Every-Thing Sports

Screwjobs are an unfortunate part of sports and our culture

NOLA.com/Times-Picayune

By now we all know exactly what happened at the end of regulation in the NFC Championship game. The refs blew a blatant pass interference call that could've sent the Saints to the Super Bowl. Yes, there were other plays that could have been made in the game that would have resulted in this play either being a moot point, or it not having occurred at all. Nevertheless, it happened, guilt by all parties involved was admitted, and it won't change a damn thing.

The sad part is that there's nothing new under the sun, and screwjobs are a part of that. Things like this have gone on for years in one way, shape, form, or another. Here's a look at several scewjobs that are either proven/acknowledged, or widely accepted:

2002 NBA Western Conference Finals game six

Disgraced former NBA ref Tim Donaghy

Getty Images

The Lakers were down 3-2 entering game six. They won that pivotal game 106-102 amidst a host of questionable calls. In the fourth quarter, the Lakers shot 27 free throws. Overall, they had a 40 to 25 advantage in free throw attempts in that game. The fact that convicted felon Tim Donaghy was on the ref crew that game tends to add to the idea that this game was rigged. Donaghy was sentenced to two 15-month sentences to be served concurrently and three years probation for his role in a gambling scandal on July 29, 2008. We can all thank him for forever thinking sports are rigged.

The Montreal Screwjob

Bret Hart confronting Vince McMahon backstage

wwe.com

November 9, 1997 will live in infamy for wrestling fans. Pro wrestling has pre-determined outcomes of every match, but this one was different. Bret Hart was set to leave then WWF for then rival WCW amidst a contract dispute. To complicate matters, he was the champ at the time. Vince McMahon didn't want Hart taking his title to his biggest rival who was threatening his existence. McMahon called for the bell prematurely while Shawn Michaels had Hart in his own submission hold and all hell broke loose. The picture used here was taken right before Hart ended up punching McMahon in the face. Hart didn't want to lose in Canada and has maintained he was never planning on taking the title with him when he left. McMahon, sporting a black eye, came on Monday Night Raw the following Monday and explained the situation famously saying "Bret screwed Bret" and the his bad guy persona of Mr. McMahon was born.

The Titanic

The Titanic sinking

Raymond Wong, National Geographic

Billed as the ship that would never sink, the RMS Titanic was huge disaster. It was an 883' long engineering flop that sank on it's maiden voyage. There were 2,224 people on board and more than 1,500 of them died. Most of you will only remember the movie and the song, but this was an epic fail in real life. Two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg on its sixth day in service, it was nothing more than ocean debris. Craziest thing about it was that there were a lot of rich people on board due to the first class accommodations.

The NCAA

The legal mafia of college athletics

NCAA.com

Where do I even start with this load of crap? Whether it's allowing coaches to move from job to job freely while holding "student-athletes" hostage, or it's making money hand over fist while restricting those "student-athletes" from monetarily capitalizing on their image or success, the NCAA is a organization built on hypocrisy. The land is littered with stories of "student-athletes" who have been screwed by the NCAA over the years for one reason or another. The transfer portal in football has recently given a bone to football players, but it came after years of pressure. Theodore Roosevelt must be rolling in his grave.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

A curious thing might be happening with the Texans. This year's third round pick, Kahale Warring, has barely played in camp due to injuries and is in danger of being stashed on IR for the season. One of last year's third round picks, Martinas Rankin, may be in danger of not making the roster. The 2017 third rounder D'Onta Foreman was cut earlier in camp. While historically the Texans have been terrible picking in the third round, just taking a look at the Bill O'Brien years makes for some surprising results.

Keep in mind that these numbers are very fluid. Everyone has different criteria for what makes a hit or a miss. But let's dive in and see how the Texans have done.

By the numbers

First, let's take a look at the historical success rate by position of third round picks in the NFL. "Success rate" means the player became a functional NFL starter, which you would expect from most players selected in the third round.

The numbers:

3rd Round - OL (40%) TE (39%) LB (34%) DL (27%) WR (25%) DB (24%) QB (17%) RB (16%)

(Source: Arrowheadsports.com)

Now the Texans

Bill O'Brien has been around since the 2014 draft, so that is where we will focus. Let's look at the third round picks:

2014: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Louis Nix DT. Nix was a complete bust; C.J. developed into a decent tight end before concussions prematurely ended his career. Still, you could reluctantly call him a hit. Nix is a clear miss.

2015: Jalen Strong, WR. Complete miss.

2016: Braxton Miller, WR. He at least saw some action on the field before being cut but another big miss.

2017: D'Onta Foreman, RB. Cut in camp this year, so another complete whiff.

2018: Justin Reid, S, Martinas Rankin, OL, Jordan Akins, TE.

Reid has all the ear markings of a perennial Pro Bowler. Akins has emerged as a decent threat in a crowded tight end room. Rankin, as mentioned earlier, might not make the team. So two hits and for now Rankin is a miss. We won't look at 2019 yet, but the Warring pick - questionable at the time - could easily be another clunker, but we may not know until next year. What happens to those two over the next few years will help add clarity to these numbers.

Is it as bad as it looks?

So overall, with nine third-round picks in the O'Brien era, the Texans have three hits, five misses (if you count Rankin) and an incomplete.

The positives? They are batting 1.000 on tight ends (pending Warring) and safety. They are zero percent on OL, RB and WR.

The overall hit rate is .375. In a given year, NFL starters from the second and third round combined make up roughly 30 percent of the league. Even if you count Fiedorowicz as a bust, they are still at almost 29 percent out of the third round, which would be above the league average, according to a Forbes study from the 2014 season. While that number varies year to year, it is likely no more than a few percentage points. So about average.

Throw in the second round picks, where Bernardrick McKinney, Zach Cunningham and Nick Martin have all become starters with one glaring bust - Xavier Sua'Filo - and they are hitting at 75 percent in the second round, 66 percent overall in rounds 2-3. Now you could argue Martin is not a good player, but he has been a starter pretty much since Day 1. Even taking him out, that is still 55 percent. Again, the bust is glaring in Sua'Filo, which makes it look a lot worse.

The good news

The narrative is the Texans tend to nail their first round picks. According to the Riot Report, first rounders only hit at a 53 percent rate for a player to become a consistent starter over five years.

Again, looking at the O'Brien era only, the top picks have been Jadeveon Clowney, Will Fuller, Kevin Johnson, Deshaun Watson and Titus Howard. Eliminating Howard since it is too early, Clowney and Watson are clear hits; Fuller is a good player who can never stay healthy. If he does, he could be a key contributor but that remains to be seen. Still, he is an NFL starter so give him a hit, even if it is incomplete. Johnson was a disaster and is gone. If you give them Fuller, that is still 75 percent, well above the league average. If you don't count Fuller, they are right at the league average, slightly below. Again, all of this is specific to the O'Brien era.

What does it all mean?

The third round misses have been high profile, colossal mistakes, which makes it look worse. Foreman was supposed to develop into a home run threat on offense. Miller was a high profile project. The team traded up to get Strong. Nix never made it to the field. But overall, the results are about on par with the rest of the league, even above average. Those were not the results I expected when I started this article. But there is also no way to quantify players who hung around and contributed but were never really "hits" or "misses." The Texans misses were clear, as they are no longer on the roster.

Which brings us to Duke Johnson

While many have been critical of the Texans for giving up a third to get Duke Johnson, it makes a lot of sense. You are getting a proven NFL player with starting capabilities for a pick that hits less than 30 percent of the time. While building through the draft is important, it also goes to show that most teams and fans greatly overvalue draft picks. And most picks are like buying new cars - the value goes down as soon as you get them off the lot. Johnson should provide a much surer thing than a third-rounder.

The bottom line

As with most things, when it comes to drafting, the Texans are about average. The third round busts look bad relative to expectations, but overall the number of hits is about where the league is. They probably aren't as good in the first round as the perception. Obviously good teams do better than than average, bad ones do much worse, but as with most things, the Texans aren't bad at drafting high-round picks.

They are just mediocre, a staple of the organization since its inception.

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