NFL fans pride themselves on learning the history of players who succeed at the biggest level. The thing which makes the NFL different from other sports is how most of the star players stay on one team for the majority of their career. For some people, they can only remember Tom Brady on the Patriots and that is what makes the NFL perfect. Ray Lewis doing his dance in the Ravens' locker room for his career is something that fans think describes the franchise.
Of course, there are times when players are big-time free agents in the off-season and change the culture of a team when they leave. One of the biggest examples of this is when Reggie White left the Eagles to join the Packers and make them Super Bowl champions. Moves like that have also been huge in making teams elevate to the next level on their next step. When players like Peyton Manning move to the Broncos and win Super Bowls, those are moves that fit in with their career.
But there are times when even the best players in NFL history go to places that fans don't remember. This normally happens at the end of a long career when there is the one stop too many. They don’t have any signature career moments in that other uniform so it isn’t something that defines a great career. Other times, they are on a different team at the beginning of their careers, which most fans wouldn't have realized. Here are 20 stars who were in teams that will surprise.
20 Jerry Rice - Seattle Seahawks
Jerry Rice was taken 16th overall by the 49ers in 1985. They clearly knew something that the rest of the league didn’t know because Rice became one of the greatest wide receivers in the NFL. After his rookie year, Rice started his great reign in the NFL. Rice went to 11 straight Pro Bowls from 1986-96.
Everyone remembers when he moved to the Raiders and continued to be a great player.
Rice has the most receiving yards and TDs in NFL history and is well-known as one of the best of all-time. However, many fans may not realize he ended his career with the Seahawks when he was 42 years old.
19 James Harrison - Cincinnati Bengals
James Harrison has one of the best stories in the history of the league. He was undrafted but joined the Steelers as a special teams player. Over the years he started to get more playing time and really took the next step in 2007 when he made his first Pro Bowl with 8.5 sacks. Harrison made the Pro Bowl from 2007-2011 as one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. He was still a leader on the team when he left last year and joined the Patriots at the end of the season. But people forget when Harrison joined the Bengals in 2013 and got only two sacks. He just never looked right in a Bengals uniform.
18 Joe Namath - Los Angeles Rams
Everyone remembers Joe Namath for his time in New York with the Jets. Never one to shy away from the spotlight, it seems somewhat fitting that Broadway Joe left the Big Apple, only to move to the glitz of Hollywood. However, Namath was well past his prime and his season in Los Angeles wasn't a fruitful one. The Rams benched an ineffective Namath for Vince Ferragamo, who led the Rams to a 10-4 season and a Super Bowl appearance against the Pittsburgh Steelers. As for Namath, he never saw NFL action again and retired following the 1977 season.
17 Randy Moss - Tennessee Titans
Randy Moss was taken with the 21st pick in the 1998 draft. The Vikings got the gift of Moss and made five Pro Bowls in eight years with the team. Moss then went to the Patriots after a few tough seasons with the Raiders.
Once in New England, Moss broke the record for touchdowns in a season with 23.
He was very successful with the Pats for three years, but most people don't remember him going to the Titans back in 2010 for 8 games.
It was a very forgettable stint. Moss would eventually finish his career with the 49ers in 2012.
16 Champ Bailey - New Orleans Saints
Champ Bailey was taken seventh overall in the 1999 draft by the Redskins. He was going to be the next great cornerback in the league and is one of the rare players to reach those lofty expectations. Bailey played for the Redskins from 1999-2003 and made the Pro Bowl in four seasons. Once he was traded to the Broncos, the success continued for Bailey and he went to the Pro Bowl eight more times over the next 10 seasons.
Bailey ended his career with 52 interceptions and is going to be a sure-fire Hall of Famer when the time comes. But most people forget that he tried to play for the Saints in 2014 before ultimately calling it quits that year.
15 Dwight Freeney - Detroit Lions
Dwight Freeney was taken with the 11th overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Colts. He was selected to be a huge weapon for them on defense as a pass rusher. Freeney ended up becoming everything the Colts wanted. Freeney was a seven-time Pro Bowler during his 11 years with the Colts and had 107 sacks in those years.
After that Freeney bounced around and was a decent success with the Chargers, Cardinals, and Falcons as they tried to compete for rings. But most people don't remember his five-game stint with the Lions in 2017 where he got no sacks during his stay.
14 Edgerrin James - Seattle Seahawks
Edgerrin James was taken fourth overall by the Colts in the 1999 NFL draft. They wanted James to help Peyton Manning as a quarterback and his growth in the future. This was another move the Colts got right and James was a successful player for years with the Colts.
Most people remember his unsuccessful three-year stint with the Cardinals but most people don't remember him playing with the Seahawks for a season with only 46 carries.
Why is it that Seattle seems to be the place where so many NFL stars end their careers? Speaking of which...
13 Terrell Owens - Seattle Seahawks
Terrell Owens was taken in the third round of the 1996 draft by the 49ers. In their wildest dreams, they didn't see him as the possible successor to all-time great Jerry Rice but Owens' ability couldn't be ignored for long. However, the story of Owens' career is that he was always moving from team to team.
There were eight years with the Niners where Owens made four Pro Bowls. In two.years for the Eagles and three years with the Cowboys, Owens had one Pro Bowl appearance each.
After nobody signed him following the 2010 season, Owens spent a year in arena football. Owens got an invite to the Seahawks for their 2012 training camp, but was released three weeks later. He hasn't gotten an NFL call since, and has still expressed interest in returning to the league.
12 Wes Welker - St. Louis Rams
Wes Welker was an undrafted player from Texas Tech. When the Dolphins picked him up early in his career he was mainly a kick and punt returner. As time moved on, Welker redefined the slot position in the NFL with the Patriots and Broncos. Welker made five straight Pro Bowls with the Patriots from 2008-2012 and was a very solid third option on the Broncos for two seasons. People don't remember his stint with the Rams in 2015 when he played 8 games and only got 102 yards receiving. Too bad Jared Goff wasn't a Ram yet.
11 Warren Moon - Kansas City Chiefs
Warren Moon had to fight through a lot just to get into the NFL. This was at the time that NFL teams carried the notion that African-American quarterbacks couldn't lead a team. Because of that, Moon waited until he was 28 years old for his first chance in the NFL with the Houston Oilers.
Moon went to six Pro Bowls with the Oilers, had two more with the Vikings and made one with the Seahawks at the age of 41.
The stunning thing was that Moon stayed in the league until the age of 44. He ended his career as a backup with the Chiefs.
10 Eddie George - Dallas Cowboys
Eddie George was taken with the 14th overall pick in the draft by the Houston Oilers, who later became the Titans in 1997. That year George went to Tennessee with the team and showed that he was worth the high draft choice. The ex-Ohio State running back made the Pro Bowl from 1997-2000 and played with the Titans for eight seasons. Over those years George ran for 10,000 yards on the ground and scored 64 TDs.
After that, George's career was pretty much over, but he still played one season with the Cowboys in 2004, running for 400 yards.
9 Reggie Wayne - New England Patriots
Reggie Wayne was taken 30th overall by the Colts in 2001 as the perfect weapon to complete their offense. Wayne was perfect for the team as a weapon for Manning in their spread-out offense. Wayne really started blossoming in 2004 with 1,200 yards receiving. From 2006-2012, Wayne won six Pro Bowls and established himself as one of the best receivers in the game. For the Colts, Wayne ended up with over 14,000 yards and 83 TDs in 14 seasons. But most people don't remember that he tried to be a part of the Patriots roster for a little bit in 2015 before being cut.
8 Chad Johnson - Miami Dolphins
Chad Johnson was taken in the second round of the 2001 draft by the Bengals. As a wide receiver, they didn't know what to expect from him but Johnson became a threat when he got 1,100 yards in his second season in the NFL. He then became one of the most entertaining shows in the league when he made the Pro Bowl six times from 2003-2009. However, when Johnson dropped off, it was quick and the Bengals were ready to move on.
In 2011, the Patriots signed him but Johnson never worked out in New England.
But in 2012, Johnson signed with the Dolphins in a move that most people didn't expect to happen. Following an off-field incident, Ocho was cut prior to the regular season.
7 John Randle - Seattle Seahawks
Wow, another forgotten stint in Seattle. John Randle was undrafted out of college as an undersized defensive tackle. He wasn't the biggest but Randle showed consistent effort on every play and had a motor that wouldn't stop. The Vikings were the beneficiary of the league not noticing Randle's talent, as he made six Pro Bowls with the Vikings from 1993-98. Randle had 114 sacks in 11 years with the team. He did move on to play with the Seahawks but because Randle was always seen on NFL Films as a player for the Vikings, most people probably forget that part of his career.
6 Art Monk - Philadelphia Eagles
Art Monk was taken with the 18th overall pick in the 1980 NFL draft by the Redskins. He was the first in a new wave of wideouts where height became a crucial part of the passing game. Monk was big for those Redskins teams in his career, helping them win three Super Bowls in his 14 years on the team. Monk also made three Pro Bowls in his time playing with the Redskins. But at the age of 38, Monk played on the rival Eagles team. His impact wasn't big, though, with only three games played for the season.
5 Richard Dent - San Francisco 49ers
Richard Dent was taken in the 8th round of the 1983 draft by the Bears. They were on their way towards building one of the best defenses in NFL history and they didn't plan on Dent playing a big part on the team. But it didn't take long for them to figure out that Dent was going to be great in the NFL.
Starting in 1984, Dent got over 10 sacks for five straight years.
He also made four Pro Bowls over his 11 seasons with the team. But most people don't remember that Dent was apart of the 49ers in 1994 and was a part of their Super Bowl team as well.
4 Jason Taylor - New York Jets
Jason Taylor was picked in the third round of the 1997 draft by the Dolphins. They couldn't have imagined that Taylor would become one of the best pass rushers in the history of the NFL. It took four years for Taylor to really get started, but he burst on to the scene in 2000 making his first of six Pro Bowls with the Dolphins. Taylor was the face of their franchise for most of the 2000s, and that's despite playing with the Jets for a year at the age of 36. Taylor returned to the Dolphins the next year and retired in the right uniform.
3 Tony Dorsett - Denver Broncos
Tony Dorsett was selected with the second overall pick of the 1977 draft by the Cowboys. Picturing Dorsett in anything but a Cowboys jersey is diffcult. As a Heisman Trophy winner in college, the hype surrounding Dorsett was incredible, but he lived up to the expectations. Starting with his rookie year, Dorsett had five straight 1,000-yard seasons with the Cowboys. Throughout his career, Dorsett made four Pro Bowls in 11 years with the team. However, his career ended with a pedestrian 700-yard season for the Broncos at the age of 34. He would retire the following season after tearing ligaments in his knees.
2 Eric Dickerson - Atlanta Falcons
Eric Dickerson is another running back who came into the NFL with a ton of expectations. As the second overall pick by the Rams in 1983, Dickerson quickly exploded onto the scene with 1,800 yards as a rookie. Dickerson was a great Rams and Colts player with three Pro Bowls for each franchise.
Dickerson is still considered the greatest Los Angeles Ram of all time and he still enjoyed some success with the Colts, despite being past his prime.
However at the age of 33, he wasn't a great Falcons player in only four games with the team.
1 Kevin Greene - San Francisco 49ers
Kevin Greene was taken in the fifth round of the 1985 draft by the Rams. He wasn't a well-known prospect as a linebacker and defensive end but started to come onto the scene as a pass rusher after a few years. In 1988 he had 16.5 sacks for the Rams. After that, he made a Pro Bowl in 1989. Greene joined the Steelers in 1993 and made two Pro Bowls for them. He then went to the Panthers in 1996 and made the Pro Bowl in '96 and '98. However, there was a year in 1997 when he joined the Niners, but that's the season which most people won't remember.