Peyton Manning, don’t look so morose about not starting the season. Sure, you’re going to lose that consecutive starts streak, but Brett Favre deserves to have something, right? And don’t feel that your season is lost, either. The NFL is full of examples of guys who missed Week 1 but went on to have productive, if not outstanding, seasons. Here is a look at the six greatest seasons from people who missed Week 1.
And without further ado…
6. Cornelius Bennett, 1987
The Colts drafted Bennett with the second overall selection in 1987 but failed to reach a contract agreement with him. The Colts (who really had trouble with high draft picks in the 1980s) then dealt Bennett to the Bills as part of the Eric Dickerson trade with the Los Angeles Rams. Or as I like to refer to it: the worst day ever. Bennett went on to record 8.5 sacks in his rookie season in Buffalo.
5. Bo Jackson, 1989
Jackson referred to football as a "hobby" that he would purse after baseball season, meaning that we never got a full 16 games from him. And it's a shame, too, because he was one of the most impressive players to ever tote the football during an NFL game. His best season came in 1989, when he rushed for 950 yards in 11 games.
4. Ben Roethlisberger, 2010
Roethlisberger dubiously missed the first four games of last season, but things worked out well for the embattled quarterback. Roethlisberger led the Steelers to their third Super Bowl appearance in six years and had a chance to lead the Steelers to victory during the final drive. But it was not to be, as the Packers prevailed. Still, Roethlisberger passed for 3,200 yards and 17 touchdowns in 12 games.
3. Terry Bradshaw, 1974
Bradshaw was coming off a shoulder injury and lost his starting job to Joe Gilliam in 1974 and did not see extended action until Week 7 of that season. Things kind of worked out well for Bradshaw and the Steelers, as he led the team to its first championship with a win over the Vikings in Super Bowl IX. Bradshaw was efficient, completing 9 of 14 passes and a fourth-quarter touchdown to seal the victory.
2. Deion Sanders, 1994 and 1995
Sanders was not the baseball or football player that Jackson was, but you can't argue with the back-to-back seasons he put up with the 49ers and Cowboys in 1994 and 1995, respectively. Like Jackson, Sanders joined his teams after his baseball season was over (and he was nursing a toe injury in 1995) and helped lead both of his teams to Super Bowl titles.
1. Emmitt Smith, 1993
Smith famously held out from the Cowboys in 1993 and missed the first two games. The Cowboys thought they were fine with Derrick Lassic. Yeah, not so much; the Cowboys started 0-2. Smith played his first game against the Cardinals in Week 3, and he went on to have one of the best years of his career, averaging 5.3 yards per attempt (remember that, Chris Johnson fans). Smith capped the season by being selected as the most valuable player of Super Bowl XXVIII, as the Cowboys won a second consecutive title over the Bills.