Shattered Dreams: 9 Tales of Damaged Trophies


Trent Richardson with the BCS trophy. © Tyler Kaufman/Icon SMI/Corbis

Carleton Tinker, the father of Alabama long snapper Carson Tinker, accidentally shattered the Crimson Tide’s 2012 BCS championship trophy last month. Tinker can take comfort in the fact that he wasn’t the first person to break the crystal football, which is one of nine other examples of accidentally damaged trophies.

1. Terrible First Impression

Florida recruit Orson Charles was touring the Gators’ football stadium in 2008 and accidentally knocked the 2006 BCS championship trophy – a Waterford crystal football – off its pedestal. “If you were outside the stadium, it was so loud, I think you would’ve heard it shatter,” Charles told the Tampa Tribune. “I just stood there with this baby look and said, ‘Sorry.’” Florida assistant coach John Hevesy jokingly told Charles that he had to commit to the Gators, but the highly touted tight end went to Georgia instead. Charles was a fourth-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in this year’s NFL Draft.

2. One Shining Moment, One Broken Trophy

In 1939, Oregon defeated Ohio State, 46-33, in the first NCAA men’s basketball championship, the culmination of an eight-team, single-elimination tournament. The trophy was delivered to the Webfoots’ locker room in two pieces after Oregon guard Bobby Arnet broke the trophy while trying to save a loose ball during the game.

3. Truman Fumbles the Independence Bowl Trophy

Hours before North Carolina and Missouri squared off in the 2011 Independence Bowl, Missouri’s mascot, Truman the Tiger, dropped the game trophy—a crystal bowl—during a photo opportunity. Missourian reporter Harry Plumer tweeted from the scene: “Asked Truman if he broke the trophy. He nodded. Asked him what happened. Threw his paws in the air, then covered his eyes to mimic sobbing.” The Tigers won the game and hoisted a replacement bowl.

4. The Wheels on the Bus Crush the Copa del Rey Trophy

Sergio Ramos doesn’t have a whole lot of experience using his hands and it showed when the defender dropped the 33-pound Copa del Rey trophy under the wheels of a moving bus after Real Madrid defeated Barcelona in 2011. Emergency services gathered the broken pieces.

5. Kelly Bates, Canadian Trophy Buster

B.C. Lions offensive guard Kelly Bates was a little too excited after his team defeated the Montreal Alouettes in the 2006 Canadian Football League Grey Cup. “I can’t believe it,” Bates said. “I did the same thing when I was at the University of Saskatchewan. I’m not a strong man, but I grabbed the Cup, gave it a shake, and it just broke.” According to SLAM!, a Canadian sports website, the Lions were the second Vancouver-based team to break a championship trophy. In 1979, the Vancouver Whitecaps of the North American Soccer League broke the trophy after defeating the Tampa Bay Rowdies for the league title.

6. Rockets Rough Up Knicks, Larry O’Brien Trophy

The Houston Rockets handled the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy in much the same way they handled the New York Knicks in the seven-game, rough-and-tumble 1994 NBA Finals. “We broke that son of a gun,” Houston forward Matt Bullard said. “We were handing it around, and the ball just came off.”

7. Yankees Damage World Series Trophy

The 1996 World Series marked the Yankees’ first championship since 1978, so the team can be forgiven for snapping the flag representing the Cleveland Indians off the trophy during the postgame celebration. The Yankees have had a little more experience handling championship hardware since then.

8. Eddie George’s Heisman Loses a Finger

Eddie George was at La Guardia Airport, preparing to return to Columbus after being awarded the Heisman Trophy in 1995. Security officials insisted that George put his new hardware through the X-Ray machine. It emerged on the other side with a bent middle finger and missing the tip of its right index finger. “I’m kind of mad about it, but it doesn’t matter as long as I’ve got it,” George told reporters with a grin. Airport officials promised to pay for the repairs.

9. The Stanley Cup Goes For a Dip

USA TODAY hockey writer Kevin Allen wrote a book about all the crazy adventures of hockey’s iconic trophy. In “Why Is The Stanley Cup in Mario Lemieux’s Swimming Pool?” Allen recounts the story of Phil Bourque throwing the Cup from the top of an ornamental waterfall into Lemieux’s pool in 1991. It took several players to retrieve the Cup, which was reportedly lopsided after being removed from the water.