By William Thomas
t’s just a theory but I think as the world becomes a more dangerous place in which to live, many of us turn to sports for a distraction. Reflecting the perilous planet we inhabit, professional sports are essentially organized games of danger and violence that we can watch without personally being harmed. It’s like reading a really good murder mystery novel without dying.
Also, in an increasingly cruel world, we turn to humour. That’s the shock absorber. It stands to reason then, that in tough times sports plus humour equal full value entertainment as unintentional as that may be.
Here is my collection of the best misquotes professional athletes ever uttered.
At the end of his career and headed for prison Mike “The Baddest Man On The Planet” Tyson was asked about his future. “I guess I’m gonna fade into Bolivian” replied Iron Mike, confirming the adage that old boxers never die … they just move to South America.
Alan Minter, pro boxer and former world champion defended the safety of his sport by saying: “Sure there have been injuries and even deaths in boxing, but none of them serious.”
After Uruguay star Luis Suarez bit the Italian substitute player Giorgio Chiellini in the shoulder during a 2015 World Cup match, blogger Jason Gilbert defended the famous biter: “To be fair to Luis Suarez, I can’t resist an Italian sub either.”
In a classic ‘he took the pitch but she delivered the punch,’ Oakland infielder Nick Punto was called out on strikes to end a game against the Seattle Mariners. Yelled his very upset wife Natalie Punto from the front row: “That ball was higher than my boobs… and not my old boobs either!” Loyalty and plastic surgery – a rare but beautiful part of America’s favourite pastime.
A rookie with the NBA’s Utah Jazz was confronted by his coach about the kid’s lackadaisical performance. Said Frank Layden: “I told him, I said son, what is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?” And the guy replied: “Coach, I don’t know and I don’t care.” Bingo! Two slam dunks for the new kid in the paint.
Said a re-energized Tracy McGrady of the NBA’s Orlando Magic: “My career was sputtering until I made a 360º turn and got headed in the right direction.” But somehow the scenery looked suspiciously the same.
And perhaps the most profound quote, one that underscores the hazardous job of a hockey goon, came from Anaheim Mighty Duck’s enforcer Warren Rychel: “Cuts heal, but teeth don’t come back.” Oddly enough, sharks and alligators can regrow teeth and Alexander Ovechkin is trying.
As Michigan football center, Matt Elliott said of his opponent, Ohio State linebacker Alonzo Spellman – “Physically, he’s a world-beater. Mentally, he’s an egg-beater.” Fortunately Elliott stopped there because the next word on that list is “wife-beater.”
While disputing allegations of cheating, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher said: “We’re not attempting to circumcise the rules.” And no I checked, Cowher is not even Jewish.
Displaying a keen eye for the obvious, Dave Justice of the Cleveland Indians explained his anger at being switched from right field to left: “First of all, it’s way over there on the other side of the field.”
San Francisco Giants second baseman Tito Fuentes was a little flustered after ducking a couple of bean balls headed his way: “They shouldn’t throw at me,” he said. “I’m the father of five or six kids!”
After his pitcher Jim Kern refused to be pulled, insisting he was not tired, Cleveland Indians manager Jeff Torborg told him: “I know you’re not tired Jim, but the outfielders are.”
Andy Van Slyke on why the Pirates were falling behind in their division said: “You can’t ask Mr. Ed to keep up with Secretariat.”
And what might be my all-time favourite, boxer Mike Tyson was once offered a puff-ball question by a “Los Angeles Times” writer: “Tell me something about yourself nobody knows.” This is when your normal male celebrity reveals that he cries at movies or enjoys doing the dishes. Tyson’s answer: “I got a prison counselor pregnant once.” Lucky it was just once, after all he did serve three years of a six-year sentence for rape.