The Art of Draft Busts (Part 2/2)


Image via Fox Sports

Stanley Shivley, Writer

This is part 2 of an article I posted in the last edition. I’ll be showcasing the last three syndromes.

Greg Oden Syndrome

Greg Oden Syndrome is the hardest to pinpoint as a bust category due to the symptoms being uncontrollable. The symptoms of Greg Oden Syndrome are players who had great college careers, but due to injuries, were never able to pan out, and had to retire at an early age. This category was named after Former Ohio Buckeyes center Greg Oden. The Portland Trail Blazers selected Oden with the 1st pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, notably one spot before Future MVP Kevin Durant. Oden was panned out to be a generational center and compared to the great Bill Russell. Oden missed his rookie season due to knee surgery and retired in 2014, only playing in a total of three seasons because of injuries. A more recent example of Greg Oden Syndrome would be the Washington Redskins’ 2012 Number 2 overall Draft Pick, Robert Griffin III. “RG3” was a Heisman-winning quarterback coming out of Baylor, and compared to former MVP Steve McNair. On Draft Day, The Washington Redskins traded four draft picks to the St. Louis Rams to select him. Griffin had an electrifying rookie season. He was named Offensive Rookie of The Year, a Pro-Bowler, and led the Redskins to their first playoff appearance since 2007. During the latter half of the 2012 season, Griffin dealt with serious injuries. He could never replicate the results of his rookie year after his injuries and only played bench roles for the rest of his career. Luckily he was able to stay in the sports industry and now works on ESPN as an NFL/College Football Analyst. The last, and one of the most surprising cases of Greg Oden Syndrome happened to Chicago Bulls Number 2 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, Jay Williams. Williams was a star at Duke, helping the Blue Devils win a National Championship in 2001, and being named College Player of The Year in 2002. Williams had a pretty solid rookie season and was named to the All-Rookie 2nd Team. Jay Williams’ life changed forever on the night of June 19, 2003. He crashed his motorcycle into a streetlight in North Chicago. Williams wasn’t wearing a helmet, and as part of his contract, wasn’t even allowed to ride a motorcycle. The accident almost cost Williams his life and required him to attend physical therapy. Jay Williams never played basketball ever again, however, in 2006 he was signed by the New Jersey Nets for a month and played three games with the NBA D-League club, The Austin Toros. Williams currently works on ESPN as an analyst.

Anthony Bennett Syndrome

Anthony Bennett Syndrome might be the rarest bust syndrome out of them all. The Symptoms of Anthony Bennett Syndrome are when a player, who isn’t too great in college or high school, gets taken way higher than they probably should’ve been due to a team’s incompetence. This type of bust is named after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2013 Number 1 Overall Pick, Anthony Bennett. Bennett was a Canadian power forward coming from an alright freshman season at UNLV. Bennett also had issues with sleep apnea and asthma. In a surprise move, the Cavs took him with the first pick in the draft. Bennett was only expected to go off the board around the 8th pick. In his first month in the NBA, Bennett scored a total of 29 points, while also taking him three months before he would ever score more than 9 points. Bennett was traded to Minnesota a year later, before bouncing around and fizzling out of the league before 25. Another case of poor drafting would be the Green Bay Packers’ 6th Overall Pick in the 1981 NFL Draft, Rich Campbell. Campbell played quarterback at California and threw a questionable 35 Touchdowns to 42 Interceptions in his four years with the Golden Bears. Green Bay already had a good quarterback in Lynn Dickey, so at the time, this move was still a head-scratcher. Campbell the first quarterback taken in the first round of the draft, since the AFL-NFL Merger, to never start a game in his life. He only played in 7 games in three years with the Packers before being traded to the Los Angeles Raiders in 1985, a team he never played for. This next case isn’t as famous as the other two however, I just had to include it. While researching this, I found 2 cases of Canadian Football Teams drafting a dead player. In 1995, during the Las Vegas Posse’s dispersal draft, The Ottawa Rough Riders selected Derrell Robertson. The Rough Riders tried to contact him, only to learn Robertson died in a car crash four months prior. The Posse was unaware of Robertson’s death and placed him on a list of potential draftees. A Year Later, the exact same situation happened, when the Montreal Alouettes selected James Eggnik in the 5th round of the College Draft. The League only realized hours later that Eggnik had died of cancer three months prior after a coach at Concordia University called the team’s front office after seeing Eggnik’s name being listed on the Alouettes’ Draft Board.

Johnny Manziel Syndrome

Lastly, Johnny Manziel Syndrome, which is a rare but also a somewhat sad type of draft bust. The Symptoms of Johnny Manziel Syndrome are a standout college player who very well could’ve had the potential to apply their skills to the big leagues; however, poor choices, drug abuse, and legal issues put a stop to their career. This is named after the 2012 Heisman Winner and Cleveland Browns’ 2014 1st Round draft pick, Johnny “Money” Manziel. Johnny Manziel was the first-ever freshman to win the Heisman trophy. Daniel fell to the Browns with the 22nd pick in the 2014 Draft. “Johnny Football” was never able to transfer well into the NFL, as he was never known for his playing abilities, but more for his off-the-field incidents. Some notable incidents include wearing a fake mustache and glasses so he could party in Las Vegas a day before the Browns final game, abusing hardcore drugs in college, assaulting his girlfriend, and then partying hours after his case was sent to a grand jury. Sadly, the same situation happened to former LA Raiders quarterback Todd Marinovich. Marinovich was born to a former USC Linebacker and swimmer, who tried to create the perfect son. His mother never used sugar or salt while she was pregnant with him, only fed him vegetables and raw milk, and his father started training him when he was only a month old. Todd hated his strict upbringing, himself, and often feared his father. During his tenure at USC, he enjoyed his first-time freedom, experimented with Marijuana and LSD. After his experimentation phase, he was later arrested for cocaine possession months before the 1991 NFL Draft. He played poorly while in the NFL and was forced into rehabilitation by the Raiders after failing a drug test in 1992. Marinovich never played for another NFL team after 1994 and would spiral into a heroin and meth addiction. Thankfully, Marinovich has worked with rehabilitation centers in recent years to combat his addictions. One of the most infamous stories of careers thrown away due to substance abuse is the story of Len Bias. Bias was once the best college basketball player. The only player close to rivaling him was UNC’s Michael Jordan. Many expected that rivalry to continue for the next decade however, on June 19, 1986, it ended before it even began. Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose, less than 48 hours after being selected by The Boston Celtics with the 2nd pick in the NBA Draft. During the 1980s, there was a cocaine epidemic that caused many players to get banned from the league. While it was coming to an end, Bias would ultimately become a martyr to the epidemic. Later that year, President Ronald Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, known as “Len Bias Law,” which charged anyone that sold drugs to someone that resulted in their death to a 20-year prison sentence. Bias’ death was also a cautionary tale to young athletes about the danger of Substance abuse.