Lists

Star Athletes Who Had Terrible Rookie Seasons

Darren - March 28, 2020
Lists

Star Athletes Who Had Terrible Rookie Seasons

Darren - March 28, 2020

Mandatory Credit: Bleacher Report

14. Fernando Torres

Torres was very young when he became a senior player for Atletico Madrid. Much is made of the fact that he captained the team at the age of 19. However, his first two seasons with Madrid were very poor. The team was fighting to get out of the Segunda Division and re-establish themselves as a La Liga force. In short, it was a tough environment for a youthful player.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

He scored just seven goals in his first two seasons for Atleti. It may seem harsh to call this terrible because he was so young, but it’s crazy when compared to his later form. However, Torres developed into one of Spain’s greatest ever strikers. He enjoyed success on both the international and club level stages. Finally, he retired with one of the best records in sports.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

13. Eli Manning

Eli’s legacy is not as famous as that of his older brother Peyton, but he was an outstanding quarterback in his own right. A two-time Super Bowl champion, Manning holds Giants franchise records for most passing yards, touchdown passes, and completions in a career.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

But his rookie season was pretty terrible. He passed for just 1,043 yards and managed six touchdown passes with nine interceptions. However, things turned when he won the Super Bowl MVP in both 2007 and 2011. He also set an NFL record for touchdown passes thrown in the fourth quarter with 15 in 2011.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

12. Dirk Nowitzki

This German star turned into one of the NBA’s best foreign imports. However, he didn’t settle at first in the US and it took him some time to start firing on all cylinders. First of all, the NBA’s player strike disrupted the season and was a terrible distraction. He then struggled to cope with the physicality of defenders.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Nowitzki only averaged 8.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in 20.4 minutes of playing time. But Nowitzki evolved into one of the best power forwards in the league. An NBA champion, he was a 14-time All-Star and won an MVP Player award in 2007.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

11. Sergio Aguero

Aguero’s inclusion on this list may come as a surprise to many soccer fans. This is because he is one of the greatest strikers in Premier League history. First of all, he lit up La Liga with Atletico Madrid. Then, he moved to Manchester City where he played a key role in their development into one of the best sides in the world. But it didn’t start out as well as all of that.

Mandatory Credit: Sky Sports

He made his debut for Argentina’s Independiente in 2002. Aguero made just a single appearance that year without any goals. The following season he played five times but still didn’t score. Once again, it may seem harsh to call him terrible, but he certainly took his time in developing. Finally, in his third season, he began to feature more and scored five goals.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

10. Troy Aikman

Aikman only played 12 seasons in the NFL, but he achieved a lot at that time. Being the quarterback of America’s team who brings them back to glory has to count for something. In short, winning three championships with the Cowboys made him into a superstar.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

That’s why, despite passing for only 30,000 yards, he’s in the Hall of Fame. However, Aikman had a  forgettable rookie season. He only threw for 1,749 yards and 9 touchdowns with 18 interceptions. Those aren’t elite numbers, but he rebounded to become one of the most respected stars in the Cowboys’ history. Aikman is now positioned as one of the most popular football analysts on network television.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

9. Landon Donovan

Donovan is the greatest MLS player of all-time. The LA Galaxy legend also briefly played for Everton in the Premier League. He shares the position of his country’s top scorer with 57 goals and also is the only US player with over 50 goals and 50 assists. The former USMNT captain is the highest-scoring American in World Cup history.

Mandatory Credit: ABC News

However, Donovan had a very innocuous start to life as a professional. His first season saw him make just seven appearances for Bayer Leverkusen in Germany. After struggling to adapt to life in Europe, he moved back to the US. That’s when his career really took off and his journey began.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

8. Drew Brees

There really isn’t much to say about Bree’s rookie’s season. He only played in one game and finished with 221 passing yards and his first career passing touchdown. Initially, there were extreme doubts about his height and the power of his arm. Brees was able to prove these totally wrong.

Drew Brees, Purdue
Mandatory Credit: Sporting News

It’s hilarious now to think about those worries because Brees is one of the best pure passers in NFL history. He has led the NFL in passing yards a record seven times and in passing touchdowns a record-tying four times. The Super Bowl champion is also an 11-time Pro Bowler. His best records are two greats – he owns the career marks for both passing touchdowns and passing yards in NFL history. They’re going to be exceptionally tough for any young quarterback to break.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

7. Cris Carter

It’s crazy how careers can suddenly change course. Carter is an NFL Hall-of-Famer but nothing from his first couple of seasons suggested he would ever make it. In his rookie year, he ran for five yards in nine games. That was a terrible return and things didn’t get much better over the next couple of seasons. While his numbers rose, so did his bad behavior. The Eagles cut him for his off-field conduct.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

But Carter turned his life around and deserves a lot of credit for that. He played in eight consecutive Pro Bowls and was one of the Vikings’ greatest ever receivers. Furthermore, in 1994, he led the NFL in receptions. One reason why many athletes perform badly at a young age is that they lack maturity. A bit of age and experience can do wonders for their careers.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

6. Greg Maddux

The first pitcher in major league history to win the Cy Young Award in four consecutive seasons, Maddux was a phenom during his prime. He won the World Series with the Atlanta Braves in 1995 and became a Hall of Famer in 2014. Due to his long list of accomplishments, you might be surprised his first season was terrible.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Maddux compiled a 6-14 record with a 5.61 ERA in his first full season with the Chicago Cubs in 1987. Nobody expected him to become an 18-time Gold Glove Award winner. Maddux also holds the record for most seasons finishing top 10 in the league in wins with 18.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

5. John Elway

A Broncos legend, Elway spent all 16 seasons of his playing career in Denver. Initially drafted by the Baltimore Colts, Elway famously said he would refuse to play for the downtrodden franchise, forcing a trade to Denver for a better future. However, his rookie season was definitely terrible. Check out some of these statistics.

John Elway, Stanford
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Elway started 10 games in 1983, throwing seven touchdown passes to 14 interceptions and completing just 47.5% of his passes. The Broncos lost patience after three straight losses and benched him for the rest of the season. It all turned out well when Elway became a two-time Super Bowl winner and nine-time Pro Bowler.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

4. Kobe Bryant

‘The Black Mamba’ is one of the greatest players in basketball history. But he didn’t have the most inspiring start to his career with a very average rookie season. He only managed to average about 15 minutes per game, scoring 7.6 ppg on 41.7 percent from the field. It was a slow start to an incredible career.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Of course, he did come to the NBA directly from high school. Furthermore, he was the youngest player in the history of the league at the time. However, the following year he truly sprung into life and emerged as one of the most exciting stars on the Lakers’ roster. The rest is history.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

3. Brett Favre

It’s easy to forget that Favre played for the Atlanta Falcons. But failure there seemed inevitable. Jerry Ganville never wanted him and he only attempted four passes as a Falcon. After a terrible but blessedly short time in Atlanta, the Falcons traded him to Green Bay. Then, he then became one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

A three-time MVP, Favre held the award for consecutive years from 1995-97. He also won the Super Bowl in 1997 and made the Pro Bowl 11 times. Furthermore, Favre led the NFL in touchdowns four times and was the NFL’s all-time leader in starts and wins.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

2. Steve Nash

One of the best point guards to play the game, Nash was a brilliant player. Despite never getting an NBA ring, he’s still a legendary figure. The Canadian didn’t have a good start to life though, with a terrible rookie season. Nash averaged 3.3 points per game, 2.1 assists, and shot 42.3 percent from the field.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Those are bleak numbers, but he went on to prove his doubters wrong. He was the fulcrum of an excellent Phoenix Suns’ team featuring Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire, and Leandro Barbosa. In short, the Canadian was a two-time MVP award winner for a reason.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

1. Peyton Manning

Depending on who you ask, Manning may just be the best quarterback in NFL history. However, the fact is that his first season in the big time was terrible. While his passing was good, he led the league in interceptions with an astounding 28. Meanwhile, the Colts were terrible and only managed three wins.

Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

However, he became a two-time Super Bowl champion, a five-time NFL MVP, made the Pro Bowl 14 times, and became the Colts leader in all major statistical categories for quarterbacks. So it’s fair to say everything turned out ok for ‘The Sheriff.’

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