12 Memorable Biting Incidents in Sports History
With a spot in the knockout stages on the line, Uruguay and Italy's match at the 2014 World Cup was a real nail-biter. It also was a shoulder-biter, thanks to Luis Suarez. The star Uruguayan striker appeared to take a chomp out of Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini that was caught by the cameras but not the referee. This wasn't Suarez's first toothy incident — the serial biter has done this type of thing before:
In the pantheon of all-time sporting biters, Suarez may be the king. Here are 12 other examples to chew on:
1. In 1997, Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield twice in a heavyweight bout. Referee Mills Lane deducted two points the first time. When Tyson bit Holyfield again in another clinch in the third round, Lane called the bout.
Announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr.'s reading of the decision -- "Referee Mills Lane has disqualified Mike Tyson for biting Evander Holyfield on both of his ears" -- was perhaps the most interesting in boxing history.
Tyson lost his boxing license but was reinstated a year later and, in 2009, he apologized to Holyfield on Oprah.
More recently, Holyfield had something to say on Twitter about Luis Suarez's incident at the World Cup:
I guess any part of the body is up for eating.
— Evander Holyfield (@holyfield) June 24, 2014
2. In the 1983 NBA playoffs, a scrum broke out between Atlanta's center Wayne "Tree" Rollins and the Boston Celtics' Danny Ainge. Because Ainge was the smaller man and such a pest as a player, many mistakenly believe to this day he did the biting. But it was Ainge who received stitches and a tetanus shot after Rollins clamped down on his finger.
The next day's classic newspaper headline had to suffice: "Tree Bites Man."
3. South African rugby player Johan Le Roux bit New Zealand's Sean Fitzpatrick's ear during a real scrum in 1994. After learning of his lengthy suspension, Le Roux said, "For an 18-month suspension, I feel I probably should have torn it off."
4. Ottawa Senators right wing Jarko Ruutu denied biting the thumb of Buffalo's Andrew Peters in 2009 but was suspended for two games and fined $31,700. Makes the price of Kobe beef look like Alpo.
"I don't think if I did something that stupid I'd really be admitting to it either," Peters said.
5. Sevilla midfielder Francisco Gallardo celebrated a teammate's goal by biting on his genitals in the ensuing pileup. The teammate's genitals. The Royal Spanish Football Federation suspended and fined him for violating "sporting dignity and decorum."
It's the age-old question. Why did he do it? Because he could.
Said Gallardo: “I am sure I didn’t offend anyone. I don’t think what I did was very noteworthy.”
6. An English club rugby player accepted a 80-week ban in 2008 for an incident that left an opponent with "a partial amputation of the right index finger."
7. Vancouver winger Alex Burrows appeared to bite the right finger of Bruins center Patrice Bergeron during the first game of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.
"They didn't see it," Bergeron said of the refs. "But we were speaking French and I [asked Burrows] why did he do that. That linesman speaks French, and he said that [Burrows'] explanation was that he put my finger in his mouth and he had to do it."
Boston's Milan Lucic taunted Burrows later in the series, offering his finger for a nibble.
8. Philadelphia Flyers enforcer Daniel Carcillo claimed Boston's Marc Savard bit him during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals series in 2010.
"Last time I have been bit was in grade school. It's not a good feeling. ... Guys don't bite. Men don't bite," Carcillo said.
Said Savard, "He pummeled on my face. He pulled on my teeth, so I guess that's biting when a guy tried and pull your front teeth out like his."
9. Auburn wide receiver Robert Baker caught a touchdown pass on the final play of a 1996 game against Georgia. Auburn won, apparently riling up Georgia Bulldog mascot Uga V, who lunged at Baker in the back of the endzone and tried to bite him. We should probably clarify here that Uga V is an actual canine and not a man dressed up as a dog.
10. Philadelphia's Aaron Asham claimed Pittsburgh Penguins' forward Matt Cooke bit him during a fight. "My glove got tangled in his mouth and he bit me, so I lost it," said Asham.
11. In 1997, broadcaster Marv Albert bit female companion Vanessa Perhach multiple times in Virginia, leading to a trial on assault charges. Albert admitted at the trial that biting was part of their sexual encounters but that long-time acquaintance Perhach had never lodged any complaints over it.
The plea agreement didn't come until after testimony from a surprise witness, Hyatt Hotels concierge Patricia Masten.
She said in another time and place she rejected Albert's biting advances, telling the court, “I went to grab his hair, and his hair lifted off.”
Albert understandably entered the plea agreement soon after and was given a 12-month suspended sentence.
12. In May 2014, catcher Miguel Olivo was playing for the L.A. Dodger's Triple-A affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes. He got in a fight during a game with teammate Alex Guerrero and, during the brawl, Olivo bit off part of Guerrero's ear. The incident eventually led to cosmetic surgery for Guerrero and signaled the end of Olivo's baseball career.
Bud Shaw is a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer who has also written for the Philadelphia Daily News, San Diego Union-Tribune, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The National. You can read his Plain Dealer columns at Cleveland.com. Portions of this post appeared in 2012.