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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

Null and void/the worst contracts ever



Last week, the New York Islanders bought out what was left on what might have been the worst contract in NHL history. That contract belongs to Alexei Yashin, who heads our Hall of Fame class of the worst contracts in sports history.

Alexei Yashin
10 years, $87.5-million
Yashin Even at the time (2001), everyone thought the Islanders giving Yashin a 10-year, $87.5-million contract was insane. Sadly for the Isles, it went from insane to plain stupid. He was supposed to be a star, but he never scored more than 32 goals or more than 75 points in a season. Last season, he limped to an 18-goal, 32-assist season even though he is only 33. His swan song was a no-points performance in a five-game playoff series loss to Buffalo. On the bright side, he had plenty of money to spend on model-girlfriend Carol Alt.

Bryant "Big Country'' Reeves
Six years, $65-million
Big Country? More like a Big Spare Tire. Know how many buckets of fried Reeveschicken you can buy with $65-million? We don't, but we're guessing that's where most of Reeves' money went. Big Country was supposed to be the cornerstone of the Vancouver Grizzlies (that was an NBA team in 1997). Some cornerstone. Reeves ate himself out of the league within three years and the Grizzles aren't in Vancouver anymore.

Mike Hampton
Eight years, $121-million
Even experts raised their eyebrows when Hampton picked up $121-million in 2000 from the Rockies. In two years, he went 21-28 with an ERA of more than 6. Since then, his career has been sidelined by injuries. The kicker: The Rockies still owe him $6-million for a buyout in 2009 assuming the Braves (Hampton’s current team when he comes off the disabled list next season) don’t pick up a $20-million option. Uh, they won't.

Steve Spurrier
Five years, $25-million
Spurrier In 2002, the Ol' Ball Coach was supposed to take his visor, ego and crazy offense to the NFL and light up the scoreboards on the way to Super Bowl titles for the Redskins. Then he found out there’s more to coaching in the NFL than a morning workout and an afternoon tee time. He was on the sideline for two years, 12 victories and 20 losses. We’ll do the math: that's about $2-million a victory.

Wilson Alvarez
Five years, $35-million
The then-largest contract in Rays history (1997) makes for the biggest bust in Rays history. Unless you count time on the disabled list as being a huge success. Alvarez, who looked more like the Michelin Man than the man, won 17 games in a Rays uniform.

Alex Rodriguez
10 years, $252-million
Let’s set one thing straight. A-Rod probably is the best player in baseball, meaning he deserves to be the highest paid. But the Rangers' plan to make him the centerpiece of a winning franchise crashed and burned in three years after the December 2000 signing, and the Rangers were desperate to shed themselves of him and his contract. The Yankees took it, moved him to third and are still looking for their first championship with A-Rod. It's not his fault for the Yankees losing, but we can't say he has helped win a World Series, either.

Grant Hill
Seven years, $93-million
Hill Poor Grant. Nice guy. In fact, great guy. But no luck at all. Injuries ravaged his career and sunk the Magic, which signed him in 2000. Hill would get hurt climbing off the training table. Okay, that'ss an exaggeration, but this isn't: He played just 200 regular-season games, which equals out to $465,000 per game. And every single game, you held your breath while waiting for him to get hurt again.

Michael Vick
10 years, $130-million
Vick signed the richest contract in NFL history with the Falcons in December 2004: $130-million with a $37-million signing bonus. And, if the rumors are true, he has had way more championships in the pit bull ring than on the football field. If the rumors are not true, then he has as many pit bull championships as football championships. You sign someone for that kind of dough, you're supposed to deliver at least a conference championship.

Darren Dreifort
Five years, $55-million
Agent Scott Boras scared the heck out of the Dodgers, hinting that Dreifort, who really had never done a whole lot, was about to sign with a rival club in the National League West. So the Dodgers ponied up a huge contract in 2001. In the first year of the deal, Drei­fort had to shut down his season in July. When the five years were up, Dreifort had missed the equivalent of two full seasons and had a 9-15 record.

Allan Houston
Six years, $100-millionHouston_2
Here’s all you need to know about this 2001 deal: Houston doesn't play anymore. And he was the second-highest-paid player in the NBA. What made this contract especially heinous is the Knicks offered Houston more than $40-million more than anyone else.

Ed Whitson
Five years, $4.4-million
True, in today’s world, it’s hard to sign a Little Leaguer for $4.4-million over five years. But these were 1984 dollars. That was a huge contract then. What made it so bad wasn't the money, it was Whitson's performance. New York fans booed him so unmercifully that by the end of his time with the Yankees, he could only pitch on the road. His stint was so stunningly bad that even today, some 20 years later, whenever a big-time free agent fails with the Yankees, people say he suffers from Ed Whitson Disease.

Denny Neagle
Five years, $51-million
A sad story. Neagle signs huge deal with Rockies in December 2000. Pitches parts of three seasons. Wins 19  and loses 23 . Has 5.56  ERA. Gets arrested for being with a hooker. Released — exactly four years to the day when he signed his contract. Told you it was sad.

Juan Guzman
Two years,$12.5-million
Guzman Actually, I changed my mind. This was the worst contract in Devil Rays history. The Rays tried to get free agent Aaron Sele and settled for Guzman instead. It didn't seem like a bad tradeoff in 2000. Guzman was supposed to be a front-of-the-rotation pitcher. If his arm wasn’t ready to fall off. Guzman lasted a grand total of 1 2/3 innings in a Rays uniform. His shoulder finally broke down for good, and he never pitched again.

[Last modified: Monday, June 14, 2010 2:40pm]


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