The dream of becoming a professional athlete seems almost heroic when we are children. For most, we just don’t what it takes, whether it be we aren’t fast enough, not big enough, or not strong enough. For a tiny percentage of us, the dream does work out, but the hard work doesn’t end there.
We’ve seen numerous prospective NFL stars over the year flourish in college and even somewhat in the NFL, but for whatever reasons, let all that talent go to waste, to the dismay of all us normals, normals without the golden opportunity which these athletes have had.
Here’s our list of top ten biggest wastes of talent in NFL history.
15. Adam “Pacman” Jones
Adam Jones, better known as “Pacman” Jones, was a highly touted cornerback coming out of West Virginia. With his quick bursts of speed and agility, he was reveled at by NFL scouts. After being taken 6th overall in the 2005 NFL Draft (extremely high for a cornerback) by the Tennessee Titans, his fall from grace began almost immediately as contract disputes and numerous off field incidents led to animosity between the Titans and himself. A slew of arrests got Pacman suspended for the entire 2007 season and a portion of the 2008 season by the league. After getting his life back in relative order, he’s developed into a solid player for the Super Bowl contending Bengals, with an attitude that actually fits well into the mold of that gritty, hard hitting defense.
14. Randy Moss
Now many may be shocked to see Randy Moss on this list, considering he’s arguably the second greatest receiver of all-time. But the reason why Moss isn’t area of Jerry Rice in many’e eyes, is because of pure laziness. If there;s a comparable player to the athletic freak of nature of a LeBron James of the NBA, Randy Moss is that to the NFL. With a 6’4”, 210-pound frame, Moss had unmatched athleticism, as he ran the 40 yard dash in 4.25 seconds and had a 39 inch vertical. His downfall was his attitude and work ethic. Major character blips through his college career at Marshall led to him dropping all the way to the 21st pick in the 1998 draft, a spot that in hindsight, is unfathomable that he fell that fall. Unfortunately, these work ethic concerns followed him throughout his career and left fans wondering what he could’ve possibly done had he not been so lazy, for example taking plays and practices off. And yet with that, he’s still of the best to ever do it. “Straight cash homie.”
13. Terrell Owens
Another eventual Hall-of-Famer and one of the best to ever do it on this list. While T.O.’s stats have the mark of a Hall of Famer, his attitude and ability to completely destroy locker rooms were enough to keep him off HoF voters’ ballots, for atlas the first year.
Owens was another freak of nature athlete, yet had a freak of nature ego to go along with it. The “diva” wide receiver was epitomized by Owens, even in the heyday of Chad Ochocinco. 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 very successful 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. What a shame.
12. Ricky Williams
If you ever needed to know how highly Ricky Williams was thought of talet-wise, just ask Mike Ditka. Ditka, head coach of the New Orleans Saints at the time of the trade, gave up an unheard of full slew of draft picks, yes that’s right, every draft pick he has in 1999 to trade up to the pick #5 to get Ricky.
Hailing from Texas with a Heisman trophy in hand, Williams racked up an incredible 4,017 yards and 52 rushing touchdowns in just his last two years in college.
But unfortunately for the fans of Williams and simply great players, Ricky loved marijuana more than he did football. Over the course of his career he failed 3 drug tests, also abruptly deciding to retire from the Miami Dolphins in 2004, catching everybody of guard. Though he did return a year later, a year from football seemed to zap the explosiveness and relentless running from Ricky.
Even with the time spent suspended and retired, he’s still in the 10,000 yard club, adding in 66 touchdowns. Williams had the potential to one of the all time greats to carry a football, but didn’t have the mentality that football was his life, and for someone who understood that himself, it was impossible to change his mind.
11. Michael Vick
Michael Vick seemed to have changed the QB position forever when he came into the league. Problem was, there was not another Micheal Vick, nor will there be another in history. A unprecedented mix of throwing ability and arm strength to throw the deep ball and zip it through defenders short and the running ability and escpeability of a running back, Vick was a human video game. Then, what will forever define Michael Vick happened in April of 2007.
Smack dab in the peak of Vick’s prime, it was revealed that the QB was involved in organizing illegal dog fighting rings on his property. He had funded the events and been personally involved in the fighting itself. He spent nearly two years in prison and, suprisingly was given another chance in the NFL after he served his time and preformed his civil duties. The Philadelphia Eagles were heavily criticized for signing Vick, though that criticism switched to criticsm of his quarterback play, only having one Pro Bowl season following his time away from the game and getting the Eagles no closer to a Super Bowl.
Michael Vick left fans no matter what age in awe of his football ability, and even those who hate Vick to this day know what could have been if he never got involved in the dog fighting business, possibly being one of the greatest offensive threats in NFL history.
10. Vince Young
Vince Young has the title of quarterbacking the greatest game in college football history, and quarterbacking the Longhorns to a win in that game, capturing the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, that’s the most important thing he’s remembered for.
Young was drafted 3rd overall by the Tennessee Titans in the 2006 NFL draft. Despite finding his groove as an NFL QB, reaching two Pro Bowls in the front end of his career, which most forget, he never quite lived up to the stardom of the player he was in college.
Young revealed in an interview that he considered quitting football as the passion was all but gone. He didn’t quit at that point, but eventually couldn’t find a team that wanted his services. What could have been.
9. Josh Gordon
The photo above may come as a surprise to some, considering there hasn’t been many of him playing throughout the course of his career.
Now one may ask, “What’s the difference between Josh Gordon and Ricky Williams?” Well, Josh Gordon seems to not understand that marijuana is keeping him from living his dream and reveling in fame, while Ricky seemed to understand that, and simply be complacent with it.
Ricky Williams didn’t want to play football anymore when he called it quits, while Gordon clearly does considering his filed for early reinstatement after being suspended for the entire 2015-2016 season. The Browns WR failed yet another test, positive for marijuana which of course led to Roger Goodell denying that reinstatement and possibly more punishment on the horizon.
On a perennial embarrassment of a team in the Browns, Gordon was one of the only bright spots for the Cleveland Browns in 2013, finishing the season 3rd in receiving basically playing without a QB. Though he is young enough to make a return down the road, it’s likely Gordon missed out on his year and possibly years of prime effectiveness.
8. Rae Carruth
Rae Carruth was Aaron Hernandez before it was cool. Coming out of the University of Colorado, Carruth looked to be a promising first round draft pick after being taken in the 1997 draft by the Carolina Panthers.
Carruth has a solid rookie season, catching 44 passes for 545 yards with four touchdowns, but those touchdowns would be the last he ever had. He missed much of his sophomore season with a broken foot and played in only six games in his third year before the moment his career and life and he knew it would end.
The WR murdered his girlfriend, who was eight-months pregnant with his child. Fortunately, the child survived but suffered permanent brain damage after going 70 minutes inept of oxygen. Carruth attempted to evade police but was eventually taken into custody. He is now appropriately serving a life sentence for his despicable crime.
7. Maurice Clarett
Maurice Clarett was one of Ohio State’s finest. Talk about making an impact straight out of highshcool, Clarett had one of the best freshman seasons in NCAA history, rushing for 1300+ yards, and punching in 18 TDs, topping those states off with an undefeated season and National Championship for the Buckeyes. It seemed to all go downhill from there though. Numerous issues from staff disagreements, to questionable work ethic, to arrests affected his life on and off the field, catalyzing on of the biggest falls from stardom in football history, so much so ESPN produced a 30 for 30 on his downfall.
The photo above is that or Clarett at practice, that being the RB never played a single snap in the NFL, and we will never know what could have been if he stayed on the figurative right track with his Hall-of-Fame back potential.
6. Art Schlichter