By Andy Kossak
As fans take responsibility for all of the important decisions surrounding teams in the FCFL, the thought of what fans might have done differently if they ran pro teams in another league comes into play. There have been numerous trades that didn’t work out and draft blunders that have haunted teams and their fans forever.
So if fans had been in control for some of those awful moves, would the outcomes have been different? Here’s a look at a couple of moments in pro football history that clearly benefited one team way more than the other or others involved simply based on a bad decision.
Vikings destroy future, help Cowboys become repeat champs
It’s a trade that happened nearly 30 years ago and it’s one Vikings fans would still love to have back. At the time, they thought they were getting a great running back who was going to put them over the top. In reality, they gave up enough to put another team over the top and the Cowboys cashed in with multiple Super Bowl titles.
In 1989, after an 0-5 start to their season, new Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson knew he couldn’t stand pat. He sought to trade the team’s best player – and maybe only good player – Herschel Walker, to try and get back players and more importantly picks that he could use to continue to build a future in Dallas. Johnson found a trading partner in Mike Lynn of the Vikings and Lynn gave away everything in the deal to get Walker, a bona fide star running back and danger every time he touched the ball. However, in his quest for immediate success, Lynn forgot about the future.
The Vikings sent players and high draft picks to the Cowboys in a deal that allowed Dallas to collect even more picks as time went on. Johnson, who knew college talent, put together a run of drafts that led the Cowboys out of the doldrums and into nirvana, by picking players along the likes of Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith and Darren Woodson, among others thanks to the deal.
Walker only spent three seasons with the Vikings and only played in one playoff game, a loss in the divisional round in the 1989 season, the year he was traded. The Cowboys went on to win Super Bowls XXVII, XXVIII and XXX, thanks in very large part to what they acquired from Minnesota.
With the current Vikings on the upswing, it’s hard to remember how bad of a spot that trade put them in and pretty much showed the world why you don’t deal away a load of picks/talent for one player, especially not to a team that had the ability to find gem after gem in the draft.
Was this the most unbalanced trade in football history? It’s hard to imagine a fan with knowledge of the game could’ve done worse than the Vikings did in the deal.
Bo Knows He Doesn’t Want Tampa
In 1986, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had finished the previous season with a 2-14 record, held the first overall pick in the NFL draft. They chose to use it on Bo Jackson, who had made it clear if they drafted him, he’d never play for them. Jackson kept his word and never signed with the Bucs, who wasted a number one selection and didn’t make the playoffs for more than another decade. Jackson went on to have a solid major league baseball career and still played in the NFL, but not for Tampa Bay.
There are multiple sides to a story, but it seems as if Jackson got mad at the Buccaneers and owner Hugh Culverhouse when he felt they intentionally caused him to be ineligible to finish his senior baseball season at Auburn. The Buccaneers sent Culverhouse’s plane to pick up Jackson for a visit and told him everything had been cleared with the NCAA. Well, it wasn’t cleared and Jackson ended up being ruled ineligible to continue playing college baseball. Between that and Jackson reportedly being unhappy with the way he felt Culverhouse treated people, he had no interest at all in suiting up for the Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers held Jackson’s rights for a full year and during that time he started his pro baseball career. When Tampa Bay’s rights to Jackson expired a year later, the Los Angeles Raiders wisely used a seventh-round pick on him. Many thought Jackson was no longer interested in playing football, but the Raiders proved them wrong. Jackson ended up joining the Raiders for four seasons and he played football each year after the baseball season completed. His football career was cut short due to injury, but he was a legitimate professional two-sport star during his playing days.
Of course Buccaneers fans wanted Jackson, but once it became pretty clear that he wasn’t interested in signing with them, there had to be many diehards who would’ve known better than to still select him, especially if you weren’t guaranteed to be able trade his rights to another interested franchise.
Is this the worst draft pick ever considering it was the number-one overall selection and knowing that Jackson was clear he wasn’t signing with the Bucs?
The above situations just add to the idea that it’s time for fans to have more input on important decisions. After all, it is the fans that are paying for the tickets and concessions and more, and perhaps they should have a say on team matters. Well that say is here, it’s called the FCFL and kickoff is around the corner.