The NFL draft is a time for excitement and optimism, but realistically, some of the players taken on Saturday aren’t going to pan out in the NFL. What happens to all of the old bust picks, though? They don’t just disappear, and many of them are far more successful off the field than they ever were in the NFL. In honor of the upcoming draft, here’s the scoop on how some of your favorite busts are keeping busy:
1. Todd Marinovich
Todd Marinovich, the USC QB with an overbearing father the Raiders took in the first round of the 1991 draft, has had one legal problem after another since leaving the NFL after just two seasons. The arrests have ranged from little problems like skateboarding in prohibited areas on up to growing marijuana and sexual assault. He’s currently in jail awaiting a hearing after failing to appear for a previous date in court.
2. Mike Mamula
Mike Mamula, the stout defensive end who wowed scouts at the 1995 NFL combine and enticed the Eagles into drafting him seventh overall, had a disappointing, injury-riddled football career. He’s doing better in the corporate world, though, where as of 2008 he was the business director for a South Jersey company that administers drug tests and background checks for employers.
3. David Klingler
David Klingler didn’t live up to his record-breaking career at the University of Houston when the Cincinnati Bengals took the QB with the sixth pick of the 1992 draft. He isn’t just sitting around with his NFL money, though; Klingler is currently a PhD student at the Dallas Theological Seminary.
4. Ryan Leaf
Ryan Leaf, the Washington State QB the Chargers took just behind Peyton Manning with the second pick of the NFL draft, washed out of the league in spectacular fashion. He landed on his feet as a football and golf coach at West Texas A&M, but he had to leave that job last November after bumming a painkiller off of a player.
5. Michael Westbrook
Michael Westbrook went number four overall to the Redskins in 1995, but the former Colorado WR was never a big star in the NFL. Luckily, though, he’s found his true calling: Brazilian Jiu-Jistu, where he’s won several events. Westbrook also dabbled in mixed martial arts and recently appeared on the MTV series Bully Beatdown as the cage fighter who gave a bully a beatdown.
6. Brian Bosworth
Brian Bosworth, the phenomenal Oklahoma linebacker, didn’t go in the normal NFL draft, but he signed a record 10-year, $11 million deal after the Seahawks took him in the 1987 supplemental draft. The Boz was a major flop in the NFL, though, and eventually turned to acting. He hasn’t garnered much critical acclaim as of yet, but if IMDB’s cast listing for the upcoming Down and Distance is accurate, we’d better reserve a seat for Bosworth at the Oscars. How could a film starring Gary Busey, Master P, Lil’ Romeo, and Bosworth not sweep the Academy Awards?
7. Tim Couch
Tim Couch, an amazing QB during his collegiate career at Kentucky, couldn’t hack it after the Browns took him with the first overall pick in the 1999 draft, and after Cleveland cut him loose he couldn’t make another team’s roster while being dogged by steroid rumors. He’s currently an analyst for the Big Blue Sports Network, which covers Kentucky sports.
8. Akili Smith
Akili Smith, who went just behind Couch at the third spot in the 1999 draft, fared even worse. After four years with the Bengals, he couldn’t catch on with another NFL team and spent some time in NFL Europe and the CFL. According to a story that ran in the LA Times last weekend, he’s currently coaching quarterbacks at Grossmont College in El Cajon, California.
9. Cade McNown
Cade McNown was another QB disaster from the bust bonanza first round of the 1999 draft, when five signal callers went in the first twelve picks, and only Donovan McNabb and Daunte Culpepper turned out to be any good. McNown went to the Bears with the 12th pick of the draft and was arguably known more for his Playboy centerfold dating habits than his work on the field. (He’s allegedly banned from the Playboy Mansion for cavorting with one of Hef’s girlfriends.) Last April, though, Thompson National Properties, a company that caters to high-end real estate investors, announced that McNown was its new Senior Vice President, Investor Development.
10. Heath Shuler
Heath Shuler, the highly touted University of Tennessee quarterback, was pretty abysmal after the Redskins took him with the third pick in the 1994 NFL Draft; he only lasted four seasons in the NFL. Luckily for Shuler, he bounced back to start a large real estate business in Knoxville, which he used as a springboard to become a Democratic congressman for North Carolina’s 11th district. He still stinks at football, though; when Shuler led a congressional team against a squad of Capitol Police in a friendly game in 2007, he threw two picks as his team got shut out.
11. Lawrence Phillips
Lawrence Phillips looked like he would be the next great NFL running back, so the Rams burned the sixth pick in the 1996 draft on the Nebraska standout. Phillips, though, was something of a jerk. He couldn’t make it in the NFL and had several run-ins with coaches and law enforcement during a journeyman career that took him to the AFL and the CFL. He’s currently serving 10 years in a California prison following an assault with a deadly weapon conviction.
12. Tony Mandarich
Tony Mandarich, who Sports Illustrated dubbed “The Incredible Bulk” before the 1989 draft, went to the Packers with the second overall pick. Unfortunately, Mandarich’s bulk didn’t translate so well to the NFL, and the offensive tackle only started 47 games in his career. He recently came clean about his steroid and painkiller abuse during his playing days. Today he runs Mandarich Media Group, a business that offers Web media production services.
13. Peter Warrick
Peter Warrick, the standout Florida State WR who was busted in college for shoplifting from a department store, became another entry in the Bengals’ long list of woeful draft picks when they took him fourth overall in 2000. Warrick wasn’t able to steal much time in the NFL, though, and after bouncing around the league for five years, he fell back to small-time leagues. He’s currently on the roster of the Bloomington Extreme of the Indoor Football League.
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