In the olden days of pro sports, most players used to stick with just one team for their whole careers. Today, though, players are more likely to be “journeymen,” or bounce around their league, playing for multiple teams. Here are the biggest journeymen of all time, or rather the players whose journeys took them to the highest number of teams.
NBA: Chucky Brown
Between the late 1980s and the early 2000s, Chucky Brown played at just about every level of professional basketball…including for more NBA teams than any other player in history. The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted him out of North Carolina State in 1989. He played there for two years before a trade to the Los Angeles Lakers. He was there for most of a season, then a season with the New Jersey Nets, and, in the fall of 1993, he was signed to the Dallas Mavericks…for whom he played just one game (in which he scored three points.) He got cut early enough in the season that he was able to jump to the minor league Continental Basketball Association. In 1994, Brown signed with the Miami Heat…who cut him before the season started, so it was back to the CBA for the year. In the 1995-96 season, he returned to the NBA with the Houston Rockets, and, as a starter, played in every game and won an NBA championship. Nevertheless, the team traded him before the 1996-97 season to the Phoenix Suns, who, after 10 games, sent him to the Milwaukee Bucks. He followed that up with season-long stint with similar tenures in Atlanta, Charlotte, San Antonio, Charlotte again, Golden State, half a season in Cleveland again, and a final half season in 2002 with the Sacramento Kings. Total number of teams: 12.
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MLB: Octavio Dotel
What’s remarkable about Diaz jumping from team to team is that he largely avoided Major League Baseball’s tendency to send players “down to the minors” to improve their skills. After a six-year stint in the New York Mets farm system, he was a good enough pitcher to stay in the majors for most of 15 seasons, and yet no squad seemed to have a place for him for long. After playing well in a league in his native Dominican Republic, the New York Mets signed Dotel in 1993, and he finally made it to “the big show” in 1999, where he pitched to a respectable 8-3 record with 85 strikeouts. At season’s end, he got traded to Houston, where he occasionally pitched from 2000 to the middle of the 2004 season, when he headed to Oakland. In all of 2006, he pitched 30 innings for the New York Yankees, a pit stop on his way to Kansas City, then Atlanta, Chicago (the White Sox), Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Colorado, Toronto, St. Louis, and Detroit. He retired in 2013. Total number of teams: 13.
NHL: Mike Sillinger
Sillinger played at center in the NHL for a whopping 17 seasons between 1990 and 2009. In addition to some minor league and European squads, he hit the ice for nearly half of the league’s squads. He was traded a total of nine times, which is also an NHL record. Entering pro hockey with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, Sillinger made it to the Detroit Red Wings in 1990, where he stayed until a trade to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 1995…then a move to the Vancouver Canucks…another to the Philadelphia Flyers…and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, and the New York Islands for three, long, NHL-career capping seasons. Total number of teams: 12.
NFL: Shayne Graham
Between all the offensive, defensive, and special teams players, football team rosters are gigantic…and that doesn’t even count the extra players around for preseason games and on the practice squad. If those not-quite-on-the-team stints are included, placekicker Graham is the all-time NFL journeyman. After preseason stints with New Orleans and Seattle in 2000 and 2001, he played in six actual games for Buffalo, but returned to Seattle for the 2002 preseason before playing in 11 games that year for Carolina. From 2003 to 2009, he found a semi-permanent home in Cincinnati and shined, earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2005. He wound up in Baltimore in 2010 but didn’t make it to the regular season roster, only to play in one regular season games for the New York Giants. In 2011, he almost made the squads in Washington and Dallas and then did for Miami and Baltimore (again). A 2012 season in Houston was followed by almost-fieldings from Cleveland and Pittsburgh. He finished out his career in 2015 after suiting up for New Orleans (again) and Atlanta. Total number of teams: 16.