Throughout sports history, there have been many phenomenally great Championship teams, no noticeable flaws from top to bottom. It's rare when everyone seems to be clicking on all cylinders and the list of genuine contributors includes all members of a team.
Other times, truly great players are so desperate to win that ever important title, they try and jump on a team or jumpstart their team late in their career only to fall short in their last true chance to climb that mountain (see: Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Jim Kelly, Dan Marino, Ted Williams, Eric Dickerson, Barry Bonds, etc.).
And then there are other times, when a team is very solid from top-to-bottom but has a major glaring hole that it is able to make up for with tremendous performances in other areas.
Teams where one player is so bad, the term mediocre would bring prideful tears to their eyes. Situations where a team has a completely dominant defense, and their Quarterback may be comparable to a Rex Grossman, but the team actually somehow ends up closing the deal.
Other times, there are instances in which a player contributes literally nothing to the cause, but gets to sport the hardware and enjoy the moment that men thousands of times greater will never be able to experience in their lives.
Not to take anything away from the actual accomplishments of these types of players, but let's take a look at some of the most undeserving sports champions in recent years (in no particular order).
Trent Dilfer QB, Baltimore Ravens (Super Bowl XXXV)
Playing in only 11 games in the 2000-2001 NFL season, Trent Dilfer had a terrible statistical season, throwing only 12 TD’s along with 11 INT’s, completing only 134 of 226 pass attempts (59.3%) for 1,502 yards to earn a dismal QB rating of 76.6.
Luckily for him, it did not matter. During that season, the Baltimore Ravens defense had one of the best seasons in NFL history, allowing a shocking 10.3 points a game, and finishing with a +23 turnover differential, both easily first in the league.
While accomplishing a feat for the first time ever in NFL history, the Ravens scored a touchdown on offense, defense, and special teams to help minimize the amount of times Trent Dilfer actually had to make plays in the game.
Dilfer finished completing 12 of 25 pass attempts for 153 yards and 1 TD while Ray Lewis went on to win the game’s MVP trophy. Essentially, this was an offense where a three and out was considered a successful possession.
And while Trent Dilfer is one of the classier guys to ever be in the NFL, the Ravens won the Super Bowl despite him.
Ben Roethlisberger QB, Pittsburgh Steelers (Super Bowl XL)
Playing in only his second NFL season, Big Ben had a fairly efficient season while playing in only 12 games for the year. He finished with competent figures, completing 168 out of 268 pass attempts (62.7%) for 2,385 yards, with 17 TD’s and 9 INT’s for a solid QB rating of 98.6.
Coach Bill Cowher knew how to use the team he had, and rode it into the sunset. In the Super Bowl however, Big Ben was utterly terrible, almost costing the Steelers the game on several occasions as he got battered around behind his offensive line.
While WR Hines Ward received the game’s MVP trophy (thanks to a TD pass from fellow WR Antwaan Randle El), Roethlisberger could’ve received the game’s LVP trophy and no one would have said a word.
Big Ben finished with a horrid line, completing only 9 of 21 pass attempts, with two more of those going to the other team.
While the Steelers are on the road to being a dynasty, Roethlisberger’s despicable performance in this game, along with some questionable officiating, definitely gave the Seattle Seahawks a feeling that they had this game taken from them as a result of one big moment; such is the way the world often works.
Adam Morrison SF, Los Angeles Lakers (2009 NBA Finals)
Already owning the tag of “NBA Draft Bust” that many others share with Adam Morrison, very few are also able to share the tag of “NBA Champion” as well.
Being no more than a throw in and an expiring contract on a salary dump by the Lakers midseason, Morrison put in the least amount of court time throughout the season than any other member of the team, appearing in only eight games for a total of 44 minutes, all of which were blowout victories.
Morrison gets the tag of being the lucky bastard who never even wore his team’s uniform during the playoffs, but still got to hold up the Larry O’Brien Trophy in triumph wearing an awkward grin emanating the false sense of accomplishment that he inevitably holds.
While the guy may never actually play more than the previously logged 44 minutes for the Lakers, he will always be able to say he was an NBA Champion, to the dismay of other great players such as John Stockton, Karl Malone, and Charles Barkley.
2001 Arizona Diamondbacks (World Series Champs)
Not often is a team able to successfully ride the performances of two veteran pitchers all the way to a title. In fact, it is something that I can’t recall ever happening in the history of the game.
The Diamondbacks make the list collectively not because Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson don’t deserve but, but because absolutely no one else on the team deserves it.
Made up of veteran cast-offs and never-were’s, the 2001 Arizona D’Backs held up the Commissioner’s Trophy after accumulating the second lowest batting average in World Series history.
Riding on the decisions of the undisputed worst manager in World Series history, the Diamondbacks were able to win a series in seven games after Manager Bob Brenley single-handedly gave away Games Four and Five by inserting erratic closer Byung-Hyun Kimwho gave away the games that once seemed secure.
Even with two of the better pitchers in baseball history anchoring the entire team, the D’Backs were able to miraculously defeat a team they were grossly overmatched against (the NY Yankees) thanks to three freak errors by different members of the Yankees and a lucky bloop single by OF Louis Gonzalez, who had been invisible in the playoffs up until that point.
While I can’t complain that the Yankees lost, I would find it completely and utterly amazing if a team is ever able to ride luck as well as the 2001 D’Backs.
This isn't meant to discount any of the accomplishments achieved by the teams involved, since luck plays just as much of a part in team sports as skill at times. But congratulations to them, and if there are any teams you feel belong on the list, please post them in the comments below.
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