Other Things-04.08.06...

Angry Pope

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Here is an audio from back on September 10, 1978 of the final minutes of the "Holy Roller" game against the Chargers. It is legendary Bill King doing the play-by-play. It starts when we were down 20-7. The audio plays almost instantly. I loved it...

Press to play....
 
Here are Bill Kings' dialogue in print....

The play-by-play call

Almost as memorable as the Holy Roller play was the account of it by Bill King, who called the game with his color commentator, Monty Stickles, on the San Francisco radio station KGO-AM.

BILL KING: Ten seconds left, (Fred) Biletnikoff out, (Morris) Bradshaw in, the ball on the 14, Oakland trails 20 to 14. The crowd takes up a chant of "Defense!" (Terry) Robiskie and Banaszak are the backs. Slot right, (Cliff) Branch inside Bradshaw.

Stabler back. Here comes the rush. He sidesteps and HE FUMBLES! HE'S SACKED! The ball, flipped forward, is loose! A wild scramble! Two seconds on the clock. Casper grabbing the ball. It is ruled a fumble. Casper has recovered in the end zone! The Oakland Raiders have scored on the most zany, unbelievable, absolutely impossible dream of a play!!

Stabler, while being hit, the ball squirted forward. (Raiders coach John) Madden is on the field; he wants to know if it's real. They said yes, get your big butt out of here! He does!

They [unintelligible] wildly found him inside the 10. [Unintelligible] goes on the field. Stabler, it is ruled, has been hit and fumbled. Banaszak knocked the ball forward, it bounded crazily. I'm looking at a replay now. Ultimately, Casper fell on it in the end zone. On the replay you see Banaszak go after it, it's knocked away as he shovels it forward. It's bounding inside the 5, Casper flips it with the fingers and falls on it.

And I have to tell you, I think Kenny Stabler threw the ball away, belt-high with a little flip and got away with it.

MONTY STICKLES: I'll tell you what, I think Kenny threw the ball away and got away with it. I think Banaszak fumbled it forward. But on all of that, Casper still has the presence of mind to get it in the end zone.

BILL KING: There it is, the kick by Mann is up - IT'S GOOD! THERE'S NO TIME LEFT!

There's nothing real in the world anymore! The Raiders have won the football game! Fifty-two thousand people, minus a few lonely Raider fans, are stunned! The Chargers are standing, looking at each other, looking at the sky. They don't believe it! Nobody believes it! I don't know if the Raiders believe it!

It's not real! A man would be a fool to ever try and write a drama and make you believe it. And now, this one will be relived - forever! Bitterly here in San Diego, joyfully in Oakland. Final score: Oakland 21, San Diego 20!''
 
Here is more...check out Stabler's comments near the end....

The play

With 10 seconds left in the game, the Raiders had possession of the ball at the Chargers 14-yard line, trailing 20-14. Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler took the snap and found himself about to be sacked by Chargers linebacker Woody Lowe on the 24-yard line. Stabler lost the ball, and it rolled forward towards the San Diego goal line. Running back Pete Banaszak tried to recover the ball on the 12-yard line, but could not keep his footing, and the ball was pushed even closer to the end zone. Raiders tight end Dave Casper was the next player to reach the ball but he also could not get a handle on it. He batted and kicked the ball into the end zone, where he fell on it for the game-tying touchdown as time ran out. The Raiders won, 21-20, with the ensuing extra point by placekicker Errol Mann.

During the play, the game officials ruled that Banaszak and Casper's actions were legal because it was impossible to determine if they intentionally batted the ball forward, and thus a penalty. The National Football League (NFL) also backed up referee Jerry Markbreit's call that Stabler fumbled the ball instead of throwing a forward pass. 1

However, when asked after the game by radio announcer Bill King if he intentionally fumbled, Stabler said, "You bet your ass I did." 2 Banaszak and Casper also admitted that they deliberately batted the ball towards the end zone.


Reaction

The Chargers and their fans were furious. Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts said the officials blew the call. After the game, Chargers fans began wearing T-shirts depicting a fat, blindfolded referee signaling a touchdown. Under the referee were the words "IMMACULATE DECEPTION." The nickname refers to the Immaculate Reception, another history-making play that went against the Raiders. That time, in a 1972 playoff game, it was the Pittsburgh Steelers who turned a great defensive play by the Raiders into a controversial game-winning touchdown.

Before the 1979 season, the NFL passed a new rule restricting fumble recoveries by the offense. Now, if a passer intentionally fumbles forward, it is automatically an incomplete pass. Rules against illegally batting the ball were strengthened and a fumble in the final two minutes of a game, or on fourth down at any time in the game, may not be advanced beyond by the offense beyond the spot of the fumble unless the player who fumbled recovers the ball. (In such situations, the defense can recover and advance a fumble as always.) In later years the NCAA passed a similar fourth-down fumble rule for college football, though without the provision for the last two minutes of a game.
 
Some comments by Bill King on Al...

Al Davis is ever-fascinating, an enigma to many, perhaps even more so if people were able to see certain aspects of Al from being a little bit closer to him. Al has great feeling and great caring in areas that are not often explored or at all covered by the media. When you say something about a man with foresight, you often say, "Well, he's several steps ahead of the game." Most of the time that I've observed Al over all these years, I would say that when one guy is four steps ahead, Al's about two blocks ahead. He has a great capacity to focus on whatever the issue is. And loyal. I would always put "loyal" in a word description of Al Davis.
 
Regarding the Broncos free agent strategy: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
 
Some of Mario Williams' likes....

Williams: Taking the pop quiz

(April 7, 2006) -- This special entry is Mario Williams' pop quiz. While it's not the Wonderlic exam, it's certainly a good way to find out more Williams.

Full name and position: Mario Jerrell Williams, defensive end
Date and location of birth: Jan. 31, 1985, Richland, N.C.
College and major: North Carolina State, Sports Management


1. What is the one thing you will miss most about college?

Williams: My teammates.

2. What was your favorite night-before-the-game meal?

Williams: Rice and butter. I eat pieces of chicken and stuff, but I eat a lot of rice and butter.


After being an RB in high school, Mario Williams wouldn't mind a return to the position.
3. Who was the toughest player you faced in college?

Williams: (Former Florida State OT) Alex Barron.

4. What other position do you wish you could play?

Williams: Probably running back. That's because you can score touchdowns.

5. Who were your idols as a child?

Williams: Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith and Lawrence Taylor.

6. Whose throwback jersey do you most want (or already have) in your closet?

Williams: I don't wear jerseys at this point because they're too expensive for me. But probably Lawrence Taylor.

7. What do you like to do in your spare time?

Williams: Clean my car. I have a big S-250 I call "Big Country."

8. Finish this sentence: The first thing I will buy after signing an NFL contract will be …

Williams: A house in the city I'm going to, but I will have a house in North Carolina eventually as well.

9. Name the most important thing you learned in college?

Williams: Discipline. That sums it up basically.

10. Pick one: Fame or fortune.

Williams: Fame, because I believe fame will always be there. Like, say, Lawrence Taylor. Everyone will remember him. But with fortune, you can always run out of money. With fame your name will be in everyone's head for a long time.

11. Do you have any superstitions?

Williams: I still think about splitting the pole, where I would walk on one side of the pole and someone would go on the other side. That's the only thing I really think about.

12. Let's say you got to host NFL Total Access for one day. Who would your guests be?

Williams: If I could have anybody in the whole world, I would want Martin Lawrence, Vida Guerra and Russell Simmons.

13. Which NFL stadium are you most looking forward to playing in?

Williams: Indianapolis. I liked their turf from when I was at the Combine.

14. What do you want people to know about N.C. State football that they might not already know?

Williams: We are disciplined. We don't jump offsides or anything, because that would be uncharacteristic of us. We are disciplined all the time.

15. It's 100 years from now. How are people going to remember you?

Williams: That I was one of the greatest defensive players of all time.
 
Rupert said:
Regarding the Broncos free agent strategy: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Hopefully, they will think that way.
 
Angry Pope said:
Williams: We are disciplined. We don't jump offsides or anything, because that would be uncharacteristic of us. We are disciplined all the time.
We could use a guy who knows how to use his brain!
 
Brayton and his racing gig....

Pascarella rides high in SuperMoto event


Vacaville's Joey Pascarella captured second place in the Super Lightweight division when the NorCal SuperMoto USA Series stopped at Argyl Park in Dixon last Sunday.
Pascarella also placed third in the 250F and 450 races.

Pascarella is scheduled to compete in the Nevada State Line Nationals today.


Top the Cops debuts

The law doesn't always win, it seems.

High school students won six of nine Top the Cops races Wednesday at Infineon Raceway. Winners included, Peter Wnifeman and Freddy Kornbacher of Martinez, Pittsburgh's Taylor Dorsey and Danny Jestadt, Napa's Chris Ellicock and Santa Rosa's Zack Marshall.

Ellicock, with his '02 Ford, went on to edge Dorsey's '89 Honda Civic for the High School championship with a near-perfect run on 18.39 seconds at 71.79 mph.

The Oakland Raiders' Tyler Brayton suffered a rare defeat in the Comp Rod class when he fouled out. His '64 Chevelle crossed the finish line just a split-second under his dial-in time of 12.15 seconds. Napa's Alan Cardwell took home the prize in his '78 Camaro.

Windsor's Joe Laskowski ('97 Mustang) won the Street class final ahead of Napa's Dan Overby ('70 Chevy truck). Newark's Rick Mcilmoil ('01 Toyota) took the Sport Street title from Hercules' Ryan Salandaman ('99 Honda).
 
A player that we drafted is making a HOF....

Central hall of fame to induct 3 athletes, 2 teams, 1 coach


Three athletes, a coach and two teams will be inducted tomorrow into the Central Catholic athletic hall of fame. The dinner and ceremony begin at 6 p.m. in the school's Sullivan Center.

Among the inductees are:

JoJuan Armour (class of 1995) earned four varsity letters in football and was the first Irish freshman to win a varsity letter in more than 25 years.

Armour was the City League player of the year in 1994 as a senior, and was All-City first team as both a running back and linebacker as a junior and senior. Armour was named All-Ohio second-team linebacker in Division I as a senior.

He played at Miami University where he was twice named MAC defensive player of the year as a linebacker. He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 1999. He played three seasons for the Cincinnati Bengals, and then with Barcelona of NFL Europe and British Columbia of the Canadian Football League. He currently plays for Hamilton in the CFL.

Kathy Szenderski (1972) earned eight varsity letters in basketball, track and tennis. During her three years on the varsity basketball team, the Irish lost only one game and won three league titles. She was twice named All-City.

Jim Flynn (1959) earned letters in football, basketball, baseball and track. He was named All-City first team in football as a senior and helped the Irish win CL titles in basketball and baseball.

Dick Finn was the baseball coach from 1956-60 and athletic director from 1957-59. He also served as intramural moderator from 1955-58, and as an assistant football and basketball coach. Coach Finn's baseball teams won CL titles in 1958 and 1959, a district title in 1959 and sectional titles in 1958 and 1959.

The 1958-59 boys basketball team finished with a record of 18-1 and had the only undefeated regular season in the modern era of Central basketball. The team was ranked as high as fifth in the Associated Press state poll. The team also won the City League championship.

The 1969-70 girls team was the first Irish girls basketball team to participate in interscholastic competition and won the CL title with an 8-0 record.

Brothers Brad Delp (1980) and Cleves Delp (1982) will be awarded the Citizen's Award. Both were athletes at Central and are active behind the scenes working with the administration, coaches and booster groups.
 
Ron Wolf and Mosebar....

In 1983, former Packers general manager Ron Wolf was Davis' top personnel assistant with the Raiders, who had just moved to Los Angeles. With their No. 1 pick, the Raiders drafted USC All-America offensive tackle Don Mosebar.

Unbeknownst to Wolf, as the Raiders were announcing their selection of Mosebar, the lineman was lying in a Los Angeles hospital bed, having just had back surgery.

"That was a huge screwup on our part," said Wolf, now retired in Annapolis, Md. "I should have been fired for that."

He wasn't; Mosebar recovered and became a Pro Bowl center.
 
An article from last season regarding strange draft moments...

The Strangest NFL Draft Moments


Jeff Merron

Some people love to do mock drafts. At Page 2, there's more of an inclination to mock the draft. So, with the NFL flesh-fest just five days away, we went in search of oddity. Turns out that strange things can happen when draft day rolls around ...


10. If only the games weren't on Sundays

Eli Herring starred at offensive tackle for BYU, and was projected to be drafted somewhere between the first and third rounds in 1995. But Herring literally had a higher calling, and he informed each NFL team that he did not intend to play in the NFL because Sunday is a holy day – not a football-playing day – for devout Mormons.


So, most teams passed on him. But the Raiders (who else?) decided he was worth a try, and took him with their sixth-round selection. Their reasoning: $500,000 a year has a certain "gift from God" quality about it, too.


Herring resisted temptation. But newspaper headline writers did not. For example: "RAIDERS GO FISHING AGAIN ... FOR HERRING"

9. Maybe they should go to a no-huddle war room

In 2003, the Vikings, picking seventh overall, were forced to "pass" on their pick because they let their 15-minute allotment slide. They'd been in the process of talking trade with the Ravens, Jags and Pats, and somehow the clock watcher got distracted. Jacksonville and Carolina then went to their hurry-up pick offenses and got the seventh and eighth choices before the Vikings were able to get their pick in.


"What happened is very bizarre," said Seahawks GM Bob Ferguson. "In 28 years, I've never seen it before."


8. The signal caller who couldn't

Bobby Garrett was a great, All-American quarterback at Stanford in the early 1950s. So the Cleveland Browns, needing a solid QB to take over for the aging Otto Graham, made him the first overall pick in the 1954 draft. Garrett looked like a no-brainer, a big-school player who had put up big numbers.


There wasn't a lot of scouting back then.


Turns out Garrett, as Browns coach Paul Brown found out in training camp, had a big problem. He could throw. And he could play. But within a few weeks he was shipped off to the Packers in a six-man deal that clearly favored Green Bay. Or so the Packers thought.


"He stuttered," former Packers fullback Fred Cone told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "He couldn't get the plays out in the huddle. We had to crack him on the back so he could spit out the play. He couldn't say words that started with an 's,' like split left or split right.


"That was a real surprise to us. I think Coach Blackbourn was surprised, too. Bobby had a lot of ability and he was a real nice guy. You kind of felt sorry for him. But a quarterback has to get up there and bark out the signals, and he couldn't do it."


Garrett played only nine games in the NFL.


7. The sportswriter who integrated the Redskins

Redskins owner George Preston Marshall didn't want black players on his team. He didn't even try to be subtle about it – he owned the southern NFL market in the 1950s, and aimed to please the vast majority, even if it meant losing.


In 1952, Marshall let the Post's Mo Siegel make one of the Redskins' late-round picks. "Marshall's theory was writers didn't always know as much football as they should," said Siegal, quoted in "The Pro Football Chronicle." "I told him, 'Give me a pick in a later round, and we'll see what I can do.'"


Siegel told him to select Tennessee Tech end Flavious Smith, who, he'd been told by a knowledgeable insider, was black. He relished the opportunity to play a part in Redskins history. Marshall picked Smith in one of the late rounds.


Marshall said, "Congratulations, you've just become the first sportswriter to draft a player." Siegel replied, "Congratulations, George. You've just integrated the Redskins."


Officially, Flavious Smith was not drafted in 1952. It's probable that Marshall convinced NFL commissioner Bert Bell to whitewash the records. But we'll probably never know. Smith didn't hear the story until decades later. And as it turned out, the joke was on both Marshall and Siegel. Smith was white.


6. Why computers will never replace scouts

The Cowboys are well known for pioneering the use of objective stats and computers in evaluating players. The team was truly revolutionary in this regard ... but mistakes, shall we say, were made.


For example, the Boys had had very good fortune with fast wide receivers – Bob Hayes, for example. So it seemed natural for them to go for speedy David McDaniels, a tall wide receiver from Mississippi Valley State. McDaniels could run. He'd clocked a 4.4 40 at his college track.


So the Cowboys picked him in the second round in 1968. Then came training camp. And boy, did McDaniels look slow. Out came the stopwatches. Forty yards: 4.73. Once more: same results.


Turned out the 40 McDaniels ran was really more like a 38.


This wasn't a lost cause for Dallas, though. On Jan. 28, 1969, the Cowboys traded McDaniels to the Eagles for Mike Ditka. "I don't think the Eagles ever asked about his time, and we sure didn't tell them," Dan Reeves told Michael Knisley of the Sporting News back in 1985. "We knew they were looking for a wide receiver. It was after that that Gil Brandt made sure the scouts measured off the full 40 yards."


cont'd...
 
cont'd....

5. The battle for "Mr. Irrelevant"

Since 1976, the last player chosen in the draft – dubbed "Mr. Irrelevant" – has also been the most-feted draft pick. All thanks to Paul Salata, a former Colts receiver who decided to hold a celebration in Newport Beach, Calif., for the last man drafted. In 1976, Kelvin Kirk became the first to be officially celebrated.

The week-long celebration includes a trip to Disneyland, a golf tournament, beach parties, celebs galore and plenty of bikini-clad women. It's a big deal.


And it became a big deal quickly. In 1979, the Steelers had the last pick. The Rams had the next-to-last pick. But the Rams wanted Mr. Irrelevant. They wanted the publicity. They wanted it bad. So they passed and let the Steelers go ahead of them. The Steelers wanted the big, irrelevant party, too, and passed also. Rams' turn. Back and forth it went, with each team refusing to take the next-to-last pick.


Finally, Pete Rozelle put an end to the madness. And he instituted the "Salata Rule," which prohibits teams from passing for the purpose of picking last.


By the way, the Steelers "won" that battle of wills. And Mike Almond became the first draftee to receive the Lowsman Trophy.


4. And from Fort Apache State ...

In 1972, the Atlanta Falcons drafted John Wayne. Yes, that John Wayne. The 6-foot-4-inch Duke had been a pretty fair football player in his day, winning a gridiron scholarship to USC in the late 1920s.


NFL Films caught the draft scene on tape. Round 17: Atlanta Falcons coach Norm Van Brocklin stands up and yells to his staff, "Do we want the roughest, toughest s.o.b. in the draft?!" The response, of course, was affirmative. So Van Brocklin calls NFL HQ and says, "Atlanta picks John Wayne of Fort Apache State."


Pete Rozelle disallowed the pick.


But Wayne should have been allowed to be an honorary draftee. There's this famous Vince Lombardi saying: "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing." Lombardi stole it. From John Wayne. Who said it in "Trouble Along the Way," a 1953 movie in which Wayne happened to play ... a football coach.


3. George Allen's double dealing

Here's the thing about draft picks: They don't exist anywhere. They're intangible, ordered numbers on a page, pure potential, so abstract that it can be lots of fun to trade them for real, live, breathing players who have names and playing experience and things like that.


Which is why Redskins GM George Allen loved trading draft picks. For example, he loved trading his second-round pick in the 1973 draft. He traded it to the Jets for defensive end Verlon Biggs. Then he traded it again to the Rams for safety Richie Petibon.


He loved trading his third- and fourth-round picks, too. He doubled them up in a deal for Bills defensive end Ron McDole. Then he sent the same bundle of picks to the Chargers for Speedy Duncan.


It took a year for the NFL to notice. The Skins were fined a whopping $5,000 and forced to surrender additional draft picks for the players. Allen said, "There was no intent to deceive," citing his busy life as an excuse. But Pete Rozelle didn't buy it: "It also happened a couple of times when Allen was coach at Los Angeles," he said.


2. Gosh darn it, we want Cal Rossi!

There are many reasons the postwar Redskins enjoyed a long reign of mediocrity. Reason No. 1: The guys running the team weren't the sharpest pencils in the drawer.


Cal Rossi played halfback for UCLA, and he was one of the best – the two-way player was an honorable mention All-American three years in a row, and probably would have been an All-American in 1945, when he rushed for 679 yards in just five games before being called away by the Navy.


After he led the Bruins to an undefeated regular season in 1946 (the Bruins lost to Illinois in the Rose Bowl), the Redskins decided he was their man. With their first-round pick, they made Rossi the ninth selection overall in the 1946 draft. The only problem was that Rossi was still a junior, and ineligible to play in the league.


The Redskins were undeterred. With the No. 3 overall pick in 1947, they again selected Rossi. At which point he told them he had no interest in playing pro football.


1. Darn. It was supposed to be a secret

The Eagles drafted Syracuse fullback Norm Michael in the 18th round of the 1944 draft. Michael didn't find out about this until he read it in the paper – in 1999. There, in agate type, his name appeared in a list of every Syracuse player ever drafted. "That was the first I heard of it," Michael told NFL.com.


"My son sent them a letter after we found out," Michael said. "I think he wanted to see if the Eagles owed me a signing bonus. Think of the interest I could have had. Fifty-seven years' worth."
 
Speculation that Denver wants to move ahead of us to select Vernon Davis...

Is Maryland tight end big in Broncos' plans?

By Bill Williamson
Denver Post



As the draft hot stove heats up, speculation making the national rounds is the Broncos will package their No. 15 and No. 22 picks in the first round to move up to No. 5 (Green Bay) or No. 6 (San Francisco) to take Maryland tight end Vernon Davis, whose football ability, size and speed make him an off-the-charts NFL prospect.

Davis is not likely to be on the board past the seventh pick. San Francisco and Oakland (the Raiders pick seventh) like him. Interest from Denver makes sense, because the Broncos need a tight end and a playmaker. Davis qualifies as both.

But there are reasons Denver might not want to trade up that high. The Broncos might not want to pay a player as much as a top-five pick would earn. Denver likely would rather spread its money between two first- round picks.

Some teams believe a tight end, no matter how highly rated, is not worth a top-five pick. Denver probably would rather take a player like Davis in the No. 8 to No. 10 range.

What to do with Lelie

The player hotly rumored to be on his way out of town is Broncos receiver Ashley Lelie. His name has been mentioned in San Francisco and Green Bay. It's all just talk, of course.

It's unclear if there is any connection between this talk and Lelie's decision to skip the first week of the Broncos' offseason workout program to work out on his own in Arizona.

In any case, there is a good chance Lelie will leave Denver after this season as a free agent.

Perhaps Denver should consider trading him. The Broncos are likely to add a starting-caliber receiver, most likely via the draft. Florida's Chad Jackson and Ohio State's Santonio Holmes are the top candidates likely to be available with the No. 15 pick. Denver also could rekindle trade talk with the Packers for Javon Walker. If Green Bay trades Walker, it will be near or during the draft.

It wouldn't be surprising if Denver makes another run at Walker and offers Lelie in a package to the Packers - who, with or without Walker, need wideouts. Lelie is a great deep threat, but he doesn't seem to fit Denver's system.

If no receiver is brought in, Lelie will be part of Denver's plans this year. But if a receiver is brought in, Lelie's absence from the offseason workouts might be the beginning of the end of his stay in Denver.

Is McNair out?

Tennessee is expected to take a quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick. That could mean the end of former NFL MVP Steve McNair's time with the Titans.

McNair might be released for salary cap reasons. McNair may welcome that, especially if the Titans select a quarterback in the draft and start him as a rookie.

There could be a market for McNair. A likely landing place could be Baltimore, where he likely would be the starter.

The Broncos also could be a possibility if McNair is interested in being a backup. McNair flourished under Mike Heimer- dinger, now the Broncos' assistant head coach, in Tennessee.

America's team

Don't get too worked up over the notion the Broncos will be the most-watched NFL team in 2006. Reports that Denver will have 12 nationally televised games this season are a tad misleading. The Broncos have four prime-time games on national television.

There are eight other possibilities as part of national doubleheaders, and each has a chance to be a nationally televised game. If the Broncos are gangbusters, several of these games will be televised. The total number likely will be closer to 12. Denver was on national television for half its 16 regular-season games last season.

It's no surprise Denver has a chance to have 75 percent of its games on national television. The Broncos are consistently competitive, they have a large fan base and they have a competitive schedule. Games against Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Seattle will have national appeal.
 
Draft analysis done before last year's draft...take it for what it is worth....


The Ultimate NFL Draft First Round
The best selections at each first round draft slot



By Pete Fiutak

It's been well established that finding quality in a draft pick after the first round is an exercise in futility, but the top picks aren't always sure things either. Teams invest/blow tens of millions of dollars every year on first round picks expecting them to be the cornerstones of their franchise, but more often than not they drain money and disappoint.

Here are the best, and worst, of all-time with a very subjective look at the Ultimate NFL Draft First Round with the best player ever taken at each first round slot. It's far more difficult than you might think to find a sure-thing, Hall-of-Fame star for each first round pick. However, it's easy to find the epic misses that set teams back years.

What's most stunning was how horrible the picks were to choose from in certain spots. The fifth pick, the 15th and 18th have been traditional wastelands, while the late 20s are utterly worthless. Learn from this you NFL teams; late first round draft picks aren't worth the money. History says they just don't work out (look at the "stars" to choose from at No. 22 & 24.)

Keep in mind that there were only more than 30 picks in the draft (at least regularly) from 1995 on. One more rule: A great pick is weighed based on what the player did for the team that drafted him. John Elway was the greatest player of all-time taken first overall, but not for Baltimore so the Colts, in effect, blew the pick. Let the debate begin.

Pick
The Greatest Pick
The Worst Pick


1.

Terry Bradshaw, QB Louisiana Tech
taken by Pittsburgh Steelers, 1970

Tom Cousineau, LB Ohio State
taken by Buffalo Bills, 1979

Also considered: O.J. Simpson, RB USC (1969), Troy Aikman, QB UCLA (1988)

Once again, Elway would be the choice except he didn't play for Baltimore. Simpson, Aikman, Earl Campbell and Bruce Smith are all fantastic choices for the greatest number one pick of all-time, but Bradshaw's four Super Bowls trumps anything the other players accomplished. Bo Jackson wasn't a bust of a player, but Tampa Bay completely blew it by alienating the Heisman winner so much that he chose to play baseball instead never suiting up for the Bucs. He would've been the choice for the worst pick if Buffalo didn't have the Tom Cousineau experience. The Ohio State star didn't sign with the Bills playing for the CFL's Montreal Alouettes where he was a marginal player at best. He came back to the NFL and played for Cleveland and San Francisco.


2.

Lawrence Taylor, LB North Carolina
taken by NY Giants, 1981

Tony Mandarich, OT Michigan State
taken by Green Bay Packers, 1989

Also considered: Randy White, DT Maryland (1975), Tony Dorsett, RB Pittsburgh (1977)

White, Dorsett, Tony Boselli and Eric Dickerson were all worthy and Donovan McNabb deserves a bit of consideration, but L.T. is the obvious choice. There have been some tremendous busts at number two over the years and there's certainly an argument for Johnny "Lam" Jones, Blair Thomas and Rick Mirer, but Ryan Leaf is the only real challenger to Mandarich. The whiny brat from Washington State set San Diego back years after Bobby Beathard traded away a ton to get him. However, Mandarich gets the nod because of the players taken after him. The next three picks after steroid boy? Barry Sanders, Derrick Thomas, Deion Sanders. Oops


3.

Barry Sanders, RB Oklahoma State
taken by Detroit Lions, 1989

Akili Smith, QB Oregon
taken by Cincinnati Bengals, 1999

Also considered: Anthony Munoz, OT USC (1980), Steve McNair, QB Alcorn State (1995)

If there could be a tie, there would be one here between Munoz and Sanders. Do you take the greatest offensive tackle in NFL history over, perhaps, the greatest running back? No argument if you say yes. Surprisingly, the third pick has been a traditional dud as players like Nebraska CB Bruce Pickens, Miami RB Alonzo Highsmith, Florida State DE Andre Wadsworth and Tennessee QB Heath Shuler were just a few of the busts. Michigan State LB Carl Banks in 1988 and Penn State RB Curt Warner in 1983 are some of the main notables, and they weren't that great. Akili Smith finished his Cincinnati career with five touchdown passes and 13 interceptions forcing Carson Palmer to be the first overall pick in 2003. The next four picks after Smith? Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams, Torry Holt, Champ Bailey. Daunte Culpepper went 11th. Ouch.


4.

Walter Payton, RB Jackson State
taken by Chicago Bears, 1975

Keith McCants, DL Alabama
taken by Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1990

Also considered: Joe Greene, DT North Texas State (1969), John Hannah, OG Alabama, Jonathan Odgen, OT UCLA (1996)

Obviously there's no other choice for the best No. 4 pick of all-time, but it could be argued that as the cornerstone of the Steel Curtain, Greene was a more important player than Sweetness. McCants was Tampa Bay's worst draft pick ever, which is saying a lot. He set the standard for looking like Tarzan, but playing like Jane. It also hurts that he was taken one pick ahead of Junior Seau. Auburn RB Brent Fullwood, Ohio State QB Art Schlichter and Michigan WR Desmond Howard were also in the running for worst pick.


5.

Junior Seau, LB USC
taken by San Diego Chargers, 1990

Mike Junkin, LB Duke
taken by Cleveland Browns, 1987

Also considered: LaDainian Tomlinson, RB TCU (2000), Mike Haynes, CB Arizona State (1975)

Deion Sanders would be the slam-dunk choice for the greatest No. 5 pick if he didn't have his Hall-of-Fame years with San Francisco and Dallas instead of Atlanta. When all is said and done, Tomlinson will probably be the greatest No. 5 pick over the somewhat overrated Seau (has there ever been a player that danced more after making a tackle nine yards down the field?) Penn State RB Curtis Enis, Nebraska LB Trev Alberts and Oklahoma LB Cedric Jones didn't work out at the five, but Junkin was a legendarily bad pick. Cleveland traded draft positions with San Diego for two rounds and gave away LB Chip Banks to get the five taking Junkin at least two rounds too early. Penn State LB Shane Conlan went two picks later.

6.

Tim Brown, WR Notre Dame
taken by Oakland Raiders, 1988

Rich Campbell, QB California
taken by Green Bay Packers, 1981

Also considered: Jimbo Covert, OT Pittsburgh (1983), Torry Holt, WR NC State (1999)

Brown is the pick for his Hall-of-Fame-to-be career scoring points for so many years of solid play. However, Covert probably deserves the all-time No. 5 slot. Campbell beat out Houston QB David Klingler and Nebraska RB Lawrence Phillips for the worst pick, but it's close. Campbell's career in Green Bay? Three years, 386 yards, three touchdowns and nine interceptions. Brett who?


cont'd...
 
cont'd...

7.

Phil Simms, QB Morehead State
taken by NY Giants, 1979

Andre Ware, QB Houston
taken by Detroit Lions, 1990

Also considered: Champ Bailey, CB Georgia (1999), Troy Vincent, CB Wisconsin (1992), Sterling Sharpe, WR South Carolina (1988)

Like the third pick, the seventh has been a historic graveyard of mediocre selections. Simms is the choice almost by default winning a Super Bowl and taking the Giants to another. There are some fantastic, legendary dogs with the seven from Boston College DE Mike Mamula to Tennessee OL Charles McRae to Penn State QB Todd Blackledge, but Ware is the biggest bust of the bunch throwing for 1,112 yards and five touchdowns with eight interceptions in his four years.

8.

Ronnie Lott, S USC
taken by San Francisco 49ers, 1981

Larry Stegent, RB Texas A&M
taken by St. Louis Cardinals (1970)

Also considered: Willie Roaf, OT Louisiana Tech (1993), Shane Conlan, LB Penn State (1987)

Obvious no doubter on the greatest No. 8 of all-time. For the worst player, there's a bunch of old-timers in the hunt. Mississippi State RB Michael Haddix had a mediocre career with Philadelphia, but his biggest problem was being taken one pick ahead of Bruce Matthews. Larry Stegent's career? One catch for 12 yards before getting hurt.


9.

Bruce Matthews, G USC
taken by Houston Oilers, 1983

Kevin Allen, T Indiana
taken by Philadelphia Eagles, 1985

Also considered: Brian Urlacher, LB New Mexico (2000), Richmond Webb, OT Texas A&M (1990)

Matthews was one of the NFL's all-time rocks on the offensive line. Kevin Allen was the opposite holding the unofficial distinction of being Buddy Ryan's least favorite player of all-time in his total bust of a career. He was later arrested and sent to prison on sexual assault charges.


10.

Rod Woodson, DB Purdue
taken by Pittsburgh Steelers, 1981

David Verser, WR Kansas
taken by Cincinnati Bengals, 1981

Also considered: Marcus Allen, RB USC (1982), Al Toon, WR Wisconsin (1985), Herman Moore, WR Virginia (1991)

How do you possibly choose between Allen and Woodson? Had Al Davis actually used Allen for his whole career, it wouldn't be a debate. Woodson was one of the all-time greats for the Steelers making the NFL's All-Time team. Florida WR Travis Taylor can thank his lucky stars for David Verser who caught 23 passes for 454 yards and three touchdowns in his four year career taken one pick ahead of Keith Van Horne.


11.

Michael Irvin, WR Miami
taken by Dallas Cowboys, 1988

Jerry Tagge, QB Nebraska
taken by Green Bay Packers, 1972

Also considered: Daunte Culpepper, QB UCF (1999), Wilber Marshall, LB Florida (1983)

The Playmaker had a huge career for the Cowboys catching 750 passes for 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns. Alcorn State LB John Thierry was in the running for the worst pick, but Tagge blows him away. In three years, the former Husker quarterback threw three touchdown passes and 17 interceptions for the Packers.


12.

Warren Sapp, DT Miami
taken by Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1995

Cade McNown, QB UCLA
taken by Chicago Bears, 1999

Also considered: Chuck Foreman, RB Miami (1967), Warrick Dunn, RB Florida State (1997)

Drug rumors dropped Sapp from being a sure-thing top five pick down to 12. He was the cornerstone of one of the NFL's most dominant defenses (where would Minnesota had been if Dennis Green had taken Sapp instead of Florida State's Derrick Alexander?) McNown was thrown to the wolves too early in Chicago and got eaten alive throwing 16 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions.


13.

Franco Harris, RB Penn State
taken by Pittsburgh Steelers, 1972

Leon Burns, RB Cal-State Long Beach
taken by San Diego Chargers, 1971

Also considered: Kellen Winslow, TE Missouri (1979), Tony Gonzalez, TE California (1997), Keith Jackson, TE Oklahoma (1988)

Tight ends turned out to be the value picks over the years, but Harris and his 12,120 career rushing yards and 100 total touchdowns makes him the pick. Leon Burns gave the Chargers 223 yards and one touchdown.


14.

Jim Kelly, QB Miami
taken by Buffalo Bills, 1983

Derek Brown, TE Notre Dame
taken by NY Giants, 1992

Also considered: Randy Gradishar, LB Ohio State (1974), Eddie George, RB Ohio State (1996)

After a stint with the Houston Gamblers, Kelly turned in a Hall of Fame career leading Buffalo to four Super Bowls (would Kelly be any better a quarterback if Scott Norwood had pushed his kick two feet the other way?) Derek Brown gave New York 11 catches for 87 yards for their 14th pick investment.


15.

Alan Page, DL Notre Dame
taken by Minnesota Vikings, 1967

Ethan Horton, RB North Carolina
taken by Kansas City Chiefs, 1985

Also considered: Dennis Smith, DB USC (1981)

Possibly the worst of all the first round draft slots, the 15th pick is littered with various take-a-flier picks that didn't come close to working out. Alan Page was the obvious exception. It took something special to be the worst 15th pick of all-time, and Ethan Horton was up the challenge. Converted to tight end, he ended up being a Pro Bowl player ... for the hated Raiders. He caught 28 passes for 185 yards and one touchdown for the Chiefs. That's significantly less production than the player taken with the 16th pick in the 1985 draft: Jerry Rice.

16.

Jerry Rice, WR Mississippi Valley St
taken by San Francisco 49ers, 1985

Dan McGwire, QB San Diego State
taken by Seattle Seahawks, 1991

Also considered: Russ Francis, TE Oregon (1975), Jevon Kearse, LB/DE Florida (1999)

The gap in production and talent between Rice and the second best receiver of all-time is possibly greater than any position in any sport. Dan McGwire threw for 745 yards, two touchdowns and six interceptions for the Seahawks.


17.

Emmitt Smith, RB Florida
taken by Dallas Cowboys, 1990

Clyde Duncan, WR Tennessee
taken by St. Louis Cardinals, 1984

Also considered: Gene Upshaw, OL Texas A&I (1967), Doug Williams, QB Grambling (1978)

Smith is the NFL's all-time leading rusher. The pick before him? Fresno State DB James Williams to Buffalo, and don't forget that Blair Thomas went second overall to the Jets. Clyde Duncan gave St. Louis four catches for 39 yards and a touchdown in his two years. Used as a kickoff returner, he lost three fumbles.

cont'd...
 
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