The NFL is in full bloom this season, and with us now entering the final stretch of the season, there have been plenty of surprises. The Jaguars and the Titans have emerged as the frontrunners in the AFC South due to the Texans and Colts dealing with brutal injuries to their starting quarterbacks. The Saints are looking like Super Bowl contenders after finally finding a running game this season as well as a serviceable defense.
This season has also been filled with star- studded performances from Carson Wentz, who’s looking like an MVP in the making. We’ll have to see the 2nd year Quarterback can finally lead the Eagles back to the Super Bowl, but they look impressive to start the year nonetheless.
This piece takes a look at 15 former NFL players who were sunk into irrelevance by the time their careers were over. It will also include some players who became irrelevant fairly quickly after entering the league. There have also been several great players in college who didn’t perform in the league once they got there. Players like Jimmy Clausen, Derrick Williams and many more were all great players coming out of college. However, once they got to the league they lost their footing and didn’t turn out to be as great for their respective program.
The same is true for NFL players who started off alright, but then fell off the league at some point. With these things in mind, let’s take a look.
15. Michael Vick
Following Michael Vick’s career resurgence with the Eagles after serving his prison term, he was then a backup for Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. His numbers dissipated from 2010-2015 in TD passes, completion percentage and attempts in that same span. Not to mention he couldn’t stay healthy, which diminished his performance as well.
Vick spent this summer as one of Andy Reid’s coaching interns for the Kansas City Chiefs. “I would love to coach in the National Football League one day,” Vick told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “Whether it’s a position coach or, I wouldn’t say a coordinator as of yet because I’d have to get a feel for what the game is like. At some point, I’d definitely love to help work with young quarterbacks and develop them and still compete, you know, with the team and with the coaches.”
14. Matt Hasselbeck
From professional football player to television personality, Hasselbeck has made a name for himself in that regard. He played with four NFL teams; the Packers, Seahawks, Titans and Colts.
Hasselbeck makes the list here because of how his career ended. After being a prominent starter in Seattle, Hasselbeck was eventually released by the Seahawks and signed with the Tennessee Titans. He was signed to primarily serve as a stopgap QB until first round pick Jake Locker was ready to take the reins. After Locker took the starting job, Hasselbeck was cut by the Titans and went to Indy, serving as Andrew Luck’s backup. While he played solid in games he relieved Luck, Hasselbeck’s career ended on a whimper after having been a star QB earlier in his career.
13. Brett Favre
Favre was indeed a great player for the Green Bay Packers, leading them to a Super Bowl XXXI victory and building a Hall of Fame resume in Green Bay. He eventually decided to retire following the 2007 season, then un-retired, only to be traded to the New York Jets. After a disappointing 2008 season, Favre un-retired again, signing with the Minnesota Vikings, where he put up a legendary 2009 season, possibly the best of his career, posting numbers of 4,202 yards, a 68% completion rating and 33 touchdowns to just seven interceptions.
Favre became irrelevant in the league once he was pressured to return for the 2010 season by Minnesota coming off ankle surgery. Favre was clearly done by that 2010 season, which saw his games started streak come to an end at 297 and he ended the season on the bench.
12. Terrell Owens
Terrell Owens played over 10 seasons in the NFL and played for multiple teams. He had a great career in the NFL, including over 80 TD receptions to go along with over 10,000 career receiving yards. For the most part, TO was a dominant force in the NFL and he played some great seasons with the Eagles.
However, Owens’ shortcoming was when he decided to sign with the Buffalo Bills. His numbers plummeted, but he was brought back for one more season, by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010, hoping he would form a dynamic duo with Chad Johnson. That didn’t happen and despite never officially retiring, no team has elected to sign TO since 2010.
11. Vince Wilfork
Wilfork played 11 of his 13 NFL seasons with the Patriots, and his last two with the Texans. Vince Wilfork certainly has a lot to be proud of over the course of his career. Winning multiple Super Bowls with the team, leading the team in sacks for several years and beating Tom Brady in a 40 yard dash.
Vince started to become irrelevant once he signed with the Texans. His age started to catch up with him and he couldn’t find a way to stay healthy.
Vince Wilfork would retire this summer after signing a one-day contract with the Pats. He retired in epic fashion, announcing it in a Kingsford Charcoal commercial. He played his last game at Gillette Stadium in this past year’s playoffs. For Wilfork, he has enjoyed tailgating and leisurely time over his retirement with the Patriots.
10. Plaxico Burress
Many fans forget that winning catch Plaxico had in Super Bowl XLII to defeat the 18-0 New England Patriots. He helped take the Giants to the promise land and it was a remarkable accomplishment for the team to say the least.
Burress would soon fall off the league when he shot a gun through his leg in a nightclub incident. He would be released from the Giants and he had to serve time in prison for criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment.
When Burress got out of jail, his best days were clearly behind him and he ended his career on forgettable stints with the Jets, then the Steelers, his original team.
9. J.P Losman
J.P. Losman was nothing short of an embarrassment during his time in Buffalo. His TD/INT ratio was embarrassing, he could not make throws consistently, and he led the Bills to a solid 6-10 record each of his three seasons. Although he completed about 59% of his passes for his career, he also passed for 33 TDs and 34 INTs.
Losman also showed a consistent inability to stay on the field, thus adding to his fallout from the league. Losman showed a lot of promise in college but he just ended up being another failure in the long line of failed Bills QBs since Jim Kelly’s retirement.
8. JaMarcus Russell
Russell played for the Oakland Raiders 2007-2009 when he was drafted. He was selected with the 1st overall pick and started 25 games with the Raiders. Many people thought he was going to be the Raiders saving grace and solve their problems. Many fans thought he was going to be a savior, but he turned out to be the biggest draft bust ever.
Turns out he was lazy and uncommitted to football. Of course Russell wasn’t the only draft bust a team has suffered during their career, it is certainly worth noting that he was on a below average Raiders squad as well.
According to SI.com, “Russell fills part of his days as a youth football coach in Mobile, pacing around with more energy than he showed as a NFL quarterback.” So, although his days of playing football are over, he still wants to coach and work with other kids with those same aspirations.
7. Santonio Holmes
Remember when “Big Ben” used to have Santonio Holmes as his favorite wide out? Moreover, imagine if Antonio Brown and Holmes ended up playing together? Wow. We may never know what could have been, but Holmes was for the most part a solid contributor in Pittsburgh. He spent four seasons with both the Steelers and the Jets, while spending one with the Bears.
Holmes would eventually retire a Steeler. Since retiring, Holmes has tried to devote some of his time to causes that are important to him. He recently hosted the Holmes’ Strikes Against Sickle Cell Bowlathon, an event that was meant to raise awareness for people like his son, T.J., who was diagnosed with Sickle Cell disease. It’s good to see Holmes put in the effort to make a difference in notable causes.
6. Steven Jackson
Jackson spent most of his career with a below average Rams squad, while failing to make the playoffs in multiple years. He only had one season rushing for over 10 TDs and accumulating over 1,400 yards.
Steven Jackson eventually moved on to Atlanta, but was well past his prime by that point, then ended his career as a Patriots running back, and we all know how long RBs tend to last in New England.
According to NFL.com, Jackson has taken some time to pursue his aspirations of becoming an architect and give back to the community. He became a stakeholder in the Las Vegas veterans Villages, a non profit organization the provides housing, food and care for veterans.” For Jackson, he wants to keep pursuing multiple interests and this is a true testament of that.
5. Kyle Orton
Kyle Orton played for the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills. Orton maintained some consistent stats throughout the NFL, averaging a impressive 59% completion percentage with 101 TDs to 69 INTs.
His downfall, however, would just be he didn’t get enough playing time. He was a backup for Tono Romo and the Cowboys and was a backup for Jay Cutler as well. Although he showed a consistent ability to produce, his ‘bleh’ factor ultimately landed him a spot here.
Orton is now retired and he did it in the most Kyle Orton way possible. He reportedly told teammates he was going to a meeting, then never came back. Since retiring, Orton has predictably stayed VERY quiet and no one is quite sure what he’s up to.
4. Chad Pennington
Pennington spent seven NFL seasons with the Jets and three with the Miami Dolphins. In 2006 he threw 16 INTs which was his season high. Drafted out of Marshall with the 18th overall pick in 2000, many thought he would be a solid player for the Jets. While Pennington was never quite the flashiest QB, he certainly kept the Jets above water, but a nasty shoulder injury hampered his career. The Jets eventually cut him prior to the 2008 season in favor of Brett Favre, and Pennington then led the Miami Dolphins to the AFC East crown. However, Pennington suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in early 2009. He would return as a backup in 2010, only to suffer another shoulder injury after returning to game action.
In 2011, he tore his ACL while playing a pickup game of basketball and that’s when he finally decided to call it quits.
3. Maurice Jones Drew
Jones Drew played seven seasons with the Jaguars and one with the Raiders in 2014, retiring the season after. Over that span Jones Drew averaged 4.4 YPA while rushing for over 8,000 yards and 68 TDs.
What brings Jones Drew into this list is playing for the Jaguars, and signing a one day contract to return with the team. The team’s inconsistent ability to make the playoffs, while staying with the team are two reasons why he makes this list. His production also slipped heavily in the late stages of his career after previously beating out Fred Taylor for the Jags’ starting job.
The former Jaguars RB is now in the L.A. Rams radio booth as a color commentator. Why would a Jaguar serve as a Rams commentator? Well, remember he went to UCLA, who the Rams share their temporary home stadium with.
2. Colin Kaepernick
This man has certainly been under a lot of fire since the recent protests in the NFL. Thanks to Kaepernick, many NFL players have adopted this form of peaceful protests during the national anthem prior to games. However, the protests, were not seen as peacefully by the commissioner and the rest of the league. They were looked down upon for “disrespecting the flag” Not to mention President Trump called the players out which led to even more controversy.
Kaepernick was a good player when he played in the NFL, but his off the field beliefs including the protests are why he is out of a job today. We’ll have to see if he gets brought on a new team, but for now, seems like he won’t play another NFL game. Kaepernick is still unemployed by the NFL, but remains active in his social outreach while proceeding to carry out his case, filing a collusion case against the NFL. He was recently named Citizen of the Year by GQ.
1. Johnny Manziel
There is so much one could say about Manziel. From his partying in college, to outrageous incidents on the golf course, or just not behaving off the field are what has derailed and dropped Manziel’s career from the NFL. Manziel got his shot, but it was a rough start, and only got worse for him when he committed these actions.
Manziel was certainly looked down upon by the fans of Cleveland for not behaving, but at the same time concerned and tried to help him for his well being. For these reasons, Manziel is not in the NFL anymore.
Manziel is not in the NFL, but wants to come back. However no team is willing to give him a second chance. This year, Manziel tried to get into the game again, albeit in the Canadian Football League, as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats hold his negotiating rights. However, the team elected not to sign him mid-season. We may very well see Manziel playing in the CFL next summer.
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