Disclaimer: This list is straight propaganda. If you’re a University of Oregon fan, you will absolutely hate it. If you’re an anti-Duck, it will probably bring a smile to your face. You’ve been warned.
Kick ’em while they’re up, that’s what I say. Just make sure if you’re gonna do it, you aim right for the testes.
No college athletics program is more up right now than the University of Oregon.
Their football team is everyone’s sexy pick to oust USC and win the Pac-10.
Their basketball team went as far as the Elite Eight just a few short years ago.
Their track program is one of the best in the nation.
And on top of all that, they just added a baseball team after more than two decades without one.
Yeah, I’d say the Ducks are flying high, which is why it’s time we bring them down a bit.
That’s why we’ve devoted an entire Top 11 to the pro sports busts who have emerged from the UO. It’s an impressive list, and one worthy of your time. If you hate Oregon, you’ll love this.
(For each entry, we have listed the player’s name, the league he was a part of, and the year he turned pro.)
11. Samie Parker, NFL, 2004
All you really need to know about Samie Parker is that he was one of the desperation wideouts the Seahawks signed in 2008, shortly after all their real wideouts were lost to injury.
Along with the likes of Billy McMullen, Michael Bumpus, Jordan Kent, Logan Payne for one quarter, and the ghost of Koren Robinson, Parker took the field…well actually he never took the field. He was cut three days after signing, replaced on the active roster by Bumpus, the former Washington State Cougar.
Getting the ax from the Seahawks was the final blow in a lost 2008 season for Parker.
The former fourth-round selection of the Kansas City Chiefs was cut in preseason by the Denver Broncos, then signed and waived within a one-week span by the Carolina Panthers.
Thankfully, Parker is getting another shot this season with the Oakland Raiders. Oh, wait. He was released two days ago. Better luck next time.
10. Fred Jones, NBA, 2002
The 14th overall pick by the (gulp) Isiah Thomas-led Indiana Pacers in 2002, Jones was doomed by bad luck from the very beginning.
Drafted ahead of such prospects as Tayshaun Prince, John Salmons, Roger Mason, Carlos Boozer, and Luis Scola, Jones endured four seasons in Indianapolis without ever becoming a full-time starter.
From there, the Portland, Ore. native embarked on an odyssey around the NBA that would make Homer proud.
In three seasons after leaving the Pacers, Jones played with four teams, spending time with the Raptors, Trailblazers, Knicks and Clippers.
A few weeks ago it was announced that Jones would be playing the upcoming season in Italy. Should he never return to the NBA, he will exit with a career stat line that isn’t horrible, but isn’t near what you’d expect from a guy who just barely missed out on being a lottery pick: 7.5 PPG, 2.3 APG, 2.2 RPG.
At least he can say he won a dunk contest. Just like Harold Miner.
9. Maurice Morris, NFL, 2002
A second round pick of the Seahawks in the 2002 draft, Morris was slated to push Shaun Alexander for carries in Seattle’s backfield, despite the fact that Shaun was way, way better.
A victim of limited opportunity, Morris spent his first four years in the league watching Alexander compile Hall of Fame-type numbers. When he finally got his shot at extended playing time beginning in 2006, Morris failed to wow onlookers with his abilities.
After seven unspectacular years in Seattle, MoMo is now a backup with the Detroit Lions. Ugh.
8. Kellen Clemens, NFL, 2006
The latest in Oregon’s lineage of pro sports busts, Clemens was all but dubbed a career backup by the New York Jets when he was benched in favor of rookie Mark Sanchez just a few short days ago.
A second round pick of the Jets in ’06, Clemens was pegged as the quarterback of the future coming off an impressive senior season in Eugene.
Unfortunately for Clemens, the success he found in college was hard to come by in the pros.
In three unimpressive seasons in the Big Apple, the quarterback has backed up a trio of starters that includes Chad Pennington, Brett Favre, and now Sanchez.
During that span, Clemens has tossed five touchdowns to go along with 11 interceptions, logged 1,555 total passing yards, and notched a QB rating of 59.3. Not exactly numbers you’d associate with a starter.
With $50 million tied up in Sanchez’s hands, the Jets don’t appear to have any desire to play Clemens now or in the foreseeable future. Meaning the 26-year-old may have finally found his calling in the NFL: clipboard-holder.
7. Luke Ridnour, NBA, 2003
The 14th overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics, Ridnour emerged from UO with a ton of promise and the task of replacing an icon in Gary Payton.
Armed with “Steve Nash potential” coming out of college — and we all know that’s simply because Ridnour is white, not because he actually possesses Nash’s skills — Ridnour became a turnover machine while with the Sonics. He wasn’t much of a distributor, lacked the ability to score the way he did as an amateur, and couldn’t guard a chair.
His lack of defense was his ultimate undoing, and Ridnour spent much of his tenure in limbo between starting and coming off the bench.
Six years later, the thought of Ridnour doing anything short of serving Gary Payton lunch is laughable, and the seventh-year pro is now trying to find his game as a Milwaukee Buck.
6. Blair Rasmussen, NBA, 1985
A 7’0″ center with tons of potential, Rasmussen was the 15th overall selection by the Denver Nuggets in the 1985 NBA Draft.
Here’s a list of the players chosen after Rasmussen that would go on to have more productive careers in the NBA:
- Bill Wennington, C, 16th overall pick
- Joe Dumars, G, 18th
- A.C. Green, F, 23rd
- Terry Porter, G, 24th
- Manute Bol, C, 31st
- Tyrone Corbin, F, 35th
- John “Hot Rod” Williams, F, 45th
- Gerald Wilkins, F, 47th
- Sam Mitchell, G, 54th
- Michael Adams, G, 66th
- Arvydas Sabonis (for real!), C, 77th
- Spud Webb, G, 87th
- Mario Elie, G/F, 160th
To briefly sum up, Rasmussen would go on to play eight unspectacular seasons in the league before retiring in 1993 with a career-best average of 12.5 PPG, set in 1991.
If you want to fully comprehend how short-lived Rasmussen’s career was, think about this: it wasn’t until two years after the former Duck retired that Sabonis, the 77th overall selection in the ’85 draft, made his NBA debut with Portland.
5. Reuben Droughns, NFL, 2000
A pudgy running back that has tormented fantasy football owners for years, Droughns was selected by the Detroit Lions in the third round of the 2000 NFL Draft.
Droughns missed his entire first season due to injury, but would rebound in 2004 as a member of the Denver Broncos with a 1,000-yard rushing season. He would repeat the feat again in ’05 while with the Cleveland Browns, then begin gouging the rosters of fantasy teams worldwide.
After a sloppy 2006 season with Cleveland, Droughns was traded to the New York Giants where he was supposed to compete with Brandon Jacobs for the starting job. Instead, Droughns dropped to fourth on the depth chart by season’s end, sitting behind Jacobs, Derrick Ward, and Ahmad Bradshaw.
Come 2008, Droughns was fifth on the Giants’ list of tailbacks, and in February of 2009, the 31-year-old was released from what might ultimately be his final team in the NFL.
4. Luke Jackson, NBA, 2004
A lottery pick in the 2004 NBA Draft (laughter) by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jackson was drafted in hopes that he could provide LeBron James with some support on the offensive end of the court (more laughter).
After spending two flat-out bad seasons with the Cavs, Jackson suited up for the Idaho Stampede of the NBDL, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Toronto Raptors, the Miami Heat, the Portland Trailblazers, and most recently the Stampede once again, all while trying to cling to the NBA.
A 6’7″ swingman, Jackson has committed to play for an Italian team during the upcoming season, quite possibly signaling the end of his hoop dreams in the U.S.
If there’s anything we can take away from Jackson’s shenanigans, it is this: don’t waste lottery picks on white guys.
3. Onterrio Smith, NFL, 2003
After being kicked out of the University of Tennessee football program, Onterrio Smith traveled west to Eugene, where he knew there was one school willing to take a chance on a troubled youth.
Smith spent two solid years at Oregon, then parlayed his collegiate success into a fourth-round selection in the ’03 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. From there, things began to spiral out of control.
The tailback initially made headlines by shaving the letters “S.O.D.” (“Steal Of [the] Draft”) into his head. God only knows what he etched into his nether regions.
Two years after the hair incident, Smith was stopped at an airport and detained for carrying a suspicious device that would later be dubbed the “Whizzinator.” The Whizzinator was, in essence, a kit that was invented to beat the NFL’s stringent drug tests.
Not surprisingly, a month after losing his Whizzinator, Smith was suspended for the entire 2005 season after failing a drug test for the third time. He was subsequently cut by the Vikings in 2006, then attempted to make the roster of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL only to be released again.
Three years later, Onterrio Smith is out of football and last was in the news a year ago after being arrested for a DUI.
2. Joey Harrington, NFL, 2002
A Heisman Trophy candidate in 2001, Harrington became one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history when he was selected third overall in 2002 by the Detroit Lions.
Pegged as the answer to all of the Lions’ organizational problems, Harrington was little more than a question mark during four awful seasons in Detroit.
Surrounded by a corps of talented receivers — who, like Harrington, would become busts themselves — Harrington never could get the ball to the right players. He completed his fair share of passes, but more often than not those completions were to members of the other team. By the end of the 2005 season, Harrington had thrown 62 interceptions to just 60 touchdown passes.
In early 2006, Harrington was traded to Miami where he sucked it up some more.
He then became the starting QB of the Atlanta Falcons in 2007, following the suspension of incumbent Michael Vick. That didn’t go so well for him, either, as the Falcons finished the year a miserable 4-12.
In 2008 he was a backup with the New Orleans Saints, a role he still occupies today. Thankfully for Saints fans, Drew Brees has been a healthy, productive signal caller as the team’s starter.
If football doesn’t work out for Joey, he can always fall back on his other talent: piano playing. As far as sports fans are concerned, it’s better for Joey Harrington to be heard and not seen.
1. Akili Smith, NFL, 1999
The only Oregon quarterback who gets picked on by Joey Harrington and Kellen Clemens at team reunions, Kabisa Akili Maradufu Smith is one of the most colossal, enormous, gigantic draft mistakes in sports history. In the realm of bustitude, he sits somewhere between his former teammate Harrington and the benchmark for failure in Ryan Leaf.
Smith was the third overall pick in the 1999 draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Failing to do any research at all, the team selected Smith despite the fact that he had produced only one good season at Oregon.
To make matters worse, the Bengals were offered the opportunity to trade down in the draft by the New Orleans Saints, who coveted the third selection in order to select running back Ricky Williams. Ultimately, the Saints got Williams at No. 5 and the Bengals turned down a chance to receive a whopping NINE draft choices in lieu of their choosing Smith at No. 3. Whoops.
Smith’s pro career didn’t start out promising, as he held out in a contract dispute during training camp. When he finally signed, he was well behind in learning the team’s playbook.
Smith’s stunted learning curve would be his downfall in four seasons with the team, and after making just 17 career starts, the former first round pick was released in 2002. He would receive second chances from the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then finish up his career in NFL Europe and the CFL.
By 2007, Smith was done with football and a stark reminder that things don’t always turn out the way they should for even the most promising talents.