica said of her celebration a few months later, but I know it won’t be about hopping.


David Maxwell/Getty Images

To encourage his team, Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio brought an axe and an oak stump to the locker room to remind the team to keep chopping wood. Jaguars punter Chris Hanson accidentally injured himself with an axe, forcing him to miss the rest of the 2003 season.


Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Sammy Sosa hit 35 home runs in 2004, but most people remember when he sprained his back because he sneezed too hard.


Hunter Martin/Getty Images

In 2005, Barmes was hitting .329 at the Rockies when the unthinkable happened: He fell and broke his collarbone while carrying a bag of venison Todd Helton had given him. Barms will be out for three months and will finish the season with a .289 batting average.


Marvin Naamani/Getty Images

At the 2008 Masters tournament in Miami, Youzhny hit the net on his return against Nicolas Almagro. He responded by hitting him three times in the forehead with his bat, causing him to bleed. What’s really weird? In the end, Yuzhny won the race.


Jerry Lai/US Presswire

In 2008, Tigers catcher Brandon Inge was adjusting a pillow over his three-year-old son’s head when he somehow strained an oblique muscle and was put on the 15-day injury list.


Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Photo

Morales hit a grand slam in the May 2010 game against the Mariners. When he reached home plate, he jumped into the middle of his teammates to celebrate, breaking his lower left leg in the catch. Morales will miss the rest of the season.


Jerome Miron/US Presswire

Kings forward Dustin Penner’s wife’s pancakes must be delicious, because in 2012 he got back spasms from eating them. Fortunately, he only missed one game.


AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Then Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown used the wrong foot protection at a French cryotherapy clinic in 2019 – and suffered severe frostbite. July. Freezing in the summer is not an unprecedented cause of a player’s absence – it once happened to Ricky Henderson after he fell asleep on an ice floe – but it’s certainly not what was expected.

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