Players and Teams Who Never Should Have Been

The Dream in Splendid Raptors Purple, But Of Course

Certain things just don’t look right. Guys in skin-tight blue jeans. Crown Victoria sedans sitting on 26s. Carlos Beltran’s hair.

The same can be said of athletes, particularly those who spent large portions of their career with one team and then put on a new and unfamiliar uniform. The phenomenon is exacerbated with big stars. In researching our previous post on the decline of starting pitching, we utilized the phenomenal resource that is the baseball almanac. It was there we were reminded that our beloved Doc Gooden, in addition to donning the pinstripes of the evil empire and sporting Chief Wahoo atop his noggin, played for the Astros and Devil Rays.

Wait, what? Yes, time seems to have contributed to memory erosion (OK, probably a little more than time along, but that is besides the point). During our life span of our sports fanaticism, there have been a few player moves we simply failed to ever come to peace with. These might not have been the last stop for these stars, or even their shortest stint, but something about seeing those players in those jerseys was simply irreconcilable.

For these folks, we’ve either truthfully forgotten, pretended to forget or are still actively seeking to eradicate their memory in certain duds. Our list has a slight slant toward a few of our favorite local teams. Don’t hold it us against us. Hit us up with yours in the comments.

Patrick Ewing (Seattle Supersonics)
Whether fans care to admit it our not, Patrick Ewing is arguably the greatest Knicks of all-time. He was a pillar of a team that competed at the highest level for nearly a decade with the 7-ft Hoya in the middle. And while he earned his ticket to the Hall this year, the spectacle of #33 in Sonics green never felt right. Even Orlando wasn’t as bothersome as Patrick was already on his way out and, besides, at least blue looked familiar on him. This did not…
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Emmitt Smith (Arizona Cardinals)
Long before he was making us all dumber via his ESPN commentary, Emmitt was a pretty solid NFL running back. OK, like really, really solid. For 13 seasons, #22 was a fixture in the Cowboys backfield and formed that nasty triumvirate with Aikman and Irvin that football people can’t seem to talk about enough. During his decade plus in Big D, Emmitt started at least 14 games every season and rushed for over 1,000 yards ten straight campaigns. Then he went out West and put on an Arizona Cardinals jersey. And it was just…weird.
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Wayne Gretzky (St. Louis Blues)
The Great One made his name in Edmonton. He won cups. Hollywood seemed the perfect stop during the late 80s and early 90s. The best player in hockey makes the Kings relevant in L.A. Perfect. Even Gretzky’s swan song in the Big Apple didn’t feel all that funny (sure it helped that I was a Rangers fan). But one season wedged in between L.A. and NYC was a bit different than the others. “Ladies and Gentlemen! The Captain of your St. Louis Blues, Wayne…Gretzky!
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Hakeem Olajuwon (Toronto Raptors)
Was it a Dream or did Hall-of-Famer Hakeem Olajuwon really end his 18-year career in Toronto after 17 seasons as a Houston Rocket? At least he wasn’t sporting one of those vicious-looking dinosaurs across his chest.
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Eric Dickerson (Atlanta Falcons)
There was Rams Dickerson and Colts Dickerson. When did this Atlanta Falcons Dickerson come about? Apparently the Falcons were trying to catch lightning in a bottle that had already drifted to sea, or, more likely, just some publicity. Unfortunately for them, Dickerson carried the rock all of 26 times for 91 yards before hanging up his cleats for good.

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Brian Leetch (Boston Bruins)
Leetchy should have never left New York. He didn’t want to go. We didn’t want him to go. It’s kind of like the whole Tom Glavine Atlanta thing but the other way around…or something. For some reason, #2’s trek up to Toronto didn’t bug us. Perhaps it’s because they actually care a lot about hockey up there, so we figured it was probably pretty cool to play in front of those fans. But the Bruins? That was unacceptable.

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Dominique Wilkins (Boston Celtics)
‘Nique is a Hawk. He’s the only thing good that ever happened to that franchise. He is the face of the organization. As far as I’m concerned, he never played in Los Angeles or San Antonio. And he certainly never suited up for the Celtics (/steadfastly refusing to acknowledge previously stated facts).

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Randall Cunningham (Dallas Cowboys)
Here’s another one that simply doesn’t compute. Minnesota? OK. I remember that. It was a few years. It was exciting. Randall was still an Eagle in everyone’s head, but the Vikings thing didn’t seem totally bizarre. But heading to the Cowboys after 11 years in Philthadelphia? The former Eagle…to the dreaded Boys? Of course this was then followed by the logical final stop in Baltimore. Sure, Randall the Raven. Puh-leez.

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Jerry Rice (Seattle Seahawks)
The best receiver in the history of the NFL. The most potent quarterback-to-wideout combo of all-time. Many would argue Jerry Rice is the best football player to ever step on the field, at any position. But if you would have asked a fan in the 80s and 90s which was more probable, they may have actually chosen the option that Rice would appear on an ABC reality show called “Dancing with the Stars” over the possibility of Rice ending his career in a Seattle Seahawks uniform. Luckily, we got to experience both (tongue embedded in cheek).

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Michael Jordan (Washington Wizards)
I won’t even pretend I wasn’t fired up to see MJ lace them up again, no matter the team. I was. Everyone was. But it was not the same, and it probably wouldn’t have mattered what the uni. Somehow, though, it looks even goofier on a poster. Jordan is in wearing RED on posters. He is flying, gliding, dunking…his tongue is out. He is not wearing long goofy white spandex and a knee brace, and he is definitely not passing the ball.

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We know there are others that rocked your sports-crazed worlds at the time (and maybe still do). Which sight could you never come to grips with? Pete Rose with the Expos slightly before we were old enough to know that was weird comes to mind. Montana in Chiefs red (never bothered me that much, but I’m sure it was like nails on a chalkboard for the West Coast folk)? Bonds as a Ray. Whoops, getting ahead of ourselves. Who else?

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About the Author: Cecilio's Scribe is the founder of The Legend of Cecilio Guante and a generally pessimistic fan of the Mets, Jets, Knicks and Rangers. A fine NYC-based gentlemen who hones his marketing skills as his primary trade by day. Husband, chef, father of a newborn and after-hours blogger by night. Proud alum of the mighty Big Red of Cornell. University. Hot sauce devotee. Staunch protester of the continued wussifcation of American sports. Sometimes I rhyme slow, sometimes I rhyme quick.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    good examples.

    two that i got to see first hand in new orleans saints uniforms were:

    earl campbell, houston oilers
    ken stabler, oakland raiders.

    nice thought for an article,

    HavePleasure!
    FISSweed

  2. Anonymous says:

    While he never finished training camp, Jerry Rice technically ended his career in a Denver Broncos jersey during the 2005 preseason.

  3. The Fish that saved Philly says:

    Bruce Smith as a Redskin and Thurman Thomas as a Dolphin always bothered me–those are guys who should have played their entire careers in Buffalo.

  4. WRG says:

    Mike Vick, in a Kansas penal league uniform. What a waste.

  5. Cecilio's Scribe says:

    FSP – great call. even saying “Thurman Thomas, Miami Doplphins,” sounds like you’re breaking some sort of rule.

  6. jcharding says:

    Franco Harris as a Seahawk

  7. Anonymous says:

    Montana in a Chiefs Uniform!!
    Shocked this wasn’t on here.

  8. Cecilio's Scribe says:

    we mention in the last paragraph.

  9. Harvey Bars says:

    If you want to go way back, Unitas as a Charger, Namath as a Ram, Mays as a Met.

  10. Anonymous says:

    How about Charles Barkley as a Houston Rocket?

  11. Anonymous says:

    karl malone as a laker… no stockton to malone just seemed weird.

  12. Big_kahuna says:

    how about Tony Dorsett as a Bronco?

  13. Cecilio's Scribe says:

    had forgotten about dorsett in mile high. nice.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Reggie White in a Panthers Uniform.

  15. Anonymous says:

    FRANCO HARRIS AS A SEAHAWK

  16. Anonymous says:

    What about athletes that played the majority of their career with their second team? Ever see Brett Favre in a Falcons uniform? Or, Steve Young in a sherbet orange Bucs uniform?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Bobby Orr in a Chicago Blackhawks uniform…

  18. Anonymous says:

    Walt “Clyde” Frazier as a Cleveland Cavalier

  19. Anonymous says:

    Dale Murphy as a Phillie or Rockie.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Babe Ruth played his last season for the Braves. Not that I saw it happen…
    Hank Aaron as a Brewer.
    Steve Carlton as a Twin.
    Phil Niekro as a Yankee.
    Cerrano as a Buzz.

  21. Anonymous says:

    what about Marcus Allen as a chief?

  22. Anonymous says:

    How about Guy Lafleur with either the Rangers and Nordiques after most his career with the Canadiens???

  23. Anonymous says:

    Jim McMahon winning the Super Bowl as Brett Favre’s back-up. (Sorry for making everyone in Chicago throw up a little in their mouths)

  24. Anonymous says:

    Csonka as a Giant
    OJ as a 49er
    McNair as a Raven
    Knight at Texas Tech
    Seaver as a White Sox
    Piazza as a Marlin

  25. Anonymous says:

    Harmen Killebrew as a Royal.

    Frank White with the Red Sox (though as a coach).

    Wade Boggs as a Tampa Bay (Devil) Ray.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Did anyone mention Jordan in a Wizards uniform?

  27. Cecilio's Scribe says:

    keep ‘em coming. jordan is in there and last one featured in original post. guy lafleur. am i the only one who immediately thinks of that mckenzie brothers molson commercial whenever i hear that name?

    What’s Lafleur mean anyway, like lion or wolf?

    It means “The Flower.”

    Like a tough flower…yea, like a snapdragon…roses have thorns…they’re tough, you’re tough…

    CLASSIC. If anyone can find that video and point me to it…can’t track it down.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Art Monk as an Iggle…uh, I mean Eagle, or Jet for that matter. He should have retired a Redskin.

    Barry Bonds unemployed. Oh wait, that’s not wierd, that’s fitting.

    Lou Holtz as Head Coach of the Jets in 1976.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Marcus Allen in anything other than Raider Black.
    Ronnie Lott in anything other than 49er red and gold.

  30. Anonymous says:

    i cant believe that gretzky as a blue is weird but not as a ranger. here was there greatest player ever playing out the string with the rangers. he was not even revelant for them it was a sad ending to a great career

  31. Anonymous says:

    “Unfortunately for them, Dickerson carried the rock all of 26 times for 91 yards before hanging up his cleats and Rec-Specs for good.”

    Fixed it for you. :)

  32. Cecilio's Scribe says:

    thanks much anon. check this link out for more rockers of the rec-specs.

    http://www.legendofcecilioguante.com/2008/01/beware-bespectacled-ode-to-rec-specs.html

  33. Anonymous says:

    How about Robert Parish as a Bull? I was so used to seing the “The Chief” in green.

    Penny as a Knick? Never has a star fallen so fast…

    Clyde “The Glide” Drexler as a Rocket? Sure, he’s a hometown boy who won his ring, but he’ll always be a Blazer in my eyes.

    Shawn Kemp as a member of the Orlando Magic? Horrible….

  34. Anonymous says:

    Strange, even tragic events that have nothing to do with a unifrom:
    1. Edwin Moses NOT winning his race.
    2. Rick Camp hitting a home run.
    3. Reggie White dying young.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Pete Rose as an Expo …
    Maradona in a Brasil jersey (commercial only)

  36. steve says:

    doug harvey and wendall clark in a red wing jersay

  37. steve says:

    doug harvey and wendall clark in a red wing jersay

  38. Anonymous says:

    howard carmichael as a cowboy it still hurts thinking of that

  39. Anonymous says:

    Pete Rose as an Expo

    O.J. Simpson as a 49er

    And yes I do have the cards to prove that both actually happened.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Don’t forget Dominique Wilkins played in Greece.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Chelios as a Red Wing STILL is too strange for me.

  42. Anonymous says:

    How about Franco Harris as a Seahawk. Reggie White as a Carolina Panther. Brett Hull as a Red Wing. Rickey Henderson everywhere after leaving Oakland the 2nd time (Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Mets, Padres, etc, etc). Scottie Pippen as a Rocket and Trail Blazer. Mark Messier as a Cancuck?

  43. Anonymous says:

    Lombardi coaching the Redskins – just wrong

  44. Anonymous says:

    marichal as a dodger
    garvey as a padre
    molitor as a twin
    robitaille as a red wing or penguin
    rambis as a hornet

  45. Anonymous says:

    joe montana as a chief.

  46. Stephanie says:

    Mark Messier as a Canuck might be the worst one in my sports memory besides Brian Leetch. The Captain in Vancouver?? Thankfully he skated his last game as a Blueshirt, unlike the travesty that was Leetch retiring as a Bruin.

  47. Anonymous says:

    What about Michael Jordan as a Birmingham Barron?

  48. Anonymous says:

    Currently On-Going:
    - Greg Maddux, Padres

    And One Potential:
    - Shaun Alexander, Bengal1

  49. Cecilio's Scribe says:

    think alexander in a bungles uni would be bizarre, indeed.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Who cares about Phil Niekro?

  51. Andrew says:

    Paul Coffey playing for the Whalers, Flyers, Blackhawks, Hurricanes and Bruins. 5 teams in 7 seasons, time to hang it up.

    Mark Messier’s 3 year stint in Vancouver is pretty obscure as well.

    I sure leaf fans cringe everytime they see Doug Gilmour in a Habs jersey.

  52. Anonymous says:

    How about Randy Johnson as a Yankee.
    Dave Winfield with a bunch of different teams.
    Juan Gonzalez as a Cleveland Indian.
    Roger Clemens as an Astro, then a Yankee again.
    Everson Walls as a NY Giant.
    How bout Willie Mays at the end of his career, wasn’t he with the Mets or someone?
    Allen Iverson as a Nugget?
    David Beckham?
    Parcells coaching the Dallas Cowboys after all those years with the Giants?

  53. Anonymous says:

    Karl Malone as a Los Angeles Laker…I still don’t get that one at all

  54. Cecilio's Scribe says:

    agreed. stockton to ma…wait a second, where’s the mailman? He’s in where? Los Angeles?

  55. Anonymous says:

    Tom Glavine as a Met
    Steve Spurrier as a Gamecock

  56. Anonymous says:

    A little off the wall, but, Mario Andretti moving from open wheel to NASCAR (he may have ben the first)

  57. Anonymous says:

    Joe Namath LA Rams
    Willy Mays As a Met!!!
    McCovey as A Padre
    Duke Snider Giants ugh
    Jackie Robinson retired instead of going to the Giants
    Frank Thomas A’s/Blue Jays
    Chris Mullin – Pacers

  58. Anonymous says:

    Darren Daulton as a Marlin
    Steve Carlton as ChiSox, Twin and Indian
    Johan Santana as a Met (just makes me sick)
    Curt Schilling as an Oriole (pre-phillies)
    Peter Forsberg in a Predators uniform
    Eric Lindros as a Maple Leaf
    The first time Gretzky put on the LA Kings jersey.
    Pedro Martinez as a Met (how’s that working out for you?)
    Gary Carter with the SF Giants
    Nolan Ryan as a Met (pre-angels)
    Moses Malone as San Antonio Spurs
    Marice Cheeks with the New Jersey Nets and a New York Knicks

  59. Taylor says:

    A few that come to mind.

    Randy Johnson as a Houston Astro.
    Nomar as anything other than a Red Sox.
    Spurrier coaching the ‘Skins.
    Stram coaching the Saints.
    Growing up in KC I always thought it was weird seeing Neil Smith win Super Bowls with Broncos.
    Jimmy Johnson coaching the Dolphins.
    Gary Payton as a Milwaukee Buck.
    Jerry West GM of the Grizzlies.

    How about soon to be Isaac Bruce as a 49er? That’s got to be weird for Rams fans.
    And someday thinking of KG as anything but a Twolf will be odd.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Seeing Montanta in a Chiefs uni was as unsettling an image in sports as I have ever seen. It wasn’t just fingernails on a chalkboard, it was more like a tent spike lodged in the back.

    The other strange one, (which actually didn’t bother me that much, because I’m a Giants fan) was Orel Hersheiser in orange and black the one year he played in SF.

  61. Anonymous says:

    cecil fielder as a yankee, same as wade boggs

  62. Anonymous says:

    Someone already said it but as a White Sox fan, Frank Thomas as a Blue Jay and Athletic.
    Gary Payton on the Heat
    Rasheed Wallace on the Hawks (one game)

  63. Anonymous says:

    karl malone on the lakers
    franco harris on the Seahawks

  64. Anonymous says:

    John Starks as a Bull, he wasn’t good or anything but it never should have been.

  65. Anonymous says:

    Tom Seaver as anything but an Amazin’ Met…I managed to forget, was it the Cardinals or the Reds?

  66. Cecilio's Scribe says:

    Seaver played for Cincy, as well as the Chi White Sox and BoSox before calling it a career.

  67. Anonymous says:

    I know you didn’t include coaches, but I think the weirdest I ever saw was Joe DiMaggio in a late 60’s Oakland Athletics uniform.

  68. Anonymous says:

    Joe Montana as a Chief?
    Isaac Bruce as a 49er?
    Ronnie Lott as a Jet?
    Fran Tarkenton as a Giant?
    Nick Lowery as a Raider? Jet? Chief?
    Bert Jones as a Ram?

  69. Anonymous says:

    His Airness holding a baseball bat…

  70. Anonymous says:

    Mays as a Met.

    Ray Knight – Orioles and Tigers

    Rose as an Expo (not at the end)

    Jose Cruz (SR) as a Yankee

    Warren Moon (Seattle, Minn, KC)

  71. Anonymous says:

    Someone mentioned Nolan Ryan and the Mets – I bet he was glad for that since that was his only World Series appearance.

  72. Anonymous says:

    The “should be in the Hall of Fame” Chicago Cub Ron Santo played his final year for the White Sox.

  73. Anonymous says:

    Ray Borque as an Av…but then again he finally got to hoist the cup!

  74. Erie's Scribe says:

    Bernie Kosar in a Cowboys jersey was just wrong. So was Joey Belle in an O’s jersey.

  75. MichaelSimon says:

    jose canseco, wade boggs or fred mcgriff in tampa bay devil rays unis. the 3 legends of the franchise…… pffff couldn’t say it with a straight face. randy johnson bounced around, take your pick of houston astros or the yankees or expos

  76. Anonymous says:

    gary payton as anything other that a supersonic

    and technically, jerry rice retired a 49 (they gave him a one day “contract” after being released by denver)

  77. Harv says:

    I think a lot of the additions have missed the whole theme of the article: Faces of a franchise somewhere else.

    Bobby Orr as a Blackhawk (Thanks Alan Eagleson) is a great example. I don’t think they missed too many off the biggest ones.

    Ray Bourque, as an Av, might have been weird, but he won the cup and as a Bruins fan, I’m glad that he did.

    Here’s a reversed one: Favre as a Falcon. I have one of his rookie cards and he’s in a Falcons uniform.

  78. Anonymous says:

    Orel Hershiser as a Giant

  79. Anonymous says:

    Soon to happen, apparently – Jim Edmonds, Chicago Cubs. Just weird.

  80. Anonymous says:

    Unitas on the Chargers. Johnny U. in powder blue? Sacre bleu!!

  81. spectre says:

    David Beckham in a Galaxy uniform.

  82. Anonymous says:

    Chris Carter as a Dolphin. That is just plain wrong!

  83. Anonymous says:

    JR Seau as a Pat.

  84. Anonymous says:

    Will Clark as an Baltimore O. The Thrill will always be a Giant

  85. Anonymous says:

    Tim Brown – Bucs
    Wade Boggs – Devil Rays

  86. Gittle says:

    I was going to mention ‘Nique’s one year for Panathinaïkós, but somebody already beat me to it. Oh well.

    Brian Leetch grew up in Connecticut (outside Fairfield County) and went to BC. He came home to play for the Bruins. I understand that you guys are Rangers fans and that angers you, but I don’t have a problem with Chris Drury wearing a Blueshirt, although I can’t think of him playing for anyone else other than BU or the Avs, because he’s from Fairfield County. Thus, he’s also gone home.

    –Eric

  87. Anonymous says:

    Shawn Kemp as a Cav as well

  88. Anonymous says:

    Another reverse one:

    Ryne Sandberg, Philadelphia Phillies.

  89. Cecilio's Scribe says:

    great call on leetch. i thought about the NE-deal. agreed.

  90. Anonymous says:

    Iron Mike Webster as a Chief.

  91. Anonymous says:

    Dwight Evans as a Baltimore Oriole
    Jeremy Shockey as a New Orleans Saint (oh wait, that hasn’t happened yet)
    Dave Cowens as a Millwaukee Buck

  92. Chuck says:

    Tony Dorsett not being a Cowboy in ’88

  93. Anonymous says:

    Dave Bing with the Celtics

  94. Anonymous says:

    Dan Quisenberry as a Cardinal and a Giant

  95. Anonymous says:

    karl malone to the lakers

  96. Graeme says:

    Can’t believe nobody’s mentioned Darryl Sittler as anything but a Maple Leaf.

    Others I agree with:
    Gordie Howe as a Hartford Whaler.
    Guy Lafleur as a Ranger or Nordique.
    Wade Boggs as a Devil Ray.

  97. Anonymous says:

    What about Ditka coaching…. DA SAINTS

  98. Anonymous says:

    Reggie Jackson with the O’s. Yeah, it was in the middle of his career. But it was still surreal.

  99. Anonymous says:

    David Cone as a Red Sox
    Dave Kingman as a Yankee
    Dennis Eckersley as a Cardinal
    Lee Smith as a Yankee
    Art Monk as a Jet
    Bernie Kosar as a Cowboy
    Jerry Koosman as a Twin
    George “Boomer” Scott and Luis Tiant as Tankees

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