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Top 15 Longest Holdouts in Sports

Who can stand a lengthy holdout when a team’s season is about to start and either some star player or exciting rookie refuses to sign on the dotted line because they think they’re worth more than what the franchise thinks? This may be one of the most infuriating aspects of professional sports. Nearly every fanbase has experienced this at one point or another and it can drive you absolutely insane.

As a Dolphins fan, there are stark reminders of Ronnie Brown holding out for a long period of time before his rookie season. While only 3 weeks, Brown’s holdout came on the heels of a season where the Dolphins were relegated to throwing any random street hobo on the field to play running back after Ricky Williams suddenly retired for whatever mystical reasons. This put the Dolphins in a tough position with their #2 overall pick (oh hey Aaron Rodgers we could have drafted!!!) and forced them to give a rookie running back a 5-year deal for $35 million and $20 million in guarantees.

In the case of a rookie, there can be a little understanding given they are just entering the league, the franchise and that fanbase so there’s always a level of distrust but it can be even more maddening when it deals with a franchise player that has been the bedrock of your team for years. This happens a lot with North American professional sports as the player attempts to ascertain their value with how they think of it, how much they feel will be adequate to care for their family and what their relative value is compared to other players in the league. Conversely, the franchise must ascertain the value of the player over a replacement player or against similar players in the league.

It can get tricky and sometimes negotiations can reach a point where neither player nor franchise can come to an agreement. Hopefully that never happens to your franchise. Here are 15 of the longest holdouts in professional sports history:

15 JaMarcus Russell

via sbnation.com

14 Alexei Yashin

via lighthousehockey.com

Yashin’s tumultuous tenure with the Ottawa Senators culminated in a contract dispute after the 98-99 season where he refused to honor the final year of his contract unless he received a substantial raise. This was the 3rd time in 5 years with the Senators that Yashin felt he was undervalued and he refused to report to the team despite the start of the 1999 season. The Senators – with full support of the NHL – suspended Yashin for the entirety of the season.

13 Emmitt Smith

via britannica.com

12 Bo Jackson

via slurpy.org

11 J.D. Drew

via boston.sportsthenandnow.com

10 John Riggins

via nflfilms.nfl.com

9 Pavel Bure

via therattrick.com

8 Steve Larmer

via committedindians.com

7 Tristan Thompson

Richard-USA TODAY Sports

6 Alex Rodriguez

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

5 Darrelle Revis

Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

4 Mark Messier

via nydailynews.com

3 Kam Chancellor

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

2 Larry Johnson

via nfl.com

1 Joey Galloway

via seahawks.com

Galloway’s holdout lasted 101 days – through training camp and 8 weeks of the 1999 season. Galloway, who wanted #1 receiver type money due to his previous production, ended his holdout with the wide receiver returning to the Mike Holmgren’s Seahawks without a new deal. Galloway would never return to that form that would command the kind of raise he wanted as he posted just 1 touchdown that entire ’99 season.

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Top 15 Longest Holdouts in Sports