[[folder:American football]]
* Ryan Leaf. A Heisman Trophy finalist during his time at Washington State University, he was the second pick in the NFL Draft in 1998, behind UsefulNotes/PeytonManning. It was predicted that he would go on to be one of the all-time [[UsefulNotes/AmericanFootball football]] greats. Fast forward to today, and he's regarded as one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history, while Manning retired a SuperBowl champion in 2016 and is a surefire Hall of Famer. Leaf's four-year career was marked by injuries, bad relations with his teammates and fans, hostility to the sports media and poor performance on the field. His fall was so infamous that, every draft, sports writers speculate on which hot college prospect will become the "next Ryan Leaf" by flopping hard in the NFL.
* Joe Paterno, longtime coach of the [[UsefulNotes/CollegiateAmericanFootball Pennsylvania State University football]] program. For much of his life, it was thought that he would go down as one of the all-time great college football coaches. However, over the course of 2011-12 came revelations that he not only had a serial child molester on his staff, but that he and the Penn State administration knew about the man's behavior and had covered it up for more than fifteen years. Cue Penn State's removal of the statue of "[[FanNickname JoePa]]" that stood outside Beaver Stadium and the NCAA revoking all of Penn State's football victories from 1998 to 2011, dropping him from being the winningest coach in college football history to being #12. (The NCAA would restore Paterno's wins in 2015, but this decision was hugely controversial.) Now, many college football fans, even at Penn State, view his legacy in a much less favorable light, with only a few fans still defending him (usually by claiming that the investigation was biased). To top it all off, his death in early 2012, at the height of the scandal, ensured that his life would end in disgrace, and that he would never be able to live down what had happened.
* Michael Vick, hero of the UsefulNotes/{{Atlanta}} Falcons [[UsefulNotes/AmericanFootball NFL]] team, saw his popularity crash and burn virtually overnight after the illegal dog-fighting ring he ran was exposed. His sponsors dropped him ''en masse'', stores like The Sports Authority and the official NFL Shop pulled all of his merchandise, and Falcons fans donated their Vick jerseys to animal shelters to use as bedding and cleaning rags. While he's since returned to football and enjoyed some success as the UsefulNotes/{{Philadelphia}} Eagles' quarterback, much of the public still hasn't forgiven him. It's probably telling that, even more than coach Andy Reid[[note]]who was fired at the end of the season[[/note]], Vick has taken the brunt of the public's ire for the Eagles' massive decline in the 2012 season. Injuries in both 2012 and 2013, during which 2012 rookie Nick Foles emerged as a far stronger threat on the field, eventually led to Vick's demotion to backup and subsequent release, and he's only started six games since then, as a backup for the New York Jets (2014) and Pittsburgh Steelers (2015). His Steelers contract was worth only ''$1 million dollars'', down 90% from his last annual salary with Philly two years earlier, and the signing itself caused a huge outcry among the team's fans (although other fans stood by the team while pointing out that Steelers starting QB Ben Roethlisberger and defensive standout James Harrison have had similarly unsavory accusations leveled against them).
* The United States Military Academy and Naval Academy, also known as simply Army and Navy, used to be [[UsefulNotes/CollegiateAmericanFootball college football]] powerhouses. However, as the game evolved, the physical fitness requirements for servicemen (particularly weight requirements) came into conflict with the sort of physical builds required for many key positions on a football team, precluding both schools from fielding competitive teams. While the annual Army vs. Navy game still attracts media attention, the two academies are mostly footnotes in modern college football.
* Ditto for the UsefulNotes/IvyLeague schools, which actually established the modern college football game, and by extension (since the sport began at the collegiate level), much of UsefulNotes/AmericanFootball in general. In the early 20th century, their football teams were some of the most storied in the nation; Princeton still holds the record for most college football championships (with 26) despite having last won in 1935. As the sport grew in popularity, however, a number of the older college football powers felt that it was becoming overly commercialized, to the point of threatening the academic integrity of the schools participating. As a result, in 1954 eight East Coast universities formed their own league, with strict academic requirements for players and a ban on athletic scholarships. While those schools remain world-renowned for academics, the creation of the Ivy League effectively ended their days as college football powers. Today, they mostly play against each other and against the schools of the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patriot_League Patriot League]][[note]]Which has similarly tough requirements for players, though they do offer athletic scholarships, which the league relaxed its rules on in 2001 and 2012. It was created in 1986, largely at the behest of the Ivy League, which had expanded their schedule to ten games per team in 1980 and needed more schools to play. Incidentally, the aforementioned Army and Navy are both members of the Patriot League.[[/note]], and while old rivalries still run deep, their teams are mostly outside the conversation of the greatest college football programs of today.
* College football's Heisman Trophy has been dubbed [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heisman_curse "the kiss of death for college players"]]. Only a few winners have managed to score NFL Hall of Fame careers, with the latest being Charles Woodson (1997). Some of the winners have had long and decent careers in the league, but nothing special, such as Vinny Testaverde and Jim Plunkett. The others have long since faded into obscurity, completely failing to make a lasting impression as pros, such as two-time winner Archie Griffin never recording a 1,000 yard season.
** Not helping the Heisman is that ESPN and Nissan have turned what was a good quick half-hour ceremony into a 90-minute slog of analysis and speculation, along with the Heisman voters now completely disallowed from revealing their votes, killing any buzz. Outright campaigning by schools for their star players, along with fan voting and the issues that come with it have also diluted the prestige of the ceremony, along with said voters outside the West Coast usually ignoring any game which starts after 10 p.m. ET due to ESPN's infamous accusations of exhibiting an "East Coast bias" towards the SEC, ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten conferences.
* The notion that the Cleveland Browns are a title candidate. Back when the Cleveland Browns were founded in the AAFC (a competitor to the NFL just after World War II which brought us the Browns and the 49ers as well as innovations to the game), they were one of the best teams in Football, dominating their league and a regular contender for the top spot in the NFL upon joining that league. That mostly ended in the 1960s, but the Browns were still deemed a good team more often than not, albeit with tendencies of EveryYearTheyFizzleOut. Then the 1995-1999 Cleveland Brown relocation controversy happened, where the Browns essentially moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens but a new Browns team would join the league in 1999 keeping all history, records and colors of the old team. The new Browns have in the decade and a half since then only made the Playoffs twice and never once looked like a serious competitor. True, they have a tough division to play in with the powerhouses from Baltimore and Pittsburgh and a Cincinnati team that's racked up a good playoff run in TheNewTens (albeit with their own EveryYearTheyFizzleOut problems)[[note]]Cincy's five straight playoff berths from 2011-15 have resulted in five straight Wild Card losses[[/note]], but tell anybody from the 1950s and 1960s what the Browns would turn into and they would look at you as if you'd declared to be the king of China.
* The Dropkick. Back in the days when nobody cared much about the NFL, extra points and field goals were shot in a manner not unlike in rugby with the ball being dropped from the hand and kicked as it touches the ground. However, a change in the shape of footballs (to aid passing) as well as a general nerfing of the kicking aspect of the game has ensured the dropkick only ever gets used as a gimmick. Losing a game on a botched hold in the last seconds is bad enough, but losing a game on a drop kick that bounces the wrong way would be even worse. However, given the high success rate of extra points and the NFL's stated desire to change that, dropkicks may be forced upon players by rule changes some day.

* From the '60s through the '80s, Pete Rose enjoyed a long and storied career as both a UsefulNotes/{{baseball}} player (most notably for the Cincinnati Reds) and, later in life, as a manager. He holds the records in [[UsefulNotes/MLBTeams Major League Baseball]] for hits, games played, at-bats, singles, and outs... and yet, he will likely never be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, as he was permanently banned from the sport in 1989 after being caught betting on games, including on his own team. [[http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/13114874/notebook-obtained-lines-shows-pete-rose-bet-baseball-player-1986 Later investigations]] revealed that he had a history of sports gambling, including, most damningly, during his time as a player. (To his credit, it's never been proven that he ever bet ''against'' his own team, i.e. throwing games in order to win bets.) Once hailed as one of the greatest baseball players in history, his legacy after his forced retirement has been a fiercely polarizing one at best -- one camp argues that his sheer success as a player outweighs his moral failings, while another argues that he violated the integrity of the sport badly enough that no amount of on-field success can make up for it. In September 2015, Rose [[http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/13737640/pete-rose-meets-mlb-decision-reinstatement-end-year met the current commissioner for a verdict on lifting his ban]]. [[http://m.mlb.com/news/article/159618258/mlb-commissioner-manfred-denies-pete-rose It didn't work]] and he remains ineligible.
* The entire "home run derby" era of the late '90s and early '00s, a period that saw UsefulNotes/{{baseball}} rise to heights of popularity not seen in decades, is now treated as an OldShame by MLB and many fans because many of the big stars of that era were revealed to have been either using steroids or engaging in other forms of cheating (like Sammy Sosa's corked bat); everyone in power basically looked the other way, desperate to win back fans after their infamous strike-cancelled season.
* Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers was a Major League Baseball superstar from 2007 to 2012. His unique combination of power and speed made him one of baseball's most feared hitters, and he won the 2011 National League MVP award in the process. However, after getting jammed up in an huge PED scandal during the 2013 season, he was suspended for the remainder of the year. He has since come back to baseball and continues to be an above-average player for the Brewers (landing a spot of the 2015 All-Star team), but the noticeable decline in his performance combined with the embarrassment of his transgressions has categorically stripped him of his MLB stardom.

[[folder:Mixed Martial Arts]]
* In UsefulNotes/MixedMartialArts, this trope is very common among veteran fighters from TheNineties (such as Ken Shamrock, Mark Coleman, and Mark Kerr). Back then, the sport was mostly a clash of single-discipline specialists, which meant that, more often than not, a stronger wrestler won. As the sport evolved and [[JackOfAllStats cross-training in different disciplines]] became widespread, a new breed of fighters learned to adapt traditional kickboxing to work under the threat of a takedown, exposing the CripplingOverspecialization of formerly dominant fighters. Unfortunately, since their glory days came in the era when MMA was only a very niche sport with low paychecks, they decided to keep their careers going into the mid-late 2000s when MMA exploded in popularity. This meant that the new fans tuning in for their fights, not knowing about their past exploits, only came to know them as old, slow, one-dimensional fighters who were somehow talked up as legends.
** Ken Shamrock got hit with this especially hard, since he spent the crucial years of the evolution of MMA acquiring ring rust and injuries in Wrestling/{{WWE}}. When he came back, not only was his style ineffective, he had lost his speed and started exhibiting a very glassy chin. He also stayed active far longer than the others mentioned here, fighting into the 2010s in local organizations where he often lost against no-name opposition.
* Tito Ortiz, the "Huntington Beach Bad Boy" and holder of the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship from 2000 to 2003, was the first fighter in the UFC to establish himself as a full fledged {{Heel}} with his taunts and trash talk. It's largely thanks to him that Light Heavyweight became the most popular weight class in the UFC. Even after back-to-back losses to Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell (which lost him his title), he was one of the top fighters in the division. He also coached the third season of ''Series/TheUltimateFighter'' against Ken Shamrock, where he showed himself as a more cerebral and intelligent fighter than he was given credit for.\\\
Things quickly fell apart in 2006 after his second loss to Liddell. From that point on, he went 1-7-1 in the UFC and was mostly known for his excuses after every loss (despite always claiming to "finally be 100%" beforehand) and tumultuous relationship with Jenna Jameson. After being cut from the UFC in 2012, he went to Bellator to fight Rampage Jackson just to drop out due to injury (although some claim it was because the PPV had been cancelled due to a low buy rate), and later appeared on Wrestling/{{TNA}} to silent crowds. Then he tried to promote his fight with Stephan Bonnar (himself worthy of this list) by cutting full-on pro wrestling promos in the ring. Needless to say, none of this returned him to any sort of relevance in the MMA world. But he keeps on trying.
* Tim Sylvia became the UFC Heavyweight Champion in an era where top talent in the division was either in Japan (Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko Cro Cop, Minotauro Nogueira), injured (Frank Mir), or glass-jawed and inconsistent (Andrei Arlovski). After PRIDE FC disbanded, bringing most of its talent to the UFC, Sylvia never touched the belt again, but was still near the top of his division. The he left the UFC for a superfight with Fedor Emelianenko in Affliction, which he lost in little over 30 seconds. To make matters worse, his next fight was a [[CurbStompBattle nine-second KO loss]] to 50-year-old Ray Mercer. Soon, he became a subject of mockery within the MMA community for his fighting style, lumpy physique, and attempts to get himself back to the UFC via social media. Today, his reign is seen as a DorkAge for the Heavyweight division, when even a plodding, awkward fighter with nothing much more than far reach and a decent jab could hold the belt.

* This is the stereotype of a draft bust: a highly-hyped player gets drafted in the first round, yet he never lives up to his full potential. Either the player is a complete non-factor, gets seriously injured, keeps getting into trouble off the field, or struggles as a starter.
* Cyclist Lance Armstrong is, perhaps, the biggest and most tragic example of an athlete falling from grace in this manner. He was an American sporting hero at the TurnOfTheMillennium, having not only won seven TourDeFrance titles, but having done so after beating testicular cancer. He used his profile to establish a highly successful charity dedicated to curing cancer, the Lance Armstrong Foundation, whose Live Strong yellow rubber bracelets became a ubiquitous fashion item mid-decade. However, it had long been rumored that Armstrong's cycling success was a bit less than squeaky-clean, and that he had been doping his way to the top. When those rumors were confirmed in 2012, Armstrong was forced to step down from the foundation bearing his name, and the International Cycling Union (the governing body for the sport) stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles.[[note]]Although it should be noted that none of his vacated titles were awarded to any of his competitors since nearly all of them were ''also'' found to be guilty of doping.[[/note]] Now, while he still has his supporters due to his charity work, a lot of people view him as an embarrassment to the sport and a lousy person as well, considering he ''sued'' people for defamation and ''won'' despite their doping claims eventually being revealed as the truth. A common joke was that the Live Strong bracelets should now read "Lie Strong".
* Being the first player taken in the draft is hit and miss whenever it comes to greatness. The MLB produced hall of fame talent in Chipper Jones and Ken Griffey Jr., but also Brien Taylor and Steve Chilcott (neither of whom ever reached the Majors). The NFL spawned many greats like Chuck Bednarik, Creator/PeytonManning, and Bruce Smith; but also notorious busts in Jamarcus Russell, King Hill, and Steve Emtman. The NBA gave us Shaq, Tim Duncan, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; but also Kwame Brown and Larue Martin. Over in the NHL, Mario Lemieux was a legend, while Alexandre Daigle was a legend''ary bust''.
* The very ''concept'' of Rookie of the Year had become a joke in UsefulNotes/{{NASCAR}} by 2012. After two years where only one candidate a year even met the minimum number of starts to be eligible for the award, the pair of choices in 2012 came down to two drivers who had mostly [[ThePiratesWhoDontDoAnything parked their cars after a few laps each week]], with a best finish of 26th between the two of them. The fact that the winner (Stephen Leicht, driving the #33) was the one who had only started 15 races (vs. Josh Wise's 30 starts in the #26) only made it even more laughable, and said winner was actually excluded from the year end banquet celebrating the top honors in Sprint Cup. However, it's come back around since then, particularly with the very strong run by Kyle Larson in 2014 (eight top fives, 17 top tens) in a class where ''eight'' rookies met the minimum bar for consideration (eight starts).
* In motor racing, Jacques Villeneuve. The son of the legendary Gilles Villeneuve, he first came to prominence winning the [=IndyCar=] Rookie of the Year award in 1994, and went on to win the [=IndyCar=] series the following year driving with his Dad's iconic 27 on his car. He moved to Formula 1 in 1996 and was sensationally on pole position for his first race (something only achieved twice before by Mario Andretti and Carlos Reutemann respectively), ahead of his much more experienced team mate Damon Hill. He won his fourth race, suckered Michael Schumacher by overtaking him around the outside in Portugal, and was in the hunt for the championship against Hill until the last race, finishing 2nd. He won the championship the following year in a final race shootout with Schumacher where he was generally applauded after trying an opportunistic overtaking move and leaving Schumacher beached in the gravel when the German tried to block him. Then his career tanked, he ended up struggling in the middle of the pack, he fell out with friends and teammates, and he stopped caring generally. He was finally sacked midway through 2006 due to a string of poor performances. People murmured that he'd lucked into his wins by having the best car and that Schumacher had nearly beaten him in an inferior Ferrari. He then released a music album which also failed. He tried NASCAR and made no impact, being fired from Bill Davis Racing before the 2008 Daytona 500 (after just two starts the year before) after his sponsors dropped him because he started a multi-car wreck in the Gatorade Duels. Despite all this, he competed in the 2015 Indy 500, racing strongly after a poor qualifying to finish 14th, but it led to nothing. He also gave Le Mans a go twice, finshing 2nd in 2008 (his last attempt to date at being the first driver to achieve the Triple Crown of motorsport since Graham Hill). He most recently competed in the 2015/16 Formula E series, but quit after 3 races.
* Ever wonder why [[UsefulNotes/AssociationFootball association football/soccer]] [[AmericansHateTingle has such a vocal hatedom in the United States]]? This is why. In the early part of the 20th century, when most of the major professional sports leagues on both sides of the Atlantic were in their infancy, the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Soccer_League#ASL_I American Soccer League]] was among them. It was, at one point, the second most popular sports league in the country after [[UsefulNotes/{{Baseball}} Major League Baseball]]. However, disputes between the ASL and the rival United States Football Association over a number of factors led to a "[[http://www.bigsoccer.com/soccer/roger-allaway/2010/10/25/what-was-the-quot-soccer-war-quot/ Soccer War]]", with FIFA butting in and siding with the USFA over controversy that the ASL was signing players who were under contract to European teams. The Soccer War crippled the ASL, with the league folding at the end of the 1933 season. Worse, while the USFA and FIFA ''won'' the war and established their pre-eminence, the spectacle of a US athletic association conspiring with a European organization to undermine its rival alienated many U.S. sports fans by creating an image of soccer as a sport controlled by foreigners, and along with the lack of a professional league that was able to field good players like the ASL did, the events pretty much killed the sportís popularity for decades.\\
Soccer experienced a brief but explosive boom in the United States between the late '70s and the mid '80s with the North American Soccer League, thanks in part to the New York Cosmos, which brought in some of the soccer world's biggest heroes (such as Pele himself and Franz Beckenbauer) to play for them. While financial hardships following Peleís retirement would eventually lead to the NASLís folding in 1984, it reintroduced soccer to the North American sports scene on a large scale, and was a major contributing factor in soccer becoming one of the most popular sports among American youth. Along with FIFA giving the US hosting duties in the 1994 WorldCup, the improving success of the US Men's and Womenís National Teams, and the implementation and growing success of UsefulNotes/MajorLeagueSoccer, soccer seems to be on the way to regaining its long-sought Major League status. However, with the ever crowded American sporting landscape from leagues that thrived in soccer's absence, not to mention the persistent stereotypes of the sport which came about during its "death"[[note]]In the modern era, soccer is seen by many Americans as either a "kiddie" or "girly" sport played by adolescents boys and teenage girls with pushy "soccer mom" parents, or one that is dominated by (chiefly Latin American) immigrants.[[/note]], it will take time before this can go on the PopularityPolynomial page.
* Old-fashioned artificial turf surfaces (most commonly AstroTurf) were often used in many stadiums opening during the [[TheSeventies 1970s]] (those often being nicknamed [[FanNickname cookie-cutter stadiums]]) in order to switch easily between baseball and football configurations. However, the surface being especially hard compared to natural grass (and [[TechnologyMarchesOn technological advances]] such as [=FieldTurf=] that are softer than Astroturf) led to the former's extinction by the TurnOfTheMillennium. The only current artificial fields in the major leagues exist solely in the AL East in Toronto and Tampa/St.Petersburg's domed venues. In 2016 the Blue Jays eradicated the final 'sliding pit' configuration in the majors for a full dirt infield, and in 2019 plans to put in an all-grass field when the football Argonauts move out.
* Multi-purpose stadiums (often nicknamed cookie cutter stadiums) became popular in the 1960s and 70s when cities wanted save money by building stadiums that both their baseball and football teams could use. Some stadiums were even renovated to be able to house both sports. However, the designs of these stadium resulted too much foul territory for the baseball fields, cramped sidelines for football, and poor seat sight lines for both sports. The trend fell out of favor by the mid-[[TheNineties 1990s]] starting with the opening of the Baltimore Orioles' baseball only Camden Yards stadium in 1992. As the 1990s and 2000s progressed, many of the multi-purpose stadia (most of which also used old-fashioned AstroTurf) were closed and demolished to be replaced with separate football and baseball stadiums instead of sharing a stadium. Currently, o.co Coliseum in Oakland and Rogers Centre in Toronto are the only stadiums left housing both a Major League Baseball (Oakland A's/Toronto Blue Jays) and professional football (Oakland Raiders/Toronto Argonauts) franchise.
* For decades the quintessential German sports stadium consisted of a racetrack for track and field and a soccer field. However, given the lack of track and field success of German athletes in international events and the general track and what? attitude of the general public outside Summer Olympics, track and field events are often relegated to secondary stadiums. Big stadiums are now almost always built without tracks, because soccer fans being closer to the action now trumps any incentive for potential secondary uses a track might offer. Compare and contrast Munich's Olympic Stadium built for the 1972 Olympics (which had a track) to the Allianz-Arena built for the 2006 soccer world cup (which doesn't)
* The entire sport of outdoor [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_handball Field Handball]]. In fact it is so obscure nowadays that some explanation might be in order. Back in the pre-war days in Europe, soccer was not the only sport that drew the masses. Apart from individual sports such as gymnastics, cycle racing or track and field (almost all of them also fallen into obscurity now), the most watched team sport was Handball. Now Americans might have some weird perception of Handball as involving a single player and a wall, but the sport meant by this is essentially soccer but with players throwing a ball around. Germany was hugely dominant in this sport and it was naturally a demonstration sport at the 1936 Olympics because ThoseWackyNazis hoped to get a propaganda boost from steamrolling other countries at it. However, Handball soon became popular in the Nordic countries and due to the short summers and long dark hours in winter, training was increasingly moved indoors. As indoor spaces were often limited, the rules were altered to make the goals as well as the field smaller and a much faster paced (and higher scoring) game developed. While Germany continued to award national championships in outdoor Field Handball until the 1970s, the international interest in the sport was decidedly dead even then and nowadays indoor Handball enjoys wide popularity in Europe (with exceptions mostly on the British isles), whereas even some Handball fans will stare at you questioningly if you ask about outdoor Field Handball. If you are curious about what the sport looked like [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NGmByqjY_o Here's a video]] (in German, naturally). And here is a (randomly selected) [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdrXfIKKKaY video]] of what the sport was ultimately replaced by. Kind of easy to understand how the latter came to replace the former.