Massive Defensive Tackle out of Tennessee who had some success in the NFL, playing 10 seasons. A two-time All Pro, he made massive amounts of money when he signed a seven-year $100 million contract with the Redskins and lasted only two years after that. He went on to play for the Patriots and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he's never been seen again.
Albert Haynesworth started his football career in college at the University of Tennessee before he was selected for the 2002 NFL Draft. Having played only 20 games for the Redskins before being traded, Haynesworth is widely considered to be the NFL's worst free agent signing. He did manage to be named to two All-Pro bowls and two Pro Bowls.
The “Freak” was surely a next-level defensive end talent coming out of Florida. After making an initial splash in the league with 14.5 sacks his rookie year with the Titans, he never really saw that same success in his 11-year career. In fact, he recorded almost half his sacks in his first three years in the NFL.
Despite that, Kearse made a lot of money and is still highly regarded as a great player. Kearse played college football for the University of Florida. In 1999, he was the first-round pick for that year's NFL Draft. And for his first year in the NFL, he was named Defensive Rookie of the Year.
When the Carolina Panthers took him first overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, they expected that they got a long-term franchise quarterback for years to come. Though he has been the starter since he came to Carolina, and has actually seen success, he's battled inconsistency and injury. With as talented as Cam is, he should be way better than what he has shown through his career.
Cam Newton played college football in Florida and Blinn, before transferring to Auburn where he earned the Heisman trophy. However, while Cam has been a somewhat successful football NFL player and remains in the NFL today, he's only earned the tile of MVP once and named to the All-Pro bowl once.
Though he was one of my favorites to watch when he played, it could be argued that Brett Favre was overrated. Despite all the touchdown passes and wins as a starting QB with the Packers, Jets, and Vikings, he was also known for making bonehead plays and throwing interceptions. In fact, he's thrown more interceptions than anyone in the 100-year history of the NFL.
However, he's also fumbled more than anyone in history! The man has made 10,169 pass attempts and out of those attempts, he has only 6,300 completions. As for his rating as a passer, he's an 86. In the NFL's history he wolds the record for the most fumbles.
This Hall of Fame QB was part of the only undefeated Super Bowl-winning team in the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Still, this QB of one of the greatest teams ever went down in week five and didn't play again until the playoffs as Backup Earl Morrall was at the helm most of the way and even led the AFC in passing.
Still, Griese never was “outstanding”, as he benefitted from one of the best coaches of all time (Don Shula) and a wonderful defense (“The No-name Defense”) to help land him in Canton. In college, Greise played for the Purdue Boilermakers before he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in 1967.
The four-time Super Bowl-winning QB and broadcaster/actor has been successful at everything he has attempted in life it appears. Still, Bradshaw benefitted heavily from a great ground game (HOF’er Franco Harris) and one of the best and most well-known defenses (“The Steel Curtain”) of all time, which had many HOF’ers on it also.
Though he had a big role in winning those titles, I do not think he would have had that success with another organization without those pieces in place. Terry Bradshaw played 14 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and won four Super Bowl titles but he only had a completion rate of 51.9%
The #1 overall pick out of UCLA in 1989, Aikman was fortunate enough to spend his entire career with the Dallas Cowboys. Though the leader of the three super bowl winning teams of the 1990s, he did have a dynamite supporting cast and set of coaches that more than helped him get those rings and into the Hall of Fame.
Without Emmitt Smith, a consistently great offensive line, a more than capable defense, and coach Jimmy Johnson calling the shots, would Aikman have had the same success? Troy Aikman had a passer rating of 81.6 and a pass completion rate of 61.5%. He played three Super Bowls but got MVP only once.
The two-time super bowl winning QB has bested the dynastic Patriots in both of his wins in the big game. Still, the #1 draft pick overall out of Ole Miss in 2004 may not have lived up all the hype during his long-time NFL career. Now, it seems like every year his New York Giants franchise is trying to find his replacement to lead the now struggling Giants into the future.
In fact, he was recently benched for rookie 1st rounder, Daniel Jones. As of 2019, Eli Manning is no longer a part of the New Giants nor any football team. After playing college football at Ole Miss, he was drafted by the San Diego Chargers and traded to the Giants. Perhaps, they had a bad feeling that wasn't unfounded.
Perhaps the most controversial pick on this list, “Tom Terrific” deserves some consideration here. The seven-time Super Bowl Champion was a sixth-round draft pick out of Michigan, who was fortunate enough to be taken by the Bill Bellicheck-led, evil empire Patriots (see also Matt Cassell who is on this list).
If Tommy wasn’t picked up by the Patriots, would he still be in the league? Would he have still been a multiple-time super bowl champion and league MVP? Would he still be married to a supermodel? I believe the answer to at least two of those questions would be “No”. It matters, not because now even the Patriots don't want him and he's with the Buccanneers.
Talented but seemingly troubled corner out of Washington, the Chiefs somewhat surprisingly took him in the late first round in 2015. Despite great ball skills and a knack for producing turnovers, he also has developed a reputation for stupid penalties and hurting his team. He did this a few too many times in KC which resulted in him being dealt to the Rams.
Still, he is too highly regarded as a player compared to the value he brings to his team. After playing college football for Washington, Peters has been traded from the Chiefs to the Rams and from the Rams to the Ravens and his record is not really improving much but it may turn out to be the longest he's ever played for an NFL team.
Kirk Cousins is a great person who's not a great football player. After getting the franchise-player tag multiple times in Washington, Cousins signed a huge contract with the Minnesota Vikings. In his second year of that huge payout, he has not lived up to expectations and the Vikings missed out on the playoffs in 2018 after winning a playoff game the year before with Case Keenum.
So far, the Vikings have not seen the return on the Kirk Cousins investment, although he is improving. He currently ranks third in all-time in completion percentage and sixth in NFL's all-time regular-season career passer rating. He is still active on the Vikings team and played a second Pro Bowl in 2019.
This talented, albeit inconsistent, high, first-round pick out of South Carolina has not produced how the Houston Texans would have predicted. So, they dealt him to Seattle early in the 2019 season. Still, Clowney was solid in college, but his play in the 2013 Outback bowl game against Michigan (forced fumble and recovery) put him on the map and started his journey as a tremendously overrated player.
In 2020, Jadeveon Clowney played with the Tennessee Titans for one season, after having played with the Seattle Seahawks for only one season. Now, he plays for the Cleveland Browns. So far, he has only had 41 sacks and 292 tackles in his career. He's had no notable highlights or awards since 2018.
This first-round draft pick signal caller for the Rams, Saints, and Chargers was known to have big-time talent. Because of that talent, he was continually given chances on his teams to be “the guy”. He played in the league for 12 years and was only able to take his team to the playoffs three times early in his career.
He may be even more well-known for his altercation with Jim Rome for calling him “Chris Evert” after the female tennis star! Long after his career has ended in the year 1997, he now resides in Southern California. He earned an MBA at Pepperdine University and started an asset management business.
When Tom Brady went down to injury week one of the 2008 season against the Chiefs, Cassel came in and saved the day by throwing 30+ touchdowns in relief of Brady that season. This landed the former USC backup QB a huge deal in Kansas City to become what was hoped to be a long-term, franchise-starting QB.
After one decent playoff year, Cassell was inconsistent at best, and the Chiefs gave up on him. This is further proof in my mind that Bellicheck and the Patriots help make QBs great, and not the other way around. Matt Cassel last played for the Detroit Lions in 2018 and has never played in the NFL since.
This Heisman Trophy-winning, all-world college Running Back out of Georgia decided to head to the short-lived USFL after his time in Athens. Having success for the New Jersey Generals, Walker ended up in Dallas after the USFL folded. Though tremendously gifted physically, he underperformed in the NFL and also had stints in Minnesota and Philadelphia.
In his career that lasted from 1983 to 1997, Herschel Walker only managed to make two Pro Bowls and only two second-team All Pro positions. Sadly, one of his best achievements was winning the Heisman trophy in college. He may have been hyped but certainly didn't deliver. Maybe in another life, Walker?
William “Refrigerator” Perry
This 300-pound defensive tackle was the biggest thing going at the time he became famous as part of the Super Bowl-shuffling 1985 Chicago Bears. Coach Mike Ditka even used “The Frig” in the backfield during the year and he became even more famous then. Still, he was not as dominant on the defensive line as people remember.
In fact, I believe he wasn’t even the best defensive tackle in his own family (see brother Michael Dean Perry). While he may have been a Super Bowl Champion, his stint in the NFL was relatively short compared to many of the top players. Really, his size is all he had going for him.
When I was a young boy who lived to watch the NFL Films-made Super Bowl highlight shows, I believed Lynn Swann may have been the best to ever play the game. HIs acrobatic grabs in the post season were beyond belief. Later in life as I continued to watch and learn about the game, I realized that Lynn Swann wasn’t even the best receiver on his team! That nod goes to another HOF’er, John Stallworth, who was way more productive than the flashy Swann.
Lynn Swann is best-known for his time playing college football at USC and for his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Additionally, he served on the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition from 2002 to 2005. Then in 2006, Republican nominee for Governor of Pennsylvania. Lynn Swann continues to be politically active to this day.
Coming out of USC, this Heisman Trophy-winning Tailback was destined to be a long-time star in the NFL. Though he was in the league for about a decade, people believed he was better than he showed on a professional football field. He never was the perennial 1,000-yard back that was expected. Because of those reasons, the former Trojan belongs on this list.
While Reggie Bush had won the Heisman trophy at USC and was recognized as one of the most outstanding players in the nation, his trophy was later vacated due to NCAA rule violations. He was a Super Bowl Champion only once. The former running back now serves as an on-air American football analyst for Fox Sports.
Another USC product and first overall draft pick, “Key” played for a number of teams in his 11-year career. Even though he did play for a long time, people remember him being more dominant than he actually was. It seemed like coming out of college, that he would be a breakout star. That never happened, and he deserves to be on this list.
The wide receiver played college football for USC and earned the All-American Honors. He was first picked in the 1996 NFL Draft and played for the New York Jets from 1996 to 1999. He then played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2000 to 2003. After being traded to the Dallas Cowboys, he played for the Carolina Panthers for only a single year in 2006.
“Broadway Joe” famously guaranteed victory for the huge underdog New York Jets in Super Bowl III and led the way to the victory over Don Shula and the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. This huge win arguably landed him in the Hall of Fame, despite less than stellar statistics as a passer and as a winner.
This Alabama Crimson Tide product was probably more of a hit with the ladies than he ever was on the field. He played for the New York Jets from 1965 to 1976. After that, he played for the Los Angeles Rams for a single year before retiring in 1977. He was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
The talented cover corner has experienced ups and downs during his career. Breaking out with the Carolina Panthers and ultimately landing a huge contract with the Washington Redskins, Norman has not really seen the success he did when he broke out with the Panthers. Now, he seems to be more known for running his mouth than he does covering receivers.
Josh Norman is now a football cornerback for the 49ers. He recently signed with them in September 2021 and has no notable victories since then. He was named to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro team once. Having not yet made a huge mark on the game as of yet, we'd say he doesn't have much of a future going ahead.
Initially backing up Brett Favre in Green Bay, Brunell rose to fame helping the new franchise, Jacksonville Jaguars, making their first playoff run. From there, he bounced around the league and seemed to be a better backup than a starter. After he made the run in Jacksonville, people seemed to have wanted him to be better than he actually was.
Still, he had an average, if not long, NFL career in which he made a lot of money. After acting as the head coach of the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, Brunell became the quarterback coach for the Detroit Lions. He has held this position only since 2021, but perhaps a head coach position is in his future.
Though certainly not overrated at being a dirty player, “Romo” is definitely overrated as a talented one. This long-time 49er, Bronco, and Raider seemed to be the beneficiary of being on great teams, without being great. Still, in the spirit of full disclosure, there is a Chief’s fan writing this!
Bill Romanowski managed to play 16 seasons and become a Super Bowl Champion four times but it's more like a case of being at the right place at the right time. He was named to the Pro Bowl only twice. Add on top of all his shortcomings the fact that he's reportedly a racist and there's really not much to left to admire him for.
This enormous run stopper and super bowl champion with the Favre-led Green Bay Packers was surely overrated in his time as a pro. Perhaps more well-known for his “Grave-digger” celebration than making tackles, this solid player was certainly overvalued. Brown played 125 Packers games but recorded only 292 tackles.
Gilbert Brown was a nose tackle who was drafted for the Minnesota Vikings before being traded to the Green Bay Packers. He played from 1993 to 1999. He resumed playing for the Packers from 2001 to 2003. Once he retired, he began coaching as the head coach for the Milwaukee Bonecrushers, La Crosse Spartans and Green Bay Chill.
Roy Williams is another guy you look at and expect to be great. A huge physically gifted receiver out of Texas, Williams was taken early in the first round by the Detroit Lions. After having a few decent years and battling some injury issues, his eight years in the league were not as strong as his enormous talent.
Roy Williams was a wide receiver with 393 receptions and 44 receiving touchdowns. He played from 2004 to 2000 for the Detroit Lions before moving to the Dallas Cowboys team, which he played with from 2008 to 2010. He then played for the Chicago Bears but only for a year.
Long-time nice guy and Eagles QB and NFL analyst, “Jaws” is a hero in the city of Brotherly Love. Despite helping get the Eagles to the Super Bowl (although they didn't win), Jaworski was not as great as his reputation. In fact, this 17-year veteran is much better at analyzing game tape, than he ever was playing it, in my opinion.
Ron Jaworski is a quarterback with only one Pro Bowl under his belt and a passer rating of only 72.8. He played with the Los Angeles Rams for only a few years before joining the Philadelphia Eagles in 1977. He played with them for the longest time, from 1977 to 1986.
Though perhaps best known for being stripped of the ball from behind while starting to prematurely celebrate a touchdown that never was, Leon Lett was a very talented player. Still, he served 28 games of suspensions in his career, and should have been better and for longer than he actually was.
Leon Lett had played in the NFL for 11 seasons, including the Dallas Cowboys from 1991 to 2000 and the Denver Broncos for one more year after. Since 20019, he's been working as a coach. Currently, the three-time Super Bowl Champion is an assistant defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys.
Hall-of-Fame Giants Quarterback, Phil Simms, helped the Giants and legendary coach Bill Parcells to two super bowl wins. Though he did have a phenomenal performance in Super Bowl XXI, his regular-season win-loss record and his statistics are very pedestrian (see 55.4% career completion rate).
His success was helped in part by a dominating defense led by two of the best defensive minds to ever coach (Bill Parcells and Bill Bellicheck), and some of the best to ever play the game (Lawrence Taylor). Phil Simms had a passer rating of just 78.8. He currently works as a television sportscaster for CBS.
Blessed with out-of-this-world talent, former #1 overall pick of the Atlanta Falcons had a good deal of success in the NFL. Still, he never reached his unlimited potential as a long-term franchise QB due to off the field issues and suspensions (see Bad Newz Kennels). If he didn’t lose a chunk of the prime of his career, it would have been interesting to see if he could have fulfilled his potential and been one of the all-time greats.
Quarterback Michael Vick had played with the NFl from 2001 to 2015. While he spent most of his time with the Falcons, he also played with the Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He officially retired from the NFL in 2017. In 2019, he took a job as Adviser to the Atlanta Legends.
The Patriarch of Football’s first family and father of Peyton and Eli, Mr. Manning had a long career with the terrible at the time New Orleans Saints. Though many believe he was cursed by playing for a new and terrible franchise, it certainly can be argued that Archie did not do as much as he could to bring the Saints out of the gutter.
As proof, he sports a 35-101-3 record as a starting QB, the worst in league history for someone over 100 games. Ouch! The former quarterback played for the Ole Miss Rebels before working with the NFL for 13 seasons. He had a completion percentage of just 55.2 and he has a passer rating of 67.1.
We thought we should also recognize some other potentially overrated players as “Honorable Mentions" here. These are folks that didn’t quite make the list, but very well could have: Mercury Morris, Steve McNair, Jim McMahon, Aqib Talib, Shaun Alexander, Boomer Esiaison, Rich Gannon. Who else do you think should be on here?
With so many players in the NFL, it's easy to hype up new players and get caught up in the hype. It's also easy to overlook the players that are truly great. We aren't saying these players are terrible - just that they aren't all there are cracked up to be.