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The worst? I'll show you the worst

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  November 17, 2010 12:26 PM

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lamjones.jpg Loved Jeff Pearlman's counter to the NFL Network's buzzy countdown of the top 100 players of all-time -- naturally, the 100 Worst Players Ever. Loved it. It's one of those smart yet shoulda-been-obvious ideas that makes you want to punt yourself for not thinking of it first.

Of course, digging it doesn't mean that I agree with it entirely. Otis Smith, rated the 71st-worst, does not belong here. He'd get burned from time to time, but he could also make plays on the ball, he was smart, and I wish the Patriots had someone like him right now instead of Jonathan Wilhite. The man earned his Super Bowl ring.

There are not nearly enough Bengals on the list -- they should have at least 20 of the top 100 worst players just on principle. There are way too many Jets, and strangely few Patriots. To put it another way, there are dozens of Patriots I'd trade for Johnny "Lam" Jones in his prime, including pretty much every Bobby Grier draft pick save for Kevin Faulk and Damien Woody.

Actually, scratch that: Just looked up Lam Jones's stats, and he probably does belong. He was done at 26, so he didn't even have a prime.

Lam can stay. But here are six Patriots who should join him on the Wretched 100, plus an extra point . . .

finncanty.jpg1. Chris Canty: The worst. Just . . . the worst. If there's been a more unlikable Patriots player in recent memory, I've apparently blacked him out of my mind. This is what Bobby Grier got with the 29th pick in the 1997 draft: A runty, not particularly quick cornerback who couldn't cover anyone, tackled like he thought such a thing was beneath him, and who very possibly began the trend, carried on dutifully by Brandon Meriweather and others, of celebrating a tackle after getting torched for a first down. On the plus side, it is possible that he inadvertently invented The Dougie at some point. Probably after a 28-yard gain by the guy who blew past him at the line of scrimmage.

2. Jeff Carlson: In three games (two starts) at quarterback for the wretched 1992 Patriots*, he completed 18 of 49 passes -- that would be a 36.7 completion percentage -- for 232 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. His passer rating 33.7. The worst quarterback I have ever seen play is Craig Whelihan, who made Pearlman's list. But I suspect that's only because I don't have any recollection whatsoever of Carlson.

* The Patriots went 2-14 in '92 with four quarterbacks -- Carlson, Hugh Millen, Tommy Hodson, and Scott Zolak. Guess who started in the two wins? Yep. Zo.

chungfinn.jpg3. Eugene Chung: The first round of the 1992 NFL Draft was pretty lousy -- the Colts took los bustos Steve Emtman and Quentin Coryatt 1-2, Desmond Howard was the fourth pick, David Klingler the seventh . . . and some guy named Belichick goofed in Cleveland, selecting Touchdown Tommy Vardell ninth overall. But it's hard to find a bigger flop than Chung, the 13th choice who started 30 games during his first two seasons with the Patriots before Bill Parcells, who didn't seem to care that he was a first-round pick since he wasn't his first-round pick, buried him behind Bob Kratch in 1994, Chung's final season in New England. Looking at this card, it's appropriate that he already seems to be heading in reverse.

4. Chris Singleton: The Patriots might have had Junior Seau 16 years before Belichick brought him here had they not traded the No. 3 overall pick in the 1990 draft to the Seahawks for the eighth and 10th selections in the first round. With the third choice, Seattle chose Miami defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, who became a perennial Pro Bowler. Two picks later, the Chargers swiped Seau. And with their choices? The Patriots got Singleton, an alleged pass rusher who had four sacks in four seasons (22 starts with the Patriots), and defensive lineman Ray Agnew, who'd go on to play 11 undistinguished seasons, the most undistinguished of which came as a Patriot. An awful trade made worse by awful use of the picks.

5. Ken Sims: Did you happen to catch the sight of Albert Haynesworth pathetically plopped all dormant and sessile on the FedEx Field turf Monday night like a sea lion, as Tom Curran perfectly put it on Twitter? Yeah, that sort of reminded me of Sims, a superbly gifted slug who performed adequately during an eight-year career in New England after being chosen No. 1 overall out of Texas in '82. He was supposed to be Reggie White before there was a Reggie White. He turned out to be much closer to this Reggie White.

6. Trevor Matich: I guess he's not the worst player in NFL history, given that he managed to hang around the league for 12 years, primarily as a long-snapper. But considering he was a flop as a lineman (12 career starts) after the Patriots chose him 28th overall in '85 . . . and considering that he was chosen with the lone first-round pick among the three selections the Patriots acquired from the San Francisco 49ers for the 16th pick in that '85 draft . . . and considering the player the 49ers chose with that pick ranked first on the NFL Network's list of the top 100 players . . . well, let's just say we like the symmetry of having Jerry Rice at No. 1 and Trevor Matich about as far from No. 1 as possible.

bradygiofinn.jpgExtra point: Giovanni Carmazzi:And while we're talking symmetry, let's consider the 2000 NFL Draft. The San Francisco 49ers, in need of an heir at quarterback to Steve Young, grabbed Hofstra standout Carmazzi with the 65th pick, a selection endorsed by none other than Bill Walsh. One-hundred-and-thirty-four picks later, the Patriots spent a sixth-rounder on a skinny Bay Area kid who grew up idolizing Joe Montana and dreaming of playing for the Niners. Whatever Walsh thought he saw in Carmazzi -- who never took a snap in the NFL in two seasons -- proved abundant in Tom Brady. (You thought we meant someone else?) Funny how the talent in Brady, the closest thing to Montana we've ever seen, went unrecognized by the man who found Montana. Given how it's all worked out, I guess we can probably forgive them for Rice/Matich now.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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