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Top five most shocking in-season sitdowns of all-time

The whole football world's ears perked up this week when Randy Moss was flat-out cut only four games into his return to Minnesota. But is Moss' release the most shocking dumping of a player of all time? His is just one of three head-scratching cuts this year alone.

The Bills parted ways with starting quarterback Trent Edwards after only two games, despite having all offseason and preseason to evaluate Captain Checkdown. And on Tuesday, Chargers general manager A.J. Smith said enough is enough with linebacker Shawne Merriman and waived him.

But neither Edwards nor Merriman make the list of the top five most shocking sitdowns of all-time. Now Moss on the other hand ...

5. Vikings WR Randy Moss, 2010

Details of the future Hall of Famer's release are still trickling out, but the Vikings partially cut the guy because he went all Christian Bale on a pregame spread.

Oh, and because Brett Favre gave him looks that kill. Hmm, how can a guy who still consistently demands coverage with a safety over the top, who has more touchdowns (five) than 90 percent of the wide receivers in the league this season, get thrown out on the street?

Brad Childress determined that the third-round choice the Vikings gave up for Moss was not worth the four weeks of production he provided, and now they have nothing to show for it, supposedly because of behavioral issues.

Well, check that. The Patriots did toss in a seventh-rounder in the trade for Moss. Great. Perhaps more shocking than a guy of Moss' credentials hitting the waiver wire is that a franchise could give up that much for him, and not be taken to task for it.

4. Steelers RB Franco Harris, 1984

Harris was certainly taken to task by the Steelers front office in 1984. The Rooney family decided to cut bait in training camp with the NFL's second all-time leading rusher because he had the audacity to ask for a pay hike.

Harris was a 1,000-yard rusher in 1983, and was just 362 yards short of Jim Brown's top NFL mark of 12,132 rushing yards. But the Steelers saw a declining back who had been running out of bounds to avoid contact since 1980. So when Harris pressed for more green, the franchise pushed him into searching for greener pastures.

The Seahawks came calling. With 1983 AFC Rookie of the Year Curt Warner shelved with a knee injury, big Franco was expected to pick up the slack and surpass Brown in Seattle green and blue. Whether it was no more want-to, or declining skills, that didn't happen. After gaining 170 yards on 68 carries, the Seahawks said no mas in November. Walter Payton would break Brown's record, while Harris might not even make the list of top 10 greatest running backs (he didn't make NFL Network's list of 100 greatest players).

3. Cowboys LB Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson, 1979

It's not often that a Pro Bowl-caliber player on one of the league's best teams ends up in street clothes, but that's what happened with Henderson in 1979.

Henderson was a very fast, athletic linebacker who became an All-Pro in his first full season as starter in 1977, picking up a Super Bowl ring in the process. In 1978, he sealed the deal for Dallas in the NFC Championship Game, jumping a route and returning an interception 68 yards for a score. His play even inspired a young Lawrence Taylor to wear No. 56.

Unfortunately for him, Henderson's mouth was as loud as his game, as was his drug habit. The week before Super Bowl XIII (1978 season), he fired up the Steelers, saying Terry Bradshaw was so dumb he couldn't spell cat if you spotted him the "c" and the "t." Bradshaw would throw for 318 yards and four touchdowns in an MVP performance.

Nine months later, Hollywood would end up watching games, not playing in them, when Landry deactivated him for the rest of the season. The effort didn't seem to be there, and the production was not worth the headache of trying to keep in line a linebacker hooked on cocaine. Henderson, who bounced from the 49ers to the Oilers in 1980, then out of the league completely after the season, would admit years later he was snorting up on the sideline during games.

Ultimately, Henderson would have the last laugh (sort of): He won $28 million in the Texas Lottery in 2000.

2. Buccaneers WR Keyshawn Johnson, 2003

Like Landry, Jon Gruden determined that Johnson wasn't worth the headache and took a similar approach with his star player. The Buccaneers coach sat the diva wide receiver for the final six games in 2003. Technically, Johnson was not released, but only because the Bucs wanted to get something for him, and didn't want him playing for anyone else that year.

What made this move so startling was the fact that Johnson was still productive, the Bucs had given up two first-round draft choices to acquire him, and were coming off a Super Bowl season in which Johnson played a major role.

That said, he was never one to shut his yapper, and still isn't. He wanted the ball all the time -- even writing a book about it -- and wasn't afraid to criticize his teammates or head coach to get his way. So with the team struggling at 4-6 in 2003, Gruden provided a spark by giving Johnson the ultimate "Come on, man" and sitting him for the rest of the season.

Johnson went on to play with Dallas and Carolina, but his forced sitdown with the Bucs will always be remembered.

1. Browns QB Bernie Kosar, 1993

Cleveland's second-best quarterback of all time was shocked when the team informed him he wouldn't be playing for the Browns again. In fact, everyone was shocked when they heard Kosar got cut in the middle of the 1993 season. Whether you were wearing your flannel, listening to P.M. Dawn, or rolling around in a teal Probe GT, you were surprised. Coach Bill Belichick cited "diminishing skills" in the public backlash that ensued.

To this day, Kosar's ouster is still the biggest in-season release of all time. Consider:

» Kosar took the Browns to their first AFC Championship Game, and he did it thrice.

» He was second to Brian Sipe at the time of his release in almost every team career passing record.

» He was the face of the franchise.

» Belichick determined that Todd Philcox was a better solution the following Sunday. T-o-d-d P-h-i-l-c-o-x.

Cleveland lost that game 22-5. While Belichick had Vinny Testaverde on the roster, he was not yet an accomplished quarterback. Kosar was. While his skills might have "diminished," he was good enough to be signed by the Cowboys two days after his release. He also helped his former college coach, Jimmy Johnson, win the 1993 NFC Championship Game after Troy Aikman was knocked out by a concussion.

In Belichick's defense, Kosar was on the decline. But the three-time Super Bowl champion coach has admitted he should've handled the situation better. And it's still our No. 1.

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