Boo-Birds: NFL Draft’s Top 5 Jeered Picks
It's Raining Boos
It’s supposed to be the moment of a football player’s life: Getting his name called as a high selection in the NFL draft. Except, for certain players, that dream has turned into a nightmare as they are booed mercilessly by fans who think their franchise has made an enormous mistake.
And that’s especially true if it’s a pick from the embattled New York Jets, who have had their fair share of draft blunders over the years. So what the are Top 5 boo-bird moments at the draft? Let’s just say they have teams feeling green.
5. Mario Williams (2006)
Williams was taken with the first overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft after most believed that Reggie Bush and Vince Young were the most-talented players in the draft.
But Williams of NC State shot to the top of Houston’s draft board after reportedly nailing pre-draft interviews and convincing Houston that he could be the franchise’s first game-changing player on the defensive side of the ball. That didn’t stop fans in New York from booing and chanting “Over - rated!” as Williams walked across the stage while fans jeered at the team’s own draft party in Houston.
It turned out that the Texans were right. Williams was a consistent force up front for Houston, where he was selected to the Pro Bowl twice and registered 53 sacks in six seasons while Bush and Young both disappointed.
It earned Williams a lucrative contract with the Buffalo Bills this offseason - enough money to make him feel better about the boos.
4. Roger Vick (1987)
Oh, New York Jets, we will be seeing a lot of you guys.
At its core, this pick was terrible because the Jets selected a fullback in the first round, a position that most teams wait until late in the event to nab - if one even is taken at all. In fact, the Texas A&M product was the lone fullback selected in the 12-round 1987 draft. He also was selected ahead of Pro Bowl offensive tackles Harris Barton and Bruce Armstrong, the next two picks.
And Jets fan - an unhappy bunch most of the time, anyway - knew this was a bad idea from the start. As commissioner Pete Rozelle uttered “fullback” - before Vick’s name was mentioned - you can hear a man scream, “Oh, no!” That sums up the Jets on draft day. After Vick was announced, the place erupted in boos.
Vick played just four years in the NFL, three with the Jets, and was out of the NFL after the 1990 season, only to make a World League appearance in 1992 before fading into obscurity.
T-3. Johnny Mitchell (1992) & Kyle Brady (1995)
Both Mitchell and Brady were taken in the first round - Mitchell 15th overall and Brady ninth - three years apart. You would have thought that New York learned from its first mistake. Chris Berman famously said after the Mitchell pick, “So New York, New York, becomes tight end, tight end” as fans ranted and raved. It just doesn’t sound like something Sinatra would have crooned, does it?
Nebraska’s Mitchell, who had 158 career catches for Gang Green, played for the Jets until after the 1995 season - Brady’s rookie campaign. Mitchell would catch one more pass in his NFL career. As for Penn State’s Brady, Jets fans chanted “We want Sapp!” but their team passed on the future All-Pro defensive tackle Warren Sapp - a choice that jolted Jets fans into stunned silence before more boos.
Brady left New York after the 1998 season, never having caught more than 30 balls in a season. He played until 2007 with Jacksonville and New England, though the bitter taste of his Jets stint still remains in the mouths of the Super Bowl-starved fanbase.
2. Jeff Lageman (1989)
According to ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper during that year’s coverage, the Jets just didn’t know what the NFL draft was all about, as evidenced by their pick of Virginia defensive end Lageman - who was undersized after moving from linebacker. Future Pro Bowl offensive tackle Steve Wisniewski and wide receiver Andre Rison still were on the board.
Lageman, for his part, eventually made a Pro Bowl for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1991. But his placement on this list is about the enraged reaction by Jets fans at the draft when the selection was announced. They jumped up and down in disgust - and one man laughed hysterically, as if to mock the franchise.
The defensive end played for the Jets until 1994, but no doubt will remember his entrance into the league, which was met with sheer incredulity and even Chris Berman sounding like he had been punched in the stomach.
1. Donovan McNabb (1999)
You didn’t think we would forget about our unruly friends in Philly, did you?
Their reaction to the selection of Syracuse QB Donovan McNabb, the second overall pick in the 1999 draft, was a precursor to his career in Philly - filled with controversy. But had the fans known that he would be perhaps the best quarterback in franchise history, they probably would have toned down their act. Eagles fans wanted the team to draft Texas RB Ricky Williams, for whom Mike Ditka traded his whole draft for the right to pick three slots later.
Eagles fans booed mercilessly when the selection instead was McNabb, who forced a smile as a mini-riot took place in front of him. A man dressed like a member of WWE tag team “Legion of Doom” gritted his teeth; another man looked ready to charge the stage. But McNabb, as everyone knows, led the Eagles to five NFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl appearances despite his ups and downs with the fanbase.
Either way, it was the gold standard for unruly NFL draft reactions - one prospects that will be picked on Thursday hope to steer clear of.