Five One-Hit Wonders in NFL History

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 18: Peyton Hillis #40 of the Cleveland Browns carries the ball against Jerraud Powers #25 of the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 18, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Some players in the NFL fail to find success during their playing careers. Some players, however, can put together an impressive season before returning to their normal level of play. These players can be considered one-hit wonders. These players fade from the public eye as quickly as they entered it in most cases. Some gain high expectations that they fail to meet in their future seasons. Others are put into unfortunate situations following their breakout season. Regardless of the reasoning for their decline, these players fail to live up to the season that gave them their fame and they go down in history as one-hit wonders. With these player’s impressive seasons in mind, here are five one-hit wonders in NFL history.

Five One-Hit Wonders In NFL History

1. Peyton Hillis, Running Back, 2010

Peyton Hillis is an incredible story of a player who rose to fame at a rapid pace before fading away at that same pace. Hillis is a former seventh-round pick and spent two seasons in Denver getting minimal snaps. He was traded by the Denver Broncos to the Cleveland Browns for Brady Quinn prior to the 2010 NFL season and it ended up being the best thing that could have happened for Hillis. Hillis became the starter in week three due to a few injuries and quickly made it known he would not be giving up the spot. He rushed for over 100 yards in his first two games against division rivals Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals. Hillis would continue his campaign of dominance for the remainder of the season.

He finished the season with over 1,600 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns. Hillis became the cover athlete for EA Sports’ Madden football game for 2011 but would not reach this level of success again in his career. Injuries and contract issues derailed his 2011 season in Cleveland and ended his tenure in Cleveland at the conclusion of the season. Hillis signed with the Kansas City Chiefs on a 1-year, $3 million deal to compliment Jamaal Charles. Hillis would never eclipse 350 yards rushing again and his final season in the NFL came in 2014 at the age of 28.

2. Trent Richardson, Running Back, 2012

Trent Richardson is another running back who had a great season in Cleveland before his career took a turn for the worse. Richardson attended Alabama in college and his final season with the Crimson Tide was exceptional. Richardson rushed for 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns and had over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Richardson’s incredible season made him the third-overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft for Cleveland. Richardson had high expectations in Cleveland as a high draft pick and lived up to them in his rookie season. He had 1,317 yards from scrimmage and 13 total touchdowns.

He had a ton of momentum heading into the 2013 season. However, after just two games, Cleveland traded Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts for their 2014 first-round pick. The Colts made a big investment in Richardson with this trade hoping he could turn around their offense. Cleveland’s new coaching staff felt Richardson didn’t fit their plans well and decided to re-invest the first-round pick into a new one. Richardson had two lackluster seasons with the Colts before exiting the NFL at just 24-years-old.

3. Ickey Woods, Running Back, 1988

Woods is another running back to play in the AFC North, but this time for the Cincinnati Bengals. Woods entered the NFL in 1988 as a second-round pick for the Bengals. He would start the season as a situational player but would eventually become the starter for the Bengals. Woods rushed for 1,066 yards and 15 touchdowns in his rookie season and helped the Bengals reach the super bowl. He averaged 100-yards and a touchdown in the playoffs. Woods had 79 yards in the Bengals’ super bowl loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Following this season, Woods would play three more seasons with the Bengals and never rushed for more than 270 yards in a season. Following the end of his contract with the Bengals, Woods was released and did not play for another NFL franchise. His short career ended at the age of 25, just four years after his great rookie season that saw Woods starting in a super bowl.

4. Don Majkowski, Quarterback, 1989

Majkowski began his career as a backup for the Green Bay Packers after being drafted in the tenth round of the 1987 NFL draft. Majkowski assumed the starting job in Green Bay in his third season with the Packers. In that season, Majkowski dominated in Green Bay. He threw for 4,318 yards, which led the league, and 27 touchdowns. He led the Packers to a 10-win record and playoff-birth that season. Majkowski would be named to the pro bowl that season as well. Following his incredible 1989 season, Majkowski would play three more seasons with the Packers.

Unfortunately, injuries and benching derailed Majkowski’s career and he never threw for more than 2,000 yards again. After losing the starting job for good to Brett Favre in 1992, Majkowski finished his career as a backup for multiple NFL teams. His career ended at the age of 32 and despite having a ten-year career in the NFL, Majkowski only had 1 good season as a starting quarterback.

5. Chris Borland, Linebacker, 2014

Chris Borland is a unique one-hit wonder in the NFL. Borland dominated in college for Wisconsin. Borland recorded over 100 tackles in three straight seasons with Wisconsin including a 143-tackle season with 19 tackles for loss. He was drafted in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Borland made an immediate impact for the 49ers with 108 tackles in his rookie season. Borland established himself as one of the 49ers top defenders and looked to have a bright future ahead.

However, Borland unexpectedly retired following his rookie season due to concerns he had regarding his long-term health. Borland is one of the few players to choose his health over the game of football and he hasn’t been the last. Recently, Andrew Luck retired unexpectedly due to concerns about his health. While Borland’s single-season is due to his own decisions and less about his play on the field, Borland is still an NFL one-hit-wonder.

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