In part two of our year-end NFL blowout, we present the worst 2008 had to offer. The worst players, worst team, worst game – even the worst product placement – of the 2008 season is chronicled below. And yes, there will be Brett Favre.
Worst Player (No. 1) – Adam “Pacman” Jones
Here’s what Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones knew about Pacman Jones before signing him prior to the 2008 regular season:
• Dynamic punt and kickoff returner with the Tennessee Titans, as well as a serviceable cornerback
• Arrested in 2005 (assault and felony vandalism) following an incident at a nightclub in West Virginia
• Arrested in March 2006 for possession of marijuana
• Arrested in Aug. 2006 at a Tennessee nightclub for disorderly conduct and public drunkenness
• Issued a citation in Oct. 2006 after another nightclub incident in Nashville
• Involved (to what extent is still unknown) in a shooting incident at a Las Vegas nightclub that wounded three (paralyzed one) in Feb. 2007
• Accused of punching a woman in the face at an Atlanta strip club in Jan. 2008
• Was, at the time, on suspension from the NFL for the 2007 season due to his disturbing off-field conduct
Despite that egregious rap sheet, Jones brought Pacman to Dallas, where he played in only nine games, managed only 4.5 yards per punt return and was involved in another embarrassing off-field incident (with a team-issued security guard, no less). Last week, he was finally released from the team after ESPN uncovered more damaging evidence tying Pacman to the Vegas nightclub shooting.
Worst Player (No. 2) – Brett Favre
It pains yours truly to lower the hammer on childhood hero, but the conscience demands it. How much longer is this charade supposed to go on? Brett Favre is no longer an elite quarterback.
In terms of passer rating, Favre is the 21st best quarterback in a 32-team league. In 2008, he threw as many interceptions (22) as touchdowns. In fact, no team in the league (no, not even Detroit) threw more picks in 2008 than Favre did. What’s worse, his New York Jets teammates characterized him as selfish, aloof and out-of-touch. He reportedly had little face-to-face interaction with the team – to the extent that he dressed in his own locker room and spent much of his time hiding away in a private office.
For two seasons he held the city of Green Bay captive with his “will-he-or-won’t-he-be-back” foolishness, before finally opting for retirement after the 2007 season. Several weeks after his tearful presser, Favre told the Packers he wanted to come back, derailing their plans to move forward under new signal-caller Aaron Rodgers. Finally, after threatening to disrupt the team’s training camp and holding court with FOX News’ Greta Van Susteren, Favre wound up signing with the Jets.
New York sent beleaguered QB Chad Pennington to Miami to make room for Favre, who finished with less passing yardage and a worse passer rating than both Pennington and Rodgers. In the end, Favre (and Rodgers, for that matter) watched the playoffs at home, while Pennington led the Dolphins to an 11-5 record and a division title.
And again, just as he has done for the past three seasons, Favre announced that it could be weeks before he decides whether or not to play for another season.
Worst Team – Detroit
In the long history of the NFL, several teams have finished the season without a victory, including the Detroit Lions (0-11) back in 1942. But in the modern era of the league, no team has managed to plow through 16 regular-season games and not pull off at least one win…until the 2008 Lions.
Coached by the hapless Ron Marinelli, the Lions lost each game by an average of 15.5 points. They shuffled through five quarterbacks and only one (Drew Stanton) managed to throw more touchdowns than interceptions. They scored only 29 touchdowns during the entire season, an average of 1.8 per game. In the end, Marinelli was fired, general manager Matt Millen resigned and Detroit, considered by many to be the worst city in the country, can at the very least lay claim to the nation’s worst team.
Worst Personnel Decision – Browns don’t trade Derek Anderson
If we hadn’t exhausted the Pacman Jones debacle a few paragraphs ago, then we’d certainly explore that acquisition in this space. But as far as your average player personnel decision goes, few have turned as sour as the quarterback situation in Cleveland. Last year, GM Phil Savage was a genius, having somehow pulled 10 wins out of Derek Anderson’s arm while drafting the much-ballyhooed Brady Quinn way down at pick 22 in 2007.
After the 2007 season, experts cautioned Savage that Anderson’s success was a fluke and, since Quinn was destined to be the future of the program, it would make since to trade Anderson while his stock was high. But Savage decided to keep Anderson as the starter in 2008 with disastrous results. He finished the year with just 1,615 yards, nine touchdowns and eight picks before succumbing to a knee injury with four games remaining. The Browns finished 4-12 and any chance to unload Anderson for any significant value is now long gone. Both Savage and head coach Romeo Crennel lost their jobs at the end of the season.
Worst Game – Philadelphia at Cincinnati, Nov. 16
The Bengals entered the contest with just one win in nine games, playing without injured stars Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson, and forced to rely on the oft-errant arm of Harvard grad Ryan Fitzpatrick. Philly was teetering on the brink of total collapse in the highly competitive NFC East, as QB Donovan McNabb was nearing the crest of his typical mid-season slump.
The teams combined for 160 plays, five turnovers, 21 punts and just two touchdowns. Tied at 13 after regulation, the teams again combined for seven drives, 75 yards and five punts during the overtime period, which ended with a missed field goal by Cincinnati’s Shayne Graham. The game was the first to end in a tie in the NFL in six years.
The Bengals finished the season with a dismal 4-11-1 record, but did end the year on a three-game winning streak. The Eagles bottomed out the following week in Baltimore before rebounding to win four of their next five games and sneak into the playoffs.
Worst Promotional Tie-in – 5-Hour Energy Drink
First, it was the Madden video game curse. Now no player wants to promote 5-Hour Energy. The company that distributes this disgusting vial of fluid that is supposed to provide five hours of adrenaline selected Cleveland’s Braylon Edwards and New York Giants lineman Osi Umenyiora (a Troy University product) to hawk their product. Osi suffered a devastating knee injury during a preseason game against the Jets, while Braylon became the NFL leader in dropped passes with 16 in 2008.
It should be noted that the Madden Curse is still alive and well…this year’s cover player was Brett Favre.