Paul Thomas

Luis Suarez

May 2, 2015 | Sports

Many top-line athletes are combinations of beauty and the beast but few more so than Uruguayan soccer player Luis Suarez.

Playing for Barcelona in a Champions League tie against Paris Saint-Germain, Suarez scored two breathtaking goals both of which involved him “nutmegging” PSG defender David Luiz. A nutmeg is when the attacking player nudges the ball through a defender’s legs and retrieves it behind his back. It’s regarded as taking the piss so to be nutmegged by the same player twice in a game is humiliation on a fairly grand scale, hence the barrage of social media derision directed at Luiz. (It transpired he had a dodgy hamstring.)

Although Luiz was valued at $100 million last year, he does have form when it comes to calamitous defending: he was one of the turnstiles through which the Germans breezed en route to their surreal 7-1 annihilation of Brazil in the semi-finals of last year’s FIFA World Cup.

Suarez was kicked out of that tournament for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, the third opponent into whom he’d sunk his teeth during his professional career.

The incident prompted the New Statesman’s Ian Steadman to undertake a statistical exercise which led him to conclude you’re way more likely to be bitten by Suarez than by a shark. Steadman’s reasoning was that Suarez had played 441 professional games against 6,000-odd opponents – the starting eleven plus subs. Thus anyone playing against Suarez stood a one in 2,000 chance of being bitten by him. The chances of being bitten by a shark are one in 3.7 million.

Steadman conceded that the numbers were skewed against Suarez in the sense that there are many parts of the world where swimmers rarely, if ever, get attacked. He therefore crunched the numbers for New Smyrma Beach, Florida, supposedly the shark attack capital of the world. He concluded that even if you swim in shark-infested waters, you’re no more likely to be bitten by a shark than you are to be bitten by Suarez.

Indeed, you’re more likely to be bitten by Suarez than struck by lightning, die from a wasp attack, experience a tsunami if you live on the coast or, unbelievable as it may seem, be killed by a firearm if you’re an American. Speaking of which, American football player Aaron Hernandez has taken beastliness to a whole new level having just been sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for first degree murder.

He has a get out of jail card of sorts in that his presence will shortly be required in a courtroom to face another murder charge. And when he gets that trial out of the way, he faces a civil suit from a former friend who claims Hernandez shot him in the face as they drove away from a strip club where they’d had an altercation.

Like Luiz, Hernandez’s services commanded a high price. Although a history of failed drug tests and assault allegations meant he was effectively on a good behaviour bond when he was drafted by the New England Patriots in 2010 – according to the Wall Street Journal, his psychological report stated that he “enjoyed living on the edge of acceptable behaviour” – his contract was lavishly upgraded in 2012. His $16 million signing bonus was the largest ever given to an NFL tight end and the five-year, $52 million deal was the second-largest contract extension ever.

The drive-by shooting double murder of which Hernandez is accused took place a month before the Patriots decided he’d passed his probation period and was worth pushing the boat out for.