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9 star athletes who played drunk or high

By / 03.13.12
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Nothing is more American than sports and getting outrageously tanked. (Well, other than killing things, fast cars and racism but those elements would probably make this a wildly different article.) And so it makes sense that we celebrate those proud patriots who managed to combine those most American of virtues. So let us hail these nine heroes, these nine proud athletes who have all admitted to having played while either drunk or high.

Dennis Boyd was always kind of a loose cannon, a highly volatile pitcher with the nickname “Oil Can” who played during a time when drug use – especially cocaine use – was rampant, so, uh, it wasn’t exactly a surprise when he recently admitted that he often pitched while coked out of his gourd. I can understand this. I mean, a pitcher needs to be confident and cocaine is infamous for making you feel like the king of shit mountain. Unfortunately for Oil Can, he wasn’t nearly that good and a little humility would probably have served him well. I mean, it doesn’t really help you to believe that your 87 mph fastball is really a 110 mph freight train. Sure, the coke probably made him feel like Nolan Ryan, but in reality, as a pitcher, he was probably closer to Irene Ryan, and I’m sure lots of hitters thanked him for it.


PhotoCredit: BostonHerald.com

David Wells is famous for being a fat, loudmouthed drunk who occasionally pitched pretty decently, so it should come as no surprise that when Wells pitched a perfect game he was so hungover from the night before that he was still half-drunk. Look, we’ve all been there. We’ve all gotten so hammered that the next day the only thing we could do to survive was to turn off all higher brain function and just act and react like some sort of nauseous, disgusting animal, and that’s pretty much what David Wells did. He didn’t overthink things. He just went out there, bleary eyed, sweating out hell demons and he threw that damn ball over and over again until the game was over and he somehow not only survived, but he made baseball history. Truly an inspiration.


PhotoCredit: Ferguson, Wikimedia

Fuzzy Thurston just sounds like the name of an old school drunk, doesn’t it? And indeed, ol’ Fuzzy, a lineman for the Packers during their glory days under Vince Lombardi did his best to live up to that image. Most famously, he told a sportswriter that in order to stay warm for the Packers infamous Ice Bowl NFL championship game against the Packers in 1967 he drank “about ten vodkas.” Yeah, that’ll do it. Today, he’d probably be crucified on Sportscenter and kicked out of the league for taking “performance enhancing drugs.” But back then he was lauded as a hero and I for one will still salute him. Naturally, after he retired, Thurston opened up his own bar, fittingly named Fuzzy’s, proving that some people just completely find their place in the world.


PhotoCredit: Wisconsinology

Man, what is it with baseball players getting messed up before playing? I mean, last time I checked, it was a game that required a great deal of hand-eye coordination. Then again, so do handjobs and people do that drunk all the time so what the hell, you know? Anyway, Keith Hernandez has admitted to playing America’s Pastime (baseball, not handjobs although if we’re being honest here we all know which one is truly America’s grand ol’ game) while all coked up, which as I explained in the section on Oil Can Boyd was probably both a blessing and a curse. Eventually, Hernandez got clean and went on to win the World Series with the ’86 Mets, which is kind of ironic when you consider that virtually every member of that infamous team probably played at least one game over the course of his career while completely obliterated. Also ironic? That team probably set a record for most handjobs received in a season. It always comes back to booze, drugs and handjobs, doesn’t it? The circle of life.


PhotoCredit: Sportsbybrooks.com

Bobby Layne, the Hall of Fame quarterback for the Detroit Lions (yeah, really, the Lions) was an infamous drunk, an unrepentant party animal who drank pretty much from sunrise to sunset and then when the sun set he drank some more. He drank and he drank and he drank until it finally helped kill him at age 60, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he admitted to sneaking nips of ye olde spirits during halftime of games. Again, today he would be run out of town and forced to where a hair shirt for the rest of his life, but back then nobody cared because the dude won championships (with the friggin’ Lions!) and people weren’t a bunch of hysterical Helen Lovejoys shrieking “Think of the children!” every time an athlete or celebrity so much as farted like they are now. Back then, we had noble drunk warriors like Bobby Layne winning championships. Today, we have croc-wearing fools texting pictures of their midget dongs to lady reporters. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere about society in general, but I need to move on before I get too carried away and my editor has me strangled.


Image Source: BleacherReport

Growing up, Ken Stabler’s hero was Bobby Layne so it’s no surprise that he turned out to basically be the exact same guy. Stabler won a championship as the leader of those infamous Oakland Raiders teams of the 1970’s and he did so all while running whores and drinking anything anyone set in front of him. In his autobiography Snake (and how cool is that?) Stabler casually talks about all the times he played hungover, half-drunk, three-quarters drunk, or whatever condition he was still in from the night before. Sure, some will say that he could have been even better if he would have cleaned up and taken better care of himself, but maybe, just maybe, the drinking and the whoring gave the man special powers, like Jesus and spinach if I remember my Bible stories correctly and I think I do. I’m just saying, think about it.


ImageSource: BleacherReport

John Daly. Oh man, John Daly. Of course this man played while drunk off his ass. He was probably also high on gravy or Cheetos dust but that can’t be confirmed. According to John, his biggest regret about finally getting off the sauce in 2010 is that he played better while he was drunk, and oh lord, I hear that, man. I hear that. To be fair, golf is a game meant to played drunk, so that by the time you reach the 18th hole, you’re puking in the bushes and just throwing the ball down the fairway with your bare hands because you’re too messed up to hold a club properly. I mean, let’s be honest, golf is boring as hell. It takes eons to play and nothing really happens, just like marriage. And just like marriage, liquor helps make it all easier to take. The Scots understood this when they invented the game and so did John Daly and I commend him for it.


Image Source: Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images

Mickey Mantle is damn near the patron saint of drunk baseball players. When David Wells inevitably chokes to death on his own vomit, Mickey Mantle will be waiting for him at the gates of heaven with a cheap bottle of vodka, a pack of smokes and a hooker or two. Remember what I said earlier about baseball and hand-eye coordination? Yeah, well Mickey Mantle hit over 500 home runs even though he was bombed half the time. How good would he have been if he played sober? Frankly, I don’t even want to think about it because what fun is that? Of course, Mick’s drinking eventually killed his liver and then killed him, which is kind of sad but it’s better than being a sober old fart who just complains all the time like Hank Aaron because everyone’s getting high and smashing all your old records. I think Mickey Mantle would have appreciated today’s brand of degenerate pill popping, ass-needling ballplayer and I’m sure they all appreciate him. I know I do.


PhotoCredit: Bowman Gum, Wikimedia

Dock Ellis once pitched a no-hitter while he was tripping on LSD. That’s why he’s number one on this list and number one on every list about cool dudes doing cool things anyone will ever write. I mean, imagine throwing a baseball at a bat that suddenly turns into a dragon while the mound beneath your feet turns into quicksand and a legion of angry mutant vampire bats swarms the field. Imagine this happening for almost three hours straight. And imagine throwing a no-hitter while all that shit is going on. That beats the hell out of anything that Teddy Roosevelt ever did.


PhotoCredit: Deadspin

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TAGSArbitrary RankingsAthletes who did drugsAthletes who played drunkAthletes who played highBobby LayneDavid WellsDock EllisDrunk athletesfeaturedFuzzy ThurstonJohn DalyKeith HernandezKen StablerListsMickey MantleOil Can Boyd
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