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Thursday, March 28, 2002
Updated: April 2, 4:14 PM ET
Readers' List: Worst choke artists

Page 2 staff

After Page 2 ranked its 10 worst choke artists in recent sports history, we asked you to submit your suggestions. Our readers came through with more than 3,200 e-mails about those who most need the Heimlich.

Check out the readers' list below and then vote in the poll at right to crown the biggest choke artist of all-time.

1. Buffalo Bills (601 letters)
How could you neglect to mention the early 1990s Buffalo Bills? The same team that staged the largest comeback in NFL history went on to lose 52-17 to the Cowboys in that year's Super Bowl. That same scenario would be repeated the following year, giving the Bills the embarrassing distinction of being the only team to ever lose four consecutive Super Bowls.

If you are looking for choke artists, the Bills are your Mama Cass.
Davin Wilfrid
Boston

They found a new way to lose the Super Bowl, lose close (thanks, Scott Norwood), lose your helmet (thanks Thurman Thomas), and lose your dignity to the soulless Cowboys two years in a row.

In the '93 Super Bowl, the Bills managed to make the Michael Jackson halftime show seem good (well, at least tolerable.)
Timothy Edington
Monterey, Calif.

What the hell is a Bill anyway? They should change that miserable franchise's name to the Buffalo Buffalo and follow that change with a quick extinction and save NYers from all the shame they've brought to our great state.
Albert Yee
White Plains, N.Y.

From the astute poet Ice Cube:

"Cos I'm the one with the fat mad skills
And I won't choke like the Buffalo Bills"
Robb Cuccia
Austin, Texas

2. Jason Williams (182 letters)
My new favorite is Jason Williams. How awesome was it to see a player, who had basically been hailed as the Jesus Christ of college basketball, look like he was going to pull off the impossible, and then out comes his old Achilles' heel?

For all his hype, Williams had very subpar games against Notre Dame and Indiana. Where was the best player in the game when it was time to step it up on the biggest stage? Choking on those charity shots, that's where.
Matt Rampey
Anderson, Ind.

He sure didn't look like a Naismith Award winner missing crucial free throws at the end of three games Duke should have won this year. He probably would have been better served to try and swallow the basketball rather than shoot it ... oh wait, he did choke on it, didn't he?
John
Boston

While he may be the best player in college basketball right now, he can't hit a free throw when it counts. That is the pure definition of choking.

Anyone can show some skills when there is no pressure. Handling the pressure is what separates champs and chumps.
Radcliffe Peterson
Owensboro, Ky.

3. Phil Mickelson (164 letters)
Easily Phil Mickelson. Not only is he the biggest choke artist, he's also the stupidest player in the history of the PGA Tour.

At least when Greg Norman goes down in flames, he does it trying to do the right thing. Mickelson chokes because he spends his entire time on the golf course trying to show the world that you can win by hitting a 320-yard drive and an 80-yard pitch shot on a 400-yard par-4 dogleg right.

I've gotten to the point now that I watch him play hoping to see another train wreck.
Patrick Dare
Baltimore

Not only has he choked away some majors, the choking now seems to be trickling down to the other tournaments. He is in danger of losing the title "best golfer never to have won a major."
Bill Eiden
Blaine, Minn.

4. Boston Red Sox (143 letters)
Because they invented the art of choking and continue to create new and intriguing ways to choke almost every year, including firing their manager at midseason, when he's got a winning record. Add in Buckner, Bucky and Mike, Game 7 of the '75 Series ...
Randy Samuelson
Austin

After having my heart broken year after year by my favorite sports franchise, I have to pick the Red Sox as the biggest choke artists.

It could be bottom of the ninth with three outs, the Sox up by a run with Pedro Martinez on the mound and my grandmother at bat, and I am still thinking they will find a way to blow it. This is the year though ... sigh.
Pete Brown
Wilton, Maine

5. Minnesota Vikings (127 letters)
Although it's easy to point the finger at individuals such as Greg Norman or Bill Buckner, true choking is done on a grander scale when looking at teams, specifically, the Minnesota Vikings.

Not only for their lack of preparation and effort in the 2001 NFC championship versus the Giants, but more so for their taking a knee in the 1999 NFC championship game versus an inferior Falcons squad. The most prolific scoring team of all-time in the NFL and you take a knee with 38 seconds to move the ball? Whether taking a knee or choking with both hands firmly around neck, the Minnesota Vikings are the leaders in the team choking category.
Tom Ryan
Lakeville, Minn.

Because they have always been a top-quality team, but they fail miserably whenever they get the chance to take the gold ... I'd bet big on these guys to win games, all season long, right up to the final game of the year, whereupon I'd wager all of my total winnings that they would choke, as usual.

Maybe they should get Gov. Ventura to lay some smack down because these guys are a complete embarrassment to the great state of Minnesota.
Tarl Fury
Seattle

6. 2000 Portland Trail Blazers (113 letters)
As a die-hard fan, I hate to say it, but the worst and most underrated choke artists of all-time are the 2000 Portland Trail Blazers for their infamous fourth quarter bout with hypochondria during Game 7 of the Western Conference finals against the Lakers.

It was bad enough that Blazer fans had to watch Kobe gloat every time he ran down the court like a little boy. Or the fact the Blazers' defensive efforts were about as successful as Shaq's acting career. But the most painful part of all was that when going into the fourth quarter with a sizable lead; every Blazers fan who I know had that feeling that the Lakers were going to be the team that would walk off the court victorious that day.

Maybe this year will be different ... oh wait, they just blew a 25-point lead against the Grizzlies.
Phil Batley
Seattle

7. Scott Norwood (106 letters)
Losers come and go, but his wide right will live forever as the biggest miss in Super Bowl history.
Michael Vails
San Antonio

8. Atlanta Braves (88 letters)
People labeled Atlanta the "Team of the '90s" because it dominated its division, winning nine titles from 1991-2000 and going to five World Series. Yet they can only win one World Series.

Usually, October means choking on Halloween candy, not choking on the ballfield.
Steve Davis
Marietta, Ga.

9. Greg Norman (62 letters)
What do Larry Nelson, Andy North, Fuzzy Zoeller, Jose Maria Olazabal and Ben Crenshaw have in common?

They each have won as many majors as Greg Norman, and their total combined wealth is 1/10 of the Shark's.
Gary Popovich
Glen Allen, Va.

To borrow a phrase from Bill Simmons: There's comedy, there's high comedy and then there's watching Greg Norman go into the final day at a major with the lead. If I had to pick one guy who I would not pick to golf a round when my life depended on it, it would be Norman.
Matt Geiszler
San Diego

10. Jean Van de Velde (58 letters)
Easily the biggest choke on a world stage.

He could have kicked the golf ball down the fairway and still won. Instead he compounds terrible shots with even greater mental blunders. Clearly a case where the stage was bigger than the man.
Troy Kurth
St. Louis Park, Minn.

Dishonorable mention
  • North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball
  • Barry Bonds
  • Michelle Kwan
  • Jana Novotna
  • Chris Webber
  • 1964 Philadelphia Phillies
  • Anaheim-California Angels
  • Karl Malone
  • Mack Brown
  • Bobby Knight