In the history of the NFL Draft, there have been successes, and there have been busts. . .good picks, bad picks, and every sort of pick in between. However, in the history of the NFL Draft, there are few picks that could be labeled with such terminology as "blindly stupid" or "willfully ignorant."
The Minnesota Vikings made such a selection on April 17, 1999, in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dimitrius Underwood. . .the runaway winner for the title of the worst draft pick in the history of the Minnesota Vikings' franchise.
The Vikings had the 29th pick in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft. . .that one they earned on their own. However, they also acquired the 11th overall selection in that draft as well, because they dealt quarterback Brad Johnson to the Washington Redskins in exchange for a first and third round pick in the 1999 Draft and a second round pick in the 2000 Draft. The Vikings drafted Central Florida's Daunte Culpepper with the 11th pick, and many people figured that they would take a defensive player with their 29th pick.
Denny Green. . .again, he of the marvelous defensive talent evaluation skills. . .did, indeed, take a defensive player with the 29th pick. However, rather than a player that had been projected at around that spot, Green made a massive reach for a player that was graded at somewhere between Round Five and Round Seven. . .and, according to his own college coach, may not have been worthy of being drafted at all.
That's right. . .Dimitrius Underwood's own college coach at Michigan State, Nick Saban, had told numerous National Football League teams that Underwood did not have the mental acuity to make it in the National Football League. He had missed the entire 1998 season because of an ankle injury. . .an injury that, according to some accounts, he spent the entire year faking.
Apparently, Denny Green was not one of the NFL muckety mucks that received that memo, because he took Underwood with a first round selection. He referred to Underwood as a "bonus pick," which exhibited either a supreme confidence or an unbelievable arrogance.
Hey, it was Denny Green. . .which direction would you lean on that one?
And so it was that the Vikings selected Underwood, and signed him to a contract. Now, throughout the course of this list, we've talked about players that didn't step on the field for the Vikings and all that. But, in the case of Underwood, forget making it onto the field for an actual game. . .
Dimitrius Underwood didn't even make it through his first training camp practice. Yes, to borrow Allen Iverson's words. . .we talkin' 'bout PRACTICE.
Underwood signed a five-year, $5.3 million deal with the Vikings on August 1, 1999. The Vikings' first training camp practice was on August 2, 1999. After practice, he left the Vikings' team facility, hitched a ride to the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, and was found in Philadelphia four days later with eight dollars and change in his pockets. He told the people that found him that he was torn between football and Christian ministry.
In the end, Underwood agreed to return his signing bonus money to the team, and the Vikings cut him. At the time, he said he was retiring from football, but "un-retired" two weeks later to sign a one-year, $395,000 contract with the Miami Dolphins. A month after that, he went from Miami to Lansing, Michigan, got into an argument with the mother of his children, cut himself on the throat, and was found walking down the road, bleeding profusely.
Maybe being drafted in the first round is what triggered Dimitrius Underwood to go through the mental roller coaster he went through. . .maybe it would have happened had be been drafted late in the draft or if he had not been drafted at all. Perhaps it was fear of failure that made Underwood react the way that he did.
Whatever the reason was, the perfect storm of circumstances that conspired to make the entire string of events occur make Dimitrius Underwood the single worst draft pick in the history of the Minnesota Vikings.
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