For NFL Sunday, Week 15, from our very latest, Uncle John’s Fully Loaded 25th Anniversary Bathroom Reader (EBook versions can be found here):
NFL DRAFT FLOPS
Great athletic ability and a good college record will generally push players to the top of the NFL draft…but it’s no guarantee they’re going to be any good when they turn pro…
JAMARCUS RUSSELL (2007)
Vital Stats: Louisiana State University had a great season in 2006, finishing ranked #4 and winning the Sugar Bowl. A major part of that success: quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who threw for 3,129 yards with 28 touchdowns.
Drafted! As a junior, he decided to skip his senior year to go directly into the NFL, and the Oakland Raiders took him at #1 in the 2007 draft. But he refused to play until he got the contract he wanted. He held out through training camp, the preseason, and into the regular season, when he agreed to $32 million.
Fumble! Top NFL quarterbacks routinely pass for 4,000 yards per season. Russell threw for 4,083 yards in his entire career, which lasted only three years. And when he did throw the ball to somebody who caught it, it was often to the wrong team—he had 31 turnovers and 23 interceptions in just 31 games. In early 2010, the Raiders released him. Later that year, he was arrested for illegal possession of codeine cough syrup, and Russell admitted he was addicted to it. He hasn’t played professional football since.
RYAN LEAF (1998)
Vital Stats: Leaf brought glory to Washington State University. He threw for nearly 4,000 yards and a Pac-10 conference-record 33 touchdowns. Under Leaf, WSU won its first-ever conference title and, its first Rose Bowl since 1931, and achieved a #9 ranking. Leaf finished third in Heisman Trophy voting and looked to have a stellar NFL career for whoever was lucky enough to draft him.
Drafted! The Indianapolis Colts had the #1 pick in the 1998 draft and invited prospects for interviews. Leaf skipped his. The Colts dropped him from consideration and drafted future superstar Peyton Manning. Leaf went #2, to the San Diego Chargers.
Fumble! In three years, he played in just 25 games, threw for 3,666 yards total (less than in his last year at WSU), and was intercepted 36 times. He was traded and played on practice squads for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks, but was finished by 2002. His last job in football was as an unpaid quarterbacks coach at tiny West Texas A&M from 2006 to 2008.
TONY MANDARICH (1989)
Vital Stats: Just prior to the draft, Sports Illustrated gushed over the Michigan State offensive tackle, putting the 6’6″, 315-pound offensive tackle on the cover, and calling him “The Incredible Bulk: the best offensive line prospect ever.”
Drafted! He was the #2 pick, and went to the Green Bay Packers.
Fumble! That year’s top five draft picks included four future Hall of Famers: Troy Aikman, Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, and Deion Sanders. But not Mandarich, who played in six seasons out of the next 10 years, and was sidelined from 1992 to ’94 with substance-abuse problems. Sports Illustrated atoned for its bad prediction with another cover story that called Mandarich “The Incredible Bust.”
ART SCHLICHTER (1982)
Vital Stats: Quarterback Schlichter was a Heisman Trophy finalist in three of his four years at Ohio State. He had a whopping 7,547 passing yards and threw 50 touchdowns, along with rushing for 1,303 yards and 35 rushing touchdowns.
Drafted! The Indianapolis Colts took him at #4 in the 1982 draft.
Fumble! At the end of training camp, Schlichter unexpectedly lost the starting job to fellow rookie Mike Pagel, leaving him as the backup QB with plenty of time to kill on the sidelines. Turns out Schlichter had a gambling problem. Rather than chart plays, as backup QBs are supposed to do, Schlichter called in bets on college and NFL games. When a players’ strike shortened the season, Schlichter had more time to gamble. (He estimates he lost $700,000 during the work stoppage.) When bookies threatened to expose him, he went to the FBI and the NFL, which suspended him for the entire 1983 season, fearing he might throw games he was playing in. The Colts released him five games into the 1985 season. After he was arrested for his involvement in an illegal gambling operation in 1987, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle banned him from the league.
– Hey Beav! An EBook of that would make an easy and quick to give and a really swell Christmas present, wouldn’t it?
– Sure would, Wally!
UJ’s Fully Loaded 25th Anniversary BR NFL Bonus (page 111): In the 1890s, the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers football team was called the Bugeaters.
Not Related In Any Way to the Bathroom Reader But Hilarious Anyway Bonus: This.
• NFL logo pic from here.