by NFL Gimpy

Has there been a player who has squandered more opportunities than former USC/Detroit Lions/Oakland Raiders/Tennessee Titans/Seattle Seahawks WR Mike Williams without being a complete and total scumbag? There have been plenty of players who were criminals who seemed to love getting arrested, like PacMan Jones or Chris Henry. There are more players than I can count who have numerous children with different women and don’t like paying child support. Williams just seems to be lazy.

I could be wrong, but I see no record of him getting arrested. He wasn’t suspended in college for any actual wrong doing. He never missed a game in the NFL due to any crimes or positive drug tests. He was just lazy.

Let’s look back a little on Mike’s odd path to and in the NFL. Mike had a dominant freshman and sophomore year. He set Pac-10 and USC records for freshman receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. He had an even better year as a sophomore, including an 8th place finish in Heisman voting. He as widely seen as a top 10 pick if he could be draft eligible, which he wasn’t at the time.

Enter Maurice Clarett (speaking of scum bags). Maurice opted to sue the NFL for their 3 year rule so he could go pro after getting suspended by Ohio State. The rule states you must be 3 years removed from high school (or your graduating class 3 years removed, I’m not explaining this odd semantic unless you really want me to) to be eligible to play in the NFL.

Clarett initially won the ruling. This led Mike to declare for the draft and hire an agent. The NFL appealed the Clarett decision and won. This meant Mike and Maurice were not eligible for the NFL draft. By hiring an agent, Mike was also not eligible to go back to USC. Clarett was suspended and couldn’t have returned to college football anyways.

I’ll be the first to admit Mike got screwed here. I understand the NCAA has these rules for a reason, but an exception should have been made. He declared for the NFL in good faith, only violated the rules assuming he was going to the NFL, and had no other issues I’m aware of. But, the NCAA opted to follow the letter of the law and wouldn’t let him come back.

Undeterred, Mike was drafted the following year by Detroit in what would soon be known as a Matt Millen special. Mike had some flashes of talent as a rookie. He caught a touchdown in his first game. He had a 5-reception, 95-yard performance against Cleveland and a 6-catch, 84-yard game against Atlanta. His overall numbers weren’t good, but after a year removed from football, it wasn’t that bad.

His second year however, was a disaster. Mike was a healthy inactive for numerous games, dropped the ball like it was going out of style, and only had 8 catches the entire season. Naturally, Detroit didn’t want him anymore and traded him and Josh McCown to the Raiders for a 4th round pick during the offseason. The thought process was if Mike was reunited with his former position coach at USC, Lane Kiffin, his career could be salvaged.

Nope. A huge drop that cost the Raiders a game led to his release before the season was even over. I think Mike got a bad break here. He probably saw Lane Kiffin’s wife and got distracted. Seriously, google her, I’m pretty sure I’d drop the ball to if I were looking at her every day too. In all honesty though, he didn’t do squat for Oakland.

During the offseason, Mike signed with the Titans to reunite with his college offensive coordinator (see the trend here?) Norm Chow. This is where Mike’s conditioning issues really came to the forefront. Mike showed up to camp 30-50 pounds overweight, depending on what you think his weight should have been. 30 pounds overweight is a big deal for offensive linemen. For a WR? Ridiculous. Despite efforts to lose weight over the season and following offseason with the Titans, Mike never caught a pass.

His career eventually resurfaced 2 years later in 2010 with former USC head coach Pete Carroll and it looked like he was back on track. He had 65 catches for 751 yards and 2 touchdowns. He got a 3 year extension after the season. After an injury plagued and disappointing 2011, Mike got released again last week.

We don’t officially know why he was cut, but the fact he was let go prior to training camp simply isn’t a good sign. There are some reports that he was up to his usual nothing. By nothing, I mean getting fat and lazy again. Other reports dispute this and say his age, lack of speed, lack of durability, and price tag made him expendable. No matter what, the fact he’s healthy and wasn’t even given a chance to compete just isn’t a good sign. You don’t release a player before training camp unless something is up (his weight?).

We see so many NFL careers derailed by drugs, crimes, over-inflated egos, etc. Very rarely do we see a highly talented player receive so many opportunities and fail for what seems like nothing more than laziness. A lot of players don’t pan out because they don’t want it bad enough, but those guys aren’t given a chance with 3 more NFL teams after they fail with their first one. Can anyone else think of a player who completely failed with 3 NFL teams yet still got a shot with a 4th…and screwed it up again? I’m not talking about career backups who bounce around the league or practice squad guys. I’m talking about genuine top 10-15 NFL picks.

Quick Hits

-Drew Brees finally got his extension. Matt Forte did as well. And Ray Rice got his at the very last minute, much to everyone’s surprise. Sure looked as though that wasn’t going to happen. Glad it did. Today is the last day for players with a franchise tag to sign a long term team. Wes Welker won’t. Dwayne Bowe won’t.

-Elvis Dumervil was arrested in a road rage incident in which he allegedly lifted his shirt to show he was armed. I understand why NFL players carry guns. They’re very likely to be a target for a robbery because they’re easy to identify and obviously rich. But Dumervil, after getting cut off, got out of his car, approached the victim’s window, and showed his gun. That’s not a good idea. He probably will escape criminal charges but it’s stupid to even let this situation happen.

-Training camps are about to open!! Wahoo!!! The bad news is what I’m going to start writing about is what impact the inevitable season ending injuries will have on teams. So, hope your team doesn’t “earn” a column spot.

-Random 2012 prediction. CJ Spiller will finish with more yards from scrimmage than Fred Jackson. I think age catches up to Jackson a little this year and Spiller continues the momentum he gained late in 2011.

-I’m still in disbelief Cleveland spent a 2nd on Josh Gordon. I’m guessing that they assumed someone picking before them in the 3rd would take him and they really liked him/were desperate enough to make a move. I think the new Holmgren-Heckert-Shurmur combo gets 2 more years. If you don’t see real progress by the end of 2013, it could be time for another regime in Cleveland.

-I mentioned this on twitter, but Eric LeGrand is incredible. I’m a Pitt grad. I’m supposed to hate Rutgers players. Eric is simply too inspirational to hate, even for an avowed hater like myself. The Jimmy V Foundation is one of the charities I never hesitate to donate to and have done so numerous times. If you ever need a “pick me up” emotionally, just watch Eric’s speech for the Jimmy V foundation or Jim Valvano’s Never Give Up speech. My favorite excerpt from Jim’s:

Cancer can take away all of my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever. I thank you and God bless you all.

It’s safe to say that nearly 20 years later, he couldn’t have been more right.

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