A History Of Unusual Ailments Involving NYC Athletes

These Incidents Make Darnold's Mono Seem Not So Strange

Ryan Chatelain
September 12, 2019 - 1:23 pm
Plaxico Burress is led to a squad car for transport to his arraignment outside the NYPD 17th Precinct on Dec. 1, 2008.

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

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Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is expected to miss multiple weeks with mononucleosis, coach Adam Gase announced Thursday. As far as football ailments go, mono is not exactly on the same level as a sprained ankle or pulled hamstring. But before jaded Gang Green fans start uttering “only the Jets,” consider that many other New York teams have also dealt with unusual, sometimes embarrassing injuries and illnesses in recent memory. Here is a look, in no particular order, at some others:

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Joba Chamberlain’s Trampoline Accident

In March 2012, the Yankees pitcher dislocated his right ankle in a gruesome fall while jumping on a trampoline at a children’s play place with his son. It was actually a very serious incident, as Chamberlain lost a life-threatening amount of blood and his career was thought to be in jeopardy. He did, however, return to the mound that August.

Mariano Rivera Tears ACL

While Rivera did tear the ACL and meniscus in his right knee on the baseball field -- which might not seem so crazy -- he did it in one of the most unimaginable ways for a closer. In May 2012 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Rivera fell awkwardly to the ground while shagging fly balls on the warning track in batting practice. The injury sidelined him the rest of the season.

Mariano Rivera is interviewed outside of team's clubhouse on May 4, 2012, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Amar’e Stoudemire Vs. The Fire Extinguisher

Just three days before Rivera’s injury happened, Knicks star Amar’e Stoudemire took out his frustrations from a lost playoff game at Miami on a fire extinguisher just outside the Knicks’ locker room. Stoudemire suffered cuts on his hand from the fire extinguisher’s protective glass. For a short while, it looked like Stoudemire might have had to miss the rest of the playoffs, but he returned after sitting out just one game. 

Jason Pierre-Paul Vs. Fireworks

On July 4, 2015, Pierre-Paul was severely injured while lighting fireworks near his home in South Florida. The accident ended up costing the Giants defensive end his index finger and the tip of his thumb. Many wondered if Pierre-Paul would play football again, but he returned that November to play the second half of the season.

Jason Pierre-Paul
USA TODAY Images

Matt Harvey’s Bladder Problems

Just before the start of the 2016 season, then-Mets ace Matt Harvey was diagnosed with a bladder infection. After he told reporters he thought the problem had to do with him not urinating often enough, the back pages of both the New York Post and Daily News screamed “YA GOTTA RELIEVE!” It turned out the issue didn’t keep Harvey from making his opening day start.

Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease x 2 

In July 2018, Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard was placed on the disabled list with hand, foot and mouth disease, a virus common in children. Dumbfounded Mets fans were quick to complain that only their team would have to deal with such an obscure illness. But a little more than a week later, newly acquired Yankees pitcher J.A. Happ was, too, diagnosed with the virus.

Yoenis Cespedes Falls In A Hole

While the Mets slugger was home in Florida in May recovering from surgery on both of his heels, he suffered multiple fractures to his right ankle during a fall on his ranch. “From what the player communicated to us is that he was on his ranch and he had a violent fall in which he stepped into a hole and twisted and put his leg and foot in a difficult position,” general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said at the time. It’s not clear when Mets fans might see Cespedes, who hasn’t played since July 2018, again.

Geno Smith Punched

Heading into his third season as the Jets’ starting quarterback in 2015, Smith was sucker-punched by teammate IK Enemkpali in the locker room during training camp. The incident was over money that Smith supposedly owed. The QB’s jaw was broken in two places, sidelining him for a couple of months and opening the door for his backup, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who led the Jets to a 10-6 season.

Plaxico Accidentally Shoots Himself

In November 2008, Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was out at a Manhattan nightclub with a gun in his pants. When the gun fell down his pant leg, Burress reached for it and accidentally pulled the trigger, wounding himself in the leg. The injury itself, however, was the least of Burress' concerns. He was discharged from the hospital the next day but then found himself in legal hot water. Burress ended up serving 20 months in prison after accepting a plea deal from prosecutors, who had charged him with criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment.