5 NFL Players Who Let Their Infinite Talent Go to Waste
These players could have had wonderful and illustrious careers, but instead chose the path of arrogance, selfishness and outright foolishness.
Had it not been for lapses in the judgement of these players, they would have been outstanding. They managed to become households names, but for all the wrong reasons.
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The tale of Lawrence Phillips is one of sorrow and anguish.
Phillips was one of the toughest runners the University of Nebraska had ever seen; he had an absolutely stellar sophomore season, rushing for 1,722 yards and 16 touchdowns.
After becoming an early front-runner for the Heisman Trophy his junior year, Phillips was charged for assault after dragging his girlfriend down some steps by her hair.
Coach Tom Osborne suspended him for a while, but named Phillips the starter for the Fiesta Bowl, in which he rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns to help the Cornhuskers win the national championship.
Despite his problems, Phillips was drafted sixth overall by the St. Louis Rams, who had just traded running back Jerome Bettis to make room for Phillips.
After two years of mediocre play, the Rams cut Phillips.
Phillips moved from team to team in the NFL, the CFL and NFL Europe before committing a plethora of troubling acts, including driving his car into three teenagers after a pickup football game in LA.
After being convicted of various counts of assault, domestic abuse and assault with a deadly weapon, Phillips found himself sentenced to more than 31 years in jail in 2009.
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Washington State Cougar Ryan Leaf had everything going for him when he was selected second overall in the 1998 draft.
He was rife with pure athleticism, had a great arm and was confident. After he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers he said, "I'm looking forward to a 15-year career, a couple of trips to the Super Bowl and a parade through downtown San Diego."
Not so fast, Mr. Leaf.
After winning his first two games, things started to fall apart for Leaf. His rookie campaign was terrible. He threw for only 1,289 yards and two touchdowns, with 15 interceptions and an abysmal 45.3 completion percentage.
Naturally, the media and fans got on his case a little bit, and Leaf's attitude continued to work against him. He screamed and ranted at everyone, effectively losing the the support of his own team.
After hurting his wrist a few times and throwing more interceptions, the Chargers decided they'd had seen enough and released the former Washington State Cougar.
Leaf tried his luck again with the Bucs, the Cowboys and the Seahawks, but his poor attitude continually got the best of him and he eventually retired from the NFL at the age of 26.
Things were pretty bad for Leaf off the field as well. In 2009, Leaf was indicted on burglary and controlled substances charges while he was reportedly already in drug rehab.
Recently, however, things have been looking up for Ryan Leaf: he's kicked the drug habit, reflected on his past and written an autobiography.
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Huh? T.O.? What's he doing here?
Yeah, he's kind of a jerk, but he still managed to have a great career, right?
There's a difference between a great career and a sure-fire Hall of Fame career. While T.O.'s stats have the mark of a Hall of Famer, his attitude and ability to completely destroy locker rooms may keep him off the voters' ballots.
Terrell Owens was a freak athlete—an absolute monster on the field. He is second all-time in both receiving touchdowns and receiving yards, behind only the great Jerry Rice.
There was nothing Owens couldn't do on the field. However, he did everything he could off the field.
The epitome of the term "diva," Owens managed to get himself practically thrown out of every franchise he played for. In a 2003 interview with Playboy Magazine, Owens stirred up the pot big-time after insinuating that his former quarterback, Jeff Garcia, was gay.
Owens went off to the Philadelphia Eagles, where he would eventually get in highly-publicized spats with his quarterback Donovan McNabb.
After his theatrics in Philadelphia, Owens managed to somewhat calm himself down and had three pretty fantastic years with Dallas. He was not able to shake off his persona, however, and was released from the team, subsequently playing in Buffalo and Cincinnati for one year apiece.
Physically, Owens had it all. He had all the tools to be the greatest wide receiver in the history of the NFL, but his inability to be a leader and a good teammate ultimately relegates him under Jerry Rice's shadow.
Adam "Pacman" Jones
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Coming out of West Virginia, Adam Jones was a quick and feisty cornerback who had a nose for the ball, could make a sure tackle and did remarkably well in both zone and man coverage.
Jones also was an outstanding return man who could change the flow of an entire game.
The Tennessee Titans, eager to bolster their defense and return game, jumped on the chance to get Jones with the sixth overall pick of the 2005 draft.
Things began to sour immediately.
Jones, wanting more money, decided to hold out and missed most of training camp. While still at West Virginia University, Jones decided it would be a good idea to get into a fight, which landed him on probation.
Before his rookie season even began, Jones just couldn't manage to keep himself out of trouble. He launched into a tirade at a luncheon, refused to pay a valet ticket, and did not keep adequate contact with his probation officer.
Jones continued his campaign of arrogance the next few years in Tennessee even though he was playing well, earning himself an All-Pro selection in 2006.
In 2007, however, things got even worse for Pacman. A nightclub incident in which an alleged member of Jones' entourage opened fire, along with a plethora of other incidents, resulted in Jones being suspended for the entire 2007 season.
In 2008, Jones was traded to the Cowboys, where he was unable to return to his football form of years past. After more altercations with police, the Cowboys cut ties with the troubled cornerback.
Now with the Cincinnati Bengals, Jones managed to find himself in trouble once again as recently as July this year, reportedly under threat of a year of jail time after being charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest outside a bar in Nevada.
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Do I really need to say why Albert Haynesworth is on this list? Isn't it glaringly obvious?
Do you really want me to explain why this man is the biggest waste of talent in the NFL?
When he wants to be, Albert Haynesworth is an absolute monster on the football field. Just picture a giant, fire-breathing ogre with a football helmet.
In his heyday, Haynesworth was that ogre. He was a massive run-stopper and one of the premiere defensive lineman in the league.
But in 2006, all respect for Haynesworth was thrown out the window after he stomped on the face of Cowboys center Andre Gurode. This incident has since gone down in history as one of the most disgusting and vile acts ever perpetrated on a football field.
After a play, Haynesworth bent down, removed Gerode's helmet from his head and stomped on his face with his cleat, right in the vicinity of his eye. The enormous gash in Gerode's face required 30 stitches and Haynesworth was suspended for the next five games.
I don't care what Gerode did, there's absolutely nothing in this world within the realm of reality that could excuse Haynesworth's actions.
Despite this, Haynesworth managed to make the Pro Bowl in '07 and '08.
In 2009, Haynesworth landed a major deal with the Washington Redskins, signing a seven-year, $100 million contract.
To show his appreciation to his new team for this enormous amount of money, Haynesworth began voicing displeasure towards the 3-4 defensive system and his defensive coordinator. Haynesworth's attitude went from negative to downright unmanageable as he refused to cooperate with the team.
The Redskins would go on to rid themselves of this cancer, managing to pull off a trade to the New England Patriots for a fifth-round draft pick.
Halfway into this season, however, the Patriots let Haynesworth go. Only a few days ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to give Haynesworth yet another shot.
We'll all be eager to see how it pans out.