The NFL is the most difficult league for a young player to make it in. Everyone entering the league has talent and the athletic ability to do amazing things on the field. The grueling aspect of the game is what makes it so tough. You're asking a kid to enter a world where giant dudes that have been doing this for many years are going to maul him. It leads to quite a few busts. However, the more interesting stories revolve around the players that figure it out for a short time period before the rest of the league catches up to them.
A small list of NFL players have exploded with one or two impressive seasons to earn name value and appreciation from the fans. These specific guys we'll look at unfortunately witnessed it all end rather abruptly. Their one or two seasons of greatness were followed with a huge decline that saw their careers go downhill. Stories range from injuries to bad luck to a lack of talent to opposing teams just figuring them out. The following fifteen names are remembered as one hit wonders in NFL history, but we'll also take a look at what they're doing these days following the bitter ending to their playing careers.
15 Tim Tebow: Signed With New York Mets Affiliate
The polarizing reaction to Tim Tebow made him a popular name when entering the NFL. A successful college career is what brought him fame, but NFL scouts didn’t see it translating to the professional game. Tebow had a stellar rookie season, despite starting the season looking lost, though he managed to turn it around, leading the Denver Broncos to the playoffs. The quarterback had the game of his career in the playoffs, pulling off a miracle comeback to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the postseason.
14 Jonas Gray: Free Agent
As an undrafted young running back, Jonas Gray struggled to find a home in the NFL until he joined the New England Patriots. Gray shocked the NFL world with a record breaking day in his fourth career game. The Patriots saw Gray set the record for most rushing touchdowns with four and a total of 201 rushing yards against the Indianapolis Colts.
13 Mark Sanchez: Free Agent
The numbers of Mark Sanchez were never that great in the NFL, but he achieved a great deal of success early in his career. Sanchez was the quarterback of the New York Jets right when Rex Ryan took over the team. His new philosophy and roster saw the Jets reach the AFC Championship Game two years in a row, falling just short to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts.
12 Larry Brown: Dallas Cowboy Radio Broadcaster
Not to be confused with the NBA coach with the same name, Larry Brown struggled to follow his one dream season in the NFL. Brown’s career peak came in Super Bowl XXX when he won the MVP for the Dallas Cowboys. It was the first time a cornerback achieved such an honor at the Super Bowl.
11 Steve Beuerlein: CBS TV Analyst
The name Steve Beuerlein haunts Carolina Panthers fans that believed he was their quarterback of the future in 1999. That year, Beuerlein put up astonishing numbers of 4,436 yards and 36 touchdowns during the season. Carolina had high hopes for him but the following season saw the lackluster quarterback come back down to earth. Beuerlein moved to the Denver Broncos for two more seasons, but only started five games in that time before retiring.
10 Vince Young: Saskatchewan Roughriders
An outstanding college career at the University of Texas made Vince Young a highly valued prospect entering the NFL. The Tennessee Titans assumed they would be getting their quarterback of the future when they selected him with the third pick of the 2006 Draft. Young struggled, but showed enough ability during his rookie season to get Titans fans on his side. An impressive seven rushing touchdowns in his rookie season was unheard of at the time.
9 Ickey Woods: Head Coach Of The Cincinnati Sizzle
Ickey Woods had a dream rookie season in 1988 as the running back for the Cincinnati Bengals. The charismatic running back rushed for 1,005 yards and 15 touchdowns during the season. Cincinnati went to the Super Bowl behind Woods’ outstanding season. Unfortunately, injuries would ruin his potential of adding consistency to follow his superb year.
8 Kevin Jones: Design Firm, JoBa
The Detroit Lions saw running back Kevin Jones have a great rookie season to provide optimism for the future. Jones put up 1,133 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns to show the world that he had the talent to succeed in the NFL. Unfortunately, it was the only time Jones would achieve such skill before falling off.
7 Derek Anderson: Backup NFL QB
The saddest thing about Derek Anderson’s one year of greatness for the Cleveland Browns is that it makes him the franchise’s best quarterback in recent memory. Anderson led the Browns to a 10-6 record and playoff appearance in 2007, throwing 29 touchdowns during the season. Cleveland fans finally believed they had a quarterback who could keep the momentum going.
6 Peyton Hillis: Retired
Another player to fool Cleveland Browns fans with one big year is Peyton Hillis. The running back dominated the 2010 season, fooling both Browns fans and fantasy football players into believing in him. Hillis put up eye-opening numbers of 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns. Some believe the biggest honor of his career is what doomed him, as Madden chose him to be on the cover of the next video game.
5 Nick Foles: Backup NFL QB
Nick Foles's incredible season in 2013 had us all believing he was the next big Superstar quarterback. Foles delivered an incredible ratio of 27 passing touchdowns to two interceptions under the first year of Chip Kelly’s coaching staff in Philadelphia. The Eagles made the playoffs behind Foles’ dominant play as one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL that year.
4 Michael Clayton: Back To School
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Michael Clayton in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft and were rewarded with an amazing rookie season. Clayton lived up to his potential as a stud rookie wide receiver with 1,193 yards and seven touchdowns. Sadly, he never had another good season in the NFL. Thosee numbers would never be matched, as Clayton’s next best season saw him haul in 484 yards for one touchdown.
3 Don Majkowski: Retired
Don Majkowski had an incredible season in 1989 as the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. The MVP vote for that season saw Majkowski finishing second to Joe Montana. Majkowski threw for 27 touchdowns and led the Packers to the playoffs. A couple of injuries and disappointing seasons saw the magic run out and Green Bay realized they had to give up on Majkowski despite his potential.
2 Steve Slaton: Chef For The Texans
The Houston Texans saw Steve Slaton have a tremendous rookie season in 2008. Slaton delivered 1,659 total yards and ten touchdowns to bring some excitement to the Texans franchise. However, head coach Gary Kubiak wanted some changes from Slaton that ended up damaging his career. Kubick requested Slaton put on weight to be a more durable back. It just decreased his speed and caused his career to go downhill after his outstanding rookie season.
1 Robert Griffin III: Backup NFL QB
The biggest one hit wonder in NFL history has to be Robert Griffin III. Everyone viewed him as a future Superstar after an amazing rookie season for the Washington Redskins. Griffin won the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year Award with 3,200 passing yards and 20 passing touchdowns along with 815 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns.
RG3 suffered an ACL tear in the playoff loss of his rookie year and was never the same. His running game was limited, forcing him to become a traditional passer. Griffin never had another good season and lost his place in the league as a starter. Today, RG3 is a free agent, hoping to find the formula to success again. One positive thing for Griffin is the fact that he signed many endorsement deals as a rookie that allow him to live comfortably now, despite the NFL doubt.
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