Modern-day professional athletes are under immense amounts of pressure—and sometimes, a shot (or five) can help ease the mind. For some athletes, this might mean the occasional glass of wine to relax at the end of the day; for others, it means having stashes of Hennessy waiting for you in the locker room at halftime. And then there’s baseball legend Wade Boggs, who once crushed 107 beers in a single day.
Here, we take a look at 10 athletes with the most insane, inspiring, and sometimes tragic drinking habits.
It’s no secret that the current Cleveland Cavaliers’ shoot guard has a history of making some questionable decisions. With a love for club-hopping and conspicuously sliding into DMs (hi, Rihanna), J.R. knows exactly how to keep the people guessing.
After a game 4 suspension in the 2013 NBA Playoffs with the New York Knicks, Smith decided to prepare for his return in the most J.R. Smith way possible—getting completely wasted before the game and drinking booze straight out the bottle. (Photo: Twitter/@DJMisterDior)
Habit: Keeping two refrigerators dedicated to booze
The head honcho of the infamous “Santa Rosa Five” fueled his Oakland posse’s alcohol addiction with a two-room motel suite filled with three fridges for himself and four of his Raider teammates notorious for their alcoholism. One fridge was reserved for snacks, and the other two for beer. In Stabler’s autobiography, Snake, he details his tendency to play games half-drunk or hungover. That’s not surprising, given that he had more alcohol than food stashed away in his motel room.
Habit: Sneaking alcohol during games
When your entire athletic career depends on one game, sometimes it helps to let loose a little. For Detriot Lion Bobby Layne, this involved sneaking alcohol during halftime while simultaneously leading the team to back-to-back championships in the 1950s. Layne earned himself a spot in the NFL Hall of Fame, and the right to park his car on the sidewalks of Detroit.
Habit: Drinking vodka to stay warm
During the infamous Ice Bowl one New Year’s Eve of 1967, the Packers played against the Dallas Cowboys while battling arctic temperatures of -15 degrees Fahrenheit. When reporters asked Fuzzy Thurston how he kept warm, he explains nothing does the trick quite like pounding 10 shots of vodka. The trick didn’t come from out of the blue; it supposedly worked for the Titanic chef Charles Joughin as well.
Habit: Golfing while drunk
While golf may seem like a laid-back sport reserved for business meetings and retired men, John Daly has single-handedly killed every single one of those stereotypes. Known for his loud fashion sense and over-the-top personality, Daly lives to wreak havoc. He even claims that he drank a fifth of Jack Daniels every day when he was 23-years-old. Daly has admitted that golf can get pretty boring, so he tries his best to always play drunk.
Habit: Spending everything on drinking
Known as one of the greatest soccer players of the ’60s and ’70s, George Best earned his reputation from a record 137 goals in 361 appearances for Manchester United. He also earned himself a rep as one of the most notorious drinkers of the 20th century with his addiction to fast cars, women, and plenty of alcohol. Unfortunately for Best, his love for alcohol eventually developed into a full-on addiction, to the point where he was willing to steal money out of a stranger’s purse in order to buy himself a drink.
Metta World Peace
Habit: Hennessy in the locker room
Ron Artest, better known today as Metta World Peace, took a different approach to hydration during games. The 2009 Los Angeles Laker preferred to down Hennessy in the locker room during halftime. He tells Sporting News, “I used to drink Hennessy … at halftime. I (kept it) in my locker. I’d just walk to the liquor store (near the stadium) and get it.”
Habit: Boozie breakfasts
The seven-time World Series Champion credits an unusual breakfast for his epic career. In a 1994 issue of Sports Illustrated, Mantle explains that his breakfast of champions involves a big glass with a shot or more of brandy mixed with Kahlua and cream. Not only will that wake you up, but it sure beats the bland taste of Wheaties.
Habit: Chugging a six pack of beer after every game (allegedly)
One of the most iconic basketball players in NBA history went hard both on and off the court, according to rumors that we’ve investigated thoroughly here at FWF. In Roland Lazenby’s book, Blood on the Horns, the Lazenby explains that for many basketball players, beer helped replenish the system. He states, “It’s not unusual for pro basketball players to drink beer after games. They’ve been doing it for decades. It helped them replace the body fluids they’ve sweated away.” We can’t be sure whether or not Jordan actually drank a six pack after every single game, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the rumors were true. After all, MJ is the greatest of all time.
Habit: Binge-drinking on cross-country flights
Flying is never fun. You’re trapped on a plane for however many hours with little to no options for entertainment. Baseball legend Wade Boggs found the cure to his cross-country flight boredom by drinking away his weariness. Legend has it that Boggs drank 50 to 60 beers on each long flight. He even admitted to Charlie Day that he was able to drink 107 beers in one day. Now that’s dedication.