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From #1 NFL Draft Pick to…Something Else

May 7, 2018

In the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns selected Heisman Trophy-winning Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. Will he be like previous #1 picks like Peyton Manning and Troy Aikman and lead his team to Super Bowl glory…or will he be like these guys?

Ki-Jana Carter

If only Carter’s body had been willing to cooperate, he could have been a professional star running back on the level he was in college. In his final year at Penn State (1994), Carter was explosive, leading the team to a 12-0 record. In just one game against Michigan State, he rushed for 227 yards and scored five touchdowns. At regular season’s end, Carter was named an All-American, finished second in the Heisman Trophy vote, then played in the Rose Bowl, where he scored three touchdowns, including one that was the result of an 83-yard run. The Cincinnati Bengals grabbed Carter with the top pick in the 1995 draft and played for three other teams over the course of the next decade. But he barely played. He tore a ligament in a 1995 preseason game and missed the entirety of what would have been his rookie season; he missed the entire 1998 season due to a broken wrist; and then he missed the whole next season after he dislocated a kneecap. Carter went on to become a successful businessman, opening a sanitation company called Byoglobe.

Terry Baker

Baker played quarterback for Oregon State University, and won the Heisman Trophy in 1962—the first player from the West Coast to earn the award. That was just one of 15 various “player of the year” awards he won (including Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsman of the Year”), and he also graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering—no small feat. His last college play: a 99-yard touchdown run in the 1962 Liberty Bowl, which is still an NCAA record. Unsurprisingly, Baker was picked first in the 1963 draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He played three unexceptional seasons for that team, then played a year in the Canadian Football League. All the while, he was earning his law degree from USC. After four years as a pro football player, Baker retired to found the Portland, Oregon, law firm Tonkon Torp.

John Matuszak

Matuszak wasn’t exactly a bust in the NFL, but he’s much more famous for his life outside of football. A 6’8”, 280-pound defensive end, Matuszak was the star of the University of Tampa squad and was selected as the top pick in the 1973 draft by the Houston Oilers. He signed with the team, but also signed a team with the Houston Texans, crosstown rivals of the Oilers and members of the upstart and short-lived World Football League. He was served a restraining order during a game, as playing for two teams was a contract violation. The Oilers traded him away, and he wound up with the Raiders, winning one Super Bowl with the team when they were based in Oakland, and another in Los Angeles. He retired in 1982, and became an actor, appearing in Ringo Starr’s prehistoric comedy Cavemen and, under a lot of prosthetics, as misunderstood monster Sloth in the ‘80s classic The Goonies. (He also placed ninth in the World’s Strongest Man competition). Sadly, Matuszak died in 1989 at age 39 of an accidental painkiller overdose.


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