Injuries are an inescapable reality in the world of sports. You might think it's funny to see some dude rolling around on the floor, clutching his knee and crying after his leg bent at an angle science doesn't have a number for, but -- wait, it is. It really is. I guarantee you someone would have cut the brakes on the Patriots' team bus by now if we couldn't make jokes about Teddy Brushci and the faulty plumbing in his brain.

This week we'll look at some of the most injury-prone people in recent memory. Then we'll talk a little bit about offseason moves, and then we'll probably have some fake news. So impress your neighbors! Dazzle your friends! Pregame Wrapup is here to teach you about things you didn't necessarily care to learn!

Head: Austin Croshere (Dallas Mavericks)

Austin Croshere’s head is the shock absorber of the NBA. If you don’t believe me, look at the picture to your left – the thing looks like a wilted mushroom cap. That’s not genetics, people: that’s what happens when you’ve been in the league nine years and the top of your scouting report says “often uses face as battering ram”.

Croshere needs concussions like regular people need oxygen. It’s almost as though he requires one or two near-fatal head wounds a week just to function. If they invited him to one of those And-1 events he wouldn’t wow people with his fancy crossover or amazing vertical leap. Instead he would careen around the court like a drunken rhinoceros, just daring things to have a higher density than his skull, then dive into them headfirst when they answered his challenge. Audience members would say things like “damn, nigga got a fo’head” before trying to emulate Croshere’s play style themselves. Pretty soon staggering out of the emergency room with bloody gauze stuffed in your ears would be a status symbol. Sure, you might not be able to remember your own name or stay awake for more than two hours at a time, but you Cro’d a motherfucker out there on the court.

So, in short: Austin Croshere provides a valuable service to the NBA by letting other players, as well as the floor and various pieces of court hardware, play tetherball with his head. I know you stats nerds out there might want to tell me that he hasn’t suffered that many head injuries in his career, but before you come at me with your “facts” and “Wikipedias” and shit let me tell you this: In at least two games he’s had more concussions than rebounds. I’m sure he’d tell you that meant something if he wasn’t busy vomiting into his own lap because someone turned the lights up too bright.

Rotator Cuff: Chad Pennington (New York Jets)

When your team’s main QB is Chad Pennington you might want to think about restructuring before the city council forgets about you and accidentally builds a freeway through your stadium. While this would vastly improve the Jets’ offense (one of Pennington’s passes might miraculously get past his normal receivers, i.e. the people on the other team, and land on a car headed towards the end zone), I’m pretty sure New York’s going to meet fan resistance on any stadium plan that doesn’t include a suicide chamber in the home locker room.

Some people say Pennington is unlucky because of his inability to take two steps without seriously injuring his rotator cuff. This is inaccurate. “Unlucky” is waking up in a dark bedroom and stubbing your toe on something on the floor. “Unlucky” is turning the light on and realizing the “something” is actually your wife with a claw hammer buried in her skull. “Unlucky” is coming home from the funeral, wanting nothing more than to watch a Jets game to take your mind off of things, then realizing Chad Pennington is back in the starting lineup.

Unfortunately, the line between “lucky” and “unlucky” is as blurry as the one dividing “good quarterback” and “crosseyed little gnome with a flea market squirt pistol for an arm”. Hopefully the surgeons working on Chad this summer are better with a scalpel than he is with a football: as much as he sucks now he’d probably be a lot worse if that shriveled little T-Rex arm was throwing interceptions from the center of his forehead.

Back: Tracy McGrady (Houston Rockets)

You know how Detroit used to play that bell sound every time Ben Wallace scored? I think Houston should do something like that with T-Mac, only instead of an ominous tone it should be a really loud back-popping noise. This would serve two purposes. First, it would tell fans not to get their hopes up for a playoff run, since every game McGrady plays raises the probability that he will lock his back up doing something strenuous like “walking” or “breathing”. Second, it would remind Tracy to visit a chiropractor after the game – honestly, the way the last few seasons have gone, it would really suck if someone mistook him for a 2x4 and covered him in drywall.

When your ailing back overshadows the fact that you have a seven-foot tall Chinese man on your team, it’s probably time to find a career more suited to your body (possibly as a coat rack or a walleyed pug that kind of looks like a coat rack). But T-Mac’s still out there once a month, playing an occasional 40 point game to make people think the team might improve. Here’s a hint for all you Rockets fans: they won’t. The Ming/T-Mac tandem won’t be effective until they install wheels on McGrady’s stomach and let Yao scoot up and down the court on his back.

Well, I’m not sure that such a strategy would help the Rockets, per se, but you have to admit one thing: Rockets games would be a hell of a lot more interesting if we got to watch China’s answer to Lurch push a cockeyed skateboard around the court. Watching Jeff Van Gundy mumble plays with a revolver stuffed in his mouth is pretty funny at first, but eventually people are going to stop encouraging him to pull it out. Then they’d have to put a big puffy wig on McGrady and use him as a mop to clean the brains up, and nobody wants to see that.

Hamstring: Ken Griffey Jr. (Cincinnati Reds)

Performance art and baseball don’t go together well, but I know a short little skit that will establish you as both an MLB expert and a master thespian. The next time you’re around some sports fans, just lay on the floor and say “ow, mah hamstring” in the girliest voice you can, then ask a member of your audience for some cash. When they hand you a bill pull pull a lighter out of your pocket, light whatever they gave you on fire, and say “ow, I hurt mah hamstring again pullin’ this lighter out mah pocket, I need more money”. Repeat this process until everyone in the room hates you, yet, for some reason, nobody wants to get rid of you, and you have effectively become Ken Griffey Jr.

Griffey’s $20 million hamstring has been a pox on Cincinnati for six years now. He’s hurt it running into walls. He’s hurt it catching pop flys. He’s hurt it during practice and he’s hurt it while batting. You heard it right, folks: one of this generation’s premiere sluggers has seriously injured his hamstring doing nothing more than swinging a baseball bat. At that point I think a person should be removed from the “power hitters” list and placed in the “former all-stars who make millions of dollars to injure the same muscle in their leg six times a year” one. The only person populating that list? You guessed it right, folks – Ken “There’s Still $20 Million Worth Of Potential There, We Promise” Griffey Jr.

So when the Reds have traded all their hitters but Griffey for two relief pitchers with a combined ERA higher than the number of titanium screws in their franchise player’s leg, I hope the owners realize the only “big red machines” they need are firetrucks after fans burn the Great American Ballpark to the ground. But hey, burning stadiums have upside, man. When the new venue’s outfield walls are two feet away from home plate Griff will start delivering all those homers he was supposed to hit!

Legs: Rex Grossman (Chicago Bears)

Really I think sports fans should hate Chicago for much the same reason they used to hate California, or more recently the New England area. It’s just that when any one Chicago team has its shit together the other three inevitably suck. This tricks people into pitying the Windy City, despite the fact that there’s a Chicago team in contention for one championship or another every year. I’m assuming part of this misguided empathy spurs from the bumbling of the Chicago Cubs, who exist in some crazy negative world where more people love you the more seasons you fail to win two games in a row.

So where does that place perennial whuppin’ boys the Chicago Bears and their quarterback, Rex Grossman? Somewhere near the greater Chicago wastewater treatment plant. Really, Grossman is the only proof you need when arguing that Bears fans are delusional: in his three-season NFL career, he has played a total of eight games due to injuries to his legs. Eight. The average cheerleader has spent more time on a football field than him, and most Bears fans think keeping him on the payroll is a good idea. This sets up a number of wonderful jokes, such as “he still has fewer inches under his belt than complete games”, but I’ll be constructive and offer the Bears a little help: If your quarterback thinks a “snap” is the noise his leg makes when he gets sacked, it might be a good idea to hire a dude whose knees aren’t constructed of paper plates and airplane glue.

This year, just like every year, the Bears are considered to be strong playoff contenders even if they’ve won exactly one playoff game in the last 14 years. For those of you keeping count, that’s one less win than the number of season-ending leg injuries Rex Grossman has suffered. This might not mean a lot right now, but in a few months, when you hear a huge sigh coming from the general direction of the Midwest, remember this: You just heard an entire state’s hope die, and those two toothpicks Rex Grossman prances around on were the cause. You can’t carry a whole city on your back when your legs can’t support your own scrawny torso.

Often a sport's offseason can be every bit as entertaining as the season itself. This year we've already had insane contract signings, unwarranted team moves, and former superstars getting picked up on drug charges. In the first installment of Offseason Central we'll look at the business side of two professional sports, football and basketball, as they prepare for the regular season.

Signed: Center Nene for a reported 6 year, $60 million dollar contract, by the Denver Nuggets
Why it could work: In the ten or so games he played in the last few years, Nene looked pretty good despite confusing the hell out of commentators by only having one name.
Why it won’t work: I try not to delve into stats too much but I want you guys to check this out: last year Nene played exactly three minutes of NBA basketball. In those three minutes he managed to take one shot (which he missed), commit a personal foul, and turn the ball over twice. Then, figuring his career had peaked after such a stellar performance, he blew his knee out and spent the rest of the season recuperating from the injury. Call me crazy, but giving a man $60 million after he spent his last three-minute season playing for the other team may not be the best idea, especially when your other superstar is an overhyped thug who only scores 26 points a game because the rest of the team becomes physically violent at the mention of the word “jumpshot”.

Signed: Kicker Mike Vanderjagt and Wide Receiver Terrell Owens, by the Dallas Cowboys
Why it could work: Having one of the best wide receivers and arguably the best kicker the NFL has to offer is an exciting prospect.
Why it won’t work: Putting Mike Vanderjagt and Terrell Owens on the same team is akin to trapping two cats in a burlap sack and throwing them in a washing machine. I know it’s old news, but seriously: Mike Vanderjagt made a career out of taunting anyone with talent on his old team, and Owens is ready to pull a knife at the slightest sign of “disrespect”. What happens when Vanderjagt has one Natty Ice too many and tells the press T.O. looks like “a big nigger ostrich”? What about when Owens unloads a clip in Vanderjagt’s face and says “Rae Carruth was a hero when he did it”? Either these two will team up and terrorize the rest of the team or they’ll kill each other before before the fifth game of the season. Either way, I guarantee you Bill Parcell’s reaction is going to be fucking priceless.

Purchased: The Seattle SuperSonics, by Professional Basketball Club LLC .
Why it could work: Ray Allen needs needs a chance to win a championship before he becomes physically unable to jack up 27 billion three-pointers a game.
Why it won’t work: I might be giving Seattle too much credit when I say hardly anyone cares about the Sonics. “Hardly” implies that there still might be someone disappointed by the purchase they announced last week, and when your last superstar player was a lackluster cokehead who needed “number of cheerleaders impregnated” tacked to his stat line, chances are fans are going to drift to more exciting teams like Utah or Portland. Now, with a low-rent Reggie Miller leading the team and new ownership at the helm, will they continue their tradition of mediocrity in Seattle or Oklahoma City? I don't think anyone cares. The real question is if the fans will be wearing flannel for fashion or function.

Jordan Gambles away Brezec’s Contract; Team Fails to Notice
CHARLOTTE – After committing a monumental “goof” Bobcats President and COO Michael Jordan found his team short one center – and if not for “a big open spot over on the wing”, the five-time MVP said, the team might not have noticed the absence.

Jordan said the problem occurred early Wednesday morning, when he found himself low on chips after a night of online poker. With a couple clicks of the mouse Primoz Brezec’s contract was on the table – and minutes later not even a straight flush could save the Slovenian center from an unexpected lifestyle shift. Restaurateur Tony Stull, Jordan’s opponent at the table, took Brezec’s contact over when he revealed a royal flush.

“I was pretty stunned, man,” Jordan said. “I mean, I can kill a motherfucker, you know? I make a phone call and you got a new weed pocket in your forehead a few hours later. I’m just picking up my phone to order a new eyesocket for this white-trash dingleberry and I think ‘nah, he won fair and square, I’ll just burn down his restaurant.’”

Stull, however, relinquished the contract after two days, even though he had no outside contact with Jordan. Brezec, he said, is simply not cut out for the basketball world.

“I had him doing swing-shift cleanup stuff,” Stull said. “He’d throw trash at the wastebasket and miss, like, 10, 15 times in a row. And it was from the same spot every time. I’d say ‘hey, Primoz, if you get a little closer to the trash can and try that you’ll probably make a bunch more of those,’ but he didn’t want to listen. Wouldn’t give the trash to anyone else so they could throw it away, wouldn’t do anything but stand in that one spot and chuck stuff at the garbage can.

“Hell, one time I gave it a shot while he was standing by the trash and he wouldn’t even try grab it when I missed. Just let this nasty old hamburger hit him in the face.”

Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said he didn’t notice the absence until the third day of a mandatory practice camp.

“I was just like ‘hey, there’s someone missing,’” he said. “I called my assistant over and after a couple hours we realized Primoz wasn’t over there on the wing like he usually is. We thought he might have moved somewhere closer to the rim or something, but really that was a pretty silly idea. The only way to keep that guy away from something is to put a hoop close to it.”

Shortly afterwards Jordan admitted his folly, and merely hours later Brezec was back in Charlotte, hoping and praying his job was waiting on him. Jordan and Bickerstaff allowed him back with open arms, but not before a little “welcome back ribbing”.

“We hung little orange hoops all over the locker room,” Jordan said. “Shoulda seen it. Dude was running around, screaming like a stuck pig – curled up on a ball in the floor and started slapping himself in the face until we moved them about 17 feet away from him. Then he was cool.”

Brezec declined comment on the situation but said in a press release he planned to be good at “something involving basketball” by the start of the 2006 season.

Evan "Pantsfish" Wade has been watching sports for a long time and is pretty good at bullshiting like he knows about them when pressed. He enjoys long walks in the park, talking about himself in third person, and putting his email address at the end of his articles when Lowtax asks him to. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for him, feel free to email and he might respond if he thinks you're a girl.

– Evan "Pantsfish" Wade

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