Not all busts are created equal. The NFL is filled with stories of athletes who made a name on the field, only to fail when they entered the NFL. But this isn’t always a case of players disappointing the masses. In 2001, the Green Bay Packers drafted Jamal Reynolds with the 10th overall pick. However, they quickly grew to lament the move as injuries held him back from the get-go.
Jamal Reynolds shines in college
During the latter years of Brett Favre’s time in Green Bay, the team hoped to bolster his offensive abilities by adding a hyped defensive juggernaut in Jamal Reynolds. While defensive ends might not get the fame and glory of a quarterback, a good one can change a team on both ends of the field.
During his career at Florida State, Reynolds was an absolute monster on the field’s defensive side. Many expected him to end up exactly where he did in the draft. In a sweetly fitting move, had it all worked out, Chippewa.com notes that the lineman received the prestigious 2000 Lombardi award for his play. However, once he got into the highest league, nothing clicked.
According to Madison.com, the Packers were so sold on the defensive end that they sent the 17th pick and backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to secure his services. The result is one of the most disappointing careers that a top-ten player ever had in the NFL.
Reynolds’ struggles in the NFL
Nothing worked once Reynolds got to the NFL. He spent most of his career sitting on the bench with several injuries. Furthermore, when he did appear on the field, he looked lost and stagnant. The Power Sweep reported on Reynolds’ struggles in 2014. He noted that Reynolds struggled on the field but rarely got a chance to shine genuinely.
He got injured during his first training camp with the Packers. This kicked off the trend that defined his career from there on out. Reynolds showed some talent when he was on the field, but he already played like an injured veteran despite being so young. When all was said and done, he recorded just three sacks in the NFL.
After the Packers traded him to Indianapolis in 2003, a physical derailed his career for good.
Jamal Reynolds’ hype train crashes
ESPN reported on how the NFL’s physical examinations work. While fans might think teams consider injuries another part of the game, the NFL is thorough and all-encompassing in the way that it breaks down players. Chances are if a player has medical issues, the NFL’s process will hunt them out.
“Any looseness in the knee joint, even from an injury that goes back to freshman year, and the orthopedists can order up an MRI exam. You say you haven’t had measles yet? They’re going to find out why. If a player has a broken bone in his medical history, it’s going to translate into a trip to the X-ray room. That funny-looking mole on one lineman’s hand is likely to be sectioned and then examined under a microscope,” he wrote.
This is part of the reason Jamal Reynolds could not stay on the field. While his play on it never matched the hype that came with his name in college, the injuries didn’t help the matter either. When the Colts discovered all of his injury concerns in 2003, they didn’t just nix the trade that would have sent him there. They put an end to his career.
Reynolds tried to make a comeback, but it was too late. He may have been the tenth overall pick of his draft class, but his career was a flash in the pan compared to those drafted far after him. Through no fault of his own, Reynold’s body gave up on him. It’s a cautionary tale of how quickly the hype train can derail if players are unlucky.