By: Jeff Riger
While Detroit waits for the decisions of Zack Parise and Ryan Suter, I didn’t want it to go unnoticed that two Motown legends decided to call it quits on Monday afternoon. That’s right, Daunte Culpepper and Dontrelle Willis have decided to retire and all the area must be a buzz with the vivid memories that both stars provided the city. OK, so I’m obviously being sarcastic as both guys were colossal busts here.
When you break it down, the two actually are pretty similar. Both players were at one point considered superstars, both guys came to Detroit in the twilight of their careers and of course both guys have names that start with the letter D. So I guess it’s only fitting that both decide to hang em’ up on the same day. In case you forgot, let me remind you of the absolute nothing the above have provided the local sports team.
Let’s start with the D-Train, who came to the Tigers courtesy of the Marlins in the trade for Miguel Cabrera. Willis actually would not have been so memorable if it weren’t for the 3 year, 29 million dollar extension that Dave Dombrowski issued him upon arrival. Who could forget the first game that Willis pitched in a Tigers uniform? D-Train went 5 innings and only gave up 1 hit; of course the 7 walks did not help in 89 pitches. From there Willis went on to win just 2 games in his entire Detroit career which lasted 100.3 innings.
As for Culpepper, he started 13 games with the Lions, all of which he lost before eventually being benched for third string QB Drew Stanton towards the end of the 09 season. The Florida native threw a combined 7 TD’s and 12 interceptions before leaving town in favor of the very popular Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League.
So now that both Detroit “LEGENDS” are gone; the next question becomes who were as bad as or worse than Culpepper and Willis in Detroit?
Well, I’m glad you asked because, below I have listed my top 5 biggest busts ever to play in the area in my lifetime. Whether they were drafted, traded for or signed as free agents, they all count and on a memorable day like this, I believe they all need to be celebrated one last time.
5. Joe Murphy
You might be asking yourself; who the hell is Joe Murphy? And, that is a valid question. Murphy was selected first overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1986 draft. In 90 games with the Wings, Murphy scored 14 total goals and 18 assists; he also went scoreless, acquiring just 1 assist in 8 playoff games as well. To make matters worse, the Michigan State alum played for 6 other teams where he actually got to hoist a Stanley Cup in 1990 with the Edmonton Oilers. Murphy finished with 7, 20 plus goal seasons and 3, 30 plus goal seasons in his career. Of course none of that happened while wearing the winged wheel on his chest.
4. Juan Gonzalez
I don’t think there was a Tiger fan that existed that was not excited about the acquisition of Juan Gonzalez as the Tigers entered their inaugural season at Comerica Park back in 2000. Detroit traded 5 players, including the likes of Frank Catalanatto, Fransisco Cordero and Gabe Kapler for Gonzalez, Danny Patterson and Gregg Zaun. As soon as Juan-Gone got here, the Tigers reportedly offered up an 8 year 140 million dollar deal that he turned down. Nobody knew at the time, but what a blessing that turned out to be for the Tigers. Gonzalez in his one season in Detroit hit a solid .289 but only played in 115 games, driving in just 67 RBI and 22 HR’s. Gonzalez also announced that if the Tigers were to re-sign him, then the team would have to move the fences in at the new ballpark where he struggled defensively all season long. All in all, his numbers and play was not atrocious; however he did not come anywhere close to living up to the hype that surrounded the deal.
3. Rich Rodriguez
I’m calling an audible here. I know I started off this blog focusing on players that were big busts, but some coaches and front office people fit the bill as well. Rich Rod came to Michigan and instantly threw away tradition, style of play; winning and the players seemed to follow out of town as well. Rodriguez believed he had time to make the transition from what was already in place to his spread offense, but he was dead wrong. There was the practice scandal, a 3 win season, a 5 victory year and a 7 win season that ended in a blowout bowl game loss. The Rodriguez era at Michigan was a complete disaster, and therefore I believe he deserves to be named on this list.
I’ don’t think I have to go into much detail about this one. Sure, the Pistons went on to win the NBA Championship in Darko Milicic’s rookie season, but as the second overall pick in the draft, Milicic brought nothing to the table with the exception of earning the nick name “the human victory cigar.” The 7 foot Serbian never even averaged over 7 minutes per game and 2 points a contest. Of course what made the Darko pick even worse was the players that Joe Dumars passed on in Carmello Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The disaster of an experiment was finally over when the Pistons traded Milicic to Orlando during the 2005-06 season.
1. Matt Millen
Yeah, enough said here! NO need to bring back the awful memories of winless seasons, draft picks gone wrong and rotating coaches. Then there was the fact that Millen essentially got work immediately after being let go by the Lions in 2008. There was also a gay slur, an ethnic slur and the never ending “Fire Millen” chants that followed him around. Millen was a bust because so many people wanted him, and when he got here, not only did he fail miserably, but he also essentially stole a generation of Lions football from the fans.
So who did I miss?