And that's indeed the case. A number of athletes have had food and drink play a critical role not only in their athletic accomplishments, but also athletic failures. So let's take a look back, in no particular order, to see who else joins Caron Butler on the Mount Rushmore of food and drink athletic fame.
1. Rod "Hot Dog" Strickland - Rod had a very long and productive NBA career, spanning close to two decades. Some people say he never got the respect he deserved, others say he was a total space cadet. But what I know Rod best for was his habit of throwing up hot dogs during Wizards games. Yes, Rod was a huge hot dog fan, and nothing could stop his quest for a Ballpark Frank, not even a game. Strick used to eat hot dogs from the press room just before game time, sometimes with reporters. This is an actual conversation from a Strick hot dog grab one night (via the Washington Post).
Reporter: Rod, you can't eat that. You'll get sick and throw up!
Rod: I know. Won't be the first time...or the last...Can you slide me that mustard?
2. Babe Ruth - Everyone knows Ruth loved to eat and drink. He also might have been a good challenger for Joey Chesnut and Kobayashi if he were still around. According to an awful lot of people, Ruth once ate 24 hot dogs during a break between a doubleheader. And proceeded to wash down said dogs with 8 sodas - or more likely 8 beers. Ruth also claimed his daily breakfast was as follows: a pint of whiskey mixed with a pint of ginger ale in a pitcher of ice, followed by a porterhouse steak, four fried eggs, fried potatoes, and a pot of coffee. Forget about Wheaties, that's the real breakfast of champions. And morbidly obese men.
3. Billy Walker - Yes, Walker is now well known for taking a leak into some towels during a game, but there was once a time when he was known for something else. Last year he ate popcorn on the bench while watching his Kansas St. teammates lose to DePaul in the NIT. He was recovering from a torn ACL at the time, but I think this speaks to what we all know is true. The NIT is boring as hell.
4. Paul Waner- Waner was part of a Hall of Fame brother tandem that played from the mid-1920s to the mid-1940s for the Pirates. Paul was known as "Big Poison" and his younger brother Lloyd was known as "Little Poison." What made the elder Waner unique though was that he was essentially Caron Butler, except with alcohol, not Mountain Dew. Waner drank nearly constantly and frequently played drunk or hungover. He even said there was an advantage to playing while sauced because a pitched ball looked so blurry, there was "More of it to hit." Waner also once hit a double, rounded second base, and slid into the bullpen mound - more than 60 feet away from third base. Teams would also pitch to Waner depending on whether he showed up to games tanked or not. A pitcher for the NY Giants said if Waner was drunk, he'd pull the ball, if he was sober, he'd go to the opposite field. "Not that it made a great deal of difference."
5. Antonio "Double-Cheeseburger" Tarver - Long before Tarver appeared in the most recent Rocky film, he fell prey to one of the worst ideas in Olympic history. In 1996, a McDonald's was inserted into the Olympic Village in Atlanta. But it gets even worse. If you were an Olympic athlete, you could order whatever you wanted for free. Tarver, who was the light-heavyweight gold-medal favorite, nearly ate himself out of the competition. He spent the entire day before his first bout against lowly Russian Dmitri Vybornoz pigging out at Mickey D's.
"It was free, you know, double cheeseburgers and stuff, any time you want," he said.
Tarver had to go to a split decision in the bout, but won. He went on to win a bronze and eat 127 double cheeseburgers.
6. Andy Roddick - Time for even more McDonald's trouble. Ranked No. 5 in the ATP rankings, Roddick was playing in the semifinals at the Indianapolis Tennis Championships in July, and was expected to cruise to a victory and likely the title. Instead he dropped his semifinal match to unseeded Frank Dancevic 6-4, 7-6 (7-1). Roddick blamed his poor performance on the fact that he had gorged on Chicken McNuggets the night before the match. Considering how I feel after I eat a couple McNuggets, I believe Roddick.
7. Wade Boggs - Boggs is best known for eating chicken before every game of his career. Considering he played in nearly 2,500 pro games, that's a lot of chicken. That also explains why he went by the nickname "Chicken Man" on the Red Sox. But Boggs also had another ridiculous habit. He apparently consistently drank upwards of 50-60 Miller Lites on cross country flights. During an interview, here's what former Yankee Jeff Nelson said.
Nelson: Oh, I’d say, on a typical road trip, east coast to west coast, say a road game to Seattle……Wade would drink anywhere between 50 and 60 beers.
Paul Sorrento, however, claimed it was usually 70 per trip.
8. Tottenham Hotspurs - Sitting in 4th place with one game to play in the 2005-2006 EPL season and a Champions League berth at stake, 10 Spurs players came down with cases of food poisoning after a buffet meal at their hotel the night before their final game against West Ham United. The Spurs went on to lose 2-1, while Arsenal wound up winning their final game and moved into 4th place, thus knocking the Spurs out of the Champions League. Police and scientists were even called to investigate to see if the poisoning had been done intentionally. Although the hotel was ultimately cleared of the food poisoning, and the players were said to have come down with a virus, try telling that to any Spurs fan.