Again, I have you folks to thank — or blame, as the case may be — for this entry. This tangent arose on Saturday’s live chat off the Falcons’ defensive collapse, and I thought it would make a nice Hot Button. (Or Cold Button, as the case may be.)
The question: Who’s the biggest dud in local sports?
Parameters: It has to be someone currently employed locally. Meaning: No Len Barker, no Aundray Bruce, no Eddie Haas, no Ron Jirsa, no Bruce Pickens, no Jeff Francoeur, no J.R. Rider, no Jeff George, no Priest Lauderdale, no Ray Goff, no Corky Miller, no Marion Campbell, no Peerless Price, no Damian Rhodes, no Bill Lewis, no Albie Lopez, no Robert Fick, no Shelden Williams, no Jimmy Williams, no Bobby Petrino, no Dan Kolb, no Steve Broussard, no Adam Keefe, no Brad Komminsk, no Reggie Kelly … enough already!
I’ve taken the liberty of nominating one deserving — or undeserving, as the case may be — candidate from each local entity. (Caveat: No college players will be considered. It’d be mean to label an amateur a flop, especially with so many alleged pros from which to choose.) And here we go. Feel free to comment/disagree/amplify/moan.
Greg Norton, Braves slugger: I don’t think I need to outline the argument for/against him. And if I did, I’m not apt to do it any better than I did it in this post earlier today.
Jamaal Anderson, Falcons defensive end: First-round draft pick (No. 8 overall) has two sacks in two seasons. On the bright side, he had two more sacks in Year 2 than in Year 1, so the graph is pointing upward. Started as a rookie. Probably won’t start as a third-year man. Was drafted as a DE. Has been tried at defensive tackle. Best position would seem the bench.
Mike Woodson, Hawks coach: He makes the list because each local sporting concern must have a representative. Also because he’s still more than a hundred games under .500 as a head coach. Also because he just groused to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports about not having been offered a contract extension. But Woody did a good job last season and wouldn’t be included had not Speedy Claxton been shipped to Golden State, which was downright thoughtless of Rick Sund.
Don Waddell, Thrashers GM: Ten years on the job, two winning seasons, one playoff appearance, no playoff victories. But he has had a nice offseason, and if he persuades Ilya Kovalchuk to stay we’ll be throwing roses at the Teflon Don, as opposed to the usual rotten tomatoes.
Willie Martinez, Georgia defensive coordinator: His players were in position; they just didn’t make the tackles. But seriously, folks … here’s the reason Unslick Willie is substandard.
Paul Hewitt, Georgia Tech basketball coach: Took the Jackets to the 2004 national championship game by winning five riveting NCAA games in 17 days. Has won one NCAA game since. Has missed the Big Dance three times in the past four years. Has had a losing record three of the past four seasons. Just saw his program lose two scholarships for failure to meet NCAA academic progress standards.
Me, I’d say the overall choice comes down to expectations, meaning money. Norton is stealing earning $800,000. Martinez makes $325,000, or $1 per missed tackle. Anderson earns — wrong word, I know — $3.8 million. Which would seem to make him the winner/loser. Except:
Though Hewitt’s annual pay packet is only (only!) $1.375 million, Tech would owe him $7.175 million were it to fire him today. That makes him the biggest underachiever in local sports. But I say that knowing, seven months from now, we might well believe he’s the best bargain around. Because the Jackets should be really good next season.