NFL Cancers: Top 10 Franchise Cripplers in the NFL

Kyle VassaloFeatured ColumnistFebruary 2, 2011

NFL Cancers: Top Ten Franchise Cripplers in The NFL

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    The NFL is recognized by many as an industry full of overpaid athletes with poor character. I certainly don't think that rings true for the majority of the league, but a few bad eggs can spoil the entire batch...or something along those lines.

    Albert Haynesworth's character and work ethic has always been in question,  taking downs off whenever he feels like it. When he stomped on the face of Andrew Gurode (cue the video) the media really started taking notice. He can blame whomever he wants for his notorious image, but he created it.

    When he became a free agent, he was the most highly touted free agent on the market. Haynesworth is one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the NFL when he wants to be, but nearly everyone was blown away by the $100 million deal the Redskins offered him, with $41 million guaranteed and $32 million being paid in the first 13 months.

    He has not performed well in Washington, failing a number of conditioning tests and couldn't even lock down a starting role on defense. He complained about the system, the coaching, and everyone around him, but he has only himself to blame for the controversy that swirls around him.

    Haynesworth will undoubtedly be picked up if he fails to make the roster next season in Washington. Even so, teams should stay away. He has made it clear that he is in it for the money and is quite possibly the least team-oriented player in the NFL. An incentive-laden contract will obviously be the way to sign him, but it isn't worth the distraction. Haynesworth has only played at a Pro Bowl-level twice in his career and is nothing short of lazy.

    Here are other players and front office employees holding back their respective franchises

10: Terrell Owens

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    You can't have a list of cancers in the locker room without throwing T.O. in there. He is a Hall of Fame-caliber wide receiver. Even this year, he had 983 yards receiving and nine touchdowns in only 14 games.

    Owens has been a premier wide receiver and unparalleled headache on every team he has been on. He hasn't met a quarterback he got along with (despite breaking down when discussing Tony Romo). T.O. has never left on good terms with any team, except maybe Buffalo.

    It is unclear what team he will even enter the Hall of Fame with. A 49er, where he demanded a trade and left with a string of bitter comments? An Eagle? Cowboy? Bengal? Let's face it. T.O. doesn't have a home because he creates a rift between himself and the rest of the locker room and management.

    Next season Owens is going to be looking for a job. There are a lot of teams who could use a receiver who could rack up 1,000 yards in a season, but who would withstand that headache?

9: Alex Smith

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    Here is an example of a guy with impeccable character that breaks onto this list. Alex Smith earns his keep on this list by somehow securing a roster spot on the 49ers, even after five years of consistently failing to put his team in a position to succeed.

    There are a lot of people who believe Smith is the product of a bad situation and they could be correct in that assumption. The revolving door at offensive coordinator and lackluster talent when he got there certainly are not conducive to good quarterback play.

    Smith belongs on this list because somehow, he has been given the ability to convince upper management that he is better than he actually is. That began when they drafted him number one overall. Smith shows flashes of brilliance at times that make it difficult for the 49ers to part ways with him.

    It appears that the 49ers will part ways with him this season since his contract finally expired, but you can be sure he won't be unemployed for long. His potential and work ethic are easy to buy into, but he brings with him a resounding history of losing and play that brings down the entire team.

8: Marty Hurney

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    Some people don't know who Marty Hurney is. Those who do probably don't think he belongs on this list. Hurney is the GM of the Panthers. He had a big hand in building the organization and has done a solid job in his decade as a GM, but all of it has been nullified by his actions this past season.

    Hurney made Julius Peppers unhappy. Peppers demanded a lot of money and the Panthers didn't show interest in retaining him. The situation became uncomfortable and their relationship became strained. None of that should have ever happened. Hurney should have recognized that he had the best defensive end in football and encouraged the Panthers to open their wallet.

    After doing very little to improve the roster and allowing the roster to all but disintegrate, the Panthers finished with the worst record in football. Can't get any worse, right? Wrong.

    The Panthers currently have Jimmy Clausen, a high prospect who slipped in the draft and had growing pains, to say the least. Even so, he is the best they have at the moment. They had a miserable lapse in judgment and announced they were going to draft Andrew Luck first overall even before he declared for the draft.

    Now that Luck is staying at Stanford, the Panthers are going to be stuck with Clausen, who has to feel disrespected. The Panthers shouldn't have said who they were going to draft before the regular season even ended. Poor form, Mr. Hurney.

7: Adam "Pacman" Jones

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Pacman Jones was the most coveted corner to come out in his draft class. He had everything a team could ever want. Elite speed and athleticism, outstanding cover skills, and he could contribute in the return game.

    Everything Jones has done on the field has been grossly overshadowed by his off-field issues. After a ridiculous number of arrests, altercations, and legal battles, Jones was suspended by the NFL and has played on three teams in his brief career.

    Jones has engaged in ridiculous antics including, but certainly not limited to, pro wrestling. He agreed to a one-year contract with the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers after being unsuccessful at securing a job in the NFL. After he called the Canadian football team a UFL team, the Blue Bombers decided against acquiring him.

    Jones went to the Bengals and can now add injury-prone to a laundry list of problems. This is a classic example of someone whose character issues came to define him.

6: Marvin Lewis

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Marvin Lewis remains the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. In an odd series of events, he had a set of demands that he wanted to be met by the Bengals which were seemingly ignored (at least momentarily), interviewed with the 49ers, and ultimately signed a two-year deal with Cincinnati.

    Lewis is known as a defensive mastermind. He was the defensive coordinator of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, which is one of the best defenses of all time. It is unclear how much of that was due to his coordinating abilities and how much should be accredited to their Hall of Fame defensive players, but he certainly deserves recognition for success as a coordinator.

    His winning ways did not carry over to the professional level. Lewis is 60-69-1 with the Bengals. He has gone to the playoffs only twice, bounced out in the first round both times.

    Lewis has a habit of giving second opportunities to players, which has created a negative locker room atmosphere laden with legal problems. He will leave behind a legacy of consistent losing and a roster of players with poor character when he leaves Cincinnati.

5: Ken Whisenhunt

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    This is an example of the early stages of cancer. Ken Whisenhunt earned a lot of credibility by taking the Cardinals to the Super Bowl, but this season we saw just how much of that was Kurt Warner's doing.

    After letting Anquan Boldin and Karlos Dansby leave town, prematurely cutting Matt Leinart, rifling through subpar quarterbacks all season long, and drafting an overweight, virtually unusable Dan Williams in the first round, 2010 has been a forgettable season for him.

    Not all of that is directly his fault, but he certainly had a hand in all of it. That Super Bowl berth is probably going to allow for a grace period for Whisenhunt to get his act together, but the Cardinals should be quick to pull the trigger if they see any sort of regression heading into next season.

4: Al Davis As a GM

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    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Al Davis could be the most recognized owner in sports, next to Jerry Jones and perhaps Mark Cuban. Davis has been the driving force behind the Raiders and all of their glory since 1966. He has brought three Super Bowls to the Silver and Black and still commands respect when he enters a room.

    That being said, his days of evaluating talent are behind him. Davis has always prided himself on finding talent in unlikely places. He likes outcasts and believes the recipe for winning includes finding diamonds in the rough. That isn't necessarily a bad philosophy, but he is going about it all wrong.

    Davis likes specimens. He loves speed and size and falls in love with workout warriors and oversized players. This was never clearer than when he reached for Darrius Heyward-Bay and bypassed Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin.

    When the Raiders draft, speculation is rampant because there is no telling which direction they are going to go. They nearly always reach and although they have years like last year where they go with Rolando McClain, there is a list of JaMarcus Russell picks that grow longer as time goes on.

    Al Davis is one of the most important people in NFL history, but he needs to realize that his time as a GM and talent evaluator is over. Ripping through head coaches and running a dictatorship is not in the best interest of Oakland. If he wants to "Just win, baby", it may be time for some division of labor.

3: Albert Haynesworth

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    The NFL is recognized by many as an industry full of overpaid athletes with poor character. I certainly don't think that rings true for the majority of the league, but a few bad eggs can spoil the entire batch...or something along those lines.

    Albert Haynesworth's character and work ethic has always been in question,  taking downs off whenever he feels like it. When he stomped on the face of Andrew Gurode (cue the video) the media really started taking notice. He can blame whomever he wants for his notorious image, but he created it.

    When he became a free agent, he was the most highly touted free agent on the market. Haynesworth is one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the NFL when he wants to be, but nearly everyone was blown away by the $100 million deal the Redskins offered him, with $41 million guaranteed and $32 million being paid in the first 13 months.

    He has not performed well in Washington, failing a number of conditioning tests and couldn't even lock down a starting role on defense. He complained about the system, the coaching, and everyone around him, but he has only himself to blame for the controversy that swirls around him.

    Haynesworth will undoubtedly be picked up if he fails to make the roster next season in Washington. Even so, teams should stay away. He has made it clear that he is in it for the money and is quite possibly the least team-oriented player in the NFL. An incentive-laden contract will obviously be the way to sign him, but it isn't worth the distraction. Haynesworth has only played at a Pro Bowl-level twice in his career and is nothing short of lazy.

2: Josh McDaniels

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    A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Josh McDaniels was the inspiration for this list. McDaniels, like so many others, excelled as a coordinator under Bill Belichick. When McDaniels, like Charlie Weis, left the Patriots and became a head coach, disaster struck.

    McDaniels clearly wanted to go with a Belichickesque approach. He wore the same style of ratty sweatshirt. He preached blue-collar mentality. In a move that echoed Belichick's style, he drove the Broncos' superstars out of town.

    He created a rift between himself and Jay Cutler by involving him in trade discussions and sent away Brandon Marshall. Both were young talents and the faces of the organization. Unbeknownst to him, he was not Bill Belichick.

    McDaniels was involved in a taping incident with the 49ers in London. Some speculate that was the reason he was ultimately let go. Before he did so, he gutted the roster and reached for Tim Tebow in the first round. How well that decision will work out is yet to be seen.

    McDaniels left the Broncos in ruins with less talent and far more problems than when he started. Hopefully for the Broncos' sake, John Fox is able to repair the team and get it to the level they were at prior to Mike Shanahan's firing.

1: Matt Millen

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    Say Matt Millen around anyone who follows the Lions and watch them grimace. Millen is an ex-football player, an exceptional analyst, and quite possibly the worst GM in the history of professional sports.

    Millen was the president of the Lions when they posted the worst seven-year record of any team in league history, accumulating a .277 winning percentage. Millen took over the GM job with little experience in evaluating talent whatsoever.

    Sure, Millen missed on Joey Harrington and nearly every single pick he submitted in each and every draft. Even so, Millen didn't cement his legacy as the worst GM in the history of the NFL until he drafted a wide receiver in the first round for three consecutive years.

    Millen drafted Roy Williams, who was sufficient at times but never lived up to the hype, Charles Rodgers, who fizzled and is no longer in the NFL, and Mike Williams, who had been out of football for a year and eventually found himself unemployed before being given a chance to redeem himself in Seattle.

    Millen finally drafted a legitimate number one receiver when he selected Calvin Johnson in the first round just two years later, but by that time the damage had been done. The misses and mismanagement ultimately led to the Lions putting forth the worst team in NFL history.

    Matt Millen may have a successful career in broadcasting ahead of him, but no one should ever let him handle any part of football operations in the NFL ever again.