Why Did Ronnie Lott Cut His Finger Off Before a Game?

NFL defensive back Ronnie Lott did not cut off his finger before a game. He had the tip of his left pinkie amputated after the 1985 season because of a serious injury on the field.

During a late-season game against the Dallas Cowboys, Lott targeted the opposing fullback. However, before he was able to prepare himself, the fullback’s helmet smashed Lott’s pinkie against his chest, breaking bone and tearing flesh. Lott finished that game and also played the final match-up after taping the finger.

During the off-season, Lott had the option of surgery to repair his pinkie, but that would likely have required missing some games. An amputation would have a quicker recovery, and Lott made that choice. He later expressed disappointment with his decision.

After high school, Lott attended the University of Southern California. While he was there, USC won a national championship, and Lott became an All-American defensive back. He played a total of 14 years in the NFL. The first 12 were with the San Francisco 49ers. In 1981, he was the team’s first-round draft pick. Lott also spent one year with the Oakland Raiders and another with the New York Jets. In 2000, Lott was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.