50 Biggest Boneheads in NFL History
I realize the following list could potentially be construed as insulting, and worse yet, ironic, if written by a substandard journalist.
That’s why this morning, so as to prevent embroiling myself in any kind of journalistic double standard, I took the Wonderlic test. Or at least the watered-down ESPN Page 2 version of it.
The following list is both insulting and ironic.
Two notes before we begin our journey:
1. A special mention goes to Richard Langford, who (unbeknownst to him) contributed greatly to this writing. While researching my selections, I found that just two months ago RL had compiled a very similar slideshow: The 25 Dumbest Players In NFL History. In an attempt not to copy him directly, I included all 25 of his entries. Thank you Richard Langford. Fifty percent of this slideshow belongs to you.
2. The last time this Internet historian attempted such an all-encompassing list (shamelessly self-promoting link), I asked for help because I knew I’d need it. This time, I ask the same. Should you think of anyone not on the list (and there will be many), add him to the comments. As soon as we get to a deserving 100, I’ll do another list. In short, help me do my job. The unemployment rate is too high.
Also, when some kid 20 years from now makes a slideshow chronicling the 50 biggest boneheads in B/R history, I’d prefer not to be on it.
Rules of the Road:
None so complex (this is the idiot slideshow after all).
There is but one tidbit of which you should be made aware: Each of the unwitting participants has been categorized by a particular style of boneheadedness, and while many of those receiving honor were certainly considered for multiple categories, I tried to choose only the one which would best illuminate their particular brand of buffoonery.
For this list, Boneheads 1.0, the categories are as follows:
Boneheaded at Life
On the Field Boneheadedness
Just missing the categorical cut was the type of unprotected boneheadedness that has allowed Antonio Cromartie to leave a cookie trail of illegitimate children from San Diego to New York.
We begin with Idiot Savants—a category that originally included the likes of Andy Reid and Bill Belichick, but has since had most of the savant whittled out of it.
50. Josh McDaniels, Coach, Denver Broncos
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
“We begin with Idiot Savants—a category that originally included the likes of Andy Reid and Bill Belichick, but has since had most of the savant whittled out of it.”
E.g. Josh McDaniels, the idiot savant who may have overplayed his savant.
Hired to replace 14-year legend Mike Shanahan, wunderkind McDaniels quickly went about disassembling what had been the NFL’s second-ranked offense.
Within three months, Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler was a Chicago Bear, and within a little over a year’s time, Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall was a Miami Dolphin and potential Pro Bowl running back Peyton Hillis (thank you, Josh) was a Cleveland Brown.
McDaniels somewhat amazingly won his first six games, but then proceeded to lose 17 of the next 22.
He was fired 12 games into the 2010 season.
49. Ray Handley, Coach, New York Giants
George Rose/Getty Images
The original Josh McDaniels.
Ray Handley took over a Bill Parcells-assembled Giants team that had won the Super Bowl the previous year…and he quickly derailed it.
He benched Phil Simms, alienated the fanbase and was relieved of his duties after the 1992 season. He amassed a 14-18 record in his two years, and never coached again.
Adding historical insult to injury, Handley was picked as Parcells' successor over then-Giants defensive coordinator Bill Belichick.
48. Terry Bradshaw, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
He may be dumb, but he’s not stupid.
Bradshaw, more than any man on this list, is the one to whom the title Idiot Savant most aptly applies.
He’s silly, he’s loud, and he speaks with a Southern twang—all of which have probably contributed to his reputation as something less than, shall we say, informationally cognizant.
But somehow, in spite of these alleged shortcomings, TB was drafted first overall, won four Super Bowls, then parlayed those things into a successful broadcasting career.
As far as I’m concerned, Terry Bradshaw is one cool cot.
Researching this subcategory was kind of depressing, so I’ll try to stick with only the most notable of the bunch.
Most shocking to me was the realization that this section of the list could have been much longer. Two years ago, SI found that 78 percent of NFL players have gone bankrupt within two years of leaving the league. I wonder if that’ll factor into the new collective-bargaining agreement.
Seventy-eight percent is a pretty astounding number.
The guys listed here should at least take comfort in knowing that they’re not alone.
Exempted from list status were: Dermontti Dawson (not an idiot), Marlin Briscoe (pioneer plus bankrupt = still pioneer), Bernie Kosar (he’s Bernie Kosar), and Johnny Unitas (I hall-passed Bernie Kosar, so…).
As my cash-strapped exemptions illustrate, you don’t have to be a bonehead to lose all your money.
47. Travis Henry, RB, Buffalo Bills
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
You don’t have to be a bonehead to lose all your money, but you can be. Former NFL running back/amateur drug mule Travis Henry is one such example.
After emerging from a failed marriage at 19, Henry went on to father 11 children with 10 different women (one had twins) in the ensuing 12 years. His prodigious fertility spree was only curtailed when, in 2009, TH was sentenced to three years in federal prison for his role in a cocaine distribution syndicate.
Henry has been out of football since 2008, though should he maintain his current pace upon release, he’ll be able to field his own team by 2024.
CNBC on Henry’s financial woes:
“The former running back for the Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos has indicated in various court filings that his child support payments of roughly $180,000 per year have left him penniless.”
Travis Henry, No. 47, for patterning his sexual practices after an oscillating sprinkler.
46. Drew Bledsoe, QB, New England Patriots
A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images
I’m not sure if I think he’s an idiot so much as I just liked his crime.
“In May 2007 former quarterbacks Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer and five other NFL retirees invested at least $100,000 apiece in a now-defunct start-up called Pay By Touch—which touted 'biometric authentication' technology that would help replace credit cards with fingerprints—even as the company was wracked by lawsuits and internal dissent.”
45. JaMarcus Russell, QB, Oakland Raiders
I feel bad for this, because he took his career so seriously.
The latest from JaMarcus Russell is that his $2.4 million Bay Area mansion is being foreclosed upon. I’d say that it's a sign of the times if he hadn’t received $32 million in guaranteed money just a little over three years ago. (Presumably, he lost it all in treating a persistent cough.)
JaMarcus was a finalist for several sections of this list, but his recent success in this category precludes him from further consideration.
If things don’t work out with the house, he could probably live inside his necklace.
44. Rocket Ismail, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Scott Boehm/Getty Images
I’m sorry for this, Rocket, because I actually admire your persistence.
Rocket Ismail is something of an investment Renaissance man, who, after pocketing around $18 million over the course of his NFL career, proceeded to lose that money through a series of ill-fated business ventures.
His investments included (again, from CNBC):
Theme restaurant Rock N’ Roll Café.
Financing for an inspirational religious movie.
Music label COZ records.
A revolutionary new cosmetic procedure meant to oxygenate the skin.
A phone-card dispensing company.
A retail store called “It’s in the Name,” where tourists were meant to purchase framed calligraphy of names or proverbs.
Bite Tech, Inc., a designer of specialty mouth guards.
You have to spend money to make money, but I think there’s a missing part of the equation where it says don’t spend your money on things that don’t matter.
That investment resume aside, Ismail has never filed for bankruptcy, and, according to the afore-referenced article, he today has found work as a financial advisor.*
Boneheaded at Life
There’s a saying that football is 10 percent physical, 90 percent mental. Well, the guys in our third category are 90 percent mental.
They are the people who made it, then subsequently lost it, purely on the back of their decision-making.
They’re the guys of whom you ponder aloud, “What were they thinking?”
Just missing the cut were Reggie Wayne (for lending a mistress his credit card), Tom Cable (for throwing a co-worker into a wall), Randy Moss (for nudging a police officer out of the way via the front of his car), and Tatum Bell (because hey, we’ve all been there).
43. Marshawn Lynch, RB, Buffalo Bills
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Marshawn Lynch earned a BAL distinction when he allegedly, for no apparent reason, stole $20 from a police sergeant’s wife in a TGIFriday’s.
(In Lynch’s defense, he might need that money in three years.)
This is from the police sergeant (from NESN):
“[Lynch] takes the $20 out of her hand, and my wife says ‘What are you doing?' And Lynch says 'Don't worry.' When my wife's girlfriend came back to the table, she told her about it," the woman's husband stated. “The girlfriend approached Lynch and said, 'Give my friend her money back,' and Lynch threatened her saying 'Do you know who I am? There's going to be consequences.'”
The Cal product signed a six-year, $18.9 million contract in 2007. Lynch has since been arrested on misdemeanor gun charges in California, and was the target of a lawsuit by a woman who claims she was struck by a drunken Lynch’s SUV in May of 2008.
42. Brett Favre, QB, New York Jets
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Just in case he didn’t do enough to tarnish his legacy by teasing the Green Bay faithful with annual retirement flirtations, Brett Favre allegedly decided it appropriate to document his intent to seduce New York Jets game-day hostess Jenn Sterger by texting her a picture of his then 38-year-old gunslinger.
I know he’s just a "kid in a sandbox," but what if that sandboxed kid was in actuality married to another sandboxer that had been with him since high school and stayed with him through a high-profile alcohol addiction?
Then, I think, the kid should get out of that sandbox.
He could have made this list in several categories, but ultimately, Favre claims a BAL nom for allowing a younger generation of fans to quite tangibly investigate how they measure up to an NFL legend.
41. Dante Culpepper, Bryant McKinnie and the Rest of the 2005 Minnesota Vikings
In October 2005, an alleged sex party occurred with 17 key members of the Minnesota Vikings.
The players rented two boats on Lake Minnetonka and flew in prostitutes from both Atlanta and Florida.
Many of the players then proceeded to engage in some pretty wacky (and very public) sexual escapades in front of the boat's 90 passengers, all while allegedly documenting the proceedings via photographs—one of which is to the left of this text.
An anonymous former Viking admits this is not the first time such an incident has gone down.
40. Dwayne Bowe, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Shall we stick with the prostitution for a while?
Dwayne Bowe unintentionally outed his Kansas City teammates when he told ESPN The Magazine that during a trip to San Diego, some of said teammates had arranged for a (generously titled) groupie to be waiting in every room.
Via Pro Football Talk:
“’My rookie year, we were playing in San Diego,' Bowe says. 'You hear stories about groupies hanging out in hotel lobbies, but some of my teammates had it set up so there was a girl in every room. The older guys get on MySpace and Facebook a week before we go to a city; when a pretty one writes back, they arrange to fly her in three of four days in advance. They call it importing.’”
Just to alleviate any potential legal concerns, Bowe added: “Younger guys don’t have the money to do it.”
So you see, it’s not prostitution officer. She’s imported.
Bowe claimed he was misquoted (in a surprisingly funny interview)…right up until ESPN responded that they had recorded the conversation.
Congratulations, Dwayne Bowe.
The No. 40 slot is yours for unintentionally whistle-blowing about completely intentional “whistle-blowing.”
39. Adam “Pacman” Jones, CB, Tennessee Titans
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
A man whose greatest contribution to society was teaching a generation of suburban fans the phrase, “making it rain.”
Watch this video (although maybe not at work), which ESPN’s John Barr has narrated with the type of awe-induced fascination usually reserved for National Geographic.
Look really closely at the part where the strippers are scrambling for money. I could be wrong, but I swear I saw Rocket Ismail circling the pile.
38. Matt “Scarface” Jones, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
A man whose greatest contribution to society was teaching a generation of suburban fans the phrase, “making it snow."
Perhaps more of a "cautionary tale"-type guy then an "approach with caution" one, the former first-round pick was arrested at gunpoint in July of 2008 while chopping up six grams of cocaine with a credit card. He was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, because six grams is apparently enough to distribute.
Jones was arrested again in 2009 after a failed drug test represented a violation of his parole.
His crimes are not particularly outlandish for this list, but Jones hasn’t played a game in two seasons and he looks like Johnny Depp in Blow.
37. Jeff Reid, K, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Taking up Mike Vanderjagt’s “idiot kicker” mantle, two years ago Jeff Reed got liquored up and proceeded to get cited by police for destroying a paper towel dispenser on account of its being empty. (In Reed’s defense, what was left of the paper towel dispenser did not dispute his allegations.)
That same year, Reed was cited for public intoxication while defending a peeing teammate outside a Pittsburgh bar.
In 2010, Reed complained about receiving the franchise tag, subsequently had the worst year of his career, then continued his assault on inanimate objects by blaming his performance on the turf: “I can’t help it when turf moves and you miss a kick.”
Cherry on the sundae?
Reed complained that the Pittburgh fans “buy tickets just to bash me.”
The fans too?
Somehow, I think this was always about the towels.
36. Eugene Robinson, SS, Atlanta Falcons
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
I have more sympathy for the innocuous. Eugene Robinson, prepare to get blasted.*
Not only did the Atlanta safety break curfew on the eve of the Super Bowl, he did so by attempting to pick up a prostitute at 3:00 in the morning while his wife was asleep in his hotel room!
I get wanting to blow off some steam before the big game, but come on Eugene, how was this ever going to end well? The chances were relatively high that your wife would wake up and notice you’re gone, and if you didn’t think that was likely...how quick were you planning on being?
For ill-timed infidelity, coupled with a poor performance in the Super Bowl the following day (that wasn’t his fault; he hadn’t slept), Eugene Robinson lands the No. 36 spot.
*That was the pickup line that got him arrested.
35. Michael Vick, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Vick is on this list, in this spot, for not realizing what he had to lose. Of course his crimes were heinous, but if that wasn’t enough to dissuade him, what was to be the staggering cost of his actions should have been.
Vick was sentenced to serve 23 months in jail for his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring, by way of which Vick forfeited his then-record $130 million contract along with an estimated $7 million a year from outside endorsements.
He filed for bankruptcy in 2008, listing debt of $10-to-$50 million, and now essentially plays football to pay back that money.
Vick also once tried to bring pot on an airplane, although, in his defense, it was in a hidden compartment of a fake water bottle.
34. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Al Bello/Getty Images
I honestly never expected this from a guy named Roethlisberger. It’s like someone with the name Urkel becoming a cocaine dealer.
After just two years and one Super Bowl title with the Steelers, Roethlistberger’s career nearly ended when he crashed a motorcycle while not wearing a helmet. That’s pretty dumb.
Still, Ben could potentially have been considered an idiot savant if his subsequent crimes didn’t include bathroom courtship.
Both in 2009 and 2010, Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault; after the latter accusation he lost all benefit of the doubt with me.
Fool me once? Shame on you.
Fool me twice? That’s probably sexual misconduct.
33. Shaun Rogers, DT, Cleveland Browns
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
I’ll admit, he’s on this list mainly as a set-up man, but Rogers' crime is not trite.
He attempted to bring a loaded weapon on a plane.
I too have seen Wesley Snipes in Passenger 57, and I too am amused with the prospects of Rogers filling a similar role (Passengers 57 and 58?), but Shaun, you brought a loaded weapon to an airport. How was that going to end well?
This wasn’t his first brush with the law, either.
In 2007, he was accused (though cleared) of inappropriate touching at a club in Detroit, and in 2006 he was suspended for taking a banned substance to control his weight.
(The supplier of the weight loss substance has since asked that Shaun not mention it by name, as Rogers’ results are hardly a ringing endorsement of the product’s viability.)
32. Plaxico Burress, WR, New York Giants
Chris Gardner/Getty Images
He who was being set up.
Burress, who could’ve made this list for spiking a live ball in 2001, ultimately earned his spot by shooting himself in the leg with an unregistered handgun that he’d stuck down his sweatpants. That the incident took place in a club in New York (they of the notoriously strict gun laws) adds to its credence.
From the NY Daily News:
“As Burress was being led into a VIP area, with a drink in his hand, the gun slipped down his pants leg. He reached for the weapon, but fumbled it and if went off, sources said. The bullet tore through Burress’ already injured right thigh, police said.”
Oh boy. I feel bad even joking about this, but let’s gingerly wade into the water.
Plax lost some serious cool points for this one. Burress is not supposed to be Cheddar Bob from 8 Mile. If Urkel carried a gun, this is the type of shenanigans he'd get into. You’re Plaxico Burress man! You’re Plaxico Burress.
I don’t know what to say. (Except that I’ve referenced Urkel in two of the last three slides.)
When you get out, go do some good and lecture kids about gun safety.
31. Lawrence Taylor, LB, New York Giants
Ken Levine/Getty Images
It takes some serious work to redefine the most successful defensive career in NFL history, but Lawrence Taylor has put in some serious work.
When you type Lawrence Taylor into Google, the qualifier "DUI" comes up before "stats."
Again, let’s let CNBC break this down for us:
“It was a career marked by controversy for former Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, starting in 1988 when the NFL suspended him for failing a second drug test. The real trouble began, however, both personal and financial, after his retirement in 1994. He was arrested in two states on drug charges in 1996 and filed for bankruptcy to keep creditors from taking his house.
"Two years later, he received five years of federal probation for falsifying tax documents and tax evasion. And in 2009 he was arrested for fleeing the scene of an accident, and the statutory rape of a 16-year-old girl, for which he is currently serving six years probation as part of a plea agreement.”
Easily eligible for financial categorization, I think the former LT qualifies most strongly for his everyday transgressions.
30. O.J. Simpson, RB, Buffalo Bills
I forget what he did.
This is a fun section. So fun, we have an inappropriately lengthy list of runners up.
“I didn’t quit football because I failed a drug test, I failed a drug test because I was ready to quit football.”
“It’s a humbling thing being humble.”
Craig "Ironhead" Heyward
“People say I’ll be drafted in the first round, maybe even higher.”
“What do you want to know about Peyton?”
“As far as I’m concerned, [Obama] would’ve invited Arizona if they had won.”
“Defensively, I think it is important to tackle.”
“We risk ourselves out there on the field each and every day also. When soldiers come home from Iraq you don’t boo them.”
Channing Crowder 1
After expressing surprise that the people in London speak English, he continues: “Couldn’t find London on a map if they didn’t have the names of the countries. I swear to God. I don’t know what nothing is. I know Italy looks like a boot. I know London Fletcher. We did a football camp together. So I know him. That’s the closest thing I know to London. He’s black, so I’m sure he’s not from London. I’m sure that’s a coincidental name.”
Channing Crowder 2
“Like they didn’t see Chad Henne get hit twice when he slid. Yeah, a little Stevie Wonder and Anne Frank.”
Channing Crowder 3
“Is that the blind girl? Helen Keller…I don’t know who the [expletive] Anne Frank is. I’m mad right now. [Expletive] it. I’m not as swift as I usually am."
29. Steve Johnson, WR, Buffalo Bills
Karl Walter/Getty Images
Hours after dropping what would have been the game-winning touchdown pass, the Bills’ third-year wide receiver tweeted the following:
“I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…"
Johnson brings up some interesting points here, most notably: How is God getting a free pass when things go awry?
Sure, I’d like to thank God for my health and my happiness, but I’d also like to thank him for the pile of dog crap I stepped in this morning. (Very funny, Big Guy.)
The only other thing I want to mention is that it’s Steve Johnson’s Twittoral assertion that God reads Twitter.
(If you’re sending God prayers via Tweet, you better make sure he’s verified.)
28. Bill Cowher, Coach, Pittsburgh Steelers
Kevin Cox/Getty Images
“We’re not attempting to circumcise rules.”
He should’ve been. Rules are inherently Jewish.
Plus, it’s arguably cleaner, and what you might lose in sensitivity, you gain back in the ability to see the rules more clearly.
27. Jerry Rice, WR, San Francisco 49ers
George Rose/Getty Images
“I feel like I’m the best, but you’re not going to get me to say that.”
Jerry Rice used to catch bricks from his father in order to toughen up his hands.
Now, I’m not going to suggest that this quote was the result of a wayward brick, but I will suggest that this quote sounds like it came from a man who’d been hit in the head with a wayward brick.
26. Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
McNabb, never known for being the sharpest knife in the quarterback drawer, unintentionally confirmed the suspicions when he dropped this bombshell after a 2009 tie with the Bengals:
Video and Transcript:
McNabb: I’ve never been a part of a tie, never even knew that was in the rulebook. But again, you know, it’s part of the rules and we have to go with it, so, um, you know I was looking forward to the next opportunity to getting out there and trying to drive to win the game, but, uh, unfortunately, with the rules, we settle for a tie.
Did you know the game was over when it was over?
McNabb: Well when the play was called, uh, you know, I kind of figured that, I guess there’s, there’s ties in the NFL, so, um…you know.
…You seriously didn’t know that?
McNabb: No, I didn’t know that.
You thought there was like another overtime?
McNabb: Yeah. Yeah.
I’d like to offer two observations.
The first is that McNabb’s postgame inflection suggests he was offering an excuse for tying. As in, we would've won, but the NFL stopped the game. I think he misinterpreted why he was being criticized.
And the second observation is this: I like to read about fallibility, and I find myself rooting for the guys who are courageous (or aware) enough to acknowledge their own. And 99 percent of the time, I’m all for admitting fault, inability or lack of knowledge. It’s human, and often, it’s funny.
This is the other one percent.
When you’ve been the sole captain of a metaphorical ship for 10 years running, I think you’re beyond the point in time where you can stop and ask the crew what the "N" stands for.
25. Terrell Owens, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
“Don’t say I don’t get along with my teammates. I just don’t get along with some of the guys on the team.”
In Terrell’s defense…(fill in later when you’ve thought of something that could possibly defend Terrell Owens).
24. George Rogers, RB, New Orleans Saints
“I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first.”
In researching this slide, I found there to be a George Rogers Foundation that each year offers a George Rogers Scholarship to students seeking post-secondary education.
I was severely disappointed to subsequently uncover that it was not in memory of our George Rogers.
The man who produced this quote enabling kids to get educated would’ve made that scholarship pleasingly ironic.
As it stands now, it’s just for the betterment of humanity.
23. Bill Peterson, Coach, Houston Oilers
“Men, I want you just thinking of one word all season. One word and one word only: Super Bowl.”
Bill Peterson (he's the one on the photo's perimeter) was the coach of the 1979 Houston Oilers.
I need only one word to respond to him: Superbowlistwowordsbill.
22. Alex Karras, DT, Detroit Lions
“I never graduated college, but I was only there for two terms—Truman’s and Eisenhower’s.”
I didn’t know enough about Alex Karras before doing this slide.
Karras was the son of a Greek immigrant doctor and a Canadian woman; the two of whom somehow managed to produce three sons who played professional football.
The only real, non-commercial act of boneheadedness I could find on Karras’ record was a one-year suspension for betting on NFL games.
Other than that, he seems to put on the silly for the camera.
He was in Blazing Saddles (which I would describe as the pinnacle of a long and successful acting career), and if Karras were playing today, there’s a strong chance he’d have a reality show.
21. Joe Don Looney, RB, Detroit Lions
“A good back makes his own holes. Anybody can run where the holes are.”
Related note: Joe Don Looney has never had a girlfriend.
20. Joe Theismann, QB, Washington Redskins
“Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”
There’s really nothing I can say here to improve upon this quote.
How about I use the rest of this slide to plug Joe Theismann’s website, a site I believe he designed himself.
On the Field Boneheadedness
Bo Jackson once said, “Football is easy if you’re crazy as hell.”
Well, not for these guys.
Be they coach, GM, coordinator or strength coach, these are the guys who did their worst when directly in the spotlight—making draft decisions or on the field of play.
Just missing the cut were Pat Sims (for jumping), Barry Switzer and Sam Wyche (for decision-making skills), Deion Sanders and Matt Hasselbeck (for hubris), William Clay Ford (for being so disengaged that one could make the argument it’s complacency, not boneheadedness, that is his true crime), and Richie Incognito (who has temporarily reverted to Bruce Banner).
And you know what? There’s actually one more.
Because to a Cleveland fan, Braylon Edwards deserves a special mention on this list. The Michigan product once asked Houston safety Will Demps for advice on breaking into the modeling industry. Between plays.
Think about that for a second.
Vanity, thy name is Braylon.
19. Sal Alosi, Strength Coach, New York Jets
Last December, New York Jets strength coach Sal Alosi was suspended (and subsequently resigned) when he purposefully tripped Miami Dolphins gunner Nolan Carroll as he ran to cover a kickoff return.
Surprisingly, Alosi was caught red-handed, as he attempted his mischief during a nationally televised NFL game.
Said Jets’ GM Mike Tannenbaum, via ESPN’s Rich Cimini:
“We don’t coach that. [Mike] Westhoff doesn’t coach that. Coach Ryan doesn’t coach that.”
You’ve been defined as a wayward strength coach, my friend.
As such, you’ve lost your spotting privileges.
18. Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans
Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Vince Young scored a six on the Wonderlic test, and has in the past made clear he doesn’t enjoy people pointing that out.
I’m not looking to insult anyone here. In fact, I’d hope most players would wear their inclusion on this list as a badge of honor!
But in the event that you, the reader, are worried about the psychological impact one might incur upon reading his name off this list, consider the following from this Page 2 article:
“Charlie Wonderlic Jr., president of Wonderlic Inc., says, ‘A score of 10 is literacy, that’s about all we can say.’"
We’re in the clear. I doubt Vince Young is reading this.
17. Ryan Leaf, QB, San Diego Chargers
Vincent Laforet/Getty Images
On this list not for busting to historic extent, but for exacerbating said busting by pouting, and yelling, and basically alienating every fan, teammate, and/or member of the media who could have possibly made things easier on him.
He never seemed to learn how not to make things worse.
Once, according to Wikipedia, Leaf “allegedly lied about a hand injury in order to get out of practice so that he could play golf instead.”
That’s representative of his most trivial discretions, but somehow those are the most annoying.
Since leaving football, Leaf’s been a coach, arrested, and currently works for a travel company.
According to the AP, he has landed a publishing deal to write three books. There’s a lot about what he’s done so far that screams "author."
16. Owen Schmitt, FB, Seattle Seahawks
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Schmitt is a lesser name, in for a nondescript crime.
But according to science, should he keep smashing that thing into his head, Schmitt’s chances for upward list mobility only increase from here.
15. Gus Frerotte, QB, Washington Redskins
The original Owen Schmitt.
After scoring a touchdown on a one-yard run, Gus Frerotte famously celebrated-slash-damaged his spine by ramming his head into a padded wall.
Behind the pad? Cement.
14. Bill Gramatica, K, Arizona Cardinals
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Staying with the irreparable injury theme...
In celebrating a successful kick, Gramatica didn’t sprain his ankle or anything—he tore his ACL.
Go big or go home. That’s what the Gramaticas say, which is ironic because they’re little.
The Cardinals lost the game, Gramatica lost the season and this was the most publicly embarrassing way a leg’s been injured since this guy went on this show.
13. Marty Mornhinweg, Coach, Detroit Lions
Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images
During his 5-27 stay in Detroit, Marty Mornhinweg is now known the world over as the guy who, after winning the OT coin toss in a 2002 game in Chicago, kicked the ball away. Going against the same wind that Marty feared, the Bears won on the opening drive. Mornhinweg was fired at the end of the season.
I intuit that I like Marty Mornhinweg as a person, so I’ll say only this:
You probably take the ball if a tornado is blowing in the other direction.
As it stands, the only thing blowing harder than the wind that day was Marty Mornhinweg’s decision-making.
12. Dan Orlovsky, QB, Detroit Lions
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Here’s the video.
In Orlovsky’s defense, Jared Allen is a scary dude. I would have done the exact same thing had I been in his position.
I’m not questioning his reasoning.
What did seem odd to me was that Orlovsky didn’t seem to realize he’d stepped out of bounds (by two feet) until he had trotted halfway to the sideline.
That earns him the No. 12 spot.
11. Aaron Brooks, QB, New Orleans Saints
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Aaron Brooks was never renowned for his cerebral quarterbacking, and I think no play exemplifies it better than this one:
In a 2004 game vs. San Diego, Brooks scrambled away from an onrushing Charger before finally resorting to throwing the ball out of bounds.
It would’ve been a fairly innocuous play, had he not thrown the ball 30 yards behind him.
The throw was ruled (quite obviously) a backwards pass, and the Saints lost every one of those 30 yards on the play (which looked something like this).
On the bright side, Aaron Brooks avoided the sack.
10. Garo Yepremian, K, Miami Dolphins
I’m going to hand this one off to AolNews’s Shane Bacon, so as not to attempt a pass.
“Yepremian’s antics could have cost the 1972 Dolphins their perfect season. Leading 14-0 and attempting a field goal, the kick was blocked and instead of falling on the ball, Yepremian tried to pick it up and throw it.
"Amazingly, a kicker isn’t that great at throwing, and the ball ended up slipping awkwardly out of his hands and into the hands of the Redskins, who scored a touchdown. No harm, no foul, Miami still won 14-7, but that sure made it interesting.”
The NJ Star Ledger’s Jerry Izenberg has provided us with his memory of the proceedings.
Izenberg: “As a forward passer, [Yepremian] was a great place kicker."
9. Deltha O’Neal, CB, Denver Broncos
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Covering Marvin Harrison in the 2003 AFC Wild Card game, Deltha O’Neal allows Marvin Harrison a 20-yard catch over the middle. And then he forgets something.
In Deltha’s defense, he’s certainly not alone here, but boy…
The only plausible explanation I have for this is that it’s orchestrated.
I’m still formulating my case, but I’m pretty sure Marvin Harrison is a real-life Keyser Soze.
8. Dwayne Rudd, LB, Cleveland Browns
Tom Pidgeon/Getty Images
I was there.
I was at this game.
The stadium was somewhere between catatonic and declaring referee-induced Jihad, John Madden spent the night musing on “rules” vs. “spirit of those rules,” and I made a $50 bet that Quincy Morgan would be the NFL’s next great receiver.
I remember that day in astonishing detail.
If only Rudd could’ve kept it in his helmet.
7. DeSean Jackson, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
That’s what Andy Reid said.
During a Monday Night Football game in 2008, the rookie incarnation of the Philadelphia receiver was apparently taking notes from Oregon State's Chad Johnson in leaving the ball just short of the goal line.
I want to know at what point he realized he made a mistake. I personally think it was the second he let go of the ball (look at the subtle peek over his left shoulder prior to the dance), and the ensuing celebration is an elaborate ruse to try and cover it up.
Two interesting side notes:
6. Dan Snyder, Owner, Washington Redskins
Larry French/Getty Images
That’s by Dave McKenna.
All I’m going to do is link to that article, for fear that Dan Snyder will sue me.
5. Matt Millen, GM, Detroit Lions
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
Norman Einstein once said that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
And so we come to Matt Millen.
There’s a reason WRs are considered a risky prospect in the first round, and there’s a reason the risk increases exponentially when selecting them three years in a row. Between 2003-2005 Millen drafted Charles Rogers, Roy Williams and Mike Williams with the second, seventh, and 10th picks in the draft, respectively.
With the exception of Roy, who was adequate, they all busted.
Millen’s draft record is the stuff of legend, and will probably go unequaled in the years ahead simply because I cannot imagine another set of circumstances allowing a GM that bad to stay employed for that long.
Says one AFC executive, via Ron Borges of the Boston Globe:
“He’s got the worst record in history from a general manager and he’ll have that record forever. No one else will ever get to have double-digit losses for six straight years. I’ve been in the league for over 20 years and I’ve never heard of a team going 23-68 without making a change in management. The only thing he’s accomplished since he got to Detroit is surviving. Don’t ask me how he’s done it.”
I think I know. The following is the only time I’ve seen Millen questioned.
In response, he almost eats Steve Young alive.
4. Al Davis, Owner, Oakland Raiders
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Look, I don’t want to jump on the anti-Al bandwagon here, but Al Davis would sign my car if it drove a 4.4 40.
He’s made a habit out of drafting athletes over football players, and as a result has blown a number of high first-round picks rivaled only by Matt Millen.
The Raiders are in a perpetual state of flux, and it’s most recently been accelerated by the hiring of new coach Hue Jackson, during whose introductory press conference Davis spent a good 20 minutes lambasting Tom Cable.
That’s pretty much the equivalent of railing on an ex for two hours while you’re on a first date.
I wanted to attach the accompanying YouTube video, but there are eight of them.
I attached one.
Sit down and take a peek if you have two hours.
3. Bob Gibson, Offensive Coordinator, New York Giants
This is the guy who made the Miracle at the Meadowlands possible.
From ESPN Page 2:
“1978. Giants lead the Eagles 17-12 with 20 seconds left. Eagles have no timeouts left. All NY QB Joe Pisarcik has to do is fall on the ball, and…game over. But Giants offensive coordinator Bob Gibson calls a handoff to Larry Csonka.
"Csonka can’t believe it when he hears the call in the huddle, and says, 'Don’t give me the ball.' The exchange between Pisarcik and Csonka is botched. Herman Edwards snags the loose ball and runs 26 yards for the winning TD.
"The next day, Gibson gets his walking papers. At the end of the season, Giants head coach John McVay is gone. And the Eagles, thanks to the Miracle, make the playoffs.”
Wow. As a coaching blunder, that will be tough to top. I did my best to look Gibson up (if only to make sure he’s okay), and the best I could find was this New York Daily News submission that reveals him managing a small bait shop in Florida, where he owns a ranch and raises cattle.
That actually doesn’t sound too bad. To get out of New York and just catch your breath, sit down. Take a knee.
2. Jim Marshall, DE, Minnesota Vikings
A two-time Pro Bowl defensive end, Jim Marshall infamously plucked a fumble from the ground, and then proceeded to run the ball 66 yards in the wrong direction.
The ensuing celebratory "spike" sent the ball sailing out of bounds for a safety, a dramatic punctuation of what is considered by many to be the most embarrassing moment in NFL history.
Jim Marshall is now the proud namesake of the Jim Marshall Scholarship Fund, which seeks to allow six-year-old children the opportunity to become college seniors and then subsequently work their way backward down to K-1.
1. Leon Lett, DL, Dallas Cowboys
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
The Dallas defensive lineman was two yards away from giving the Cowboys a 59-17 lead in Super Bowl XXVII, when he decided to get a little funky around the goal line. Buffalo receiver Don Beebe came out of nowhere to knock the ball out of Lett’s hands, costing him what was sure to be the only Super Bowl scoring opportunity of his career.
He gets the nod over Jim Marshall because he topped that play the next year.
Oh, Leon Lett. May your reign live on in infamy.