Saturday, April 26, 2008

NFL draft crash-and-burns

First-round picks in the NFL draft are supposed to have excellent careers. Many of them, like Lawrence Taylor, do just that, or at least get off to a promising start, only to later endure a shocking fall.
Bill Maas
Drafted: Fifth overall, 1984, Chiefs
High Point: Twice named All-Pro, went on to become Fox NFL analyst.
Shocking Fall: Arrested last year at a traffic stop after cops found drugs and a loaded gun in his car, then was promptly fired by Fox.
David Overstreet
Drafted: 13th overall, 1981, Dolphins
High Point: Averaged 4.6 yards per carry in first season with Miami.
Shocking Fall: Died at 25 when his car went off a highway, smashed into gas pumps and exploded.
Ross Verba
Drafted: 30th overall, 1997, Packers
High Point: Was first rookie to ever start at left tackle in a Super Bowl.
Shocking Fall: Gambling debts led him to write bad checks to a Las Vegas casino, for which he was arrested last year.
Percy Snow
Drafted: 13th overall, 1990, Chiefs
High Point: Started at linebacker as a rookie.
Shocking Fall: Moped mishap during 1991 training camp ruined his knee and cut short his promising career.
James Brooks
Drafted: 24th overall, 1981, Chargers
High Point: Retired as Bengals' all-time leading rusher.
Shocking Fall: Was arrested in '99 for failing to pay more than $100,000 in child support. Claimed his illiteracy kept him from holding a job.
Joe Don Looney
Drafted: 12th overall, 1964, Giants
High Point: Scored five TDs one season with Detroit.
Shocking Fall: Was allegedly an enforcer for leader of Siddha Yoga movement. Died at 45 when he crashed his motorcycle into a fence.
John Matuszak
Drafted: First overall, 1973, Oilers
High Point: Won two Super Bowls with Raiders.
Shocking Fall: Died at 38. Constant drug use, which might have included steroids, is often blamed for his early demise.
Wayne Simmons
Drafted: 15th overall, 1993, Packers
High Point: Won Super Bowl with Green Bay in 1996.
Shocking Fall: Crashed Mercedes in 2002 after speeding and weaving through traffic. Car burst into flames and Simmons died at 32.
Billy Sims
Drafted: First overall, 1980, Lions
High Point: Chosen for Pro Bowl in first three seasons.
Shocking Fall: Has had many legal issues, including bankruptcy, assault conviction and jail stint for failing to pay child support.
Don Rogers
Drafted: 18th overall, 1984, Browns
High Point: Named AFC Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Shocking Fall: Died in 1986 of cocaine poisoning at his mother's house.
Darrell Russell
Drafted: Second overall, 1997, Raiders
High Point: Two-time All-Pro selection.
Shocking Fall: Suspended often for violating NFL's drug policy. Died at 29 as passenger in car that crashed into tree, fire hydrant and bus.
Jerome Brown
Drafted: Ninth overall, 1987, Eagles
High Point: Twice chosen for Pro Bowl team.
Shocking Fall: He and nephew died in 1992 when Brown lost control of his Corvette while speeding and crashed.
Art Schlichter
Drafted: Fourth overall, 1982, Colts
High Point: Started six NFL games and threw three TD passes.
Shocking Fall: Gambling addiction ruined his life. Spent 10 years in prison on various charges. By his own estimate he stole $1.5 million to support his addiction.
Derrick Thomas
Drafted: Fourth overall, 1989, Chiefs
High Point: Nine-time Pro Bowl pick. Once had seven sacks in one game.
Shocking Fall: Fathered seven illegitimate children. Was ejected from SUV in 2000 crash and died shortly after.
Todd Marinovich
Drafted: 24th overall, 1991, Raiders
High Point: Threw three touchdown passes in his first NFL start.
Shocking Fall: One-time "Robo QB" has been arrested numerous times, mostly on drug charges. Once fled from police on a kid's bike.
Pacman Jones
Drafted: Sixth overall, 2005, Titans
High Point: Returned three punts for TDs in 2006.
Shocking Fall: Shooting incident at Las Vegas strip club in 2007 was last straw for Jones. NFL suspended Pacman for '07 season and still hasn't reinstated him.
Rae Carruth
Drafted: 27th overall, 1997, Panthers
High Point: Named to All-Rookie team at wide receiver.
Shocking Fall: Serving at least 18 years in prison for his involvement in the murder of pregnant girlfriend Cherica Adams in 1999.
Lawrence Taylor
Drafted: Second overall, 1981, Giants
High Point: 1986 NFL MVP and Hall of Fame selection.
Shocking Fall: Regularly abused drugs during and after career. Busted twice for trying to buy cocaine from undercover cops.
Michael Vick
Drafted: First overall, 2001, Falcons
High Point: Only quarterback to run for 1,000 yards in a season.
Shocking Fall: Was arrested last year and sentenced to 23 months in federal prison for his involvement in dogfighting. Has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL.
O.J. Simpson
Drafted: First overall, 1969, Bills
High Point: First player to run for 2,000 yards in a season.
Shocking Fall: Found liable for the deaths of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman. Arrested last year for role in alleged armed robbery in Las Vegas.
Ah, yes. Saving the best for last.
Notice that most of them did drugs or died in car accidents. This is a scary world.

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