50 NFL Players Whose Careers Were Absolutely Pathetic
Some players just aren't meant to be NFL players. Granted, they're capable of playing in the NFL, but they're just not meant to have a successful stint in the NFL.
With that being said, there have been quite a number of pathetic NFL players over the years. I will admit that they're not pathetic athletes, because the average Joe isn't able to say that he played in the NFL, but these guys have. Unfortunately, they just didn't have successful careers.
Let's put it this way: These are the very worst of the best.
Here are 50 NFL players whose careers were absolutely pathetic.
Maurice Clarett had some of the most potential coming out of Ohio State as one of the nation's top running backs, but he simply was pathetic.
Clarett was suspended his last two years at Ohio State and was drafted 20 lbs overweight by the Denver Broncos. He was then cut prior to the season starting and never returned to the NFL.
Aaron Maybin may still be around in the NFL, but since being the 11th overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft, he's been completely awful.
Maybin was drafted by the Buffalo Bills, coming out of one of the country's top linebacker schools, Penn State, but has fallen flat on his face with only 24 tackles in his first two years in the league. He is now a member of the New York Jets as he tries to revive his pathetic career.
William Green is one of many running backs in NFL history that never carried over success from the college level to the NFL.
Green not only had several legal issues, but he was also picked very high in the first round by the Cleveland Browns but lived up to none of the team's high expectations. Green accumulated only 2,109 yards in his four years in the league.
Anyone who retires with a 52.8 quarterback rating and a 46.6 completion percentage is pretty terrible. Sorry, Akili Smith. You were awful.
Troy Williamson had all the skills and potential to be a talented wide receiver but failed miserably.
Williamson had blazing speed and ran the 40-yard dash at the 2005 NFL combine at 4.32 seconds, but his speed never turned him into a productive NFL player.
Shante Carver lasted only four seasons in the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys and literally did nothing productive for the team.
Carver was selected 23rd overall in the 1994 draft and finished his NFL career with only 11.5 sacks.
Many believed that Erik Flowers was the next Bruce Smith. They could not have been more wrong.
Flowers played only four seasons in the NFL, playing in only 58 games in four seasons. Flowers ended his pitiful NFL career with just five sacks. Where did his stellar pass-rushing skills go?
It's rather odd to Google a player and find absolutely no legitimate pictures of that player actually playing in the NFL.
Rusty Lisch is actually No. 6 in this photo, the quarterback, during his days back at Notre Dame.
Lisch retired in 1984 after five years in the NFL with a total of just one touchdown and a pitiful 11 interceptions thrown. He was so bad that his passer rating was an embarrassing 25.1—you can't get much worse than that.
Babe Laufenberg is by far one of the most pathetic quarterbacks of all time.
Laufenberg played only three years in the NFL and retired with a 45.9 quarterback rating with five touchdowns and 11 interceptions, while completing 44.1 percent of his passes.
Eric Ghiaciuc may be one of the worst offensive linemen in NFL history.
Ghiaciuc has been around since 2005 and has bounced around from team to team, never able to stick with a team for more than a couple of seasons. You'd think that teams would realize he's not an NFL player.
How bad was Michael Haddix? He averaged 3.0 yards per carry, which is the worst of anyone in the history of the entire league who has rushed for more than 500 yards.
Haddix managed to somehow play eight seasons in the NFL but was never effective.
For all of Michael Haynes' talent and upside, he was a complete and utter bust.
Haynes played only three seasons with the Chicago Bears but recorded only 5.5 sacks despite being the 14th overall pick in the 2003 NFL draft.
Tim Couch is arguably the worst first overall pick of all time.
Couch was drafted to be the Cleveland Browns' quarterback of the future but lasted only five seasons with the Browns, posting a 22-37 record as a starter. He finished his career with 67 interceptions and 64 touchdowns.
Despite being the sixth overall pick in 1996 and having all the talent in the world, Lawrence Phillips literally did nothing in the NFL.
Phillips was involved with several legal issues and finished his awful NFL career with 14 touchdowns in three years while averaging only 3.4 yards per carry.
If you're a sixth overall pick in the draft and are deemed to be a pure pass-rusher, you better retire with more than 12 sacks.
Eric Curry was pathetic—just ask the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Hey, at least Craig Whelihan had success in arena football, as he was laughable during his time with the San Diego Chargers.
Whelihan played just 19 games in his NFL career and managed to throw only 10 touchdowns while being picked off an incredible 29 times. You almost have to try to throw 29 interceptions in only 19 games.
Like many on this list, Sammie Smith was projected to be an elite running back coming out of Florida State in 1989, as he was drafted ninth overall by the Miami Dolphins.
Smith spent only three seasons in Miami in which he ran for only 1,787 yards while averaging 3.5 yards per carry and scoring only 15 touchdowns.
Where did all of his talent go?
Johnny Mitchell could have been one of the NFL's greatest tight ends, as he had some freakish talent and athletic skills, but it never translated to the professional level.
Mitchell spent five years in the league with the New York Jets and the Dallas Cowboys but only scored 16 touchdowns.
It's pretty pathetic when you nearly triple your touchdown total in interceptions. Just ask Bruce Mathison, as he threw only seven career touchdowns and was intercepted 20 times.
Drew Henson was a highly rated quarterback coming out of Michigan but never really panned out in the NFL.
Henson was a two-sport athlete, as he also played baseball for the New York Yankees.
Henson started only one career game for the Dallas Cowboys in which he threw one interception and one touchdown.
Of course Ryan Leaf is on this list—he was one of the biggest busts in NFL history.
Leaf was selected second overall by the San Diego Chargers after Peyton Manning was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts, and he never quite played at the same level that Peyton has.
Leaf started only 21 career games in three seasons and posted a 50.0 quarterback rating and a 4-17 record.
Somehow the 6'0", 250-lb Roosevelt Potts ran for 711 yards as a rookie for the Indianapolis Colts—but we all knew that he was way too heavy to be a running back and was practically out of shape and extremely slow.
How pathetic can you get?
It's really amazing that a kicker with a career field-goal percentage of 59 percent could somehow have stuck around the NFL for eight seasons.
Neil O'Donoghue was simply a very pathetic kicker and should have never been on an NFL roster.
Renaldo Nehemiah had no football talent whatsoever.
Nehemiah was known for being a world-class hurdler. He never played college football but somehow found a way to be on the San Francisco 49ers roster from 1982 to 1984. He should have simply stuck with track, as he dropped several passes and caught only 43 balls while scoring four career touchdowns.
It's funny how speedy receivers make it to the NFL only to find out they have terrible hands and cannot be an NFL wide receiver.
Kenny Jackson is one of those guys.
Jackson had blazing speed but caught only 126 career passes over eight seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Houston Oilers, while scoring only 11 career touchdowns.
The only thing that Dan McGwire can brag about is that his brother is Mark McGwire, one of baseball's all-time great hitters. Dan wasn't as fortunate as Mark was.
McGwire was a pitiful NFL quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, as he was drafted 16th overall in 1991. McGwire retired with a 2-3 career record and a putrid 52.3 quarterback rating.
Rogers came out of college being projected as the next Randy Moss but played in only 15 career games with 36 receptions and only four touchdowns.
Rogers was a complete waste of talent.
Rashard Anderson is one of the many draft busts in NFL history, as he only lasted two seasons in the NFL.
Anderson was selected 23rd overall by the Carolina Panthers and was literally one of the worst cornerbacks in NFL history.
There are several reasons why running backs should not be selected first overall in the NFL; Ki-Jana Carter is one of those reasons.
Carter was the first overall pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1995 but was a complete and utter bust. Carter averaged only 3.6 yards per carry in his NFL career, as he played in only 59 games in seven years in the league.
He's just another waste of talent.
I guess it's not Patrick Ramsey's fault that he's not good enough to be an NFL starting quarterback, as he's best suited to be a career backup quarterback.
Ramsey hasn't played in the league since 2010 and has a career 74.9 quarterback rating while completing only 56 percent of his passes and having a career 10-14 record as a starter.
Andy Katzenmoyer was projected to be one of the next great linebackers, as he was the 28th overall pick in the 1999 draft by the New England Patriots.
The Ohio State product lasted only two seasons in the NFL, recording 77 tackles. His career was cut short due to a severe neck injury.
Rae Carruth is one of the biggest pieces of garbage in the entire history of the world.
Carruth had all the talent in the world and everything going for him, but he had major trouble with the law. Carruth was arrested and sentenced to at least 18 years in prison for the murder of his girlfriend when she was eight months pregnant with his unborn child.
I absolutely despise Rae Carruth.
It never ends well when a young NFL player ends up getting involved with drugs. Just ask Todd Marinovich.
Marinovich was the 24th overall pick by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1991 and literally was a complete bust. Coming out of USC, many believed that he was the next great quarterback and could be Los Angeles' quarterback of the future. That obviously did not work out.
Marinovich lasted only two seasons in the league and posted a career record of 3-5 while recording a 66.4 quarterback rating.
Vaughn Dunbar did have several injuries but was a complete bust prior to being hurt.
Dunbar was the 21st overall pick in 1992 by the New Orleans Saints and was projected to be one of the next great running backs.
The Heisman Trophy finalist and All-American finished his career after playing four seasons and running for only 935 yards.
Alex Van Dyke
Keyshawn Johnson and Alex Van Dyke were projected to be one of the greatest wide receiver tandems to ever play the game. However, Van Dyke was a complete waste of talent.
Van Dyke played only five seasons in the NFL, catching 26 balls for 219 yards and only three scores.
John McKay Jr.
The only reason that John McKay Jr. even played in the NFL was because of his father, John McKay Sr., who happened to be the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
McKay did not have skills to succeed at the NFL level but was only on an NFL roster because of his father.
How pathetic is that?
The Seattle Seahawks were certainly unlucky when they drafted Lamar King with the 22nd pick in the 1999 NFL draft.
King played in 57 career games for the Seahawks but managed to only notch 12 career sacks. I thought he was projected to be a pass-rusher—what happened?
Cade McNown was a pitiful selection at 12th overall by the Chicago Bears in 1999.
McNown lasted only two seasons with the Bears, as he posted a dreadful career record of 3-12 and threw 19 interceptions in only 25 career games.
The UCLA product was a complete bust and was extremely pathetic.
There's only one reason why cornerback Jason David has 16 career interceptions—because he was picked on so much by opposing offenses that he had many chances to intercept the ball.
The hundreds of times that a pass was thrown David's way, most of the time he was completely beat in coverage, but only 16 times was he actually in the right spot.
How can you be the 10th overall pick in the 1981 draft but manage to catch only three career touchdowns on 23 career receptions? Just ask David Verser.
Verser was the 10th pick in the '81 draft by the Cincinnati Bengals and was simply pathetic.
It's pretty pathetic when you're brought into the NFL to be a starting quarterback but get beat out and end up being the team's kicker.
That is what exactly happened to Bob Timberlake and the New York Giants in 1965.
Art Schlichter was a complete joke of an NFL quarterback.
Schlichter was picked fourth overall in the 1982 draft out of Ohio State by the Baltimore Colts and was the ultimate loser, considering his 0-6 career record as a starter.
Schlichter lasted only three seasons in the NFL, completing 45 percent of his passes for three touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Isn't that just pathetic?
How can an entire league be mistaken about a player's exact height?
Ted Gregory was listed as 6'1" as he entered the 1988 draft, but he was a different height. He was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the 26th overall pick, and the team immediately found out that he was much closer to 5'9" than he was 6'1".
Gregory was shipped off to the New Orleans Saints, where he played in only three games and recorded just one sack.
Kim McQuilken had an absolutely pathetic career in the NFL.
McQuilken was the Atlanta Falcons' third-round selection in the 1974 draft and went on to be a complete joke with the team. McQuilken retired in 1979 after being intercepted 29 times and only throwing four touchdowns in just seven games started.
Despite being pathetic in the NFL, McQuilken later went on to be the vice president of Cartoon Network.
Wendell Bryant was the 12th overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Arizona Cardinals but was washed out of the league in 2004.
Bryant played in 29 career games for the Cards, as he recorded a career total of 1.5 sacks—how pathetic is that?
Marcus Vick never quite lived up to the high expectations that many had placed on him because of his older brother Michael.
Vick attended the same college as his brother, Virginia Tech, but had several run-ins with the law, which ultimately affected his NFL career in a major way.
Vick played only one season in the league with the Miami Dolphins, where he played only one game as a wide receiver.
Huey Richardson's career in the NFL was extremely pathetic.
Richardson was the 15th pick in the 1991 draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and was ultimately not productive whatsoever with the team.
Richardson spent only one season with the Steelers before being traded to the Washington Redskins.
Richardson vanished after only two years in the NFL, recording no tackles.
In my opinion, JaMarcus Russell is the most pathetic player in NFL history.
Russell had all the talent and upside coming out of LSU and being the first overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft by the Oakland Raiders.
The LSU product was 7-18 as a starter for the Raiders, as he posted a putrid quarterback rating of 65.2 while throwing 23 interceptions and 18 touchdowns.
Russell was released by the Raiders in 2010 and has yet to return to the NFL.
David Shula played only one season in the NFL with the Baltimore Colts in 1981 after graduating from Dartmouth.
Shula was signed by the Colts to be a kick returner, but his 40-yard dash time was an embarrassing 5.0. Please explain to me how that's not pathetic. Why in the world was he ever a kick returner?
It's pretty pathetic when you're the first overall pick but manage to only play six seasons in the NFL.
Courtney Brown was picked by the Cleveland Browns in the 2000 draft and was projected to be the next great pass-rushing defensive end. That was a joke.
Brown played in 61 career games, as he tallied up only 19 career sacks; 19 is how many he should have been recording each season.