Dana Hooker, Jaidyn Stephenson, Brad Ottens and Max King. Pictures: AFL Photos

IN THE wake of Melbourne star Paxy Paxman's recent dog-related concussion, we've dug through the archives to drag up some of the more memorable off-field injuries that have afflicted the game's stars. 

From kitchen knives to trampolines and awkwardly placed garden stakes, there's seemingly no limit to the ways in which footballers can injure themselves away from the turf. 

Check out 10 of the most remarkable (and painful) incidents below. 

Painful day on the course for Max King

The young Saints forward suffered an unfortunate setback ahead of his second season in 2021 when he was struck by a stray ball while enjoying a round of golf a week before his side's season opener. The AFL's concussion protocols dictated that King needed to spend 12 days on the sidelines after his injury, which happened 10 days before the round one clash against GWS. King recovered well and turned out in the Saints' round two clash with Melbourne, booting two goals.

Max King in action during St Kilda's clash with Melbourne in round two, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Jaidyn Stephenson's mountain bike blunder

In the days after finishing his debut season at North Melbourne in 2021, Jaidyn Stephenson was enjoying some drinks with friends at home when he attempted a trick on his mountain bike off his back deck. It did not go well. Stephenson fell and landed on a concrete paver, resulting in an ambulance ride to hospital where a fractured hip was diagnosed. Stephenson later said the injury was "excruciating and the worst pain I've ever been in". He was fit to take part in day one of North's pre-season, however, and has suffered no lasting ill-effects.

Jaidyn Stephenson after the Roos' loss to Richmond in round 21, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

When Jeremy Howe's dog broke his finger

Well, the dog didn't quite do it. Rather, it was a mistimed attempted catch of a frisbee while playing with his pooch that left Howe with a broken finger that required surgery. And it definitely wasn't Howe's participation in a suburban cricket match that did the damage, despite reports suggesting he had hurt himself while fielding in a T20 clash in Melbourne's eastern suburbs. The Pies firmly backed Howe's explanation, and he missed the first two games of the season before returning to play the remaining 20 matches in his first year at the Magpies.

Jeremy Howe at Collingwood training in December 2015. Picture: AFL Photos

Dana Hooker's kitchen calamity

The West Coast star's 2021 season ended after just one game, when a lunchtime mishap ended with a severed tendon in her foot. Hooker was making lunch for her daughter when she reached across the bench for some more bread and knocked a sharp knife. The blade fell on her foot, slicing the main tendon to her big toe. "I looked down and could see the skin was gaping, and could see white, so I thought it wasn't particularly good," she recalled. Hooker, among the Eagles' best players, needed surgery and missed the rest of the season, watching on as West Coast won two games in their second campaign.

Dana Hooker (second from right) in a moon boot at West Coast's clash with Gold Coast in AFLW round five, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Wrestlemania goes wrong for Callum Mills

In a cautionary tale for all post-season celebrations, Sydney's co-captain Callum Mills could miss a significant chunk of the 2024 season after a playful wrestle with teammate Jacob Konstanty went awry. Mills was left with a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder from the incident at the Swans' end-of-season celebration in September, leaving his pre-season in tatters and his club "extremely disappointed" with one of their leaders. "I made a bad mistake, put myself at risk and I take full responsibility," a contrite Mills said at a media conference. It is yet to be seen when he will return to action, with the surgery usually requiring a 9-12 month rehab period.

Callum Mills ahead of a media conference on October 4, 2023. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Stevie J's Christmas drinks disaster

Three premierships, a Norm Smith Medal and a successful assistant coaching career seemed a remote prospect back in December 2003 when young Cat Steve Johnson decided to jump the fence of the Torquay Hotel to get back into the venue in the early hours. "I took the leap of faith, and it just seemed to be taking a little bit longer than I expected to hit the ground," Johnson recalled on Triple M in 2017. "When I hit, it made a big thud and I felt a pretty sharp pain in both my feet… it turned out I'd smashed up both my ankles and that set me back a fair bit." Johnson didn't play again until round 13 the following year, but eventually established himself as a Geelong great in the club's most successful era.

Steve Johnson in action during Geelong's win over Port Adelaide in the 2007 Grand Final. Picture: AFL Photos

Nigel Smart's work at the coalface

The original and, some would still say, the best. In January 1992, Adelaide's squad gathered for a pre-season training camp where a motivational speaker joined the players and coaches for a session. Smart had read about the speaker, whose schtick involved convincing people to use the power of their minds to endure a walk over hot coals, and was the first to volunteer. He did the walk, and suffered significant burns to both feet. Switched-on officials quickly called an end to the firewalking before any other players' pre-seasons were potentially ruined. Fortunately, Smart's injuries were largely superficial and he played in a practice match less than a week later.

Nigel Smart in action during Adelaide's clash with the Western Bulldogs in 1991. Picture: AFL Photos

Backyard blitz leaves Brad Ottens stuck 

A bit of backyard DIY went horribly wrong for the Richmond ruck-forward after the 2002 season. The No.2 draft pick from 1997 fell from a tree while trying to hang an outdoor swinging chair and landed on what he described as "a broomstick-sized" garden stake, which got stuck in his thigh. Ottens spent two days in hospital having the wound treated but was back to full fitness by early December. However, his 2003 season was derailed by back surgery just before the opening round, wiping out the first half of his campaign.

Brad Ottens (left) with Matthew Richardson in round 14, 2002. Picture: AFL Photos

Sharrod Wellingham's trampoline shocker

West Coast gave up a first-round draft pick for Sharrod Wellingham at the end of 2012 but the former Magpie took longer than expected to debut for his new club after suffering an ankle syndesmosis injury late in the pre-season in 2013. Wellingham "thought he'd broken his leg" after falling from a trampoline just days after playing a pre-season game. He spent a month in a moonboot. His coach, John Worsfold, told him "he was a bit of an idiot" but Wellingham got stuck into his rehab and missed just five games.

Sharrod Wellingham after West Coast's elimination final clash with the Western Bulldogs in 2016. Picture: AFL Photos

Jarrad Grant cops a stinger

The Western Bulldogs' first pick in the 2007 draft, had an ignominious start to life in the AFL, hitting the headlines after being stung on the back of the leg by a stingray during a recovery session at the beach back in February 2008. Grant was taken to hospital where the superficial wound was treated and he was given morphine for the pain. The Dandenong Stingrays product made a full recovery and eventually made his AFL debut in round five that year, going on to play 81 games at the club across seven seasons at Whitten Oval, before finishing his career at Gold Coast.

Jarrad Grant in action during the Western Bulldogs' clash with West Coast in round one, 2012. Picture: AFL Photos