50 Sports Superstars Who Weren't That Super
Some superstars don't gain their notoriety for years of consistent play. They might be labeled a "superstar" without really ever earning the title. Some guys reach the stratosphere by having a standout season or even by making a spectacular play.
Others are there for no apparent reason. They confuse us; we wonder where their legions of fans spawned from.
In short, they are overrated. They might be "good" players, but they certainly aren't top-tier athletes.
These are the top 50 Superstars Who Weren't (Or Aren't) That Super.
50. Lenny Dykstra
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Philly fans will talk to you until they're blue in the face about how great Lenny Dykstra was from '89 to '96. They'll regale you with scrappy stories about how "Nails" saved the day.
The truth of the matter is, Dykstra wasn't that good. Sure, he was serviceable (career .285 hitter), but Lenny only hit over .300 three times in his 12-year career. He only hit more than 10 homers twice and never swiped more than 37 bags.
He was also prone to injury. Dykstra played more than 100 games in a season six times, and four of those seasons he was with the rival Mets.
49. Sonny Liston
It's funny that most of us wouldn't know much about "The Big Bear" if it weren't for his deplorable showings against Muhammad Ali.
Liston was setting the world on fire in 1962 when he matted then-champion Floyd Patterson. Then Ali got a hold of him. Liston and Ali met in Miami in 1964, and the champ retired from the match, citing a shoulder injury.
Liston got himself a rematch a little over a year later and was knocked out by Ali in the first round by the fabled "phantom" punch. Perhaps Liston just ran into some bad luck having to deal with "The Greatest" as he was becoming the greatest, but he barely put up a fight.
48. Jim McMahon
Without the headband, the "Super Bowl Shuffle" and the 1985 NFL season, Jim McMahon is a lackluster superstar. His touchdown to interception ratio is barely on the plus side (100:90), he never tossed for more than 2,392 yards in a season and he was always injured.
But he was one hell of a rapper.
47. Dan Uggla
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It's hard to even consider the streaky Uggla a superstar, but his home run power would suggest otherwise. Uggla has collected at least 27 home runs in each of his first six seasons in the big leagues. His power is a bit of a surprise too since he is a middle infielder.
His batting average, on the other hand, forces his star to fall. His career .259 average and six consecutive years with 120 or more K's aren't all that impressive either. Uggla also isn't much of a runner. He has never stolen more than six bases in a campaign and has been thrown out almost more than he has been successful.
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He sure was an exciting player for a few years, but Ronaldinho has become a lazy and complacent midfielder.
For two years he played great and seemingly scored at will. Since then, he's become a real yawner.
I remember when Ronaldinho would show me something I had never seen before in the open field or against top defenders. Those days are well behind him.
45. Jonathan Papelbon
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You could throw almost any closer onto this list, but Jonathan Papelbon hasn't been all that super since 2009. In 2006, Papelbon was lights out. He saved 35 games while sporting a 0.92 ERA. Last season, his ERA was approaching 4.00, and he had an abysmal 5-7 record.
His 1.27 WHIP frustrated the Boston faithful, and GM Theo Epstein considered a change at the back end of his bullpen. Paps has improved in 2011, but he is nowhere near as effective as he once was for the Sox.
44. Dwight Howard
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Dwight Howard is a statistical anomaly. Yes, he has averaged 18.2 points per game and 12.9 rebounds per contest over his career. But he can literally disappear on the court.
It isn't uncommon to look at an Orlando Magic box score and see Howard go for under 10 points while snatching seven rebounds. With his size and athleticism, he should be dominating the NBA, not quietly getting by.
43. Scott Gomez
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Scott Gomez has played in a big market with the New York Rangers and perhaps the most important market for the Montreal Canadiens. He is an effective player, having notched more than 50 assists in a season three different times.
He's not much of a finisher, though. Gomez has only had one 30-goal season; in the rest he has scored 16 or fewer. Last season was his most disappointing statistically. Gomez finished with 38 points (seven goals, 31 assists).
42. Randy Orton
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Is there a more tedious WWE superstar? I think not. I'm not really sure what Vince McMahon saw in this guy when they decided to make him champion, but his mic work is just awful.
He has no charisma, and without charisma, wrestling is just a bunch of dudes in underwear flying all over the place.
If Orton had never become the heavyweight champion, he might be easy to overlook. However, since he is at the forefront, we are forced to watch this wooden "superstar."
41. Kimbo Slice
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Like everybody else, I was swept up in Kimbo-mania. His backyard brawls were amazing. He looked like the last guy on earth you'd want to scuffle with.
But then we had to watch him in the Octagon. What a disappointment. Against unworthy adversaries, Slice won his first three bouts. Then we saw him get bludgeoned by Seth Petruzelli. Petruzelli put the big guy to sleep in 14 seconds.
For some reason, after that debacle he made his UFC debut and outlasted Houston Alexander. Matt Mitrione beat him down in UFC 113, and that's hopefully the last we'll ever see of Kimbo.
40. Apolo Anton Ohno
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This is a disturbing photo, to say the least. I'm not really sure why the U.S. became enamored with speed skating during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games. Oh right, Ohno!
Apolo went in with high hopes and brought home Olympic gold in the 1,500 meters. He kept on collecting medals in 2006 but hasn't won anything since 2008, when he earned a bronze in Gangneung.
It's hard to remain a superstar when everyone only remembers who you are every four years.
39. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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You don't have to convince me—NASCAR isn't a sport. But it certainly isn't easy, and it does take quite a bit of skill and stamina to perform at the highest level.
As somewhat of a NASCAR hater, I can only name a handful of drivers, and one of them is Dale Earnhardt Jr. It's probably because of his dad, but Junior has been on the scene since the late '90s. He used to be a pretty good driver, apparently. Now, his ability has seemingly fallen off the table.
Junior hasn't won a race since the Nationwide Series' Subway Jalapeno 250 in 2010. He hasn't taken a Sprint Cup flag since 2008 and only has eight top-10 finishes in the past three seasons.
38. Yao Ming
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I remember when I was excited for Ming's NBA debut back in 2002. He looked pretty good those first three seasons too. He played in all but two games in three years and was improving. Then in 2004-2005, Ming went down and missed 29 games. The next year he missed half the season.
His injuries piled up so high that the 7'6" Yao decided to retire from the NBA at the geriatric age of 30. I probably won't miss his clumsy moves or gigantic head, but I will miss his soft touch from the free-throw line.
37. Keyshawn Johnson
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Keyshawn Johnson became a superstar with his mouth more than he did with his game. Key famously asked for the "damn ball" but only put up 1,000-yard receiving seasons four times during his 11-year career.
He also averaged just 63.3 yards per game, scored 64 TDs and fumbled the damn ball nine times. To add to these unimpressive statistics, the USC Trojan went 0-of-5 as a passer and threw two picks.
Maybe Johnson is better off getting paid to talk instead of playing football.
36. Emmanuel Adebayor
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Sub this guy off if you play FIFA 11; Gonzalo Higuain is the better striker.
Adebayor is a big baby. He complains constantly and hasn't had a good season since he was with the Gunners in 2007-08.
35. Graig Nettles
Graig Nettles was a lot of things during his 22-year MLB career. He was a pretty nifty third baseman, he pounded 390 homers and he played his best baseball for the New York Yankees.
That being said, he's no Hall of Famer. I know he hasn't been inducted, but his career .248 batting average and the fact that he only eclipsed 100 RBI in a season once makes him an impossibility.
However, there is a contingency that would like to see Nettles inducted. He just wasn't that good.
34. Tim Tebow
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I'm not sure who considers this media darling a superstar, but he sure does get the coverage of one.
Consider this: Tebow has started three NFL games under center, he's still slated to play behind Kyle Orton in 2011, and despite his prolific college record, he's not an NFL quarterback.
33. Chris Webber
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C-Webb was a confusing superstar. He didn't score in gaudy, over-the-top ways. He didn't attack the boards with the fervor of Charles Barkley. He wasn't a great defender.
He did quietly average 20.7 points per game over a 15-year span. But Webber wasn't all that super. His best seasons were played in Sacramento, with one of the best passing frontcourt and backcourt combinations in recent history. The ball moved around the perimeter and into the key with insane fluidity and accuracy. Those teams made Vlade Divac look like a special player.
Webber's flat jumper and subpar 64.9 free throw percentage turned him from a 30 points per night type of player into the aforementioned 20.
32. Joe Jurevicius
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In 2005, Jurevicius was a Pro Bowler and a fantasy football standout. His 700 reception yards and 10 TDs turned him from a run of the mill slot receiver into an any down type of threat.
Sadly, his career spiraled down into sub-mediocrity in the years following.
31. Sugar Ray Leonard
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Maybe it was his Olympic success or his 27 consecutive professional victories that made Sugar Ray Leonard such a big superstar. Maybe it was his "nice guy" persona. One thing's for sure, though: Leonard wasn't that good of a welterweight.
Roberto Duran exposed him in 1980, taking away his title. Leonard won it back in a rematch five months later and went on to win his next seven fights. But within that streak came a win in a split decision over Marvelous Marvin Hagler that will go down in boxing infamy. Two fights later, another controversial decision handed Leonard a draw against Thomas Hearns.
Leonard always seemed to get the benefit of the doubt when it went down to a decision. Had he handled his business in the allotted rounds, he might have been an all-time great.
30. Jose Canseco
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This mullet-sporting meatbag might have put together a 40-40 season in 1988, but he still isn't worthy of the Hall. It's not because he juiced, admitted it and then told on everybody else. It's because he wasn't all that super.
Canseco was a prolific strikeout artist like Bobby Bonds or Da Vinci. He K'd 1,000 more times than he walked and only hit .266 for his career. His only HOF-caliber statistic is tainted by steroids.
Canseco does own the best blooper in sports history, though, so there's something.
29. O.J. Simpson
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Any player who can put up 2,000 yards in a 14-game season has got to be pretty good, right? No, not necessarily. The Juice only rushed for more than 1,000 yards in five of his 11 NFL campaigns, and his 61 rushing TDs are anything but super.
28. George Mikan
George Mikan may have dwarfed the rest of the NBA back in late '40s and '50s, but he sure didn't do so statistically.
Mikan and his freakish 6'10" frame got off to a dizzying pace, as he averaged about 28 points per game in his first three seasons. The problem is Mikan only lasted seven. By the time he was in his final season, Mikan was averaging barely 10 points a game and eight rebounds.
27. Michelle Wie
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Michelle might have peaked early. And by early, I mean crazy, mad early. She qualified for her first USGA event at the ripe age of 10. That's right, 10. She turned pro just before her 16th birthday, but she hasn't done much since joining the LPGA Tour.
Wie has only notched two professional wins in her career. Simply put, she ain't that good.
26. Rajon Rondo
Yes, I'm well aware Rondo's assist numbers improve every season. I know he's a pretty good defender who is amongst the league leaders in steals. But the dude can't shoot. In the NBA, that's kind of a problem.
You can live with a career 48.6 field-goal percentage, but Rondo shoots 24.2 percent beyond the arc and 62.2 percent from the charity stripe.
You would think with all that distracting talent around him, he could knock down an open J—or at the very least ask Ray Allen how to hit free throws.
25. Mike Richards
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He might just be in a bit of a funk, but Mike Richards is a shell of the man who captained the Flyers three years ago. That season, he racked up 80 points (30 goals, 50 assists), but his production has seen a considerable drop-off since.
A 62-point campaign and a 66-point season last year forced Philly's hand, as it dealt Richards to the Los Angeles Kings. If you're tradable at 26 in the NHL, maybe you're just not that good.
24. Chris Bosh
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The Big Three? More like the Big-Two-and-a-Half. Chris Bosh may have been pretty special in Toronto, but since he signed with the Heat, he has been anything but.
Bosh saw his point total drop from 24 per game to just over 18, his rebounds fell from 11 to eight and he even averaged fewer assists. The scoring differential makes sense, but the rest of Bosh's numbers should have stayed the same.
23. Don Drysdale
Let me preface this by saying I am a lifelong Giants fan. Don Drysdale was good, but he wasn't Hall of Fame quality. With a 209-166 career record and sub-three ERA, Drysdale helped the Dodgers prosper in the '50s and '60s.
That said, he doesn't have any "wow" factor. He was well short of the 300 wins that ensures your spot in the Hall, and he gave up a ton of long balls when pitchers were dominating the National League.
22. Jozy Altidore
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Slated as the future of American football, this "superstar" has been anything but super. During the last World Cup, Altidore choked more than the Yankees in 2004.
The international stage isn't the only place Altidore has struggled; he hasn't been able to score for his club teams either. He may be the oldest 21-year-old in the world.
21. Ryan Howard
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Philadelphia first started losing its patience with its first base slugger when he took a called strike three to end its playoff run in 2010. The truth is Ryan Howard has lost the pop in his bat that make his high strikeout totals tolerable.
With 31 homers last season and just 26 with a month to go in 2011, Howard has had a hard time finding his stroke. It's been a long time since Ryno smacked a league-leading 58 in 2006. Even with Howard's slide, though, the Phils are the team to beat this year.
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The Brazilian winger might draw a huge paycheck, but he certainly doesn't play like it.
Robinho's most effective season came all the way back when he was with Santos, where he scored 25 goals. Since then, he hasn't scored more than 15 times on the pitch.
19. Doug Flutie
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The undersized quarterback began his fluky career at Boston College. There, he completed one of the most famous Hail Mary passes of all time. After dominating the CFL, Flutie scrapped his way through an NFL career that included only 14,000 yards, 86 TDs, 68 INTs and a completion percentage under 55 percent.
Flutie only made all 16 starts once in his career, when he was 39 years young.
18. Albert Haynesworth
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How did this guy get a $100 million contract? He's fat and out of shape, and he doesn't perform on the field. He made 8.5 sacks in 2008 just before inking his huge deal, but he had never put up numbers like that before that season.
Maybe the Skins liked his disrespectful attitude or the fact that he stomped on an opposing player's head while he wasn't wearing a helmet.
17. Oscar De La Hoya
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Oscar De La Hoya is not one of the best boxers of all time. His 39-6 record speaks for itself. That's right—"The Golden Boy" was derailed six times during his career.
After winning his first 30 bouts, De La Hoya went 9-6 and changed weight classes. When he faced off against elite boxers, though, De La Hoya failed miserably. Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao all slapped around Oscar during the twilight of his career.
16. Hulk Hogan
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Hogan may have inspired me to take my vitamins and say my prayers when I was nine years old, but in retrospect, his whole gimmick was quite lame. To add to the cheesy personality, Hogan featured a leg drop as a finishing move and was never considered as technically sound as many of his contemporaries.
I think I preferred Hogan as "Thunderlips: The Ultimate Male," a role he played perfectly in Rocky III.
15. Roberto Luongo
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This photo makes me think I owe Roberto some money, and if I don't pay up, I can say goodbye to my kneecaps.
Perhaps if Luongo had shown up in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final this year, he wouldn't find his way near the top of this list. As it happens, he didn't, and the Bruins hoisted Lord Stanley's Cup.
His inconsistency in the playoffs has earned him scrutiny everywhere he has put the pads on.
14. Brett Favre
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The only thing super about Brett Favre is his indecisiveness. His offseason antics trying to decide whether or not he is going to retire can only be compared to the way my wife acts in a shoe store.
But being annoyed with Favre isn't enough to garner him a spot on the list. The gunslinger has thrown 336 career interceptions in 16 seasons. Favre is probably a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Famer, but he should have retired the first time he suggested he would.
Last season was particularly bad, as he tossed 19 picks to only 11 TDs.
13. Derek Jeter
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Derek Jeter's 3,000 career hits are a testament to his longevity, not necessarily his ability with the bat. He may have collected a bunch of hardware for his defensive efforts, but most baseball experts will tell you he is a liability at short.
If Jeter played in Milwaukee, would he be considered the player he is today? No way. The Yankees made Jeter what he is: a good hitter, a decent defender and a clutch hitter.
12. Vince Carter
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The high-flying dunk champion might have put together some electrifying highlights, but Vince Carter isn't all that good. Carter has seen a considerable drop in his play since his 33rd birthday, and without his ability to assault the basket with tomahawk jams, he has averaged about 14 points per game.
Maybe the former Tar Heel should have focused on developing a more effective post game instead of just flying over his opponents. Nah, I like flying better than Tim Duncan snoozer moves.
11. Chad Ochocinco
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Maybe Tom Brady can revitalize Ochocinco's career the way he did for Randy Moss. Chad has really lost a step since turning 30. He used to be super; now he's a lackluster receiver who was in dire need of a change of setting.
Ochocinco has only scored 10 touchdowns once in his career, but he did put together a six-year stretch in Cincy where he gained more than 1,100 yards per season.
If he comes storming back under the tutelage of coach Bill Belichick, Ochocinco may go down as an all-time great. If not, he'll be remembered as a wideout who had moments of greatness circled by controversy and mediocrity.
10. Eric Lindros
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If it weren't for Lindros' unreal season in '95-'96, he might have never been considered an NHL superstar. As fate would have it, Lindros scored 115 points, and the City of Brotherly Love thought it had the next Mario Lemieux or Wayne Gretzky.
Lindros couldn't stay healthy, though and he became a "remember when" type of player. His physical play proved to be the bane of his career. Or maybe he had a fluke season.
9. Danica Patrick
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If her name were Dan Patrick, she would have been kicked out of her car years ago. Or maybe this Dan Patrick would have entertained us on SportsCenter for years and years. But I digress. Danica Patrick is a crumb bum. She never wins races.
If she had external sex organs, she would be racing dune buggies with Napoleon Dynamite's grandma.
How wrestling fans got caught up in Goldberg's streak is beyond my comprehension. The former Atlanta Falcon defensive end stormed on the scene and became an instant draw.
Finally losing at Starcade, Goldberg's "streak" lasted 174 matches. Unfortunately for WCW enthusiasts, Goldberg didn't really show us too much in the ring.
7. Tony Romo
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Tony Romo is a regular season quarterback. He has put up some huge numbers since entering the NFL, but he hasn't been able to lead America's Team to a Super Bowl since he took over the helm.
Romo's seasons end in Cowboy heartbreak, and last year his season ended with a clavicle break (ouch). Who knows? Maybe it's Dallas' year. Probably not.
6. Reggie Bush
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Reggie Bush's north to south running style was about as exciting as it gets when he was at USC. In the NFL, it doesn't work. Guys are way too fast and skilled to get boat-raced by a running back with decent speed.
Over five seasons, Bush has tallied just 2,090 rushing yards. Some NFL experts thought Bush had the ability to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. Whoops.
5. Nolan Ryan
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Yeah, the Ryan Express threw seven no-nos. Yeah, he struck out 5,714 batters. He still wasn't that good. Ryan was a flashy pitcher, always looking to strike out his opponent. He led the league in walks eight times and finished just 32 games over .500, but he did epically beat down Robin Ventura.
Perhaps I should rethink this one.
4. Terry Bradshaw
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You'd think a guy with four Super Bowl rings might be left off a list like this. Think again. Before Terry Bradshaw was annoying us before our games start on Sunday, he was quarterbacking the NFL's most successful franchise.
However, Bradshaw has more rings than Pro Bowl appearances. He threw two more touchdowns than interceptions over his career (212 to 210) and only tossed more than 25 TD passes in two of his 14 seasons.
3. Lynn Swann
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How this guy ever got into the Hall of Fame is a question for the ages. Swann averaged only 47.5 yards per game, scored 51 touchdowns and won four Super Bowl rings with the aforementioned Terry Bradshaw.
Maybe stats aren't the only thing to take into account when inducting players into Canton, but it looks as if the voters never saw Swann's numbers and let him in based on his team's merits.
2. Joe Namath
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It shouldn't be a surprise to any sports fan to see Joe Namath deep in this list. Joe basically won one important game. His Super Bowl III win over Johnny Unitas and the Colts paved the way for the AFL/NFL merger, but it certainly shouldn't have put Broadway Joe into the Hall of Fame.
Namath's numbers are atrocious. They can't even be skewed as good. In 12 seasons, Joe threw 47 more picks than touchdowns and passed at barely a 50 percent clip.
Clearly the Pro Football Hall of Fame needs to re-evaluate who it lets in the doors.
1. Phil Rizzuto
The 5'6" shortstop probably never thought he would be enshrined at Cooperstown, but for some reason Phil Rizzuto got in. The career .273 hitter blasted a Ruthian 38 homers and drove in 563 runs in 13 seasons in the Bronx.
Rizzuto is, very elementarily put, a head-scratcher. He never did anything that warranted him a place in the most selective Hall of Fame in all of sports. But hey, he's a Yankee.