Sports 'Busts' Who Were Better Than You Think

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistJune 5, 2014

Sports 'Busts' Who Were Better Than You Think

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Becoming a professional athlete is a dream millions of kids strive to achieve from the moment they start playing sports.

    And for the fortunate ones whose dreams do come true, they hope they can become the next great legend.

    Sometimes, though, unfortunate circumstances occur. 

    Injuries. Lack of playing time. Failure to live up to expectations.

    While sports busts happen nearly every year, some athletes labeled as such actually walked away with somewhat formidable careers.

David Carr

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    DAVID J. PHILLIP/Associated Press

    Don't get me wrong; former No. 1 overall pick David Carr's NFL career isn't one many would hope for, but his failure wasn't solely on his right shoulder.

    In fact, it was more on the Houston Texans organization as a whole. After taking Carr with the top pick, the Texans failed to provide him with any type of protection to give him time to throw.

    Even after getting sacked 249 times during his five years in Houston—leading the league three times in that awful category—Carr managed to have some decent seasons, leading the league in completion percentage in 2006 and throwing for over 3,500 yards in 2004.

Adam Morrison

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The inclusion of No. 3 overall pick Adam Morrison on this list isn't to suggest the guy did anything of statistical significance while in the NBA.

    After coming into the league as a known scorer, having averaged 19.7 points per game in his three-year college career at Gonzaga, Morrison seemed to forget how to shoot the ball.

    Still, as bad as his NBA stats were, he lands on this list for one reason: championship rings. He won back-to-back titles with the L.A. Lakers in 2009 and 2010, which makes his pro career somewhat successful.

Scott Kazmir

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    Taken with the 15th overall pick in the 2002 MLB draft by the New York Mets, lefty pitcher Scott Kazmir was often talked about as being the top prospect in the organization—and one of the best in all of baseball.

    He was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2004 before making it to the Big Apple. Kazmir enjoyed some success early, even making a few All-Star teams.

    Then, he lost his mojo and found himself with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League. He resurrected himself last season with the Cleveland Indians, and he hopes to continue that resurrection with the Oakland A's this season.

    He may not be the ace many thought he was, but he does hold an 82-72 career record and has bounced back from adversity.

Tim Couch

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    ROBERTO BOREA/Associated Press

    Say what you want to about former No. 1 overall selection Tim Couch.

    But being from Cleveland and seeing firsthand how he not only got thrown into the lion's den way too early but also never got any support around him, I know his career could have gone much differently.

    Even without a go-to receiver, a left tackle who couldn't block a middle schooler and a running game that was nonexistent, Couch wound up tossing 64 touchdowns to 67 interceptions in his five-year career. He even helped guide the Browns to the playoffs in 2002.

    No, those aren't Pro Bowl numbers. But considering the fact that he was running for his life most of the time, they are a hell of a lot better than what most guys could do.

Kerry Collins

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    Is former NFL quarterback Kerry Collins technically a bust?

    Considering he wound up playing 17 years in the NFL and making two Pro Bowls, many might not label him as such.

    The guy was the No. 5 overall pick in the 1995 draft and found early success, but he struggled and then rejuvenated himself with a Super Bowl trip with the New York Giants in 2000.

    As uninspiring as Collins seemed to be, acting more as a game manager at times, he ended up with 208 touchdowns to 196 interceptions and finds himself sitting 12th on the league's all-time passing list. Bet you wouldn't have guessed that.

Derrick Coleman

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    Susan Ragan/Associated Press

    Taken by the former New Jersey Nets first overall in the 1990 NBA draft, Derrick Coleman had a sad career, really.

    Blessed with all the natural talent in the world, he could never seem to put it all together and dominate like he was capable of doing.

    Even with his lack of motivation and discipline at times, Coleman enjoyed a 15-year career that included one All-Star appearance, a trip to the NBA Finals as a role player with the Philadelphia 76ers and career averages of 16.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

Desmond Howard

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    A former Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Michigan, Desmond Howard was the only first-round wideout taken in the 1992 NFL draft, selected fourth overall by the Washington Redskins. 

    Snagging only 123 catches for 1,597 yards and seven touchdowns over the course of his 11-year career, Howard didn't exactly pan out—as a receiver, anyway.

    That's because he made his name as a kick/punt returner. He made one Pro Bowl in 2000 and won a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers in 1996, where he was named the game's MVP.

Eric Lindros

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    DON HEUPEL/Associated Press

    Don't get me wrong; former NHL All-Star Eric Lindros was a great player. He even won the Hart Memorial Trophy in 1994-95 as the league's MVP.

    That doesn't mean his career was complete, though.

    While Lindros might not have been a total bust, he is generally recognized as someone who underachieved given his immense talent, and for that reason, he lands on this list.

    Much like the aforementioned Derrick Coleman in the NBA, Lindros still managed to enjoy a successful career that saw him score 372 goals and assist on another 493 others.

Glenn Robinson

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    RUSTY KENNEDY/Associated Press

    Like a few other athletes on this list, former No. 1 overall pick Glenn Robinson found himself in a small market for far too long.

    Playing for the Bucks franchise for eight seasons, Robinson may not have lived up to expectations in elevating the franchise to another level, but he made two All-Star Games, averaged 21.1 points and 6.2 rebounds during his time in Milwaukee, and won a title with the San Antonio Spurs as a reserve in his last season.

Vinny Testaverde

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    Coming into the league after a successful college career at the University of Miami, which saw him win a Heisman Trophy and play for a national title, former quarterback Vinny Testaverde struggled mightily after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took him first overall in 1987.

    Many people wrote off Testaverde after he tossed just 38 touchdowns and 63 interceptions in his first three seasons.

    Somehow, though, the dude resurrected his career, playing for 21 total seasons, making two Pro Bowls and finding himself in the top 10 on the league's all-time passing list.

Josh Hamilton

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    MLB outfielder Josh Hamilton might be a five-time All-Star and a former AL MVP, but before he got sober and rejuvenated his career, J-Ham was a bust.

    Taken No. 1 in the 1999 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, Hamilton flashed five-tool ability and insane God-given talent.

    Unfortunately, he battled substance abuse and personal issues and was suspended by MLB for the 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons for failing multiple drug tests.

    After coming back from it all, he has managed to enjoy great success. Before injuries in the past couple of seasons, he was mentioned as one of the best all-around players in the game.

Chauncey Billups

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    Many of us know Chauncey Billups as Mr. Big Shot now, but before he made his mark as the leader for the Detroit Pistons for all those years, he was nothing but unremarkable.

    After being taken with the third pick in 1997 by the Boston Celtics, Billups couldn't find a home. He bounced around and played for four teams in his first five seasons.

    It wasn't until he landed in Motown that Billups' career flourished. He averaged 16.5 points and 6.2 assists per game in his eight seasons with the Pistons.

    And yes, he gained a reputation as a cold-blooded shooter in crunch time, helping lead the franchise to two straight Finals trips, winning it all in 2004 and earning the series MVP.