By RanterX on March 24, 2014
For some athletes, it takes 20 years to establish their name in sports history. For other athletes, it takes just one play. There are some that are remembered more for one fantastic play or year they had than for the rest of their career combined. Here are 20 athletes whose single play or streaky performances outweighed the rest of their career.
Both literally and figuratively, Greenberg was a one-hit wonder. He stepped up for his first career at bat with the Chicago Cubs and proceeded to get plunked in the head. It would be his only official major league at bat. That was until last season when the Marlins gave him an at bat as part of a feature for a documentary on the case.
Simpson made a highlight reel play two seasons ago when he did a full front flip over a defender and landed in the end zone. Even though it had no playoff implications, the play was insane enough to make Simpson's name synonymous with the play.
Smith had a stellar rookie campaign in 2001, which included a no-hitter. That no-hitter was the last in St. Louis Cardinals history to this point and meanwhile Smith has seemingly fallen off the face of the earth.
James had a stellar 2005 playoff run for the Seattle Super Sonics, which got him a very generous salary from the New York Knicks. Signing a five-year, $30 million contract, James underachieved and never lived up to the deal.
Even though Holmes has had a very successful career, his toe-tap catch in the Super Bowl against the Arizona Cardinals will live forever. It's one of a handful of plays that helped directly affect a Super Bowl outcome. As he paused with his feet in bounds, it was like time paused for a brief moment.
Statistically, Namath is actually one of the most overrated quarterbacks in NFL history. However, his performance in Super Bowl III after guaranteeing a victory for his underdog Jets was anything but overrated. That was the performance that made him famous and stayed with him the rest of his career.
After winning the Heisman trophy in college at Michigan, Howard wasn't a great NFL player. However, his return game was still above average in the league. He put that on display when he brought back a kickoff for a touchdown in a Green Day Packers uniform in Super Bowl XXXI. That is the marquee play in Howard's professional career.
Dent was a marginal talent in his day, but ask any Boston Red Sox fan about him and they could rant for hours. His famous home run in 1978 will always live in infamy in Boston and will be talked about positively forever in New York.
Despite a career that spanned two decades, Roberts will always be known for his key role in the 2004 ALCS. When he stole second base to put himself in scoring position in Game 4, something changed in the Red Sox. That and other plays helped propel them to their first World Series title in nearly 90 years.
Clark was a decent talent during his playing days, but the reason people still talk about him is because of his iconic catch in the 1982 NFC Championship against the Dallas Cowboys. One of the most memorable moments in sports history, Clark's catch symbolically began the 49ers dynasty.
Rashaan Salaam went on a surprise run to win the 1994 Heisman trophy and make himself a top pick in the draft. Unfortunately for the Chicago Bears, he ended up being one of the biggest runningback draft busts ever. Because of that, he will always be remembered for his surprising run to the Heisman trophy.
Brady Anderson hit 50 home runs for the Baltimore Orioles in 1996. He never even approached that number again in his career. For someone who showed so much promise in one season, the rest of his career was a great disappointment.
An unproven rookie, Jimmy Smith became very well known in Super Bowl XXII. He somehow managed to rush for 204 yards and take the game by storm. It was one of the great performances in Super Bowl history and was surely the highlight of his otherwise mediocre career.
The kooky pitcher for the Detroit Tigers in 1976 went 19-9 with a 2.34 ERA and came in second in AL Cy Young voting. However, he became better known for his strange antics than his pitching as he fell off in the years to follow.
When injuries thrust Jeremy Lin into a starting role in 2012 with the Knicks, he majorly stepped up. He lit up the scoreboard on occasion and always seemed to be one of the top stories on ESPN. However, he appears more like a flash in the pan than an established superstar at this point.
It was Charles' tip-in in the 1983 college basketball national championship game that inspired the famous Jimmy Valvano sprint around the court. This play capped a very unlikely run and highlighted Charles' career -- he went on to be a mediocre player in the NBA.
Usually a role player, Aaron Boone stepped up in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. With the game headed for extra innings, Boone sent a monumental walk-off home run down the left field line to send the Bronx Bombers to the World Series and the Red Sox home once again.
Everybody remembers Dallas Braden's perfect game on Mother's Day 2010. It was an inspiring sports moment and was Braden's shining moment of his entire career. He started falling off after that and is now already out of baseball.
He made one of the most famous shots in college basketball history as he drained a buzzer beater to knock off the Kentucky Wildcats in the 1992 men's basketball tournament. However, that would be the high point of his career as he was picked No. 3 overall in the NBA draft and never amounted to much.
A journeyman receiver, Tyree was probably the most likely hero in any professional sports championship. His catch in the Super Bowl to help the San Francisco Giants defeat the previously undefeated Patriots will live down as one of the most iconic plays in sports history.
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