Jim Dunaway was a very, very good football player.
What. . .not something you'd expect to see from a guy that shows up on a list of the worst draft picks in the history of a franchise? Well, if you're not quite sure why he's on our list, then you need to hear the story of Jim Dunaway.
Dunaway was an outstanding player at defensive tackle for the Ole Miss Rebels. In 1960, he helped the Rebels to a national championship, and helped them to a share of the National Championship in 1962. He was such a dominant force on the defensive line that the Vikings made him the third overall selection in the 1963 NFL Draft. After he was drafted, he went on to become a four-time Pro Bowler, made the All-Pro team once, and even managed to find his way into the Hall of Fame.
So, how does a guy with such a resume end up on the list of all-time worst draft picks?
Because after being the third overall selection in the 1963 NFL Draft, he didn't play one single, solitary snap for the Minnesota Vikings. Not. . .a. . .one.
In the same year that the Vikings made Dunaway the third overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Buffalo Bills made him the first pick. . .of the second round (9th overall). . .of the AFL Draft. In a move that shocked a lot of people, Dunaway chose the AFL over the NFL, and went on to play with the Bills.
Those four Pro Bowls? Yep, done as a member of the AFL, not the NFL.
That All-Pro team? It was the AFL All-Pro team, not the NFL version.
The Hall of Fame? That would be the AFL Hall of Fame, not the NFL Hall of Fame.
Dunaway also won two championships as a member of the Bills. Our friends over at Buffalo Rumblings named Dunaway one of the 50 greatest Bills of all time (number 28 overall, if you're scoring at home).
Unfortunately, in many corners, Dunaway is more well-known for something that happened to him off the field than what he did on it. Buffalo Rumblings explains. . .
Dunaway's wife, Nonniel, divorced him in 1995 and was awarded 800 acres in land the couple owned, $1,800 in alimony payments per month, and half of his NFL pension following a divorce judgment. In the summer of 1998, Nonniel was found dead in a half-empty swimming pool. An autopsy later proved she had been knocked unconscious by a blow to the head, fracturing her skull, and had been placed into the water unconscious where she later drowned. Dunaway would be charged with her murder, although he was not indicted on the charges by the grand jury, despite the fact that his own children were willing to testify against him. They filed a wrongful death civil suit against Dunaway, and were awarded $579,000 in 2002 by a Purvis, Mississippi jury. The NFL All-Criminal Team is, indeed, where Dunaway belongs.
So, from the Vikings wasting the third overall pick in an NFL Draft on a guy that never played for them, and then what happened with him off of the field, he could certainly be classed as one of the worst draft picks in Minnesota Vikings history, and that's what we're concerned with here.
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