The NFL Hall of Fame opened up back in 1963 and is located in Canton, Ohio. There are over 300 members in the Hall of Fame, and the prominent gold jacket is given to the new inductees each year. Before the start of the preseason, each year, there is the NFL Hall of Fame weekend, which features the first game of the but more importantly is when we see the voting unfold and players get inducted into the Hall of Fame. Now it isn’t limited to just players, as coaches, and even front office members can be voted in. To be eligible, you have to have been retired for at least five years.
To get voted into the Hall of Fame, you need to have at least 80% of the vote from a selection committee. This is made up of media members, and you will get representatives from multiple cities. No fewer than four players can make the Hall of Fame each year, and no more than eight can make it. This is while you will see players up for a vote in multiple years. The committee is instructed to just view their football accolades and ignore other factors. That is why O.J. Simpson is still a Hall of Famer.
Now we will always have our issue with the NFL Hall of Fame process, because like other sports too, it is not perfect. We see a lack of position representation, and players often have to wait a while because they are deserving but never make the vote cut. Players on bad teams failed to get votes over other players, but this isn’t much of an issue anymore. In the most recent year, we saw names like Champ bailey, Ty Law, and Tony Gonzalez get added to the NFL Hall of Fame.
Biggest NFL Busts Of All-Time
We have seen a lot of players come out of college being claimed to be the next star, and that is always going to provide tough shoes to fill. Being a Heisman player or quarterback drafted within the first few picks puts a lot of pressure on the team and the player to deliver. We have seen a lot of players fail to live up to the hype. Ryan Leaf is one of the biggest busts of all-time and is widely considered the biggest bust. He had a strong career at Washington State and was drafted in 1998. He went second overall but then was done with football by 2002. In 2007, Jamarcus Russell was drafted first overall by the Oakland Raiders. He made $36 million and was out of the league by the next few seasons.
You likely know who Brian Bosworth is, as he was a star college player and a very notable icon in the game of College Football. Bosworth was drafted by Seattle and didn’t last more than three years in the league. Detroit was horrendous at drafting wide receivers, and they had a run where they drafted Charles Rodgers in 2003 as the second-round pick, and he never played more than 16 career games. You have to consider Reggie Bush as one of the biggest busts, as he was a primetime athlete in college, and never panned out in the pros. Houston got a lot of schtick for not taking him first overall, which left Bush going second overall to the Saints. He didn’t have over 700 rushing yards until 2011, where he put together a few decent seasons but never hit anywhere close to the ceiling we thought he would hit.
Drafting Tim Couch in 1999 was the start of the Cleveland Browns run with below-average quarterbacks. He played six years in the league but never developed. Andre Ware was a Heisman winner, and he played just four years in the NFL as a backup despite being drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1990 as the seventh overall pick. Sticking with Heisman winning quarterbacks, Matt Leinart was drafted tenth overall back in 2006 and remained a backup for most of his career. The Lions once again made a poor move drafting Joey Harrington out of Oregon in 2002, as he struggled for most of his career and never panned out anything more than a below-average quarterback.
Continuing with quarterbacks, David Carr out of Fresno State was projected to be the next big thing in the NFL. He was drafted first overall in 2002 and could never get his legs under him in the NFL. Notre Dame has had a few quarterback busts in the NFL, and Brady Quinn was one who was drafted first round and was beat out by lesser names for most of his career. Going back to the Lions and their wide receiver run in the 2000s, they had drafted Mike Williams in 2005 as the tenth overall pick. Williams struggled on and off the field with issues and never lived up to the hype.
Undrafted Free Agents
Undrafted free agents have become a bigger part of the NFL, and we have seen some guys slip through the cracks and end up being prominent NFL players. Recently Adam Thielen and Phillip Lindsay have been two names that were not drafted and are now starting for the Vikings and the Broncos. Antonio Gates was also an undrafted free agent and will be a Hall of Famer. Undrafted free agents are simply players who were not drafted in the most recent NFL Draft, and they enter the free agent pool where they can now negotiate with any NFL team.
There are a few reasons why players will not be drafted. Often we see smaller schools not get the same attention as the Power 5 conference schools. A player who goes to Hofstra is not going to have the scouts coming out to a school like Clemson. An injury during the combine or last year of school can have teams hesitate to use a draft pick on them. Teams will also have a list of picks that may not be drafted and wait to get individual workouts after the draft. Players can also get buried on the roster in college, and despite being highly recruited, they can still sit second best to some other names and never see the field.
We have seen some true greats not be drafted, and you are going to be surprised at the names listed here. Rod Smith was a two-time Super Bowl champion and caught over 800 passes in the NFL despite not being drafted. Wes Welker went to Texas Tech in 2004, and he signed with the Chargers before being cut. He would go on and have a strong career, catching balls from Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. As mentioned above, Antonio Gates came out of Kent State and signed with the Chargers. He played for 15+ years in the NFL.
Kurt Warner was an undrafted free agent who tried out for the Packers, before being cut. He played in the Arena Football league before signing with the Rams and headlining one of the best NFL offenses of all-time. Warren Moon played for the University of Washington and had a strong career. He went on to play for the CFL before heading into the NFL to play 17 seasons and also made the Hall of Fame. John Randle is a Hall of Fame player who went undrafted and signed with the Minnesota Vikings. He had over 130 sacks in his career. Preist Holmes was behind Ricky Williams at the University of Texas, so he never got a ton of look from scouts. Injuries cut his NFL career short, but he was a superstar for the Chiefs.
James Harrison is a well-known linebacker who played mostly with the Pittsburgh Steelers in his career. Harrison went to Kent State as well and was not drafted. He also walked on at Kent State, as he has had a major chip on his shoulder his entire career. Jeff Saturday is one of the top centers to play the game and was a part of those good Colts teams back in the 2000s. He was working at a supply store before being signed by the Colts in 1999. Not a lot of Eastern Illinois prospects are going to get drafted, and Tony Romo signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately, injuries grabbed hold of his career.