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Where the 15 Minutes of Fame Never End
I was watching ESPN Classic this morning and they had a sweet rerun of an old show you may remember, starring Kenny Mayne, called Two -Minute Drill. It was the worldwide leader’s trivia precursor to Stump the Schwab, and one of Mayne’s questions to a well-dressed Claude Julien-lookalike was “What journeyman quarterback led the 1995 Kansas City Chiefs to a 13-3 regular season record?” I was completely stumped, and surprised to find out it was one-year wonder Steve Bono. So let’s talk about this fellow.
Bono was a two-sport star at UCLA, earning letters as both the catcher of the school’s baseball team and as the Bruins’ starting quarterback. Bono ultimately chose football, and was picked in the sixth round in 1985 by the Vikings. In four seasons spent between Minnesota and then Pittsburgh, he played in just seven games, starting three of them. It wouldn’t be until the 49ers started him in six games in 1991 that Bono would get his first significant playing action. In that ’91 season Bono went 5-1 as a starter, throwing 11 touchdowns and four interceptions, filling in for Joe Montana, before being moved back to the bench in favor of the rapidly ascending Steve Young.
After being moved to Kansas City following the 1993 season, Bono was once again relegated to backing up Montana. He waited out Montana’s retirement and was given the starting job in 1995. His only season as a sixteen-game starter went swimmingly in KC. The team went 13-3 and Bono would go on to Honolulu for his first and only Pro Bowl. He threw for 3121 yards despite completing only 56.3 percent of his passes.
When the Colts visited Arrowhead in a divisional round matchup following KC’s first-round bye week, Steve Bono was
thrust into the spotlight in the most important game of his career. Against Jim Harbaugh and the Colts, Bono went 11-for-25 for 122 yards, including one touchdown and three interceptions. Bono was benched late in the fourth quarter for Rich Gannon, and the team went on to lose 10-7, while the Colts went on to face the Steelers in one of the greatest AFC Championship games ever played.
Bono never did recapture the magic of his ’95 season, and after 1996 was released in favor of future Kansas City great Elvis Grbac. He spent his final three seasons in Green Bay, St Louis, and then Carolina, starting only two more games in his career, both in St. Louis. He went 0-2 as a starter.
Herm Edwards was just on ESPN, yelling at Chad OchoCinco for his continued Twitter-Antics, and telling him
to “Strap the helmet on and just play football!” (Follow @obscureathletes on twitter) Aside from how absurdly hypocritical this helmet-wielding rant from Edwards is, considering the fact that he’s employed by a network that actively promotes Twitter and actually has fucking segments during SportsCenter to talk about tweets from athletes, has anyone else had just about enough of this clown?
Given his ‘Pep talk’ rants and other outlandish NFL commentary, I ask you this, Obscure Readers. If you didn’t know Herm was a failed NFL head coach and successful ESPN pundit, wouldn’t you think he was a crack addict struggling mightily to get clean? I know I would. It must be way more difficult to brandish your “Fired Coaches Association” membership card over in Bristol, when unlike your counterpart Jon Gruden, you never won a goddamn thing as a pro coach. Even if Gruden basically stole Tony Dungy’s second ring.
Brad Childress must have hit up Brett Favre for tickets to last night’s Vikings game. And why wouldn’t he? It was Minnesota football history being made at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. Wouldn’t wanna miss that, would ya Brad? The Vikings, in case you missed it, turned in a Vikings-like performance, getting blown out by the Bears at home, and losing Favre for, once again, an indeterminable amount of time.
One day, you’re going to be in a position to answer a trivia question, for either a bunch of
money or a pair of tickets to your next local sporting event, or something of that nature. Maybe it’s on Jeopardy. Alex Trebeck is going to look you in the face and say “Call him both an early and late bloomer, because he holds the NFL record for most time in between 1000-yard rushing seasons.” And because of Obscure Athletes, you’ll correctly answer the question. Maybe it’s a Final Jeopardy question, who knows? And if it is, you’ll answer “Mike Anderson” and smile. Hopefully you wagered all your money and weren’t that guy who sees the Final Jeopardy category and bets $0. Isn’t it really lame when that guy wins?
Anyway, today we’re talking Mike Anderson– the pride of Winnsboro, South Carolina and a former sixth round pick out of the University of Utah. Anderson served in the Marines after high school and was 26 by the time he was drafted in 2000 by the Broncos. Anderson was thrust into the starting role after Olandis Gary went down early in the season, and did not disappoint. On his way to NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, Mike Anderson rushed for 1487 yards on 297 carries and an impressive 15 touchdowns.
Anderson’s carries were cut in half both of the next two seasons, and his production diminished. Finally in 2004, Anderson suffered a season-ending injury during the preseason, and the already improbable run of Mike Anderson all the way to the ranks of the NFL looked to finally be ending.
Going into the ’05 season, Anderson was determined to prove he had one more good NFL season in him, and behind a stellar Broncos offensive line, Mike Anderson once again broached the 1000-yard plateau. In fifteen games Anderson rushed for 1,014 yards and 12 touchdowns, and added another three in two playoff games for Denver.
After that 2005 season, Anderson was a salary cap casualty for the Broncos, after which he signed on with Baltimore, for whom he played only one season. That year saw him carry the ball only 39 times from a backup role with the Ravens. Mike Anderson’s NFL career came to a close when he was suspended for a full season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, after which no team was willing to take a chance on the running back. He finished his career with 919 carries, and a 4.4 yards per carry average. Anderson ran with a chip on his shoulder, making sure to always fall forward. And his fifteen minutes of fame will remain well-preserved here at Obscure Athletes.
The continuing saga of Broncos’ 1000-yard rushers gets even more obscure next week, think you can guess who we’ll be looking at?
It’s request Thursday on Obscure Athletes, and the first suggestion on Our Page On Facebook was for Otis Smith. Let’s
face it, an Otis Smith Obscure Spotlight was inevitable, and I’m a man of the people. I’m not some malevolent, unreasonable lord and master of Obscure Athletes. What I’m trying to say is, we’re listening. Ya know?
Otis Smith is the consummate NFL underdog. In college, he suffered a separated shoulder but came back to be a two-year starter as an upperclassman. Undrafted out of Missouri, Smith signed on with the Eagles in training camp and made the team’s roster. In his four-year tenure with Philadelphia, he started only four games but appeared in all but one, mostly as a fifth defensive back. After his career in Philadelphia was over, Smith moved to greener pastures–namely, a Jets uniform, where he would be able to be a regular starter for the first time in his career.
Smith is known as one of the numerous “AFC East Guys” who seem to hop between AFC East teams throughout their career. He played 1995 for the Jets, but was waived by New York in late September of the following season, when he signed on with the Patriots. He went on to start nine games for New England, and was on the roster for their appearance in Super Bowl XXXI. That year, in the AFC Championship game against the Jaguars, Smith returned a fumble 47 yards for a touchdown, sealing the Jags’ fate.
The 1997 offseason saw Otis Smith on the move again, this time back to New York to play for the same Jets team that cut him less than a year before. The ’97 season was Smith’s best. He intercepted six passes, returning three for touchdowns, and forced a fumble. Otis Smith would stick around with the Jets until after his injury-riddled ’99 campaign, when once again, he was waived by the Jets and signed by the Pats.
Smith started for three more full seasons in New England, and he was key in Super Bowl XXXVI against St. Louis, recording an interception. Oft-forgotten about that game was the Otis Smith fumble return for a touchdown that was taken off the board due to a Willie McGinnest holding call. After the ’02 season Smith would have only one NFL season left in him, this time in Detroit, where he started thirteen games.
Smith is now a defensive assistant for the Chiefs. I’ll always remember Smith for how much McGinnest fucked up his moment of fame in the Super Bowl. But at least Otis Smith’s fifteen minutes of fame have Obscure Athletes to make sure they never end.
Wanna see your favorite obscure athlete featured in the Obscure Spotlight? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
I remember Gus Frerotte as the quarterback who 1) seemed to always be brought in when a team was down by about a zillion points in the fourth quarter, and 2) once slammed his helmetted head against a concrete wall on Sunday Night Football, straining his neck in the midst of celebrating a touchdown run. And with Charlie Batch injured for the Lions in 1999, Detroit called upon none other than the great Gus Frerotte to lead them in the playoffs against the Redskins–the very team that drafted him five seasons earlier. They lost, 27-13 and Frerotte completed just 21 of 47 passes, throwing two interceptions and posting a passer rating of just 52.0.
Frerotte’s the pride of the University of Tulsa, where he holds several major passing records. Surprisingly Tulsa’s not exactly pumping out NFL quarterbacks, so most of his records still stand. As a second-year quarterback for Washington, Frerotte became the starter. It was the Redskins for whom Gus would have his greatest success, and in 1997, made his first and only trip to the Pro Bowl.
Frerotte would see spot-starting action in 2000 with the Broncos, and made another starting appearance in 2005
when he beat out obscure athletes AJ Feeley and Jay Fiedler for the starting job in Miami. 2008 saw Gus Frerotte once again in the starting role, this time in Minnesota, where he led the Vikes to an 8-3 record in 11 games before suffering a back injury and losing his starting job. After being cut by the Vikings a year later, Frerotte retired. His 74.2 career passer rating is right on par with how mediocre you’d imagine it would be, and it nicely compliments his 114 touchdowns to 106 interceptions.
I was surprised to find that Frerotte only started six games for the Lions, all during that ’99 campaign. Maybe a Charlie Batch-led Lions team would have won a game or two in the playoffs. But I doubt it. Interestingly enough, the Lions haven’t been to the playoffs since. Perhaps it’s that Gus Frerotte was the key to their magical 8-8 playoff run in 1999. Or maybe he’s just another stop on the wonderfully, beautifully mediocre carousel of Lions starting quarterbacks.
Today on Obscure Athletes we’re starting a miniseries that, like every
miniseries we’ve done here, may or may not one day be completed. I promise to try my very best. We’re going chronologically here, so that means we’re stepping into the DeLorean and setting a destination time of 1999.
The turmoil is palpable in Denver. The greatest quarterback in the history of their franchise just retired, leaving the reigns in the hands of Brian “I’m telling my dad on you” Griese, and the remaining offensive star, running back Terrell Davis, has just gone down four games into the season. The team is 0-4.
Enter Olandis Gary. In the fifth game of the season he rushed for just 64 yards on 20 carries in a win over the Raiders. Gary’s performance picked up over the remainder of the season–one that many Broncos fans consider a lost one. Denver went 6-10 but Olandis Gary finished with 1159 yards rushing and 7 touchdowns in just twelve games.
Gary looked to be the full-time starter in 2000, but on opening night of the season, on Monday Night Football in St. Louis, Gary carried the ball 13 times for 80 yards, but tore his ACL in a 41-36 loss to the Rams, and would miss the whole season. To make matters worse for Gary, future star of this segment Mike Anderson stepped into Gary’s role and racked up 1487 yards and 15 touchdowns, and the team went 11-5.
Gary never regained his full-time starting position in Denver. He would start just four more games in his NFL career, and after 2002, move on to Detroit. He appeared in 13 games, starting one, and rushed for just 384 yards on 113 carries.
Indeed it seems Olandis Gary could have had a long, successful career in the NFL, yet like so many players (Particularly Denver running backs) he was a career victim of injuries. That, coupled with the Broncos’ backfield that once seemed to create thousand-yard rushers out of thin air, left Olandis Gary out of the NFL for good. The system that built up Olandis Gary for one magical 6-10 run in Denver, was responsible for tearing him down. Good thing Olandis Gary has Obscure Athletes to forever preserve his fifteen minutes of fame.
Amid all the Otis Nixon-related excitement yesterday here at Obscure Athletes, and our boycott of Monday Night’s game, we somehow forgot to touch on the Derek Anderson blowup! Let me just say, those Worldwide Leader types must have creamed their collective pants as it was going down–because, just as I predicted, the game was a snoozer and had nothing compelling to offer even the most dedicated of football fans, and what better than a good old fashioned media blowup for that dickhead Skip Bayless to talk about on First and Ten on a Tuesday?
I rate this meltdown a 8.5/10. It featured an obscure athlete, there was yelling, and it ended the press conference abruptly. I’d say it’s pretty damn good. So we wanna know, where does this rank for you in terms of most hilarious sporting meltdowns?
NFL, come on, what are we doing here? It’s WEEK 12, and you’re giving us Niners-Cardinals on Monday Night Football? These two
teams that, combined, have fewer wins than 11 NFL teams? Going into the season any moron could have pinned this NFC West matchup as a dumb one to showcase for the world on ESPN, but now that it’s finally happening, I’m in disbelief. How, in the era of Flex games and everybody making a shitload of money, could anyone in the NFL have let this happen?
In fact, most in the media are disregarding tonight’s game in favor of week-away analysis of next Monday’s Pats-Jets primetime showdown. Except the Worldwide Leader, who, if you watched their network’s pregame show this weekend, spent ample time ripping on the NFC West. Sorry guys, ya can’t say “The NFC West blows” all weekend and then Monday look into the camera and say “But it’s on our network, so watch it!” Sorry, Worldwide Leader, this game sucks, and I’m not gonna watch it. And I suggest you don’t either. It’ll be bad enough come January when an 8-8 team out of that division will be hosting a playoff game. Until then, I’m boycotting the NFC west. And the AFC West while I’m at it.
It’s Monday, we’re back to work and school and whatever else it is we do when we’re not having fun. I’ve been slacking over the weekend a little bit; let’s start off the work week by letting off a little steam about a couple things I watched on television over the weekend with a letter from the editor.
So, Boise State. This is how you repay me? Everyone said “Boise State doesn’t play an SEC or Pac-10 Schedule!” And I’d say “Hey! They beat Oklahoma in the big one, they win all the games on their schedule!” I was there to defend them at every turn, EVERY time
someone ripped on Boise State. I once woke up in a hospital bed with three broken ribs and a catheter in me after getting into an argument over their BCS credentials. And then they go and do something like what they did on Saturday.
Here’s how ya know you just got famous–when literally overnight you can just type in the first three letters of your name into Google and it’ll finish typing your name for you. That’s what happened on Saturday when Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman missed two field goals–one at the end of regulation for the win, one in overtime, both inside 27 yards, and the Broncos of Boise State lost their first game since president Obama’s been in office. To Nevada. Cmann, Nevada?
I’m sure Kyle Brotzman is more famous than he ever intended on being in his career at Boise State, but since everyone’s Googling his name, I’ll mention it one more time: KYLE BROTZMAN KICKER MISSED FIELD GOALS BOISE STATE LOSES. That should cover most of the relevant keywords. Anyway, fuck Boise State. The big mean BCS wins again, just like it always does. There’s a reason for that– It’s always right. Knock the BCS all ya want, but more often than not, the two best teams are on the field for the National Championship Game. And now the discussion about those two National Championship teams now won’t have to include Boise State. They can’t beat Oregon or Auburn. They can’t even beat Nevada.
Speaking of getting screwed by missed field goals, how much of a black hole is Buffalo within the seemingly infinitely expanding universe of the NFL? And not the impressive kind that come from a supernova dying in a gloriously destructive explosion, but that which comes from a dwarf–a vacuum of nothingness born of a mini-star that never really got going, and instead lost four Super Bowls in a row. Yeah, that kind of black hole. And with a chance to win their third straight game and move to 3-8 on the season, in overtime, at home against a heavily favored Steelers team,
Ryan Fitzpatrick took the snap from the Pittsburgh 40. He threw it long for Stevie Johnson in the end zone who, wide open, dropped the would-be game winner. The Bills later punted and the Steelers eventually won on a field goal by NFL journeyman kicker Shaun Suisham–Pittsburgh’s replacement for a job previously held by Jeff Reed.
I find it somewhat off-putting when athletes thank their personal savior for their superhuman athletic ability in interviews and news conferences. But have a look at what Steve Johnson tweeted after the game (Follow us on twitter, as well as Steve Johnson)
I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…
I’m trying to wean myself off sports, it’s too time consuming. I don’t watch football anymore, I gave that up. I got tired of the interviews after the games, because the winning players always give credit to God, and the losers blame themselves. You know, just once I’d like to hear a player say, ‘Yeah, we were in the game, until Jesus made me fumble. He hates our team.’
Except God doesn’t hate the Bills. The Bills suck because of any number of reasons, reasons I don’t even have time to delve into now. (Though it would probably make a fun multi-part series…We’ll keep it in mind) It’s the least risky and most arrogant way to not say “I fucked up, it’s on me. I’m gonna work harder and make sure it doesn’t happen again” which is what he should have done. Not only does God not give a shit that he dropped the game-winning touchdown, he must have decided that he was to play in Buffalo, the NFL’s version of Hell. Go fuck yourself, Steve Johnson.
-The opinions expressed in the preceding editorial are those of Christopher Smith only, and not those of Obscure Athletes.