The Hot Button: Who’s the biggest dud in local sports?

Eddie Haas, who was a megaton dud, relieves Gene Garber. (AJC photo by Calvin Cruce)

Megaton dud Eddie Haas pulls Gene Garber. (AJC photo by Calvin Cruce)

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.

Who's the dud of duds?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

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.

259 comments Add your comment

Brian

September 3rd, 2009
10:39 am

I love how they’re all coaches, GMs or supposed starting players except Norton, who is about the 23rd most important player on the Braves. That’s an excellent sign for them.

shards1967

September 3rd, 2009
10:39 am

Tech signed Charlie Dudish in the late 60s and he was going to be the greatest QB in the history of the world, having played at Avondale HS. Well, he only played in one or two games and one was vs USC ( S.Cal) and he did decently but the jackets lost.

He was sooooooooooooo great, that national tv news did a piece on him on prime time tv back then. He is the biggest bust in my mind and now? A minister, I htink. Great.

Slimpickens

September 3rd, 2009
10:39 am

Biggest Dud = Mark Bradley

[...] available! My feeble mind enflamed by this burning topic, I decided to expand the discussion. Who’s the biggest dud in local sports? Greg Norton’s name is mentioned, you should [...]

ATLNick

September 3rd, 2009
10:47 am

I voted for you Mark…but as a joke. Much like Greg Norton’s numbers this year a big fat joke! Nice piece.

G Dawg

September 3rd, 2009
10:50 am

CWM cant really go out on the field and make tackles himself. He gave the players all the tools they needed to go out and do their job.

Mark Bradley

September 3rd, 2009
10:50 am

True confession, Nick: I voted for me, too.

Bat Masterson

September 3rd, 2009
10:51 am

Don Waddell could not get away with it, if people knew we had a hockey franchise in atlanta.

Sam in High School

September 3rd, 2009
10:53 am

i would say peter moylan for the first half of the season but that has changed now. he was a guaranteed loss everytime he came out of the bullpen at least now he seems to be dependable (knock on wood). now its definitely norton

Bushwacker

September 3rd, 2009
10:53 am

How about the Braves annoncers last night for slamming Hanley Ramirez for not being in the games during a playoff race but making excuses for why Chipper was sitting out a game during the same playoff race????

Angus

September 3rd, 2009
10:54 am

Norton’s thankful to be considered this important, it’s not JA’s fault he was picked 8th, Willie will prove himself this year, Woodson’s passable, Bradley’s OK, who’s Don Waddell? we have hockey here?

Paul Hewitt, hands down, takes the cake.

FIREWADDELL

September 3rd, 2009
10:57 am

It’s obviously Waddell but the majority of this city doesn’t know that we have a Hockey team so won’t vote for him.

The problem is that Waddell is the exact reason why most of this city doesn’t know we have a hockey team.

Joey

September 3rd, 2009
10:57 am

Didn’t vote for you Mark, because I know deep down, you have the guts to ask Bobby about Norton…. right? Please ask him.

Mark Bradley

September 3rd, 2009
10:59 am

Sure. I’ll ask Cox about Norton next time I see him. I’ll say, “Bobby, doesn’t Greg cut a dashing figure in his uniform?”

Actually, I will ask why he keeps using the Nort Man. Because I’d like to know myself.

Like I see it

September 3rd, 2009
11:00 am

Pretty sure that would have to be you Mark and your soul mate Terence Moore running a close second.

jeffrey d

September 3rd, 2009
11:01 am

Can we can it with the “no one in Atlanta even knows we have a hockey team.”

We know…we just don’t care. Our summers are spent sweating in 90 and 100 degree weather. Our winters are spent freaking out if there’s a snow flurry. We’re not used to cold weather, hence, we weren’t raised with cold weather sports in our culture. It’s not that we don’t know, it’s that we don’t like it. We’re not stupid.

gtdave

September 3rd, 2009
11:03 am

Think it’s a tie vs. Waddell and Hewitt…Both have lost their fan base. Thrashers games use to have tons of energy, now it’s closer to watching croquet. Hard to imagine any decent hockey player would want to come down here and be irrelevant. I would be totally shocked if Kovy is here for the entire year, and wouldn’t blame him for leaving after the season is over if he doesn’t get traded.

For Tech, used to never be able to get ACC tickets the day of the game. That should say enough. 2-14 in conference? Are we the Duke of Football? This year may be a different, but if the golden child stays for one year, we’ll be back to where we were before…Cremins, didn’t recruit a ton of depth, but still won, except for the last couple of years he was here. Is Hewitt a a good X’s and O’s guy? (how many close games were lost because couldn’t score when had to). Not sure what he really brings to the table.

Maybe I am wrong and both can turn things around this year. If not, they both should be out (and I’ll gladly contribute to the buyout for Hewitt.)

CLTDawg

September 3rd, 2009
11:04 am

It has to be Anderson, only because he is supposed to be an every down player. He was drafted to help/replace Kearney and Abraham, but we get squat from him. Hopefully he can do something this year, but I am not counting on it.

But my gawd, Norton is awful. He would easily win if this was for part time players. We would be better off getting the kid from the Bad New Bears (Stein maybe) whose sole responsibility was to get hit by a pitch.

Mark Bradley

September 3rd, 2009
11:05 am

Wait a second. Atlanta has a hockey team?

Joey

September 3rd, 2009
11:05 am

G Dawg, you’ve got your head in the sand almost as deep as Richt. It’s not just the tackling. It’s the scheming and gameplans before the games, the sideline adjustments during the games, and the analysis after the games. We always win or hold our on for a quarter or two like the Alabama and Fla games last year. But what happens then? The other coaches adjust and Willie doesn’t. He has the only college coaching job he’ll ever have, because his boss loves him…

Sammy

September 3rd, 2009
11:05 am

Hey Shards, many of us from AHS will agree with you. But if you know the true history, Charlie’s daddy (former NFL player) burned the boy out early with forced drills year round. No wonder he went to TECH – he was a straight-A srudent, but wanted to torque-off his old man, an UGA alum.
He cratered during the tulane game. The cray &*((* dropped acid beefore the game and was later heard to say, “Man, I could see all kinds of sh*t coming off of the ball as I released it.”

Sad.

rlinaug

September 3rd, 2009
11:06 am

Right now, the biggest dud is Bobby Cox, for sending Noron the plate in a big moment with Brooks Conrad on the bench. I know the lefty-right matchup favored Norton but still. In his earlier stint with the Bravos, Conrad did nothing to warrant being sent back to Gwinnett. He’s done everything to deserve to pinch-hitting ahead of that dud Norton. There’s no excuse for having Norton at the plate when the game is on the line. Norton didn’t even put the ball in play last night, didn’t even give the opposing team a chance to mess up. Cox is privy to the same stats you mentioned.

Rob

September 3rd, 2009
11:07 am

Hewitt hands down…what a loser!

Scott

September 3rd, 2009
11:07 am

No question – Chan Gailey, the “offensive genius”.

Gravy Train

September 3rd, 2009
11:08 am

Mark you don’t belong on the list. Most days you give us something to ponder and debate. It has helped speed the time between football seasons for me anyway.

Teflon Don. He escapes scrutiny because nobody cares about hockey.

I nominate the Atlanta Spirit group. They have squandered a great opportunity to make the Hawks really good with their in-fighting and stubborness to continue to dump money on the dumpster fire that is the Thrashers. Liberty Media would be a close second.

Mark Bradley

September 3rd, 2009
11:09 am

One of the first names Steve Figueroa mentioned to me when I came to work here was Charlie Dudish. Of whom I hadn’t heard.

Joey

September 3rd, 2009
11:09 am

I’m looking forward to it Mark. I was serious about the guts thing, because I’m sure Bobby will hold a grudge against you during his next 10 years or so in the dugout. Can’t wait to hear his justification.

Mark Bradley

September 3rd, 2009
11:10 am

Why, thanks, Gravy. But I thought I should give y’all the option of voting for (or against) me. Fair’s fair.

GeoffDawg

September 3rd, 2009
11:11 am

It’s hard to argue with either Jamaal Anderson or anyone associated with the Hawks. However, what do you think of Rich McKay? He was supposedly this GM savant (who was allegedly on the short list for NFL commissioner) but his tenure was marred by bad personnel decisions and bad hires. Dimitroff has clearly demonstrated what a competent GM with the resources of the Falcons franchise can do in a short period of time. I’m honestly surprised that McKay is still employed with the organization after getting pushed aside and basically demoted.

FEAR

September 3rd, 2009
11:12 am

WAIT! Someone from the AJC is gonna question a Cox move? Well stomp on frogs and shove a crowbar up my nose!

observor

September 3rd, 2009
11:13 am

Without a doubt it has to be Jamaal Anderson. He is clearly the most overrated and ill equipped NFL draft pick I’ve seen since the aforementioned Aundrey Bruce. Obviously Norton is awful, but Norton wasn’t drafted 8th overall in the draft with the intention of being a replacement for a Pro Bowl defensive end (Kearney) and being a foundation piece of your defense for the next decade

jeffrey d

September 3rd, 2009
11:13 am

I didn’t realize that Norton was a 2nd round draft pick.

Mrs. Chanandler Bong

September 3rd, 2009
11:13 am

Mark, I voted for you too. But only as a joke. I’m just in shock that Greg Norton’s winning at something.

FEAR

September 3rd, 2009
11:14 am

Biggest dud…………………Mr. Bobby “By the Book” Cox

jeffrey d

September 3rd, 2009
11:14 am

Or that his middle name is Blakemoor! HA!

Mark Bradley

September 3rd, 2009
11:16 am

Got to admit, that’s a serious middle name, Jeffrey. Sounds like he spent some time with the hound of the Baskervilles.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

September 3rd, 2009
11:16 am

Joey, didn’t Ga out play Bama in the 2nd half last year? Just saying. Anyway the biggest dud has to be Joe Schiambi.( ? spelling). He is not by favorite broadcaster.

GeoffDawg

September 3rd, 2009
11:16 am

I wish it wasn’t so easy to come up with such a long list of Atlanta sports duds from the past. I foresee the Hawks and maybe Braves continuting the tradition for awhile to come.

BugKiller

September 3rd, 2009
11:18 am

Willie Martinez GAVE his players the tools to be successful?

Really?

What defense have you been watching the last four years, G Dawg?

Because the defense I’ve watched has been criminally UNDERCOACHED. We’re talking about a team that has gotten progressively more undisciplined under Martinez with a shocking lack of fundamental knowledge on how to play the game.

Seriously. Stop making excuses for this man who is substandard in every way.

And Mark, blame Norton all you want, but who’s the man who keeps on running Norton out there game after game?

Who’s the man that refused to bench Francouer or Schaefer?

Who’s the man who refused to bench Kelly Johnson until it was far too late?

Who’s the man who is the WORST postseason manager in the history of baseball?

Blame Bobby Cox. Norton doesn’t get a chance to kill rallies without Cox’s implicit consent.

Mark Bradley

September 3rd, 2009
11:18 am

Were we to discuss “Greatest Atlanta sports duds ever,” we’d be here for a month, Geoff.

Now that I think of it, that could be my next post.

Don

September 3rd, 2009
11:19 am

No contest —Bobby Cox
The Braves Pitching is good enought that you have a reasonable expectation of winning each time a starter goes to the mound. Yet Bobby Cox has the team barely winning half of its games.

Don

September 3rd, 2009
11:22 am

Relating to your recent column relating to Norton:
Mr. Bradley, you, without question, are right about Norton; but the point you are missing is — That as bad as he is, he is still a better hitter than Bobby Cox is a manager. Using Norton is just one little example of Cox’s continous blundering and incompetency.

Jack G.

September 3rd, 2009
11:22 am

Dont put the knock on Norton, It’s got to be the manager===BOBBY COX hands down. No one else is close—well maybe Hewitt.

YESSSS

September 3rd, 2009
11:26 am

Mark – the biggest dud in Atlanta sports are the Atlanta FANS. 14 consecutive playoff teams for the Braves and after the first couple of years, you don’t get packed houses??????? The Braves draw nice, polite, suburbanites who want to tip-toe into the park in the 3rd inning – have a low-fat, grilled chicken sandwich with lite ranch on the side and one Mich ultra, cheer for the Home Depot tool race, and leave in the 7th. Heaven forbid that a large group of people get to the game early, razz the other team, guzzle a few beers, eat a Bratwurst, scream like crazy when the game gets tight, You know – SUPPORT THE TEAM!!!!!

SimpleDawg

September 3rd, 2009
11:27 am

All of your nominations are worthy of the Title, but I’ll go with Jamaal Andersson.

I have a foolish question after watching the Braves Game last night…..Why is bases loaded, no outs, and a 1 run lead in the sixth inning not a good time to bring one of your best pitchers? Why would you not be warming up Moylan or Gonzo when the inning began to look like trouble?

the real Old Gold

September 3rd, 2009
11:29 am

Willie Martinez is based in Athens. I think Georgia State probably has some regional geography classes open this semester.

KPH

September 3rd, 2009
11:30 am

Len Barker the sore armed drunk that the Braves sold the farm to get. Maybe Nick Esasky but his ailment wasnt self inflicted like Barkers.
Mike Hampton? Anyone remember Earl Williams? Too many to list.

BugKiller

September 3rd, 2009
11:32 am

Mark, while I am no fan of Woody, wouldn’t Joe Johnson and his inability to step it up when it matters (or you know, be his “playing Charlotte” self at the very least when it matters most) make him the Hawks’ representative?

I know, I know, I’m crazy and insane. But you know what, for years and years I’ve been the man in the wilderness calling for Bobby Cox’s head because of the immense October failings of some of the best teams in baseball history due to his inept managing of his bench and pitching staff in the playoffs and have suffered the slings and arrows… but people are starting to come around to my way of thinking on Cox.

I’ve been after Martinez since losses to Auburn and WVU in the 2005-2006 season, losses that would have NEVER have happened under a BVG-coached defense. When I later found out that Martinez was Richt’s former college roommate and BFF, I made the connection to Richt’s mentor’s mistake with his son, Jeff Bowden, and knew, even three years ago, that Richt would NEVER fire Martinez, no matter how inexplicably his defenses would collapse at the most inopportune times, culminating in last year’s freefall.

And now, while there are people who are still so blindly loyal they defend the indefensible, there are many more sick of Martinez, calling on Damon Evans to do what Richt refuses to do.

If the defense performs as I expect it to (giving up over 30 points to OSU in a Bulldog win because their defense stinks, losing to LSU and Florida by big points), then Evans must fire Martinez, even before the Tech game.

Dooley's Cardiologist

September 3rd, 2009
11:33 am

Atlanta still has a hockey team??

Dink

September 3rd, 2009
11:33 am

Aundray Bruce without a doubt.

That is when I began to wonder if the Falcons were a cursed franchise.