Schadenfreude is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.
Today my focus will be on #1 NFL picks that wound up as busts. I named the award after Mr. Sims because he has a good nickname with a funny and fitting back story and because he is the first real bust in the modern era of Pro Football (1970 - present.)
To say he's the first bust is somewhat innacurate.
In 1973, the Houston Oilers drafted John Matuszak and he went on to be one of Sports Illustrated's Top 5 "Bad Boys" of all time in the NFL. He did have a decent career but drugs and alcohol kept him from truly reaching his potential.
Tampa Bay drafted Ricky Bell to be their running back of the future in 1977. He had a very short career due to a heart condition and died in 1984. He doesn't count as a bust although his story was tragic and his potential never achieved. His story is relevant especially due to the fact that the very next pick was one future Hall Of Famer...Tony Dorsett.
Tom Cousineau was drafted by the Bills in 1979 but he moved on to the CFL after he thought the Bills were rude to him.
That brings us to 1982 and Kenneth "Game Day" Sims. This defensive end was drafted by the New England Patriots and lasted in the pros for 8 years. In those eight years he amassed and impressive total of 17 sacks. No, I didn't miss a digit...he has exactly 17 more sacks than I do. He earned his nickname when he was questioned why he showed such a disinterest in practice to which he replied, "I'll be there on game day." To be that cocky and never live up to it has earned him recognition as having an award named after him that future players can strive to underachieve.
In 1988, the Atlanta Falcons drafted Aundray Bruce to fill their hole at linebacker. He was able to do that for 42 games over the course of eleven years and a total of 32 sacks and 4 interceptions...almost double the sacks of "Game Day!"
Jeff George was taken two years later by the Indianapolis Colts. He played for 9 years and racked up 27,602 yards and 154TDs. Not exactly bust numbers...but he did burn a lot of bridges with his poor attitude and cockiness. I was torn as to whether to include him or not until I saw that the Colts traded up to get him.
The Colts weren't done yet! Two years later they managed to get the number 1 and 2 picks in the 1992 draft and went to shore up their defense for years to come...uh...not exactly. They drafted DE Steve Emtman #1and LB Quentin Coryatt #2. I had to put Coryatt on here because the Colts could have taken him first instead. Plus it's funny that they blew the top two picks in the draft. They did make up for their discretions in 1998 when they settled the big controversy of "who should go #1" and drafted Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf. But Mr. Leaf will have to wait for a future blog to get his due.
Curtis Martin had to wait a full two rounds to get drafted in 1995 after Ki-Jana Carter went number one. Carter went on to put 1144 yards and 20 TDs under his belt. Those would good season numbers...but, sorry, not career numbers. If they could've been more patient, they could've gotten the 14,101 yards and 102 TDs that Martin put together. That's gotta hurt!
Teams did pretty well until 1999 and the can't miss QB Tim Couch came around. The Browns fell in love with him and made hime their franchise QB...oops. 11,131 yards later, they have little to show for their efforts except...
This leads me to my favorite #1 draft bust of ALL time. 2001. A kid with all they physical skills to make it big in the NFL. Big, strong, and fast (and I mean FAST) and an arm that you can't even believe. The Atlanta Falcons not only took a gamble on the flashy sports car of a QB, but they traded up to do it. Now it would be a wash if those picks turned out to be nothing. The San Diego Chargers took LaDainian Tomlinson in the first round and started out the second by taking Drew Brees. An MVP and possibly a future MVP for the best guy to throw a football in prison since Burt Reynolds in The Longest Yard...sorry Adam Sandler, Burt was just better and he upstaged you in your own movie.
After Mr. Vick, everyone else is anticlimactic. David Carr has done nothing of note since being drafted #1 in 2002. The jury is still out on Alex Smith...even though they could have taken Aaron Rodgers. The Packer faithful thank you. JaMarcus Russell has a long way to go before he can be given such a prestigious award.
Thank you all for the time to read this and to "Game Day" for your inspiration. It will not be forgotten.