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The 10 Most Pathetic Fumbles in Sports History

by DannyGallagher   September 20, 2010 at 10:00AM  |  Views: 2,746

Sports might seem like a complicated mesh of numerical stats, statistics, and federal drug statutes. But when you boil the whole thing down to its basic roots, most sports are about one thing: catching and holding the damn ball. These are the athletes with the biggest cardinal sins for breaking the first commandment of competition.

Source: Rogers Photo Archive/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

By Danny Gallagher


10. Leon Lett’s Early Super Bowl Party

Most Super Bowl parties include such tasty staples as buffalo wings, chips and dip, and your opponent’s sweet, sweet tears, served in a martini glass with a fifth of Grey Goose vodka and a small twist of lime (I call it “The Tearjerker”). Leon Lett’s Super Bowl celebration only had tears.

The Cowboys lineman was about to score his first career touchdown in Super Bowl XXVII in 1993 when he decided to get the party started before he made his way to the end zone. He made a diving jump for Buffalo’s end zone and he made it across the line, but the ball was still on the one-yard line. Somehow the ball had slipped out of his hands and found real estate on the green while Lett thought he was still in the black. The move didn’t cost Dallas the game, but he got quite a tongue-lashing from coach Jimmy Johnson and his hair.

9. Earnest Byner’s “The Fumble”

Source: E. Bakke/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

There is no amount of heartache that can equal watching your hometown team lose the big game by a margin of error that’s narrower than the space between Kevin Smith and any human being on the planet on a cramped Southwest flight.

Cleveland Browns fans, who have suffered enough just being from Cleveland, suffered the emotional equivalent of a stroke followed by a groin pull when their running back dropped the ball just two yards shy of a touchdown after a great comeback drive in the final minutes of the AFC title game in 1987. Things might have hit rock bottom for Byner, but they could've been even worse for the Browns’ long-suffering fans: they could be living in Detroit.

8. Jason Richardson Gets Dunked on His Own Dunk

Whether you’re rooting for your hometown team because you crave worldwide bragging rights for eight months or you only have one more good leg that bookies can break, you still want the game to be close. Sure it’s nice if your team can wallop your enemy back into another time zone, but it doesn’t truly feel like a good game unless the scoring margin is razor thin.

The Suns’ ex-shooting guard got his chance to get the fans what they crave when he scooped up a loose ball during a fast break. He tried to slam the hammer on the game by stuffing the ball in the basket as hard as he could, but a few ill-timed bumps sent the bouncy bastard out of the hole and into the cosmic abyss of abject failure. To make matters worse, he’s only one of two basketballers in history to win back to back Slam Dunk Championships along with Michael Jordan, which destroyed his chances of starring in Space Jam 2: The Dunkening.

7. Brant Brown’s Dropped Pop-Up

Source: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Catching a pop fly is about the easiest thing anyone in sports can do. But somehow outfielder Brant Brown of the long-suffering Chicago Cubs cost his team one less chance at a wild card spot in 1998 when he dropped an easy out to left field in the bottom of the ninth with a 2-and-2 batting count. Brown’s mistake allowed three runs across the plate, giving the Milwaukee Brewers the win and Chicago another reason to drink themselves into cirrhosis of the liver.


6. Robert Greene’s “Goal-No!”

Source: HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images

It would be easy for me, as one of America’s uglier Americans, to trash the international majesty of soccer, simply because my homeland doesn’t celebrate as often as others unless it features female athletes ripping off their tops and dancing in their sports bras.

It’s easy to see how the game can be exciting when matches feature heart-rippers like this one from the latest World Cup tourney. England’s boys seemed to be one of the top teams to beat because, well, it’s England, a country that lives and breathes the other sport named “football.” (You’d better hope there’s not a World Hot Dog Eating Cup because we’ll smoke your ass, GB.) But those hopes and dreams came crashing down in a fiery wreck when their goalie let an easy block slip through his fingers and into the net to give the tie score to us Yanks. We’re number half! We’re number half! We’re number half!


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