Diamond Dallas Page
Diamond Dallas Page was a tenacious badass in the squared circle. The 6-foot-4, 248-pound Page, born Page Joseph Falkinburg in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, won multiple belts performing in the WCW and WWE. For his prowess as a grappler, Page was enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame on March 31, 2017. Since leaving the rasslin’ business, the 62-year-old Page established DDP Yoga in Smyrna, Georgia. Page’s form of yoga is mainly designed to help rehabilitate individuals who have sustained serious injuries.
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Joba Chamberlain seemingly became a celebrity overnight in Gotham. The Yankees drafted Chamberlain out of Nebraska with the 41st pick in 2006. Roughly 14 months later, on August 7, 2007, Chamberlain was promoted to the Bronx. The flamethrower excelled as a reliever and finished his inaugural season 2-0 with a virtually nonexistent 0.38 ERA. Unfortunately, shoulder and ankle injuries derailed Chamberlain’s path to superstardom and he regressed into a middling journeyman before retiring on October 4, 2017. Nowadays, the 33-year-old Chamberlain is focused on running his recently opened bar in Lincoln, Nebraska.
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Sammie Smith was a more powerful figure in Miami’s underworld than he was as a Dolphin on the gridiron. The Dolphins obtained the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Smith out of Florida State with the 9th choice in 1989. Smith, who gained 1,881 yards and 15 scores in 44 games as a Dolphin and Denver Bronco, spent seven years behind bars for possessing and distributing cocaine. The 51-year-old Smith, who was inducted into the Florida State Hall of Fame in September 2013, rebounded and he now serves as a mentor for troubled adolescents.
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Joe Carter helped cement the Toronto Blue Jays’ status as an American League juggernaut. In fact, the five-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner was a vital member of the Blue Jays’ back-to-back championship teams of the early 1990s. In the 1993 World Series, Toronto grabbed a three-games-to-one advantage over the Philadelphia Phillies. However, the Phillies fought valiantly and were on the brink of forcing a Game 7.
Then, with the Blue Jays trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Carter blasted a three-run homer off Phillies closer Mitch Williams to win the riveting series. The 58-year-old Carter, who retired in 1998 as a San Francisco Giant, founded the Joe Carter Classic charity golf tournament in 2010 to benefit the Children’s Aid Foundation. Carter’s charity has raised approximately a quarter-million dollars since its establishment eight years ago.
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Chad Pennington was a talented quarterback whose shoulder injuries stunted his ascent to greatness. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Pennington, acquired by the New York Jets out of Marshall University with the 18th selection in 2000, underwent four shoulder surgeries over a span of six years. Nevertheless, Pennington showed grit and resolve and became a two-time NFL Comeback Player of the Year. The 1999 Mac Offensive Player of the Year completed 66 percent of his 2,472 attempts for 102 scores and 17,823 yards in 89 games as a Jet and Miami Dolphin. On March 14, the 42-year-old Pennington was appointed as the head football coach at Sayre School in Lexington, Kentucky.
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This Cadillac proved to be a lemon. Cadillac Williams, drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of Auburn with the fifth choice in 2005, was a gifted runner who secured AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year accolades. Regrettably, following a standout rookie campaign, the 5-foot-11, 220-pound Williams was tormented by injuries and he only competed in 81 contests from 2005 through 2011. The 36-year-old Williams, who retired following the 2011 season and earned a bachelor’s in sociology in December 2014, was hired on October 9 as the running backs’ coach for the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football.
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Heath Shuler descended into an incredibly unproductive quarterback in the NFL. Conversely, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Shuler matured into a distinguished politician. The Washington Redskins chose Shuler out of Tennessee with the third pick in 1994. Much to the Redskins’ chagrin, the 1993 SEC Offensive Player of the Year failed under center in our nation’s capital. In fact, Shuler struggled so mightily that he was ultimately replaced by a seventh-round draft pick named Gus Frerotte.
Shuler, who completed 49.2 percent of his 593 attempts for 3,691 yards and 15 touchdowns, retired in May 1998. Approximately eight years after shelving his cleats, Shuler won the 11th Congressional District seat in North Carolina as a Democrat on November 7, 2006. The 46-year-old Shuler did not seek reelection and he now serves as a strategic planner and public speaker in Enka, North Carolina.
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Ryan Leaf’s missteps on the field were only eclipsed by the adversity he faced of off it. The San Diego Chargers acquired the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Leaf out of Washington State with the second pick in April 1998. Following four rocky seasons in the NFL, Leaf permanently shelved his cleats in July 2002. The 1997 first-team All-American subsequently developed a serious substance abuse problem and he served two years behind bars for a string of drug-related burglaries. Thankfully, the 42-year-old Leaf is now sober and working as a program ambassador for a Los Angeles-based recovery community center.
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Southpaw signal-caller Cade McNown coveted a La La Land lifestyle more than recognition on the field. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound McNown, a 1998 consensus All-American who procured that year’s Johnny Unitas Award, was chosen by the Chicago Bears out of UCLA with the 12th selection in 1999. The lefty Bruin professed that he abstained from premarital sex coming out of Westwood. However, once in the Windy City, McNown became a regular at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion near Beverly Hills.
While at Hefner’s, the 1998 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year began having adult relations with Playmates Brande Roderick and Heather Kozar. The Bears’ C-level executives tired of McNown and sent him to the Miami Dolphins in August 2001 for a sixth-round draft choice in 2002 and a conditional seventh-round selection in 2003. Predictably, McNown drowned as a Dolphin and he was deemed unemployable on the gridiron by the age of 25. The 41-year-old McNown began working for Lourd Capital Management as its vice president in June 2013.
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Steve Emtman was an overwhelming defensive end for the University of Washington Huskies who became a College Football Hall of Famer in 2006. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Emtman, a 1991 unanimous All-American who collected every significant accolade for a defensive player, was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts first overall in 1992. Alas, Emtman was hindered by a host of serious afflictions and he was frequently deactivated before retiring in 1997. The 48-year-old Emtman presently owns and operates a successful Spokane, Washington-based property management and development firm called Defender Developments LLC.
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Defensive end Vernon Gholston is arguably the biggest bust in NFL history. The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Gholston, selected by the New York Jets out of Ohio State with the sixth choice in 2008, somehow never tallied one sack or forced fumble over 45 games with Gang Green. Consequently, the organization released the muscleman with a Herculean physique in March 2011. The 32-year-old Gholston, who was out of football by August 2012, established a Somerset, New Jersey-based horticultural company called Anew Wellness in 2014. Anew Wellness’ primary objective is to assist people struggling with mental health issues.
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Kevin Willis is a colossal man who was a superior force in the paint from the late 1980s through the mid-1990s. The Atlanta Hawks chose the 7-foot, 245-pound Willis out of Michigan State with the 11th pick in 1984. “Devo,” who averaged 12.1 points and 8.4 boards over 1,424 games, was an All-Star and All-NBA third-team selection in 1992. Willis, a dominant rebounder, retired in July 2007 after playing 23 seasons in the association. The 56-year-old Willis now owns an Atlanta-based clothing company for big and tall men called Willis & Walker.
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Tony Rice is one of the most revered quarterbacks in the annals of Notre Dame Football. With the 6-foot, 197-pound Rice under center in 1988, the Irish went undefeated and seized their first championship in 11 seasons. The 1989 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner amassed a total of 5,322 yards and 36 touchdowns in the air and on the ground and went 28-3 during his tenure as the Irish’s starter. The 51-year-old Rice is currently the vice president of employee benefits at a global insurance brokerage and risk management services firm called Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
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Hefty southpaw David Wells was a marvel on the hill. Wells, a three-time All-Star who captured ALCS MVP honors in 1998, retired in 2007 with a record of 239-157. “Boomer,” the American League’s wins leader in 2000, also helped the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees secure Commissioner’s Trophies over his 21-year career in the bigs. The 55-year-old Wells, a MLB on TBS game analyst, coached his alma mater, Point Loma High School in San Diego, for four seasons before resigning on July 2.
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Ronnie Lott was a bruiser who menaced offensive skill players in the NFL for 14 seasons. The 6-foot, 200-pound Lott, drafted by the San Francisco 49ers out of USC with the eighth choice in 1981, made 10 Pro Bowls and eight first-team All-Pro squads. More importantly, the 2000 Hall of Fame inductee powered a defense that helped the 49ers clinch championship gold on four occasions in the 1980s. The 59-year-old Lott now earns paychecks as a spokesman for Wearsafe, a subscription-based personal safety service and device.
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David Klingler was electrifying under center for the Houston Cougars. After rewriting the Cougars’ passing records, the Cincinnati Bengals drafted the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Klingler with the sixth choice in 1992. Alas, the gunslinger was plagued by an irreparably-damaged shoulder and he was unable to secure work in the NFL following the 1998 season. Despite flopping in Cincinnati, the celebrated Cougar has enjoyed a fulfilling life off the field. The 49-year-old Klinger now works as an Associate Professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary.
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Rick Mirer was a golden Irishman who was dubbed as “The Next Joe Montana.” The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Mirer, chosen by the Seahawks out of Notre Dame with the second pick in 1993, initially soared in Seattle and earned that season’s AFC Rookie of the Year award. However, somewhat inexplicably, Mirer’s production rapidly plummeted and he was out of the league by 2004. Since December 2008, the 48-year-old Mirer has owned and operated a popular winery called Mirror Napa Valley in St. Helena, California.
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Joey Harrington was handcuffed on the gridiron by the Detroit Lions’ lack of bite. The Lions chose the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Harrington out of Oregon with the third choice in 2002. Harrington, surrounded by an inadequate supporting cast, was pummeled by opposing defenders for four harrowing seasons in Motown. The 2001 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year, who completed only 56.1 percent of his 2,538 attempts for 14,693 yards and 79 touchdowns, permanently exited the league in September 2009. The 40-year-old Harrington procured employment in March 2016 as a part-time reporter for KGW, the NBC affiliate in Portland, Oregon.
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Tim Biakabutuka was a toothless Panther in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers grabbed the 6-foot, 215-pound Biakabutuka out of Michigan with the eighth choice in 1996. Unfortunately, like many individuals on this list, the first Zairian to perform in the NFL couldn’t overcome an assortment of ailments. Biakabutuka, who amassed 2,530 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground in 50 games as a Panther, retired following the 2001 season. The 44-year-old Biakabutuka now lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina, and owns four Augusta, Georgia-based Bojangles restaurants.
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Ki-Jana Carter was a spectacular physical specimen whose body decayed in the NFL. The 5-foot-10, 225-pound Carter, drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals out of Penn State first overall in 1995, endured a rash of debilitating impairments. The 1995 Rose Bowl MVP, who carried the ball 319 times for 1,144 yards and 20 touchdowns over 59 games in the league, retired after getting released by the Green Bay Packers in July 2002. The 45-year-old Carter recovered from his disappointing football career and established a Davie, Florida-based promotional company called ByoGlobe in 2008. ByoGlobe has garnered superb online reviews and remains a profitable enterprise.
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Jarrod Bunch has fared much better in front of cameras in La La Land than he did on the gridiron outside of Gotham. The Giants picked the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Bunch out of Michigan with the 27th choice in 1991. Alas, a slew of injuries defanged the talented Wolverine and Big Blue’s decision makers released him in September 1994. Bunch briefly gained employment with the Los Angeles Raiders before he was waived again on October 5, 1994. Nowadays, the 50-year-old Bunch resides in Beverly Hills, California, where he has developed into a respectable actor and producer.
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“Touchdown Tommy” was a scoring machine for the Stanford Cardinal from 1988 through 1991. After his run as a Cardinal, Bill Belichick and the Cleveland Browns drafted the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Vardell with the ninth pick in April 1992. Vardell, who constantly fought an array of injuries, rushed for 1,427 yards and 18 scores in 87 contests with the Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions before retiring in 1999. “Touchdown Tommy” subsequently used his Stanford degree and established a financial firm called Northgate Capital Group, L.L.C.
As detailed by Bloomberg.com, “(Vardell) served as a Co-Founder and Managing Director at Northgate Capital Group, L.L.C. since its inception. At Northgate, he is involved in the management of all aspects of the firm, including investment identification and selection, portfolio management, reporting and compliance, and client relations. He focuses on venture capital and oversees a series of Northgate’s direct investments.”
The 49-year-old Vardell spends the bulk of his time at Northgate’s offices in London and Danville, California.
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Vin Baker was one sky-scraping barista. The Milwaukee Bucks obtained the 6-foot-11, 230-pound Baker out of the University of Hartford with the eighth choice in 1993. Baker cooked on the court from the get-go and he achieved a spot on the 1994 All-Rookie first team. The four-time All-Star competed for six organizations before permanently shelving his high-top sneakers following the 2006 season. Baker, who battled substance abuse and reportedly lost more than $100 million, was hired to manage a North Kingstown, Rhode Island-based Starbucks in December 2015. Although he openly raves about his stint at the coffeehouse chain, Baker accepted an offer to become the Bucks’ analyst for Fox Sports Wisconsin in September 2016.
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Former Nittany Lion Blair Thomas was an utterly brilliant running back in Happy Valley. Conversely, the 5-foot-10, 198-pound Thomas absolutely reeked as a Jet in the swamps of Jersey. Thomas, acquired by the Jets out of Penn State with the second pick in 1990, crashed in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and he wasn’t re-signed following the 1993 campaign. Thomas, who also competed for the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers, carried the pigskin 533 times for 2,236 yards and seven touchdowns in 64 contests as a NFL employee. The 51-year-old Thomas, who was out of the league by 1995, now owns a chain of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based sports bars called KoKoMos.
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Charles Rogers was an unstoppable Spartan for two seasons in East Lansing. The 6-foot-3, 202-pound Rogers, a unanimous All-American in 2002 who earned that year’s Fred Biletnikoff Award and Paul Warfield Trophy, was drafted by the Detroit Lions with the second overall selection in 2003. The Michigander failed to groove in Motown and he sustained season-ending injuries to his clavicle in 2003 and 2004. To compound issues, on three instances, Rogers violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy. The Lions released Rogers in September 2006 and he never played in the league again. The 37-year-old Rogers is currently employed at an auto repair shop called Uptown Motors in Fort Myers, Florida.
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