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Original Issue

We Are the Chomp-ions

When athletes attack: a brief history of masticating jocks

Last week Ottawa forward Jarkko Ruutu was suspended for two games for biting the gloved thumb of Buffalo enforcer Andrew Peters—and drawing blood—during a scuffle. An appalled Peters, worried that such Twilight-type behavior would send the wrong message to future goons, told reporters: "I just hope kids don't think that's acceptable." But chomping on opponents is nothing new.

Even considering the anything-goes mentality that governs a scrum, Carl Driscoll goes too far when he bites off part of the right index finger of Michael Bezus in an English rugby match. The digit is reattached surgically, and Driscoll is banned for 80 weeks.

Desperate to free his head from Chad Davis's scissors hold, Australian Rules Football player Peter Filandia bites the closest part of Davis's body. Good news: He got out of the hold. Bad news: The closest part of Davis's body was his groin. The scrotum bite gets Filandia a 10-week ban. Filandia begins his explanation, "Basically, to put it into a nutshell, pardon the pun...," then goes on to say, "I knew I bit some shorts. I didn't know I bit the skin as well."

Six months after Mike Tyson snacks on Evander Holyfield's ear, Monessen (Pa.) High's Nicole Lynn Naccarato chomps the arm of West Greene High's Victoria Lynn Martin while chasing a loose ball. "It swelled up right away," says Martin. "It was like a goose egg." Naccarato gets a T, but her trouble doesn't stop there. A month later she is found guilty of harassment and fined $300.

As the Celtics' 6'4" Danny Ainge tackles Hawks 7-footer Tree Rollins during a playoff tussle, Rollins bites Ainge's finger. "And the headline in the Herald the next day was tree bites man," said Ainge. "I thought that was pretty good."

Vikings defensive lineman Doug Sutherland sticks his fingers through the face mask of Conrad Dobler (above), whom SI would later anoint Pro Football's Dirtiest Player. "I don't think they were there to stroke my mustache," Dobler tells Esquire years later. So he bit them. "I bite one finger in my life, and I don't even chew on it. The legend grew from there. It's almost like I'm worse than Jeffrey Dahmer."

After a Mets-Reds brawl Cincinnati reliever Pedro Borbon (below) mistakenly picks up the cap of New York's Buzz Capra. When he realizes what he's wearing, Borbon takes a bite out of the bill and spits it onto the ground. And so begins a series of incidents that will earn Borbon the nickname Dominican Dracula. In a '74 fight he bites Pirates pitcher Daryl Patterson on the ear. Asked if Patterson should get a tetanus shot, Borbon says, "No, a rabies shot." Later in his career Borbon would be arrested for biting the chest of a Cincinnati disco bouncer and fined $200 for returning several pieces of rental furniture with teeth marks in them.



A PENALTY WITH TEETH Ruutu's biting resulted in a two-game ban.