After the success of the 2017 NFL season, many teams were expecting to see their stars shine this year. Many of them struggled in their first game and some even missed the whole season. Here are 30 NFL stars who surprisingly tanked their season debut.

The athletes with drug problems is a list of 30 NFL stars who surprisingly tanked their season debut.

NFL football players are assigned to new clubs each season. The most intriguing rookies go to the field for the first time in week one. There are also the seasoned professionals who have switched franchises and are looking to create a name for themselves. However, many prospective stars have failed miserably in their first outings throughout the years.

Today, we’ll take a look at 30 rookie and established players that struggled in their NFL debuts. When they first start, many rookies struggle to adjust to the NFL’s fast speed and power. Furthermore, older players may find it difficult to adjust to a new playbook after switching franchises. Check out The Sportster’s list below.

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Jadeveon Clowney (#30) (2014)

To the delight of Houston Texans supporters, the first overall selection was utilized on Clowney before to the 2014 season. They didn’t get to see him much during his first season, as he only made four appearances. After excelling for South Carolina, the defensive end had big expectations. However, he had a dreadful start to life in the NFL after tearing his meniscus in his first game.

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Fans had already written him off as a failure and assumed he had sunk. He did, however, gradually come to life. Clowney has progressed each season and had his finest statistical year in 2017. (via Sports Illustrated). He left Houston after five seasons and joined the Seahawks before spending a season with the Titans.

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Wes Welker (#29) (2004)

When Welker first walked onto an NFL field, there was little indication that he would go on to become one of New England’s most significant players. He was released by San Diego after only one game, and it looked as though he squandered his opportunity to start in the NFL. After the Chargers released him, he was picked up by the Miami Dolphins. However, in his first season, he only saw action on special teams.

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Welker stepped up and demonstrated what he could accomplish as a receiver during the following couple of seasons. As a kick and punt expert, he drew a lot of attention (via Fansided). As a result, the Patriots signed him and paired him with Tom Brady. We all know what occurred next: for many years, he was one of New England’s best performers.

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Jared Goff (#28) (2016)

Goff had a notoriously bad first season. We wouldn’t be talking about him if he hadn’t stepped things up in his second year. In 2016, he went 0-7 as a starter, leaving supporters scratching their heads in disbelief. In Week 11, the former Cal Golden Bears standout made his NFL debut against the Dolphins, although it wasn’t the greatest advertising of his abilities.

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To begin with, the circumstances were deplorable. Under duress, though, he only completed 38.5 passes versus Miami. Goff completed 17 of 31 pass attempts, overthrowing his receivers on a regular basis (via PFF). It was aggravating to see him fail miserably in his professional debut. Goff’s NFL career has been a mixed bag, and he was dealt to the Lions in 2021.

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Joe Flacco (27th) (2008)

Before Lamar Jackson took over as the Baltimore Ravens’ starting quarterback in 2018, Flacco led the team for ten seasons. He won the MVP in 2012 after playing a key part in their Super Bowl victory. However, Flacco’s first game was a challenge. Jim Harbaugh had not intended to start the rookie in Week 1, but injuries and sickness forced him to do so.

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The quarterback was thrown into the deep end and struggled to understand the game. Although the Ravens won 17-10, Flacco did not throw a touchdown pass. As Baltimore attempted to limit his influence on the game, he completed 15 of 29 passes for 129 yards (via SBNation). The former Delaware college standout developed into the position and went on to start in the NFL.

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Jameis Winston (26), Jameis Winston (26), Jameis Winston ( (2015)

It’s fair to say Winston didn’t have a good time in his first game versus Tennessee. The Titans thrashed the Buccaneers 42-14 with no opposition. Winston’s situation was made worse by Marcus Mariota’s four touchdown throws. Because of their similar draft positions, this drew instant parallels between the two. Unlike Winston, the No. 1 overall selection, Mariota had a memorable day.

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Winston’s first throw attempt resulted in an interception. He completed 16 of 33 passes for 210 yards (via ESPN). To make matters worse, the Titans sacked him four times. To be honest, the whole Buccaneers squad sucked, but they bounced back against the Saints a week later. Winston’s proclivity for interceptions, on the other hand, remained throughout his tenure with the Bucs.

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Joe Horn (#25) (2000)

Many American football players consider the CFL to be a stepping stone to the NFL. Horn followed a similar path. Before being selected by the Chiefs, he spent a season with the Memphis Mad Dogs. However, there were no indications that he would develop into one of the league’s most intriguing wideouts.

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Before moving to New Orleans, he spent his early years on special teams. The Chiefs’ decision to release him was dubbed “one of the worst in club history” by USA Today. He was named to the Pro Bowl four times and had several seasons with 1,000 yards. Horn’s first season in Kansas City may have been a disaster, but he failed to persuade the team that he was a potential star.

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Eli Manning (#24) (2004)

Manning’s legacy as an NFL quarterback is viewed with conflicting feelings. Some argue that he wasn’t exceptional, but many New York fans disagree. Two Super Bowl rings, on the other hand, are unassailable. Because the Chargers wanted to select him, he had a difficult time breaking into the league. Manning and his father, Archie, have said that he would like to play another season of college football before joining the San Diego Chargers.

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That’s how he ended himself in New York City. But Manning’s time in blue didn’t start off well. On his debut against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, Jerome McDougle flattened him. Manning took over for the injured Kurt Warner, but he was struck hard (via AP News). Of course, he went on to become the Giants’ most successful quarterback in the modern period. It was most likely for the purpose of developing character.

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Russell Wilson (#23) (2012)

Wilson, a potential Hall of Fame quarterback, has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the NFL for a decade. But it wasn’t easy for him to make his first start against the Cardinals. With interceptions and fumbles, the signal-caller completed just 18 of 34 throws (via NBC Sports). Because of his small height, the 75th overall selection immediately had his detractors. That’s why a lot of people think he tanked.

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Wilson, of course, made his critics seem ridiculous. With Seattle, he became one of the greatest quarterbacks in the league and won a Super Bowl. He’s also an eight-time Pro Bowl selection who led the league in throwing touchdowns last season. Wilson may go unnoticed in comparison to his contemporaries Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, but he’s a fantastic quarterback.

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Drew Brees (#22) (2001)

Because of the length of his time in New Orleans, it’s easy to forget that Brees ever played for the Chargers. Before becoming an all-time great, he spent the first three seasons of his career in San Diego. In his first season, he sat behind Doug Flutie and only made one appearance. It was on the verge of becoming a spectacular show, but it fizzled out at the last minute.

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Before Brees took over for Flutie, the Chiefs were up 19-0. The youngster came close to leading an incredible comeback, but he choked in the final seconds of the game. Brees took multiple blows and fired an illegal forward throw as the time ticked down after bringing the game back to 25-20. (via Sporting News). That season, he didn’t get any additional reps.

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Rich Gannon (#21) (1987)

Gannon went on to become one of the Raiders’ greatest quarterbacks, but it wasn’t easy. He was selected by the Patriots in 1987 with the intention of developing into a running back. Gannon vehemently refused, so they arranged for a transfer to the Vikings (via Sports Illustrated). He had a rocky start to his NFL career, spending the most of his time as a backup quarterback.

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He went 2-for-6 against the Atlanta Falcons in his debut game. In 1992, he was named the Vikings’ starting quarterback. But it wasn’t until he was 34 that he made a name for himself with the Raiders. Gannon was named to the Pro Bowl four times and led the team to the AFC West Championship. They also fell in the Super Bowl against the Buccaneers.

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Chad Ochocinco (#20) (2011)

Ochocinco joined the Patriots after ten years with the Cincinnati Bengals. Because of the wideout’s wily, experienced subtlety, Bill Belichick felt it might be a smart move. Fans believed that Ochocinco might have the same impact as Randy Moss in his latter years. He couldn’t, however. On reality, he flopped at his debut and only lasted a season in Foxborough.

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On the first day of the season, New England beat Miami, but Ochocinco was nowhere to be seen. He was on the field, but he didn’t do anything since his debut was a disaster. In the contest, the receiver only had one grab for 14 yards. In addition, he only started three games all season and only scored one touchdown (via SBNation). He was an intriguing addition, but it didn’t pan out.

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James Harrison is 19 years old (2002)

With the Pittsburgh Steelers, Harrison had a fantastic career. However, he had a rocky start in the NFL. In 2002, the linebacker was a member of the Steelers’ practice squad and appeared on special teams once. He, on the other hand, was just not up to the task. Because he couldn’t learn plays, his teammates dubbed him a knucklehead (via L.A. Times).

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He signed with the Ravens, but he was sent to NFL Europe before being released. Finally, the Steelers gave him another opportunity, which he accepted. He is the franchise’s all-time sack leader and is a two-time Super Bowl winner. Nobody expected him to be a regular starter following his early years on the field.

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Arian Foster (age 18) (2009)

Foster is a living legend with the Houston Texans. Before a single season in Miami, the running back enjoyed a stellar career in Houston. He is a four-time Pro Bowler with many club records, including running yards and touchdowns. Foster, on the other hand, didn’t have the best of starts, as he flopped in his first game. In his debut game against the Titans, he had no offensive production at all.

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In his first game, the youngster bombed and failed to provide any offensive value. That was his first year in the league’s narrative. However, in his sophomore year, he burst into the scene. He continued to develop each season after that, eventually establishing himself as one of the greatest running backs in the NFL. Foster, on the other hand, said that he would not do it again due to the toll it had on his body (via Sportscasting).

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Tom Brady (#17) (2020)

Brady’s 2020 season seems to be a fantasy. But it’s worth remembering that he didn’t have a smooth start in Tampa Bay. Against the New Orleans Saints, the famous quarterback had a terrible debut. Fans and experts began to wonder whether he was washed up and too old for the league. He did, after all, go on to win the Super Bowl, so he had the final laugh.

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After Week One, though, the concerns were justified. In the defeat to the Saints, Brady threw two pick-sixes. This was his third game in a row in which he had two interceptions (via Sky Sports). The second interception was recovered for a 36-yard score by Janoris Jenkins. There’s no doubting that his debut was a disaster as he failed to grasp his new playbook.

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Matthew Stafford (16.) (2009)

Stafford was the starting quarterback for the Detroit Lions for 11 years until being traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 2021. As a result of these factors, it became apparent that he was an outstanding signal-caller who was playing for a bad team. Despite the fact that the Lions only made the playoffs three times during his career, he owns many NFL throwing records.

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Stafford’s time in Detroit, however, did not start off well. He became their first rookie starter since 1968 after defeating a washed-up Daunte Culpepper (via Sports Illustrated). However, his performance against the Saints was abysmal. He threw for 205 yards on 16-of-37 passing with no touchdowns. On a bad day for Stafford and his squad, there were also three interceptions.

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Priest Holmes, no. 15 (1997)

After being undrafted, Holmes played three years as a backup with the Ravens. Despite winning a Super Bowl, he failed to establish himself as a starter. He began his career as Baltimore’s fourth-string running back until breaking out in his second year with a 1,000-yard season. However, he sustained an injury the next year and spent his last season with the Ravens as Jamal Lewis’ backup.

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He seemed to be doomed to be another one-hit wonder and a forgotten name. The Chiefs, on the other hand, saw potential in him and bought him for a bargain in 2001. That’s when he burst onto the scene and established himself as one of the league’s most dynamic runners. That season, he topped the league in running yards and went on to win the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award (via CBS Sports).

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Yannick Ngakoue (14), (2020)

Ngakoue’s 2020 season was unusual. First and foremost, he wanted to be released from the Jaguars. Nobody could blame him for wanting to get off the ship that was sinking. He successfully negotiated a trade to the Vikings after holding out. But he didn’t get off to a good start in Minnesota. His zeal to get out of Florida lost him precious practicing time. When he bombed against the Packers in his debut, they witnessed it.

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The Pro Bowler was unable to make a single tackle, much alone sack Aaron Rodgers. Meanwhile, for the first time in a decade, the Vikings failed to sack the MVP quarterback (via Star Tribune). To be fair, Danielle Hunter, Minnesota’s top defensive end, was injured before to the game. This meant that Ngakoue had to be thrown into the mix before he was fully prepared. After just five games, he was moved to Baltimore.

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Steve Young (nineteen) (1985)

It’s strange to think that Young was a flop in Tampa before relocating to San Francisco. He was only with the Buccaneers for two seasons before being replaced by Vinny Testaverde. Young was a late bloomer, and he spent a lot of time as Jon Montana’s backup quarterback. He had the qualities necessary to get to the top, but Tampa was impatient.

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With Young at the helm, the Buccaneers had a string of 2-14 seasons. Meanwhile, he had a terrible debut, completing just 16 of 27 throws for zero touchdowns. On a bad day, the Lions sacked the inexperienced rookie six times. Despite the fact that he bombed, this was one of Tampa’s few victories. In Florida, he threw 21 interceptions and just 10 touchdown passes (via Fansided).

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Roddy White (#12) (2004)

With a good quarterback and enough experience, a career may be turned around. Atlanta fans found this during White’s second season. He was selected by the Falcons in 2004 and went on to participate in all 16 regular-season games. However, his influence was limited, and it seemed as though he had blown his opportunity in the NFL. It seemed inevitable that he would be labeled a failure after running for fewer than 450 yards and three touchdowns.

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That, however, was not the case. For a decade, White was one of the Falcons’ most significant players. He established franchise marks for career catches, touchdown receptions, and receiving yards (via Bleacher Report). When he eventually retired in 2016 after many years of service, it was a sad day. He was inducted into the franchise’s Ring of Honor.

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Daunte Culpepper (#11) (2006)

Culpepper was part of one of the most successful Vikings teams in recent memory. Some supporters hold this against the quarterback since he has never won a Super Bowl. However, following his finest season of his career, the three-time Pro Bowler suffered a devastating knee injury. His time in Minnesota came to an end as a result of this. In 2006, though, Miami gave him a second opportunity.

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It didn’t work out, unfortunately. He only started four games for the team, and he was a complete disaster. It was terrible, but it was thankfully brief. In those games, Culpepper was sacked 21 times as opponents exploited his lack of mobility (via ESPN). He spent two seasons with the Lions after playing for Oakland, but his career as a starter was over.

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Philip Rivers (#10) (2020)

After 16 seasons with the Chargers, Rivers announced his retirement. Despite his declining performance in his last two seasons, the Colts signed him as a free agent. They offered him $25 million as a one-year fix for their quarterback woes. His tenure in Indiana was, on the whole, a mixed bag. However, his time with the Colts did not begin well.

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To be fair, he wasn’t terrible in his first game against the Jaguars. However, he bombed in the fourth quarter, essentially throwing the game away. Rivers threw his second interception at the worst possible time, giving the Jaguars their lone victory of the season. The worst aspect of his disastrous start with the Colts, according to CBS Sports, was the later portion.

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Peyton Manning, No. 9 (1998)

In 1998, the Indianapolis Colts were eager to get Manning because they believed he had a bright future. Every rookie, though, has teething issues, and the future Hall of Famer was no exception. A single quarterback will not be able to turn around a team’s fortunes on his alone. Because it took another summer to put a squad together, Manning’s Colts finished 3-13 in his first season.

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In addition, he bombed in his first game against the Dolphins. Only 21 of 37 passes were completed by the future legend, and he threw three interceptions (via CBS Sports). Meanwhile, after a rocky start to his professional career, Miami fired him four times. Some fans thought Indianapolis should have chosen Ryan Leaf instead of Manning, which was hilarious.

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Alex Smith (number 8) (2005)

Because he survived such adversity, Smith earned a lot of affection and respect towards the conclusion of his career. However, the quarterback had a rocky start to his career. In fact, his first season is legendary due to its abysmal performance. During the season, he was sacked 29 times and threw 11 interceptions. Meanwhile, in the 11 games he started, he only threw one touchdown pass (via KSL Sports).

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That touchdown occurred against the Texans in the season’s last game. As a rookie, it’s fair to say he bombed. Smith, on the other hand, developed into a starting quarterback under Jim Harbaugh in 2011. He was also a part of one of the most remarkable comeback stories in NFL history. After breaking his leg in 2018, it seemed like his career was finished, but he bounced back.

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John Elway, No. 7 (1983)

Elway is probably the most well-known figure in Denver’s history. However, the famous Broncos quarterback flopped miserably in his first game with the team. Fans were excited for his debut appearance against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it didn’t go as planned. Elway was only able to make it to halftime due to an injured right elbow. As a result, Denver had to take him out of the game.

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To be honest, it was a relief since he was a disaster on the field. In the first half, he only completed one of eight throws for 14 yards (via The Washington Post). Meanwhile, he was sacked four times and intercepted once by the Steelers. For good measure, he also mishandled the ball. His career got off to the worst conceivable start, but things improved dramatically over time.

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Nick Foles, No. 6 (2019)

Foles’ time as a Jaguars quarterback came to an end after just 119 passes. After winning the Super Bowl with Philadelphia, they signed him to a four-year deal for $88 million. However, this transaction was a catastrophe from beginning to end. Things got off to a terrible start when he fractured his collarbone in his first game. When Gardner Minshew was brought in as his successor, the club really stabilized.

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Foles, on the other hand, returned in Week 11 and failed horribly. Before the finish, the Jaguars had lost to the Colts and the Titans. When the Jags eventually benched him for Minshew, Tampa Bay was down 25-0. They didn’t have a choice, but it was a decision that harmed the business in many ways. It lowered his trade value and resulted in the dismissal of a number of coaches and administrators (via SBNation).

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Terry Bradshaw, No. 5 (1970)

Bradshaw, an all-time great for the Steelers, is a name that conjures up images of triumph. To say he had a bad first season would be an understatement. He was fortunate that social media didn’t exist in the 1970s because he would have been digitally crucified. With a 30.4 passer rating, Bradshaw set the record for the lowest single-season passing rating in NFL history (via Fansided).

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After just completing 83 throws for 1410 yards, he was released. Throughout the season, he threw 24 interceptions and just six touchdowns. Meanwhile, due of his rural origins, some harsh detractors mocked his intellect. Nobody expected him to become a four-time Super Bowl winner, but he disproved the naysayers. What a 180-degree turn.

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Donovan McNabb is number four on the list (2011)

McNabb had a successful career in Philadelphia, but not so much in Minnesota. He demonstrated why bringing in an experienced quarterback on a short-term deal isn’t always a smart idea. It was a difficult season for the NFL veteran, as he finished his career as Christian Ponder’s backup quarterback. However, following a string of bad performances, the writing was on the wall.

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It didn’t help that he threw an interception in his first game against the Chargers. On his first try, he threw an interception and completed fewer than half of his throws. Things worsened when he went one for two in the second half, gaining just two yards (via Twin Against a poor San Diego defense, he completed the game with a total of 37 yards. That’s why he only appeared in six games for the team.

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Josh Allen is number three (2018)

Allen deserves a lot of respect since his first year was difficult for him. The Bills’ quarterback broke passing and running records, but it isn’t the whole tale of his season (via The Ringer). When he was came in against the Baltimore Ravens, his coach threw him into the deep end. He had no chance of affecting the game since the Bills were down 40-0.

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In the meanwhile, his first start against the Chargers ended in a defeat as well. Allen had glimpses of brilliance, but he eventually failed. He was sacked five times and intercepted one by the Chargers. Year each year, he improved in the NFL, eventually becoming one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league in 2021.

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Andrew Luck is number two (2012)

Luck had a decent rookie season overall, but his debut was a disaster. Against the opening day of the new semester, the Indianapolis Colts star took on the Chicago Bears. Because the Bears’ aggressiveness frightened him, he got a baptism of fire. He only completed 23 of 45 throw attempts for a total of 309 yards. Meanwhile, he was sacked and intercepted three times by the opposition (via ESPN).

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Fortunately, Luck and the Colts’ fortunes improved. They finished the season with an 11-5 record and advanced to the playoffs. Luck’s first game didn’t go well, but he bounced back to become one of the team’s most vital players. As a rookie, he also orchestrated seven game-winning drives. This demonstrates how he matured and grew from his errors.

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Troy Aikman, No. 1 (1989)

Aikman was a 12-year veteran of the Dallas Cowboys and was one of the franchise’s greatest quarterbacks. The three-time Super Bowl winner played for the Cowboys during one of their most prosperous periods. However, the eventual Hall of Famer’s career did not begin well. Indeed, his rookie season debut was a disaster. The squad collapsed, as Aikman went winless in his first 11 starts (via Sportscasting).

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On his season debut, the Saints thrashed Dallas 28-0, exposing Aikman to the realities of life in the NFL. The Cowboys only won one game throughout the season, making things much more difficult. Nobody anticipated Aikman to become the franchise’s longest-serving quarterback, but he did. The unfortunate rookie eventually become a franchise icon.

The baseball players with drug problems is a topic that has been around for a while. It includes 30 NFL stars who surprisingly tanked their season debuts.

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