Biggest busts in Baltimore sports history – Baltimore Sun
As the Ravens weigh their options in this week’s NFL draft, The Sun takes a moment to reflect on the biggest busts in Baltimore sports history. Here, alphabetically, are major acquisitions that fans would as soon forget.
Gary Bradds, Bullets, 1964-65
In hindsight, the Baltimore Bullets could have taken Willis Reed, who would become a Hall of Fame center. Or Jeff Mullins, a budding All-Star guard. Instead, the Bullets’ first-round pick in the 1964 NBA draft was Gary Bradds, a skinny kid from Ohio State who was National College Player of the Year … but a flop in the pros.
The third player selected overall, Bradds was 6 feet 8 and 200 pounds, a two-time All-American who’d averaged 30.6 points and 13.4 rebounds as a senior for the Buckeyes. He stunned the Bullets initially by turning them down, opting to teach junior high physical education for $5,000 a year. When Bradds finally wised up and joined the team, he proved ordinary at best.
“The way he scored in the Big Ten, he must know his way around the court,” coach Buddy Jeannette surmised.
Bradds never showed it. As a rookie — The Sun called him “a long-legged scarecrow” — he averaged 3.3 points per game. In 1965, he reported to camp 20 pounds heavier, to no avail. The Bullets cut him after three games.
Kyle Boller, Ravens, 2003-07
He could kneel at midfield and throw a football through the goal posts. Staying upright was another story. For five seasons, Boller stumbled about on the field, an overhyped quarterback with poor mechanics and nervous feet who couldn’t seem to get out of his own way, much less dodge the pass rush.
In 53 games for the Ravens, Boller threw 44 interceptions, fumbled 36 times and was sacked 102 times. Once, against the Denver Broncos, he fumbled while running with no one around.
It wasn’t what the team expected in selecting him in the first round of the NFL draft.
“He’s the complete package,” said coach Brian Billick, who threw his prodigy to the wolves in the Ravens’ 2003 opener. Boller took his licks and never complained — or recovered. As a starter, he went 20-22 and left Baltimore with a shabby quarterback rating of 71.9. He spent three more years as a backup and quit the game at age 30.
Glenn Davis, Orioles, 1991-93
How big a bust was Davis, the ballyhooed slugger for whom the Orioles mortgaged their future? On Sept. 8, 1993, word of his release was flashed on the JumboTron message board during a game at Camden Yards — and fans cheered.
Two years earlier, many of them had done the same upon his arrival. Davis was a two-time All-Star first baseman who’d averaged 27 home runs and 85 RBIs in six full seasons with the Houston Astros. Hungry for power, the Orioles bit. To the Astros went pitchers Curt Schilling and Pete Harnisch, who would win 327 career games between them, and outfielder Steve Finley, who went on to hit 304 career home runs and win five Gold Gloves.
And Davis? In three seasons with the Orioles, he averaged eight homers and 28 RBIs while batting .247. Oft-injured, Davis played just 185 games with the Orioles. Once, he was struck in the head by a foul ball while standing in the dugout; another time, he suffered a broken jaw in a nightclub brawl.
It’s easily the worst trade a Baltimore team ever made.
Matt Elam, Ravens, 2013-17
“I want to be legendary,” Elam said upon being selected in the first round by the defending Super Bowl champions. Instead, he’ll be remembered as one of the Ravens’ biggest flops.
An All-American safety at Florida, Elam started 15 games as a rookie and then, inexplicably, got worse. In 2014, he was benched midseason for sloppy tackling and poor coverage. A torn biceps sidelined Elam all of 2015, during which time he was also suspended one game for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. Knee surgery last season reduced him to playing on special teams.
Club officials, who’d boasted he “played like a Raven” when drafted, had written Elam out of their 2017 plans even before his arrest in February in Miami on charges of drug possession and reckless driving. His final numbers with the Ravens: 131 tackles and one interception in 41 games.
Elvis Grbac, Ravens, 2001-02
Having won the Super Bowl to end the 2000 season, the Ravens became the first champions to ditch their quarterback and greet a new one. So long, Trent Dilfer. Elvis is in the building.
“We really feel like we have an athlete that … has all the physical, mental and emotional tools to take over a Super Bowl-champion team,” Billick said of Grbac, a free agent with gaudy numbers. “That is not a position for the faint of heart.”
What Baltimore got was a $30 million quarterback prone to bawling on the sidelines. Though he passed for more than 3,000 yards and led the Ravens to one playoff victory, Grbac caved at crucial times, made 26 turnovers and, unlike Dilfer, never garnered the respect of his teammates.
Jeered often, Grbac threw three interceptions in a playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and finished the season with a quarterback rating worse than that of his predecessor. Released when he refused to take a pay cut, Grbac retired abruptly at age 31.
Reggie Jackson, Orioles, 1976
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