I don’t know if anyone keeps score on which sports town has had the worst track record when it comes to tragedy, but I have to believe Detroit would rank high. In no particular order, here is a rundown of some of them.
Photo courtesy of the SI vault
He was drafted in 1989 by the Red Wings and played his entire NHL career there until the tragic limousine accident in 1997 ended his career.
Standout offensive guard for the Lions, he was paralyzed from the chest down in a game against the Rams on Nov. 17, 1991. If you need an inspirational story of how to deal with a tragedy and make the best of it, this guy is for you. He’s got a great attitude and has accomplished more than most people ever even attempt to do.
The Lion’s defensive end died on March 1,2009 after a boating accident. The coast guard determined that someone attempted to dislodge the anchor by powering up the motor causing the boat to capsize.
Struck and killed by a truck driver while working in his front yard. Another young, excellent player for the Lions. And the Lions aren’t done yet.
Chuck collapsed and died on the field at Tiger Stadium in a game against the Bears in 1971.
The Detroit Lions seem to be the most snake-bitten of all. Besides Utley, Smith, Andolsek and Hughes, they have also had Reggie Brown, Len Fontes, Don McCafferty and Lucien Reeberg suffer tragedies as well.
The very promising defenseman for the Wings, his was as scary as it gets. He collapsed in front of the Wings bench on the ice in cardiac arrest. His heart problems ended his career. This marked the only time in NHL history that a game was postponed due to injury.
Of course, Detroit gets the garden variety of freak injuries like Joel Zumaya and his hand injury moving boxes, but every team gets those. It just seems that Detroit teams have had a really rough time over the years with devastating injuries and deaths. These are just some of the better known ones listed above. What does it mean? I have no idea. Sure, Detroit itself is a tragedy, but I don’t think the two are tied together in any way. Just bizarre…