The Most Regrettable Decisions in Sports This Decade

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2016

The Most Regrettable Decisions in Sports This Decade

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    What makes sports so fun is the unpredictability that they bring, among other things, making us fans stay intently involved with a team or player because we never know what might happen.

    And unfortunately, one thing most fans have to deal with is seeing their favorite franchise trade away a player and get the short end of the deal, waste money on a big-name free agent who doesn't work out, draft a bust or make a dumb decision in the middle of a game that comes back to bite the team.

    Since there have been so many of these regrettable mistakes since 2010, I figured I'd dive deep and list the worst of the worst—with my findings surely to depress a few supporters.

When the San Francisco 49ers Allowed Jim Harbaugh to Walk Away

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    There's nothing anyone can do to convince me that the San Francisco 49ers didn't make a massive mistake by allowing former head coach Jim Harbaugh to leave after the 2014 season.

    Sure, that year wasn't particularly a good one for the Niners, as they stumbled to an 8-8 record after going to three straight NFC title games. But in the 20 months since Harbaugh has left, the team has hired and fired his predecessor (Jim Tomsula), brought in Chip Kelly as their new coach and have seen a number of players either call it quits for a number of reasons or completely flame out—see quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

    Under Harbaugh's guidance, the team was one of the best in the NFC and had built a reputation for toughness. Since then, though, the Niners have completely fallen apart, and a lot of that can be attributed to the khaki-wearing coach no longer manning the sidelines.

Jurgen Klinsmann Decides to Leave Landon Donovan at Home for the World Cup

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    As the United States men's national soccer team prepped for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, there weren't many people who believed the team's all-time leading goalscorer, Landon Donovan, wouldn't be on the final roster.

    However, when it came to the players manager Jurgen Klinsmann brought with him to South America, Donovan's name wasn't on the list.

    Though the decision was shocking to many, Klinsmann believed that giving younger players an opportunity on the biggest stage in soccer was the way to go.

    While the U.S. enjoyed a great run in the tournament, this decision nearly backfired immediately, as striker Jozy Altidore went down in the opening match with a hamstring injury that left the Red, White and Blue lacking a playmaker up top—where Donovan would have provided experience and talent.

    Who knows if things would have ended differently had Donovan been a part of that World Cup team, but if Klinsmann could do it again, maybe he would rethink the choice to leave Landon at home.

The 14 Teams Who Passed on Kawhi Leonard in 2011 NBA Draft

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    There are other mistakes that teams have made in the draft before—like when two teams passed over Michael Jordan in 1984 and more than a handful didn't select Stephen Curry—but the 14 teams that actually didn't think Kawhi Leonard would become the player he is now have to be kicking themselves after seeing the superstar he is.

    While the former San Diego State star was always a good player on a great team, developing into a major piece for the San Antonio Spurs, he has evolved into one of the top young talents in the league, earning his first All-Star selection and start this season.

    With older players such as Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker (39, 38 and 33, respectively) working toward the back end of their careers, it's up to Leonard to take the throne from them and represent the organization in the near and far future.

The Los Angeles Angels Hand Josh Hamilton a Massive Contract

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    It might not be the worst signing in MLB history, but one can make a case that it's up there as being in that category after seeing how it ended.

    When the Los Angeles Angels inked former American League MVP Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million deal prior to the 2012 season, they expected him to be a huge upgrade both in their lineup and in the field, as Hamilton was to provide a one-two punch alongside Albert Pujols that would leave pitchers losing sleep the night before playing L.A.

    It's too bad it never became a reality, though, as Pujols' numbers dipped as he battled injuries and the team's new toy, Hamilton, just seemed to lose his skills by relocating from Texas.

    Even worse, the outfielder battled past demons of substance abuse away from the field, enduring moments that created friction between him and the team. His time in L.A. ultimately ended with the Angels trading him to the team he came from, the Texas Rangers, before the 2015 season.

    After investing so much in Josh Hamilton, the Rangers surely wish they had gotten a better return than what they did.

Boston Bruins Trade Tyler Seguin to Dallas Stars

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    With all due respect to the Boston Bruins, the only defense they can give for trading away a then-young and immature Tyler Seguin was, well, he was young and immature.

    That's about all hockey fans in Boston can hang their hats on because this was one of the worst trades in recent NHL history.

    It's not as if the Bruins got complete garbage for Seguin—with Loui Eriksson proving to be a pretty good player who doesn't get the respect he deserves—but there's no way he's on the level of Seguin.

    Since joining Dallas prior to the 2013 season, the former Bruin has developed into one of the league's nastiest playmakers, both putting the puck in the net and setting his teammates up for goals via assist.

    Teaming up with fellow stud Jamie Benn in Big D, the 24-year-old Seguin reminds Bruins fans just what they wish they still had.

NFL Replacement Refs

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    Let's just go ahead and tell it like it is: 2015 was a terrible year for football referees, as there were constant indecision and mistakes on both the college and pro level.

    While there were admitted errors and missed calls this past season, the decision by the NFL to roll with replacement refs at the start of the 2012 season because of a lockout by the usual officials was just straight-up dumb.

    The cherry on top of the cake came during the Monday Night Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers, as the entire country watched the Seahawks win on a Hail Mary at the end of the game that two refs in the end zone called differently.

    The disputed play was so bad that, following the game, the NFL immediately started negotiating with the regular officials to bring them back.

    Unfortunately, at that point, it was a little too late for games to be affected, as every football fan saw why the league never should have allowed replacement refs to be on an NFL field.

Terry Collins Sticks with Matt Harvey

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    I'll never knock an athlete for being competitive and believing in themselves during a big moment, but sometimes, it's smart for a manager or a head coach to pat the player on the back and make an executive decision to sit the person.

    That's what New York Mets manager Terry Collins should have done during Game 5 of last year's World Series, as pitcher Matt Harvey—who was pitching a gem at the time—talked Collins into keeping him in the game for the ninth inning.

    The call didn't go as planned, though.

    Immediately getting into trouble, Harvey was eventually charged with two runs after being pulled a little too late, leading to a tie game and ultimately a loss to the Kansas City Royals, as K.C. celebrated its first World Series title in 30 years.

    Collins even admitted to reporters he made the wrong choice here, understanding that it wasn't the right move since it cost his squad a chance to inch closer in the series during the Fall Classic.

The Washington Redskins Doing Everything They Could to Draft Robert Griffin III

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    At first, the decision to move up a couple of spots in the 2012 NFL draft to select Robert Griffin III at No. 2 overall appeared to have been the best thing the Washington Redskins could have done.

    After all, RG3 led the team to a division title and won Offensive Rookie of the Year in his first season, making many believe he was the next big star at the quarterback position.

    Not so fast, my friend.

    Battling injuries and turmoil between himself, coaches and teammates, Griffin found himself losing support from the franchise, with head coach Jay Gruden turning to Kirk Cousins in 2015 to lead the team—which the former backup did well, taking the 'Skins back to the postseason.

    With his future in D.C. and beyond in question, Griffin handcuffed the franchise and doesn't carry much value on the trade market nowadays, so I wouldn't think Washington is too happy with how that swap in 2012 with the then-St. Louis Rams, now of Los Angeles, turned out for it.

L.A. Lakers Trade for Dwight Howard

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    Forcing his way out of Orlando by turning his back on the team and then-head coach Stan Van Gundy, Dwight Howard proved that he could be as dominant at getting his way as he used to be on the court.

    That's because, prior to the 2012 season, the Magic decided to trade D12 to the Los Angeles Lakers, in turn teaming him up with Kobe Bryant and making many believe the two All-Stars could form a bond that would develop them into a dynamic duo similar to when Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal played together.

    Rather than win three titles, though, Howard and Kobe clashed...hard.

    Constantly bickering over a number of different things, the two were never able to find the chemistry necessary to build a title contender, with Howard ultimately leaving town via free agency after one pathetic season with the Lakers.

    It's sort of fitting the center was booted from his final game in a Lakers uniform, ending a season that both he and the franchise would rather forget ever happened.

Cleveland Browns Draft Johnny Manziel (2014)

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    When the Cleveland Browns traded up a few spots to snag polarizing quarterback Johnny Manziel with the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, there were plenty of people wondering how things would play out.

    On one side, experts knew that Manziel had raw talent—I mean, the dude won a Heisman Trophy in college and was a competitor despite his lack of size (5'11 ¾", 207 lbs).

    On the other side, though, his persona of Johnny Football was something everyone seemed to worry about, as he had been in a few situations he shouldn't have been in while in college, with many fearing he wouldn't mature enough to be the face of a franchise.

    As it turns out, those thinking the latter were right, as Manziel flamed out and will soon be looking for a new home, per ESPN.com's Pat McManamon.

    While some may have once attributed Manziel's behavior to a 23-year-old kid just acting his age, with new reports of alleged domestic violence and more stories leaking out about his struggles with alcohol, it's clear the quarterback has serious issues that run deeper than just not committing himself to football.

    With the Browns defending the kid through most of his incidents, Manziel embarrassed the entire franchise over the past couple of years, leaving many wondering why Cleveland ever took a chance on him in the first place.

The Philadelphia Eagles Giving Full Control to Chip Kelly

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    For all those pro-sports franchises who think that handing the keys to the organization over to a head coach is a good idea, just look at how it ended for Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Even before the team gave up on Kelly prior to the end of this past NFL season, the head coach completely gutted and revamped the roster, getting rid of star players and making questionable decisions that didn't work out.

    While Chip established himself as an innovator in the NFL thanks to his high-octane offensive strategy and pace of play, seeing how it ended after he received full control over key decisions such as trades and free-agent signings, this is a choice that backfired miserably for the franchise, setting it back a couple of years to rebuild.

The Seattle Seahawks' Play Call in Super Bowl XLIX

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    There's a reason why many think that the Seattle Seahawks' decision to pass and not run during the waning moments of Super Bowl XLIX against the New England Patriots is one of the dumbest decisions in sports history—because it ended so badly for them.

    With just a few yards to go for a potential game-winning touchdown—which would have given them their second straight title—the Hawks out-thought themselves, trying to get cute by passing on the Pats rather than trying to punch it in with bulldozing running back Marshawn Lynch.

    We all know what happened next. Cornerback Malcolm Butler intercepted the pass, leading to New England's fourth Super Bowl win since 2001.

    As damaging as the loss was to swallow, the relationship between Seattle and Lynch never seemed to recover, with the former All-Pro appearing disgruntled with that final play call and less enthusiastic about playing football—with him recently announcing his retirement a year after that fateful day.