During the 24-year period between the retirement of Vince Lombardi in 1968 and arrival of Brett Favre in 1992, the Green Bay Packers were pathetic with only five winning seasons and two playoff appearances. Much of the team’s futility can be attributed to monumentally bad draft decisions, such as the selections of QB Jerry Tagge in 1972 and OT Tony Mandarich in 1989. In between, the trading of multiple high round draft picks for washed-up QB John Hadl in 1974 and the selection of QB Rich Campbell in 1981 kept the downward cycle going. This post focuses on the first bad decision and whether or not Tagge deserves to be considered an all-time bust.
Following a string of Heisman winners who succeeded in the NFL (i.e. Bo Jackson, Vinny Testaverde, Tim Brown, and Barry Sanders), Andre Ware was the first of a string of disappointments (i.e. Ty Detmer, Desmond Howard, Gino Torretta, Charlie Ward, and Rashaan Salaam). With 4,700 passing yards and 46 touchdowns for the University of Houston Cougars during the 1989 season, Ware was a deserving winner of the Heisman Trophy. In contrast, he categorically failed as an NFL player with only 1,100 passing yards and five touchdowns in his entire career. The following post shows that Ware’s falloff from college to the pros was certainly bust worthy. However, he only started six NFL games so he never really got a fair shot. As such, he earned an Honorable Mention as a Top 10 Bust instead of making the actual countdown.
Any way you look at it, 1981 #6 overall pick Rich Campbell failed miserably as a professional quarterback. During his four-year NFL career, Campbell threw for a total of 386 yards with three touchdowns and nine interceptions. Based on his poor performances in mop-up duties or as an injury replacement, the Packers never trusted him enough to start even one game. The former Cal star likely would have failed as a starter, but the problem is that we’ll never know. In his honor, I established the Rich Campbell Exemption for players who never received a fair chance to compete on the field. Campbell avoided being declared a Top 10 Bust, but couldn’t escape the stigma of an Honorable Mention.