LEEInks List: Boston teams’ reclamation projects
|08.17.11 at 1:14 pm ET|
The Patriots were ready to make moves when the NFL owners and the players association reached an agreement to end the lockout. This season, Foxboro will be home to wide receiver Chad Ochocinco, who signed a restructured three-year contract with the team, and defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth, who was acquired from Washington in exchange for a fifth-round pick. Both players have checkered pasts.
While a member of the Titans, Haynesworth stomped on the face of Cowboys center Andre Gurode in 2006. Last season, the 6-foot-6, 335-pound giant failed conditioning test after conditioning test to start Redskins training camp, in what turned into an embarrassing saga for both Haynesworth and the Redskins.
Ochocinco has been much less violent in his issues. He has received penalties for excessive celebration and changed his last name from Johnson to Ochocinco last year, as he wears No. 85 on the field. Rather than focusing on the gridiron during the lockout, the 11-year veteran participated in a four-day tryout with the Major League Soccer franchise in Kansas City. He has made appearances on “Dancing With the Stars” and “WWE Raw,” among other things, and was ranked the No. 1 most influential athlete in social media by CNBC in April 2011 with over 2.4 million Twitter followers.
These acquisitions have led us take to a look at other reclamation projections Boston’s pro sports teams have taken on.
10. Julian Tavarez, Red Sox
Tavarez signed a two-year, $6.7 million deal with the Red Sox in January of 2006 after playing for seven teams since inking a minor league deal with the Indians in 1990. He joined the club with a history of fighting and suspensions. In 2004, Tavarez was suspended eight games as a member of the Indians for having a “foreign substance” on his cap. Still, he had shown success as both a starter and reliever and was seen as someone who could make an immediate contribution in Boston. Ironically, he was suspended the first 10 games of the season after getting into a fight with Tampa Bay’s Joey Gathright in a spring training game following a play at the plate. After Tavarez struggled as a reliever through the first half of the season, Tavarez thrived in the starting rotation, going 3-0 with a 4.01 ERA in six starts.
After winning the World Series in 2007 with the Red Sox, Tavarez was released on May 11, 2008. Tavarez, also remembered for bowling a ball to first base after fielding a grounder, has since had stints with the Brewers, Braves and Nationals. When asked why he wanted to play in Washington, Tavarez responded, ”Why did I sign with the Nationals? When you go to a club at 4 in the morning, and you’re just waiting, waiting, a 600-pounder looks like [Jennifer Lopez]. And to me, this is Jennifer Lopez right here. It’s 4 in the morning. Too much to drink. So, Nationals: Jennifer Lopez to me.” Tavarez announced his retirement in 2009.
9. Gary Payton, Celtics
Payton made a name for himself as one of the greatest to ever pick up a basketball in his first 12-plus years in the league with the Supersonics. Seattle drafted the Oregon State product second overall in the 1990 draft (after Derrick Coleman). The nine-time All-Star became the first point guard to win Defensive Player of the Year in 1996 and was widely known as one of the few players who frustrated superstar Michael Jordan. Basketball legend Jerry West went as far as to say: ”Gary Payton is probably as complete a guard as there ever was.” ”The Glove” also earned a reputation as a trash-talker and a bit of a hothead in the locker room. The latter trait faded as he aged, but Payton never lost his head-bobbing style.
After being traded from Seattle to Milwaukee during the 2002-03 season, Payton played alongside Hall of Famer Karl Malone and future Hall of Famers Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal on the Lakers for one season. Los Angeles lost to the Pistons in the NBA finals despite being heavily favored.
The following offseason, Payton was traded to Boston and reluctantly showed up for training camp. After being traded to the Hawks in a late-February deal that sent former Celtic Antoine Walker back to Beantown, Payton was waived by Atlanta and returned to Boston. He started all 77 games he appeared in for Boston that season, averaging 11.3 points and 6.1 assists per contest. The Celts won the Atlantic Division that season but were eliminated by the Pacers in the first round of the playoffs. Payton went on to play two seasons with the Heat and won his lone NBA championship in 2006. He retired in 2007 with the third-most steals in NBA history and seventh-most assists. Since hanging up the kicks for good, Payton has served as a television analyst for NBA TV and TNT.
8. Bryan Cox, Patriots
Cox was a fifth-round selection for the Dolphins in the 1991 draft and immediately showed the ability to play at the professional level. In his second season, he tallied career highs of 14 sacks and 127 tackles. In 1993, Cox stirred controversy by raising middle fingers on both hands to Bills fans before a game. This reaction was said to be in response to racist comments. As a whole, Cox was productive for Miami, starting all 77 games he was active for from 1991-95.
After stints with the Bears and Jets, the former Western Illinois standout signed with the Patriots in 2001. Cox started seven of the 11 regular-season games he appeared in, recording one fumble recovery and 34 tackles. He won a championship with New England that season, as the Patriots defeated the Rams, 20-17, in Super Bowl XXXVI. Cox appeared in nine games for the Saints the next season before hanging up his cleats for good. He has since coached under Eric Mangini with both the Jets and Browns before returning to the Dolphins this year to coach the pass rush.
7. Chris Nilan, Bruins
Nilan spent his whole life in the Boston area before being drafted into the NHL. The forward known as “Knuckles” for his reputation as a fighter grew up idolizing Bruins legend Bobby Orr and dreamed of playing with the spoked ‘B’ on his chest. After playing for Northeastern University, he was drafted by the Canadiens 231st overall in 1978. Nilan quickly established himself as a prolific enforcer and regularly found himself in the penalty box. After 8½ gritty seasons in Montreal and 2½ with the Rangers, Nilan returned home, signing with the Bruins in 1990.
In his first season in Boston, he scored six goals and tallied 277 penalty minutes in 41 games, his highest career PIM per game. He played in 39 games his second season, scoring five goals, while racking up 186 minutes in the box. He retired with 3,043 career penalty minutes and the record for highest career PIM average with 4.42 per game. Nilan also holds the record for most penalties in a game with 10. He accomplished that feat March 31, 1991, when the Hartford Whalers visited the Boston Garden.
In 2009, Nilan was arrested in Braintree for shoplifting from a Lord & Taylor store, allegedly trying to sneak a pair of Tommy Bahama swim shorts out underneath the pair of shorts he was wearing.
6. Jose Canseco, Red Sox
Canseco earned American League Rookie of the Year honors with Oakland in 1986 with 33 home runs and 117 RBIs. Two years later, he was named American League Most Valuable Player with 42 longballs and a career-high 124 RBIs. Canseco was traded to the Rangers during the 1992 season. After two seasons in Texas, he signed with the Red Sox in 1995. Canseco hit a combined 52 dingers and 163 RBIs in two seasons with the Sox before attempting a return with the Athletics.
After one season with the A’s, Canseco spent time the the Blue Jays, Devil Rays, Yankees and White Sox. His 46 homers (to go with 107 RBIs) with Toronto in 1998 were a career high. He retired in May of 2002 with 463 home runs and four Silver Slugger awards.
Canseco admitted to using anabolic steroids in 2005, which tainted his career accomplishments heavily. He is looked back on as one of the key figures in baseball’s steroid era. Canseco now is a player/manager for the Yuma Scorpions of the independent North American League.
5. Stephon Marbury, Celtics
Marbury had every sign of becoming a star as a high schooler. New York State’s Mr. Basketball his senior year, “Starbury” played at highly respected Abraham Lincoln High School and was named to the 1995 McDonald’s All-American team along with current Celtic Kevin Garnett. Ironically, Marbury and Garnett teamed up in 1996 on a rebuilding Timberwolves squad. After averaging 15.8 points and 7.8 assists and earning a spot on the All-Rookie team in 1997, Marbury began to clash with Timberwolves management. The young star did not approve of his role in the offense and eventually demanded a trade during the 1999 lockout-shortened season.
After being traded to the Nets, Marbury thrived in New Jersey as an All-NBA third-team selection in 2000 and All-Star reserve in 2001. Marbury averaged a career high 23.9 points per game in his third and final season with the Nets. After being traded to Phoenix, Marbury led the Suns to the playoffs in 2003 with rookie Amar’e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion. The Spurs ousted Phoenix and Marbury was traded to New York in the middle of the next season. Though it was a homecoming for Marbury, this marked the downturn in his career. The Brooklyn native quickly earned a spot in coach Larry Brown‘s doghouse. Marbury made multiple public comments criticizing Brown, who was fired after the 2005-06 season.
After averaging at least 7.6 assists per game in each of his first nine seasons, Marbury dropped to 6.4 in the 2005-06 season, 5.4 the next year and 4.7 in his final season in the Big Apple. He transformed from a hometown fan favorite to an arrogant and very costly toll on the Knicks payroll. Mike D’Antoni took over from Isiah Thomas as Knicks coach in 2008 and went with Chris Duhon as his starting point guard. An unhappy Marbury was put on the team’s inactive list and publicly turned down an offer from D’Antoni to play off the bench for as many as 35 minutes per game. He was the banned from all Knicks facilities on Dec. 1 and told to stay home.
After a Feb. 24 buyout, Marbury cleared waivers and signed a one-year deal with the Celtics. He appeared in 23 games, starting four, and averaged 3.8 points and 3.3 assists per game on 34.2 percent shooting from the field. Boston offered him a one-year contract for the veterans minimum the following offseason, but Marbury elected to take a year off instead. Whether or not he realized it at the time, he had played his last game at the NBA level. Since leaving the NBA, Marbury has starred in the Chinese Basketball Association with the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons and currently the Foshan Dragons.
4. Carl Everett, Red Sox
Crazy Carl is one of the few guys on this list who earned his reputation in Boston moreso than previous locations. However, he did come with baggage. In 1997, while with the Mets, Everett’s two children were temporarily placed in foster care after questions arose about possible child abuse. Everett was traded from the Astros to the Sox in December of 1999. He hit a career-high 34 longballs in his first season in Beantown but lost his cool during a game against the Mets, head-butting home plate umpire Ron Kulpa. Everett was suspended 10 games for the incident. In another incident, he grabbed his crotch while yelling at then-Mariners hurler Jamie Moyer after hitting a home run.
He also uttered what we’ll call the greatest quote from a Boston athlete, ever. The slugging outfielder was quoted as saying, ”God created the sun, the stars, the heavens and the earth, and then made Adam and Eve. The Bible never says anything about dinosaurs. You can’t say there were dinosaurs when you never saw them. Somebody actually saw Adam and Eve. No one ever saw a Tyrannosaurus rex.” Everett also claimed that dinosaur fossils are man-made. This led The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy to named Everett “Jurassic Carl.” Everett responded by calling the long-time Red Sox beat writer the “curly-haired boyfriend” of colleague Gordon Edes. The aspiring philosopher later questioned the Apollo moon landing.
Everett was traded to the Rangers for Darren Oliver roughly two years after arriving in Boston. He has since spent time with the White Sox, Expos and Mariners. In 2005, Everett made controversial comments about homosexuals, telling Maxim: “Gays being gay is wrong. Two women can’t produce a baby, two men can’t produce a baby, so it’s not how it’s supposed to be. … I don’t believe in gay marriages. I don’t believe in being gay.” For the record, he also said he had gay teammates and accepted them. In April of this year, he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and tampering with a witness after reportedly pointing a handgun at his wife of 18 years.
After leaving the majors in 2006, Everett signed with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League in 2007 and has spent the last two seasons as the designated hitter for the Newark Bears.
3. Corey Dillon, Patriots
Dillon averaged 1,253.3 yards in his first six NFL seasons with the Bengals and was named to the Pro Bowl three times in the span. He was moderately behaved, especially compared to some of the other players that made this list. One incident came after a 2001 game when the collective disappointment of consistently losing games got the better of the University of Washington product. Dillon was quoted as saying, “We will never win with the Brown family in Cincinnati.” Injuries caused Dillon to miss three games in the 2003 season, but it was the addition of running back Rudi Johnson that really pushed the former second-round pick out of Cincinnati. Dillon totaled just 541 yards — less than half of his previous career low — on 138 attempts. His 3.9 yards per carry average and two touchdowns also were career lows.
The team’s all-time leading rusher was then traded to New England before the 2004 season in exchange for a second-round pick. Dillon rejuvenated his career with his best season to that date. His 1,635 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns set career highs and Patriots records. His 4.7 yards per carry average was his best since his rookie season. Dillon performed in the postseason as well, racking up 292 rushing yards, 53 receiving yards and two touchdowns in New England’s three playoff games that season en route to winning Super Bowl XXXIX.
Injuries plagued the veteran back in 2005. Though he reached the end zone another dozen times that season, he managed only 733 yards in 12 games. Dillon split time with rookie Laurence Maroney in 2006 and finished the season with 812 yards a career-best 13 touchdowns. He was released by the Patriots in March of 2007 and retired a few months later. Rumors of comebacks with both the Bengals and the Patriots leaked out, but nothing came of it.
In 2010, Dillon was arrested on suspicion of assaulting his wife.
2. Vin Baker, Celtics
After averaging at least 17.7 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in his second through fifth NBA seasons, Baker turned from rising star to a rising ball of dough. In short, the 1998-99 lockout-shortened season was not good to Baker. After making four straight All-Star teams from 1995-98, Baker ballooned to over 300 pounds and his game suffered noticeably. Though he was able to trim down to 250 pounds, joining the Celtics in 2002, he also revealed that he was a recovering alcoholic. Baker said that he used to binge after games both at home and in hotels on the road.
Coach Jim O’Brien smelled alcohol on Baker one practice in 2004 and confronted him about it. This eventually led to his release, after which he was picked up by the Knicks. The No. 8 pick in the 1993 draft averaged 5.2 points and 3.8 boards in year one with the Celtics, and 11.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in the second year before being released.
Baker has since been arrested for drunk driving in 2007 and had his 10,000-square foot house foreclosed on in 2008. He currently serves as an assistant coach at St. Bernard School in Uncasville, Conn.
1. Randy Moss, Patriots
Moss quickly emerged as an NFL superstar in 1998, his rookie season with the Vikings. Moss recorded a rookie-record 17 touchdowns that season and reeled in the third-highest yardage total in the league at 1,313. He was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and a Pro Bowl starter. In the two seasons that followed, Moss and strong-armed quarterback Daunte Culpepper connected on countless deep routes. The former Marshall standout earned an eight-year, $75 million contract that included a $10 million signing bonus.
Now, let’s fast forward to the Moss we all know and love. After being hampered in 2004 by a hamstring injury, Moss was traded to the Raiders in March of 2005. He was able to break the 1,000-yard mark for the seventh time in eight years, but he hauled in only eight touchdowns — his second-lowest career total. The idea that Moss would take plays off started to spread throughout the league. His on-field play clearly showed he wasn’t giving 100 percent to a team that had no chance of reaching the playoffs.
After a miserable 2006 campaign in which the seven-time Pro Bowl selection managed only 553 yards and three touchdowns, Moss was traded to New England for a fourth-round pick in the 2007 draft. With stud quarterback Tom Brady, who already had three Super Bowls under his belt, the tandem became arguably the most potent of all-time. They connected on a record 23 touchdowns in 2007 as the Pats went undefeated in the regular season. Though the Patriots lost in Super Bowl XLII to the Giants, Moss reeled in a 6-yard, go-ahead score with 2:42 left in the fourth quarter. The next two seasons went smoothly, with Moss totaling yardage totals of 1,008 and 1,264 yards in 2008 and ’09, respectively. Then, leading up to the 2010 season — the last season of his contract — Moss showed his bad side.
With no contract extension on the table, Moss went public with his disappointment. He told CBS Sports that he “did not feel wanted” in New England. After a five-catch, 59-yard performance in Week 1, the then-bearded wideout told reporters he would not be returning to the Patriots after that season. The Boston Herald later broke the news that Moss requested a trade after that game. He recorded just four receptions in the next two games, though three of them came in the end zone. In Week 4, he did not catch a pass for the first time in his 3½-year stint with the Patriots. After a Monday Night Football victory over the Dolphins, Moss got his wish. He was traded to the Vikings for a third-round pick (Ryan Mallett) and a 2012 seventh-rounder. After four games in Minnesota, he was sent packing and ended up with the Titans. Playing in eight games for Tennessee, Moss tallied just 80 yards. After receiving limited interest this offseason, Moss filed his retirement papers.
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