Athletes aren’t so graceful off the field |

Athletes aren’t so graceful off the field

Rick Chandler, Tribune correspondent

If you know anything about me, then you know all about my personal crusade — to abolish the violent, barbaric sport of golf in the United States. The carnage has gone on unabated since the 14th century, when Scotsmen first took up gnarled tree limbs and began whacking small stones and, inevitably, other Scotsmen.

Have you ever witnessed the horror of an innocent spectator being plunked in the head with a golf ball? It makes that Apocalypse Now movie look like a church outing. And now there’s this: Tennessee Titans receiver Derrick Mason fractured a bone in his right hand while playing in a charity golf tournament this past weekend.

I have begged you professional football players to stay away from the golf course — it’s just too violent out there. But do they listen? I suppose next you guys be wrestling alligators.

Mason, in his seventh year with team, said he will not be able to take part in the Titans’ minicamp this weekend. He injured the hand while swinging the club, which struck the ground. Another senseless divot-related injury.

”It’s just one of those freak things that happened,” Mason told The Tennessean. ”I hit the ball the wrong way and kind of twisted my hand. I might as well rest it now and get back at it at the end of June.

”I’ve been telling people I was rescuing my dog or something and I slipped and fell,” Mason said. ”I could see getting hurt in other sports, but not that one. Hey, things happen. It was just bad luck.”

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Meanwhile, Mason’s teammate, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, admitted he injured his knee recently when he stepped wrong getting out of his car next to a curb. Haynesworth didn’t practice Wednesday but is expected to be back on the field today.

It all sounds very suspicious to me. In high school, I often faked injuries to get out of spring drills. But I was too creative (“I was pecked unconscious by ducks!”) and my stories never washed.

But here are some that apparently did. We’ll start with baseball, where weird things seem to be happening on a daily basis:

Wade Boggs, Boston Red Sox: Injured his back while putting on cowboy boots.

Tony Gwynn, San Diego Padres: Fractured a finger when he slammed the door of his Porsche on his right hand.

Satoru Komiyama, New York Mets: Injured right middle finger while attempting to open his garage door.

Mark Quinn, Kansas City Royals: Suffered a cracked rib when he tripped over a table in his condo while playing Kung-Fu with his brother.

Carney Lansford, Oakland A’s: Severely injured back in snowmobile accident.

Jason Johnson, Baltimore Orioles: Jammed the middle finger on his pitching hand into the ground and broke it while simulating a pitching motion.

Randy Keisler, New York Yankees: Missed six weeks after being bitten by a rattlesnake.

George Brett, Kansas City Royals: Broke toe while running to see a TV replay in his house.

Juan Rivera, New York Yankees: Fractured right kneecap when he crashed into a golf cart while shagging fly balls during batting practice (golf strikes again).

— Football

Robert Edwards, Miami Dolphins: Suffered major knee injury in February 1999 during flag football game in Hawaii.

Nate Odomes, Seattle Seahawks: Suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during a pickup basketball game.

— Man’s Best Friend?

Brian Griese, Denver Broncos: Sprained ankle when he was run over by his dog.

Bryan Robinson, Chicago Bears: Broke both wrists after tripping over his dog.

— Bed-related injuries

Marty Cordova, Baltimore Orioles: Burned his face in a tanning bed — could not play because he was under doctor’s orders to stay out of the sun.

Kevin Brown, Los Angeles Dodgers: Seriously injured his back when he lunged to catch his son, who was falling off a bed.

— Jayson Blair Most Suspicious Story Award

Jeff Kent, San Francisco Giants: Injured leg in a fall while washing his truck. Witnesses say they saw him that same day take a spill on his off-road motorcycle, which he was contractually forbidden to ride during the season.

— And my all-time personal favorite off-the-field sports injury

John Smoltz, Atlanta Braves: Burned himself while ironing a shirt he was wearing.

— Rick Chandler’s interactive sports column, Capacity Crowd, can be found at Contact him at