“It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half.” -Tough Guy Manteo Mitchell
LACONIA, NH – It’s Friday, which means in under 48 hours, I will finally be partaking in my ‘A’ athletic event of the season. Angry Ward asked a few weeks ago if i had another ‘triathlon’ coming up, to which I replied, “No. This will be no ordinary ‘triathlon,’ this will be a half Ironman.” (Cue Black Sabbath… but only half the song). And to answer the question – yeah… I AM ready. As ready as I’m gonna be to have a solid, if not CRUSHING swim (look out Michael Phelps!), a good bike, and the run… which is never my strong suit…. wellllll… I might be crawling across the finish line because one of my wheels is busted with IT Band Syndrome (not to be confused with the China Syndrome). Serious pain came during my last run Sunday and its now excruciating to go down stairs. But what the ice packs, massage and rolling on a foam roller can’t do, my will and determination will have to make up for. DNF is not in my DNA, folks. But enough about me. This kind of stubbornness/determination got me thinking about tough guys in sports. Here are some of the standouts that get my Tough Cookie Award:
London Cracking: At this year’s Olympics we witnessed many amazing things, but when American track relay runner Manteo Mitchell was halfway into his 400 of a qualifying leg, we knew something was up when he finished and limped off. He felt and heard the pop, recounting “It felt like somebody literally just snapped my leg in half.” After finishing the race, doctors confirmed he’d run the last 200-meters of his race on a broken left fibula. Ew. Mitchell said it was more than just adrenaline that helped power him to the finish. “Faith, focus, finish. Faith, focus, finish. That’s the only thing I could say to myself,” he said.
The Crack Heard Round the World: I was just a little girl (and Cam James must’ve still been pre-sperm in his Daddy’d testicles) when on Monday Night Football, NY Giants’ Lawrence ‘L.T.’ Taylor (aka. Lawerence ‘No-I-Didn’t-Have-Any-Clue-That-Hooker-Was-Underage-Nor-That-Paying For-Sex-Was-Illegal’ Taylor) put a hit on a pile on poor Washington Redskins QB and golden boy (if he played for that other red team.. the San Francisco 49ers.. thanks You Suck for catching my brain fart), Joe “Was-That-My-F*ckin’-Fibula-Cracking-Through-My-Leg” Theismann. Indeed, both his tibula and fibula were cracked for all the world to see. Season over. CAREER over. I give Joe points for returning to football on the commentating front, because you know that DECADES later that’s all people are still going to talk about and show replays of… and that takes some gumption to watch. I mean Lawrence Taylor broke Theismann’s leg open like he thought it was a cocaine pinata.
Frankenface On Ice!: The 1980’s also saw the ending of the no-helmet era in hockey but that’s not to say there wasn’t some gruesome stuff to watch. Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman, Borje Salming had his not so sweet, Swedish face made more of a sight when he took a skate to the face in front of his own net. SKATE + FACE = BAD NEWS. This was to the tune of TWO-HUNDRED STITCHES. And did the guy retire? Nope. Kept playing until 1993. What do you do for an encore after that? Apparently Salming went into the sports underwear business. Salming Underwear…real friggin’ original. Then he posed nude at 56 for paintings displayed at The Sport Gallery in Toronto. Not sure what’s scarier; the face or the posing nude bit. And yes hockey fans, the 1989 Clint Marlachuck skate to the carotid artery is more gruesome and tough…but it’s breakfast time for many reading this.
Joe NOSE Best: Even before he was Yankees’ skipper and saving people from car crashes after World Series wins, I loved Joe Girardi. After he was traded to the Chicago Cubs, people sitting near me in the bleachers at the Friendly Confines (greatest ball yard EV-ER), thought I was nuts for my wild “Joe G!!!” hollering every time he was up to bat. But in 2000, he gave us something else to scream about. He took a pitch right to the face, breaking his nose and requiring three-stitches to close. Joe walked off on his own steam, clutching a towel to his face, and shaking his head. Gotta love a tough guy.
And with that, your favorite Tough Cookie is outta here. Off to Laconia, New Hampshire for Timberman 70.3 this Sunday. Say a prayer for my tattered leg… and send money for a post-race massage please. And don’t forget to come back tomorrow for someone who gives free rubdowns, The Public Professor.
P.s… You can follow me on Twitter: @Cookies_Corner.