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Where the 15 Minutes of Fame Never End
I’ve been playing a lot of MLB the Show lately, and it’s left me yearning for my past. In fact, I am certainly here to talk about the past. The past of great video games. I still remember the dark and rainy day in like 1995 when I got my PSOne. I played the demo disk until my hands were calloused. I loved every goddamn second of it. Crash Bandicoot was better than Mario on every single level. Taking down Dr. Neo Cortex? Are you kidding me? He was a mad scientist absolutely hellbent on ruining your shit, but Crash found a way to prevail every time. Tekken, Tekken 2, Tekken 3. Get out of here. I’d take that Big Three over the Celtics Big Three right now. It’d be too much fun.
Remember PSOne sports games? I’m talking about Gameday 98. Triple Play 2000. NBA Live games with Luc Longley. Hell, you had to dedicate an ENTIRE MEMORY CARD just to save the season mode in Gameday 99. This, of course, was a tall price to pay, but it was most definitely worth it to take the Pats to the promised land. Bledsode to Shawn Jefferson all day. At the same time, having to clear my memory card everytime I got this itch motivated me to go and beat Tekken 2 another five thousand times. Paul Phoenix was an American hero in the King of the Iron Fist Tournament; a poor man’s Apollo Creed. So the next time you go and fork over $64.00 for a masterpiece like another fucking Halo game, just remember it will never be as fun as these games were.
Admit it, you missed the shit out of Obscure Athletes the past two days. Unfortunately for you it was this guy’s mom’s birthday yesterday, and the day before that, well, I just plain don’t have an excuse. But we’re back today with a very special spotlight on a former (somehow) head coach.
I fucking hate the Dallas Cowboys. I hate Jerry Jones and the billion-dollar mosoleum/coffin/stadium he built for himself. I hate Jimmy Johnson. And I hate how overrated they are, EVERY SINGLE YEAR by everyone on that fucking stupid-ass FOX pregame show. So of course, it gives me great pleasure to bring you the first ever edition of the Obscure Coach of the Week, and the subject of the spotlight this week is former Dallas Cowboy trainwreck Dave Campo.
David Cross Campo spent many years honing his future NFL obscurity in the college ranks, making appearances at Pittsburgh University, Washington State, Boise State, Oregon State, and Iowa State among others. He became Jimmy Johnson’s secondary coach at the University of Miami before taking the same job under Johnson when Johnson went to Dallas to coach the Cowboys for the 1989 season.
Campo worked for Johnson in Dallas and received two rings as secondary coach, and got one later in his first season as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator. When Jimmy Johnson left America’s team after the ‘99 season, Campo seemed to be a no-brainer as the best choice for the promotion he’d been waiting ten years for.
And did he ever prove everyone wrong. In their first injury-riddled campaign, Campo’s Cowboys hobbled to the end of the season with a 5-11 record. Having hand-picked the stunningly mediocre rookie Quincy Carter in training camp to be the next in a string of great Cowboys quarterbacks, it came as no surprise that Campo would end with another remarkably lackluster 5-11 performance in 2001.
Sporting a 10-22 career record going into the 2002 season, many guessed Campo would have already been given his walking papers. But Jerry Jones is never wrong, so Campo was given yet another season at the helm of America’s team. Once again Dallas stumbled to one more 5-11 record in a season in which Campo spent most Sunday afternoons arguing with officials, before finally being canned after the ‘02 season.
As is so often the case with obscure and bad coaches in the NFL, Dave Campo’s story doesn’t end with him being a mediocre and obscure head coach. After stops in Cleveland and Jacksonville, Dave Campo made a triumphant return to Dallas, this time, back as a secondary coach. Don’t ya love it when mediocrity comes full-circle? Very literary if you ask me.
Of late here at Obscure Athletes we’ve been pretty biased toward the taller of the obscure athletes, forgetting to give some credit to the more diminuitive in sports. And one cannot discuss short, obscure athletes without soon getting to former Braves second baseman Mark Lemke.
When you’re a 5′ 10” second baseman with a career .246 average, an equally putrid .317 on-base percentage, and 32 career home runs, despite playing 11 season in the Majors, you bet your ass that one day you’ll be an obscure athlete. But Mark Lemke is not just an obscure athlete. “The Lemmer” was known for his glove rather than his bat. Despite this, he won a grand total of zero Gold Gloves in his career. Lemke also made a record 3664 plate appearances in Major League Baseball, and not one time was he ever hit by a pitch. So what did this Braves great and obscure athlete have going for him?
In 62 career postseason games, Lemke established himself as one of the better clutch hitters in Atlanta. In the 1991 World Series, Lemke hit .417, with a record-tying three triples in the series, and a game-winning hit in game three of the series. He hit .234 in the regular season that year.
Lemke finally left Atlanta after the 1997 season, as one of the most beloved members of the Braves. He signed with the Red Sox, and appeared in only 31 games for Boston, suffering a concussion less than a quarter of the way through his first season in a Red Sox uniform, ultimately ending his career.
Braves fans never forget the postseason prowess of Mark Lemke. He wasn’t really all that good at a whole lot on the baseball field for the first 162 games of the season, but Mark Lemke was a small man who knew how to step it up when it counted.
TRIVIA CONTEST TIME:
Today’s Obscure Spotlight belongs to former Braves great Mark Lemke. Lemke tied the record with three triples in the 1991 World Series. With whom does Lemke share the record? Comment on the post with the answer to win a piece of Atlanta Braves obscure athlete memorabilia!
When you share the name of one of sport’s worst venues, you can only expect so much out of your career. I guess somebody forgot to tell this to Shea Hillenbrand. Shea Matthew Hillenbrand was born on July 27th 1975 in Mesa, Arizona; and the world would never be the same thereafter. The
prodigy they called Shea was drafted in the 10th round of the 1996 Amateur Draft by the Boston Red Sox.
After floating around in the Red Sox minor league system at various positions for nearly five years, big Shea got his big break. Boggs, Petrocelli, Hobson, Hillenbrand? Not so much. Shea proved to be not only one of the worst defensive third basemen in all of baseball, but he also lacked any ability to sustain a respectable on base percentage (.291) and also sported a poor batting average (.263) Nonetheless, Hillenbrand came back strong for the 2002 season and was named the starting third baseman for the American League in the All-Star game. He rose his OPS to a respectable .789, but of course he led the league in errors by a third baseman with 23. Feeling threatened by the Red Sox’ signing of veteran Bill Mueller in 2003, Hillenbrand did his best to run himself out of Boston. His labor would be rewarded when he was hand picked by the great Bob Brenly to be his middle of the order thumper in Arizona; in exchange for rising star closer Byung-Hyung Kim. We can of course recall that this would cause Shea Hillenbrand to compare himself to the Red Sox trading Jeff Bagwell before he erupted into a star. Boy, leaning a little far off first, Shea?
Hillenbrand would soon be on the move again after the 2004 season, a season in which was arguably his best (.310/.348/.464). After leading the league in errors at first base (13), he was sent off to the Toronto Blue Jays. In his first year with Toronto, he was a utility player, showcasing himself at 1B/3B/DH. Unhappy with being a regular at one position, Hillenbrand began a feud with then manager John Gibbons. Going as far as to deface the team’s billboard, Shea again was in a position where he ran himself out of a perfectly good situation. He was then traded to the Giants for fellow obscure athlete Jeremy Accardo, and in the following off season signed a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. With rising stars Reggie Willits and Casey Kotchman knocking at Shea Hillenbrand’s door, Shea found himself designated for assignment in June of 2007; after requesting the Angels show him “respect” and trade him away.
Shea Hillenbrand then signed a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres in July of 2007 before failing miserably with their triple a affiliate, and was released on August 8th. On August 10th, he signed a minor league deal with the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers; undoubtedly to show the Padres what they were missing. After having absolutely no effect whatsoever on the season’s outcome, he was not retained by Los Angeles for 2008, and found himself with the York Revolution of the Independent League; only to have his season cut short by an injury. Tough break. So for a man with an unwarranted chip on his shoulder, who turned out to be quite mediocre; we salute you Shea Hillenbrand.
After the 1993 season, the Lions were in search of a quarterback. The Rodney Peete era had come to a merciful ending, as he headed to Dallas, and for their starter Detroit looked eastward to Miami. Scott Mitchell looked to be a solid option, coming off of a season in which Dan Marino missed serious
playing time, leaving Mitchell with the starting role for a good chunk of the season. Mitchell held the fort down for the injured Marino, throwing 12 touchdowns to eight interceptions in seven starts.
Mitchell started nine games in his first season in Detroit, but didn’t become the full time starter until 1995, his best in the NFL. Mitchell threw 32 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions, and a total of 4338 yards, while leading the Lions to the playoffs. On Wild Card Weekend in Philadelphia, the Lions went down 58-37, with Mitchell completing just 13 out of 29 passes and throwing four interceptions.
After an average 1996 season, Mitchell rebounded a bit in 1997, leading Detroit back to the playoffs. The Lions, however, were dissatisfied with Mitchell’s performance and for the 1998 season inserted promising rookie, and future obscure athlete Charlie Batch into the starting quarterback role while Scott Mitchell sat on the bench. After the ’98 season Mitchell left the Motor City for Baltimore and then Cincinnati. He would never start in the NFL again. So, with Charlie Batch at the helm, the Lions were set right? They had their quarterback of the future in place, and seemed poised to return to the playoffs behind their new gunslinger. Find out what happens with Charlie at QB next time on, The Lions QB Saga: The Revolving Door in Detroit.
I have one memory of Bryant Reeves, and that is from January 15, 1998, when the 7 foot, bear-looking man himself came to the Fleet Center in Boston with the Vancouver Grizzlies, and proceeded to drop 41 on the Celtics. To me he was forever a big jerk. But to everyone else, Bryant Reeves was a 6th overall draft pick, and a young NBA big man with seemingly unlimited potential.
Bryant Reeves grew up in Gans, Oklahoma and went to school close to home, at Oklahoma State. There he averaged 21.5 points per game in his college career, highlighted by OSU’s trip to the Final Four during his senior year in 1995. Two and a half months later, in the ’95 draft, Reeves was selected sixth overall by the Vancouver Grizzlies, and was immediately plugged into the Center position by the young team.
Reeves’ performance his rookie season landed him on the NBA’s all-rookie second team, averaging 13.3 points per game. In his second season, Reeves continued to improve, this time posting 16.2 points per game, after which he was given a six-year, $62 million extension. After one more solid season in Vancouver, Reeves’ health and weight became concerns, and over the next three seasons would miss significant playing time due to several injuries, including a chronic back ailment.
The end of the Grizz’ run in Vancouver proved to be the end of Bryant Reeves’ career in the NBA. Big Country never played a game for the Grizzlies after they moved to Memphis, save for two exhibition games. Reeves started his NBA career, and his demise as an NBA big man was highly unfortunate. The man once highly touted as the next great NBA center, is now just another obscure athlete.
Today is, of course, Father’s Day and we here at OA would be remiss if we didn’t pay a bit of an omage to the men in our lives who were there to beat us when we fucked up as kids. And so in that spirit, we’re putting a very special obscure spotlight today, on one very happy dad.
Delino DeShields was the 12th overall pick in the 1987 MLB first year player draft by les Expos, and he made his debut in April of 1990. DeShields was a solid base-stealer in his day, and his 463 steals make him the 44th most prolific base stealer in the history of the game. DeShields made zero all-star appearances in his 13 seasons, and never hit more than 11 home runs. He finished his career with a very average average, at .268, and is perhaps best known for being shipped to LA after the 1993 season for a young Pedro Martinez in what is widely regarded as the worst trade in Dodgers history.
DeShields retired after the ’02 season, and the world thought that it had seen the last of baseball players named Delino DeShields. Boy were we wrong. This June, Delino DeShields, Jr, was picked 8th overall by the Astros, a full four spots ahead of Papa Delino 23 years ago. Now don’t get me wrong, I would love to see Little Delino make it to the majors, but to have a major league father-son obscure tandem for baseball fans across generations to enjoy? That’s a different kind of success. Happy Father’s Day to my dad and to Delino DeShields.
This year in Detroit, 09 first overall draft pick Matthew Stafford figures to be the starting quarterback. Now believe me, I’d love to see Stafford succeed just as much as every Lions fan out there who doesn’t go to any of their goddamn games. So for just a moment, we’ll pretend for just a moment that Stafford becomes a solid NFL quarterback for the forseeable future, avoiding injuries. With that in mind, it’s time for an Obscure Athletes series in which we explore the revolving door of starting quarterbacks in Detroit. And the first such QB on this list is Mr. Rodney Peete.
In 1989, the Lions used their sixth-round draft pick, 141st overall, to choose USC standout quarterback and Johnny Unitas award winner Rodney Peete, who quickly won the starting job right out of camp his rookie year. Peete, however would miss the start of the season with a sprained knee he suffered in a preseason game; injuries would be a trend throughout Peete’s career.
In his rookie season, Rodney Peete started 8 games and threw just five touchdowns and nine interceptions, while leading Detroit to a 3-5 record and completing only 52.8 percent of his passes. Peete would have a mediocre next four seasons in Detroit, before bouncing around the NFC East for a while.
After a brief stint in Oakland, Peete had a final resurgence to his career, when he once again claimed the starting role, this time in Carolina in 2002. Playing in 14 games for the Panthers, Peete led the team to a 7-7 mark, before losing his job to future Super Bowl QB Jake Delhomme.
Rodney Peete retired with a 45-42 record as a starter in the NFL, and an unremarkable 73.3 passer rating. Peete’s work recently has included his co-hosting gig on Best Damn Sports Show Period. Remember when that show was cool?
First off, my heartfelt condolences to the friends, family, and all of those affected by the unfortunate and untimely passing of Manute Bol. That being said, what the fuck?! Manute Bol was scheduled to be the subject of this Monday’s Obscure Spotlight. The article you’re about to read was written Friday; the day before Bol’s untimely demise. Coincidence, or the Obscure Athletes’ Jinx??? You decide.
Manute Bol was a tall basketball player. So tall, in fact, that until the debut of Gheorghe Mureşan, he stood alone as the tallest man to ever play in the NBA. The Sudanese-born Bol was initially drafted in 1983 by the (at the time) San Diego Clippers, in the now long-extinct fifth round, but never played a game for the Clippers, as the NBA declared that Bol was ineligible for the draft.
Bol would go on to be drafted again, this time legally, in 1985 by the Washington Bullets in the second round. In his rookie season
with the Bullets, Bol appeared in 80 games, during which he set the NBA rookie record for blocks with 397. He averaged 5.0 blocks per game in that season, a career-high. Bol played in Washington for two more seasons before landing in Golden State, where he played two seasons with the Warriors. In that time Bol added the jump shot to his repetoir, and you may remember screaming SHOOT every time Bol got the ball behind the arc, and rightfully so. Bol’s career began like one with promise of a bright future, but soon after leaving Golden State, took a turn for the obscure.
In August of 1990, the Warriors traded Manute Bol to the 76ers for a draft pick that ultimately ended up being fellow obscure athlete Chris Gatling. For the Sixers, Bol played only one full season free of injury, with his games played decreasing each season he was in Philly. Injuries plagued the big man, and eventually Philadelphia released Bol in July of 1993.
Manute Bol came off the bench for the Heat for 8 games during the 1993 season. Miami signed him in October of 1993, and by January the 7′ 7” center was once again a free agent. That season he appeared in two games for the Bullets in a homecoming with the team that originally drafted him 8 seasons earlier. It was a ten-day contract, after which he would make yet another homecoming in Philadelphia for another ten-day deal. In four games for the Sixers, Bol scored 6 points, snagged 6 boards, and blocked 9 shots. It looked as though the big man from Sudan was finally heading for a retirement, until the following season when he made yet another comeback, this time in a second stint with the Warriors. Just a week into his latest comeback, however, Bol suffered a career-ending injury on national television, and so ended the Manute Bol era in the NBA.
Manute Bol’s name faded into obscurity after his retirement, or at least as much obscurity as can be found for a 7’7” former NBAer. Bol was known best for his shot-blocking ability and his rediculously short stints on three of the NBA’s more obscure franchises. The only bummer about the career of this obscure athlete is that I always hoped one day we’d see him sign a Manute Bol-esque, ten-day contract with the Celtics and fuck shit up, for just a glorious week and a half.
By Andrew Nawn
Andrew Nawn attends Framingham State College and his weekly column on Obscure Athletes discusses solid college football players who just couldn’t cut the mustard in the NFL
Going into the 2004 draft the Buffalo Bills thought they saw a future starting quarterback in the making, coming from Tulane University. JP Losman was going to the quarterback of the future for the Buffalo Bills. Given that the Bills hadn’t taken a quarterback in the first round since Jim Kelly, Losman was expected to fill the spot and put the Bills on the right road to victory, something former Patriot Drew Bledsoe couldn’t do for the Bills.
Losman’s college career was impressive. Losman played only played two
years however, because one time Nawn-Factor Patrick Ramsey was the starter at Tulane for the first two years of Losman’s career. Before coming to Tulane Losman played at UCLA but demanded to be the starting quarterback. Upon finding out he wouldn’t be the starting quarterback he transferred to Tulane. In his two years as starting quarterback Losman led his team to one bowl appearance and an overall unimpressive record of 13-12. Losman threw for 60 touchdowns and 27 interceptions, and 6.754 yards. He was also a ground threat, running for 10 touchdowns and 241 yards in his two year starter. After completing his career at Tulane, Losman entered the 2004 draft with quarterbacks Phillip Rivers, Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger. Losman was selected with the 22nd pick by the Buffalo Bills.
Losman must have thought he was doomed because of the freak accident that left him with a broken leg in the first day of training camp, by one time Philadelphia Eagle great Troy Vincent. In the 2005 season Losman was rewarded to the starting quarterback job, and led the Bills to a 22-7 season opening win over the Houston Texans. Accuracy haunted Losman during the 2005 season, however, as he was eventually benched for back up quarterback Kelly Holcomb. After an injury during the season, Losman returned to the starting quarterback role and led the Bills to another victory this time against the Kansas City Chiefs 14-13, in which Losman threw two touchdown strikes to then-rookie Lee Evans.
In 2006 Losman had his best season in the NFL, throwing for 3,051 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Losman had a 62.5 completion percentage for the season, a record for Buffalo Bill quarterbacks in a full 16-game season. He was rated the 11th best passer in the NFL, with an 84.9 passer rating. The 2007 season was one Losman would like to forget as Trent Edwards was drafted, adding to the pressure Losman had to perform. He promptly folded under such pressure, as injuries and accuracy problems came back and Trent Edwards entered the spotlight. Losman demanded to be traded during the ’08 season, a demand the Bills ignored, and following the season the team made no effort to re-sign Losman, instead committing to backup QB and Harvard standout Ryan Fitzpatrick.
With no teams showing interest in Losman, he decided to go to the UFL where he was drafted by the Las Vegas Locomotives. As the starting quarterback of the Locomotives, Losman led them to the inaugural championship. In 8 games Losman threw for 1,193, 9 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions. After the impressive season in the UFL, the Oakland Raiders signed him for the remainder of the 2010 NFL season where he appeared in one game, where he was hurt on his first play upon entering the game. This upcoming season Losman will compete for the backup job for the Seattle Seahawks. With such an impressive list of credentials, it is safe to say, JP Losman has been an NFL Nawn-Factor!