The Most Useless Player in the History of Every NFL Franchise

Hayden Bird@haydenhbirdCorrespondent IJune 8, 2011

The Most Useless Player in the History of Every NFL Franchise

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    24 Dec 2000:  Quarterback Ryan Leaf #16 of the San Diego Chargers looks to pass the ball during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Steelers defeated the Chargers 34-21.Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The nature of professional football is its ability to constantly be extremely competitive. It goes without saying, but that's why we love the game.

    To that end, there will always be winners and losers among those that play the game. Unlike so many games when you're a kid, there is no prize for simply trying. Winning is everything (just ask Junior Seau).

    When we look at our favorite NFL teams, our favorite players and favorite years spring to mind.

    Yet what about the players at the other end of the spectrum? Those who we remember, but for a dubious reason.

    Well, every team has a guy like that (or two or three).

    So why not have a look at some of the best, or should I say, worst? Sit back and enjoy this exploration of futility.

Atlanta Falcons: Aundray Bruce, Linebacker

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    12 Nov 1989:  Linebacker Aundray Bruce of the Atlanta Falcons in action during a game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  The 49ers won the game 45-3. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Dubbed the "next Lawrence Taylor," Bruce was one of the first to find out that it's difficult to live up to the moniker of being LT's heir apparent.

    Bruce was taken first overall in the 1988 draft, but couldn't deliver on the hype.

    He never had more than six sacks in a season and retired averaging just under three sacks a season. As Charles Barkley would say: turrible.

Arizona Cardinals: Matt Leinart, QB

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    GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 02:  Quarterback Matt Leinart #7 of the Arizona Cardinals watches from the sidelines during preseason NFL game against the Washington Redskins at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 2, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Car
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    I tried desperately to find someone other than Matt Leinart, but to no avail.

    He was supposed to be a sure-fire franchise quarterback, but he lost his job to the man who was supposed to be retiring (Kurt Warner).

    Leinart never had a single season where he had more touchdowns than interceptions. And if things weren't bad enough, he just lost his 2004 USC national championship per an NCAA decree.

Baltimore Ravens: Kyle Boller, QB

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    MIAMI - DECEMBER 16:  Quarterback Kyle Boller #7 of the Baltimore Ravens looks to pass against the Miami Dolphins at Dolphin Stadium on December 16, 2007 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Less of a sample to choose from since the Ravens have technically only existed since the '90s.

    Still, Boller's a pretty good choice for most useless. Just ask Ray Lewis, who had to watch Boller and an inept Ravens offense totally destroy any chance he had to build on his single Super Bowl legacy during the prime of his career.

    It's not that he was amazingly bad (I suppose he wasn't).

    He was just incapable of ever beating a meaningful opponent in clutch time. That's what we call useless.

Buffalo Bills: Dennis Shaw, QB (1970-1972)

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    NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 15:  Buffalo Bills fans cheer for their team against the Tennessee Titans in their NFL game at LP Field on November 15, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee.    (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
    John Sommers II/Getty Images

    Despite having one of the most prolific running backs of all time in O.J. Simpson, Shaw managed Buffalo to seasons where they went 3-10-1, 1-13 and 4-9-1.

    That's horrible, by anyone's standards. And the blame certainly rested pretty squarely on his shoulders, especially when he was throwing at least double the interception total compared with his touchdown total in two of his three seasons with the Bills.

Carolina Panthers: Chris Weinke, QB

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 10:  Quarterback Chris Weinke #16 of the Carolina Panthers throws a pass during the NFL preseason game against the Washington Redskins on August 10, 2002 at Ericsson Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.  The Redskins won 37-30. (Ph
    Craig Jones/Getty Images

    He was bizarrely old when he entered the league, having won a national championship and a Heisman at Florida State, but it didn't translate into maturity or poise in the NFL.

    His only full season saw the Panthers go 1-15, and statistically he became one of the least successful quarterbacks ever.

Chicago Bears: Cade McNown, QB

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    04 Aug 2001:  Cade McNown #8 of the Chicago Bears looks for the open man during the NFL pre-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL. The Bears defeated the Bengals 16-13 in overtime. DIGITAL IMAGE Mandatory Credit: Jonat
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Another quarterback (and yes there will be a few more on this list) and another high draft pick.

    McNown came from UCLA, but he wasn't the next Troy Aikman. He never adjusted to the speed of the NFL and was hopelessly lost trying to catch up, going just 3-12 as a starter in two seasons.

Cincinnati Bengals: Akili Smith, QB

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    17 Apr 1999:  Akili Smith of the Cincinnati Bengals stands next to the NFL Commisioner Paul Tagliabue and holds up his Bangals jersey during the NFL Draft at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. Mandatory Credit: Ezra O. Shaw  /Allsport
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Taken even higher in the 1999 draft (and we might not be done with the '99 draft), Smith started 11 games in 2000, amassing just three touchdown passes.

    Think about that for a second. Eleven games. Three touchdown passes. His career total? Five passes to the end zone. He would have nearly triple that total in interceptions.

    Could you be much more useless as an NFL quarterback?

Cleveland Browns: Courtney Brown, Defensive End

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    26 Nov 2000:  Courtney Brown #92 of the Cleveland Browns looks on from the field during the game against the Baltimore Ravnes at the PSINet Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. The Ravens defeated the Browns 37-7.Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger  /Allsport
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    After a long Tim Couch consideration, I decided to go with Brown because he was marginally worse.

    He was not only hurt or missing (whatever that entailed) for large periods of time, he was just plain ineffective when on the field.

    That the Browns misfired in consecutive years with the first overall pick (which Couch and Brown were in 1999 and 2000, respectively) has set back that franchise for over a decade.

Dallas Cowboys: Shante Carver, Defensive End

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    31 Aug 1997: Defensive lineman Shante Carver of the Dallas Cowboys looks on during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Cowboys won the game, 37-7.
    Robert Laberge/Getty Images

    The Cowboys had set the standard for scouting excellence by 1994, having just notched their second Super Bowl win in as many years.

    But the Carver pick was a serious whiff. He did not start a single game his rookie season and had zero sacks. That's not the production you want from a first-round pick.

    His career in the NFL lasted just four years.

Detroit Lions: Joey Harrington, QB, and Charles Rogers, Wide Receiver

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    IRVING, TX - NOVEMBER 20:  Quarterback Joey Harrington #3 of the Detroit Lions drops back to pass during their game against the Dallas Cowboys on November 20, 2005 at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas.  The Cowboys defeated the Lions 20-7.  (Photo by Ronald
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Even if you couldn't blame Harrington for his starting record all-time (26-50), his completion percentage and habitually high interception total still sink him.

    His numbers look like he played for the Lions...in the 1940s.

    And as for Rogers, he was just plain horrible. Unlike Harrington, who tried but just sucked, Rogers didn't try and he sucked. It's a rare combination of useless.

    They tie because the Lions from that era (aka 10 years ago) were collectively useless. As the great Coop Cooper once said in Baseketball, "It took every player working together to lose this one."

    (Look on the bright side, Detroit fans, you're headed in the right direction! SUH!)

Denver Broncos: Sammy Winder, Running Back

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    2 Oct 1988:  Running back Sammy Winder of the Denver Broncos (right) gets tackled by San Diego Chargers defensive back Martin Bayless during a game at Jack Murphy Stadium in Denver, Colorado.  The Broncos won the game, 12-0. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Ok ok, I realize there are probably some guys out there who were statistically more "useless" than Winder.

    But he was the running back for John Friggin Elway. And he still somehow managed to average less than four yards a carry in every year of his career.

    I mean, he had one of the most talented quarterbacks in NFL history. How many times did he face a defense who was trying to specifically stop him?

    When you stop laughing, just know that that never happened. Yeah, all that and he was still pretty mediocre. Or, for the sake of this list, useless.

Green Bay Packers: Jim Grabowski, Fullback

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    ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 06:  A general view of two cheeseheads worn by Green Bay Packers fans as the Packers take on the Pittsburgh Steelers during Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 6, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    He was highly touted coming out of Illinois in 1966 and was taken first in the AFL draft, ninth in the NFL draft.

    He chose the NFL and the prospect of playing for Vince Lombardi's Packers, the NFL's premier team.

    It never amounted to much though. Grabowski could never supplant the men above him in the depth chart and never gained a starting role.

    Worse, even though he was drafted onto a great blocking team, he never averaged more than 3.9 yards per carry in a full season or had more than 518 yards rushing.

Houston Texans: David Carr, QB

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    HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 31:  Quarterback David Carr #8 of the Houston Texans looks to pass during their game against the Cleveland Browns on December 31, 2006 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Texans defeated the Browns 14-6.  (Photo by Lisa Blumen
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    It would be unfair to put all of the blame for Houston's early futility on Carr's shoulders. After all, it wasn't his fault that his offensive line sucked.

    But he never showed the ability to make a play even when he did get time to pass.

    And while it might not be completely fair, Texans fans would have to agree that Carr was given ample opportunity (more so than an average player) to turn it around.

    Never happened.

Indianapolis Colts: Mike Pagel, QB

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 08:  Fans of the Indianapolis Colts hold up signs which read 'All In' in support of their team against the New York Jets during their 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 8, 2011 in Indianapolis, India
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Pagel had tough timing as far as when he was the Colts QB. 

    His tenure straddled their move from Baltimore to Indy. Still, even if their situation had been more stable, few doubt the results would have been similar.

    In an age when passing became much more reliable of an option in the NFL, Pagel was a rock of tradition, completing barely more than 50 percent of his throws.

    He even went 0-8 during the strike-shortened 1982 season.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Bryce Paup, Defensive End

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    17 Oct 1999: Bryce Paup #95 of the Jacksonville Jaguars moves on the field during the game against the Cleveland Browns at the Alltell Stadium in Jacksonville, Florida. The Jaguars defeated the Browns 42-7. Mandatory Credit: Scott Halleran  /Allsport
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    The Jags paid heavily for Paup to come on board as an instant improvement to their pass rush.

    No such luck.

    He had just 7.5 sacks in two seasons. Needless to say, he was cut.

Kansas City Chiefs: Lin Elliot, Kicker

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    12 Nov 1995: Marty Schottenheimer #2 of the Kansas City Chiefs talks to Lin Elliot during the game against the San Diego Chargers at the Jack Murphy Sradium in San Diego, California. The Chiefs defeated the Chargers 22-7.
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Three misses. Three misses. Three misses.

    Elliot shanked three field goals against the Colts in 1995, costing KC home-field advantage in the playoff (which cost them eventually).

    It ruined one of the Chiefs' best chances of the last 40 years. Nuff said.

Miami Dolphins: Anyone Who Has Followed Dan Marino, QB

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    ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 1:  Quarterback Ray Lucas #6 the Miami Dolphins scrambles during the game against the Buffalo Bills on December 1, 2002 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.Buffalo defeated the dolphins 38-21. (Photo by Rick Stewa
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Basically, they say "You never want to be the guy who comes after the guy."

    But that doesn't excuse every other "guy who has followed the guy who followed the guy."

    The Dolphins haven't managed to come close to replacing Marino (except for one good Chad Pennington season). It's been a tough decade for Miami's football team.

Minnesota Vikings: Dimitrius Underwood

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    29 Aug 1998:  Defensive end Dimitrius Underwood #99 of the Michigan State Spartans looks on during the Black Coaches Association Football Classic game against the Colorado State Rams at the Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. The Rams defeated the
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Underwood, a first-round pick by the Vikings in 1999, should have been spotted long before he was useless to the Vikes.

    His college coach at Michigan State, Nick Saban, tried to warn NFL teams, but Denny Green wouldn't be deterred.

    Underwood famously made it through one practice before basically quitting. Needless to say, in football terms, useless.

New England Patriots: Zeke Mowatt, Robert Perryman and a Few Others

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 22:  Robert Perryman #34 of New England Patriots runs with the ball during the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on October 22, 1989 in San Francisco, California.  The 49ers won 37-20.  (Photo by George R
    George Rose/Getty Images

    You might wonder why I wasn't more specific in choosing which Pats.

    That's because Mowatt, Perryman and the "others" represent the group of Patriots who were responsible for sexually harassing reporter Lisa Olson in the Patriots locker room in 1990.

    The incident came at a time when the Patriots were also just flat-out bad. Not good times in New England. It was the darkest moment for the franchise and luckily has been slowly cleaned out with wins and improved character.

New Orleans Saints: Heath Shuler, QB

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    9 Nov 1997:  Quarterback Heath Shuler of the New Orleans Saints during the Saints 13-10 win over the Oakland Raiders at UMAX Coliseum in Oakland, California. Mandatory Credit: Otto Greule  /Allsport
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Shuler combined a rare career of horribleness in multiple places.

    He was the third pick in a draft, taken by the Redskins. But under Mike Ditka in 1997, he had a particularly depressing year.

    His two touchdowns were offset by an ungodly 14 picks!

New York Giants: Joe Pisarcik, QB

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    This guy loved Joe Pisarcik.
    This guy loved Joe Pisarcik.Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Yup, just watch this. Useless. 

New York Jets: Alex Van Dyke, WR

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    17 Jan 1999:  Alex Van Dyke #86 of the New York Jets catches during the AFC Championship Game against the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Jets 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr  /Allsport
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    There are any number of Jets to choose from, so I'll leave this open to interpretation.

    But Van Dyke was pretty bad. As the saying goes, the Jets used two top selections in the draft on Van Dyke and Keyshawn Johnson. They combined for 840 career receptions. Of those, 814 were Keyshawn.

Oakland Raiders: JaMarcus Russell, QB

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    OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 03:  JaMarcus Russell #2 of the Oakland Raiders walks off the field against the Baltimore Ravens during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on January 3, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Again, so many options here!

    As good as the Raiders once were, they've had some seriously WORTHLESS players.

    We all know the story with JaMarcus. It's just tragic.

Philadelphia Eagles: Jerome McDougle, Defensive End

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    PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 31:  Michael Vick #7 of the Atlanta Falcons eludes a tackle by Jerome McDougle #95 of the Philadelphia Eagles in NFL action December 31, 2006 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles won 24-17.  (Photo b
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Yes, there's a theme here. A lot of quarterbacks and a lot of defensive ends.

    The Eagles traded up to get McDougle (a highly touted defensive end). He paid them back with three sacks.

    In five years...

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Guy Who Decided To Cut Johnny Unitas

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    BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 6:  A close up of Hall of Fame Quarterback Johnny Unitas of the Baltimore Colts as he smiles and looks on during the game between the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens at the PSINet Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland on oct
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Yep. That's right. Long before the Steel City was known for Super Bowls, they had one of the best quarterbacks of his era on their roster.

    ...Until they cut him.

    Yeah. Real smart. Luckily, all would come good in two decades. But think if they had stuck with him?

San Diego Chargers: Ryan Leaf

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    24 Sep 2000:  Ryan Leaf #16 of the San Diego Chargers gets ready to pass the ball during the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Seahawks defeated the Chargers 20-12.Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn  /Allsport
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Do I need to say more?

    Probably not. But hey, it was either Ryan Leaf or some guy named Peyton Manning (and yes, I realize they had the second pick, but still they were sold on Leaf).

    He was just, well...what's the word?

    Useless.

San Francisco 49ers: O.J. Simpson, Running Back

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    LAS VEGAS - DECEMBER 05:  O.J. Simpson smiles as he arrives in court for his sentencing hearing at the Clark County Regional Justice Center December 5, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Simpson and co-defendant Clarence 'C.J.' Stewart were sentenced on 12 charge
    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    I know what you're thinking. And it's not for that reason that he was useless (that hadn't happened yet).

    It was because he was at the end of his career, over the hill and what the Niners paid to trade for him (five draft picks over two years!).

    They gave up a lot of picks which Bill Walsh, in his early NFL coaching career, couldn't use to rebuild the team. It surely set them back.

    Not that it really mattered in the end, I guess.

Seattle Seahawks: Brian Bosworth, Linebacker

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    23 Oct 1988: A close up of Brian Bosworth #55 of the Seattle Seahawks as he looks on during the game against the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams defeated the Seahawks 31-10.
    Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

    He was a college star.

    He was supposed to be the next Dick Butkus.

    Well...he was just pretty good at getting run over by Bo Jackson, it turned out.

St. Louis Rams: Lawrence Phillips, Running Back

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    9 Sep 1995: Running back Lawrence Phillips of the University of Nebraska carries the football during the Cornhuskers 50-10 win over Michigan State at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan.
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Not that he wasn't great in college.

    But for the Rams he was the perfect storm of useless. Problems off the field, problems on it. He never turned into a high-risk/high-reward player.

    He was just high risk.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Louis Carter, Running Back

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    ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 29:  A fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheers during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 29, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    You want bad? Check out these numbers.

    He was not only part of one of the worst teams ever, he was its embodiment. 

Tennessee Titans: Adam "Pacman" Jones

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    NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 17:  Quarterback David Garrard #9 of the Jacksonville Jaguars fumbles the ball resulting in a 92-yard touchdown by the Tennessee Titans in the third quarter on December 17, 2006 at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans won
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    He wasn't totally worthless on the field. In fact, he was really pretty good.

    But off of it? He was about as useless as they come.

Washington Redskins: Daniel Snyder, Owner

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    LANDOVER - SEPTEMBER 12:  Owner Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins walks the sidelines before the NFL season opener against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on September 12, 2010 in Landover, Maryland. The Redskins defeated the Cowboys 13-7. (Photo
    Larry French/Getty Images

    I know, he's not a player.

    But this man and his regime have done more to destroy and perpetually damage the Redskins than any 50 players could ever hope to do.

    He's laid waste to one of the NFL's great teams. Truly worthless, no matter how much money he might be worth.

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