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10 Who Tasted Greatness (and Choked on It)

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10 Who Tasted Greatness (and Choked on It)

Old 02-03-08, 03:59 PM
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10 Who Tasted Greatness (and Choked on It)

February 1, 2008, 3:46 PM

10 Who Tasted Greatness (and Choked on It)
As the New England Patriots approach perfection, we look back at ten who just missed out on immortality.

By Sean Cunningham

If New England wins the Super Bowl, they complete football’s longest undefeated season, earn their fourth title in seven years, and ensure they will be remembered until the sun implodes or soccer catches on in America, whichever comes first. Incidentally, this is Patriots' receiver Randy Moss’ second brush with eternal fame. In 1998, the then-rookie keyed the Minnesota Vikings’ unprecedented offensive explosion as they surged to a 16-1 record... only to have his team lose in overtime to the Atlanta Falcons and sink into a morass of sex party boat rides and ticket-scalping coach scandals. In honor of Randy’s shot at redemption, count down the people who nearly reached the Heavens only to have hubris or plain bad luck trigger an unexpected return to the muck.



#10. Thomas E. Dewey
The Almost President

If only people had focused on that “Dewey Defeats Truman” Chicago Daily Tribune headline and ignored the actual election returns. Damn near the most powerful man in the Free World, this Republican instead has to settle for being, as wikipedia helpfully notes, “the last presidential candidate to wear permanent facial hair, in his case a mustache.” (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)



#9. Burt Reynolds
The Second Act That Wasn't

Speaking of mustaches, Burt’s career was always a mix of great performances in classic films (Deliverance) and drek like Cop and a Half. With his first Academy Award nomination for 1997’s Boogie Nights, however, he seemed to have turned away from the dark side and stood on the verge of entering a golden age professionally. Then he lost the Oscar. In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale and Universal Soldier III: Unfinished Business were soon to follow. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage.com)



#8. The Pretty Things
Missed the British Wave

You’d think if your band could be best described as, “A bit like the Stones, only better,” you’d manage to sell some records. Not the Pretty Things. During the British Invasion, this blues-based Brit band, despite having U.K. hit singles and rock’s first concept album, somehow failed to reach (much less storm) American shores and as a consequence, instead of being universally celebrated gods of rock, are something for music snobs to invoke when they tire of Pere Ubu. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage.com)



#7. The Golden Palace
A Spin-Off That Spun-Out

The spin-off of The Golden Girls -- you know, the only show old folk love more than Matlock -- with three of the original girls operating a upscale hotel (plus gal #4 Bea Arthur making cameos!), a pre-Hotel Rwanda Don Cheadle as the hotel manager, and Cheech Marin playing “Chef Chuy Castillo.” Why it only ran a single season remains a mystery.



#6. Masanori “Mash” Murakami
The Japanese Jackie Robinson

What if Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier, then no one decided to follow him for three decades? That’s what happened to Murakami. The first Japanese-born player ever to play in the majors, he enjoyed a solid two-year stint with the San Francisco Giants in 1964-65 before heading home. It was three decades until another Japanese player made the bigs, when Hideo Nomo became the second Japanese-born major leaguer in 1995 and, after his Rookie of the Year season, was soon joined by Ichiro and an exciting array of Matsuis. It’s great to be a trailblazer (unless no one uses your path).



#5. General Horatio Gates
Not America's First President

He very nearly became the Father of Our Country -- the incompetent, backstabbing, utterly cowardly Father of Our Country. One of those rare military leaders who call in sick before a major battle (really), he was determined to become the commander of the Continental army and almost made it happen. Gates scored a major victory at the Battle of Saratoga, largely because of the heroism of Benedict Arnold, whom Gates successfully denied any credit for the triumph (luckily, Arnold wasn’t one to hold a grudge and give secrets to the British or anything...oh yeah). His quest ended when, fighting without the aid of Arnold, his troops were butchered at the Battle of Camden, forcing America to stick with that Washington guy. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)



#4. George Raft
Humphrey Bogarted His Glory

High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon, and Casablanca. At one point a massive box office draw, Raft managed to pass on or otherwise prevent himself from starring in all three films, in the process letting Humphrey Bogart become first a star, then a legend, and finally the legend in less than two years while Raft’s career went in the toilet. Bizarrely, his final film before he died of leukemia was called The Man with Bogart’s Face. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)



#3. Gustave Whitehead
First to Fly?

Supporters claim he achieved the first sustained heavier-than-air manned flight on August 14, 1901, two years before the Wright Brother’s December 17, 1903 feat. While many dismiss him, he has the support of the only man who matters: Uncle Ben from 2002's Spider-Man. Yes, aviation fan and actor Cliff Robertson went so far as to rebuild Whitehead’s craft and found it briefly took flight, declaring: “We'll never take away the rightful role of the Wright Brothers, but if this poor little German immigrant did indeed get an airplane to go up and fly one day, then let's give him the recognition he deserves.” Since taking down the Wright Flyer would be a major pain for the Smithsonian, however, look for Wilbur and Orville to remain First in Flight.



#2. Eulace Peacock
Faster Than Jesse Owens

This track star beat Jesse Owens a majority of the times he raced him in the 100-yard-dash and also at the long jump for good measure. So why don’t you know his name? He pulled a thigh muscle right before the 1936 Olympics, denying him the chance to smack down the master race (or even compete in an Olympic event, since they weren’t held again until 1948, by which point he had retired), proving stretching really is as important as your gym teacher claimed.



#1. Steven Hill
Could Have Been Brando

Martin Landau once said, “When I first became an actor, there were two young actors in New York: Marlon Brando and Steven Hill. A lot of people said that Steven would have been the one, not Marlon. He was legendary. Nuts, volatile, mad, and his work was exciting.” One of these men went on to revolutionize acting and win two Oscars. What happened to Hill? Orthodox Judaism! Deciding he needed to devote himself to his faith, he chose to honor the Sabbath by not working from sunset on Friday to sunset Saturday (believe it or not, some producers felt this could be inconvenient for a production). He finally achieved a taste of success playing D.A. Adam Schiff on Law & Order only to have his happy days of bantering with A.D.A. McCoy come to an end when he was replaced by Nora Lewin (screw you, Dianne Wiest!). That said, he was awesome in Yentl. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage.com)
Old 02-04-08, 10:22 AM
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I guess we can add the Patriots to the list.
Old 02-04-08, 10:29 AM
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Is that George Bluthe at #8?
Old 02-04-08, 10:32 AM
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The Small Faces were ten times the band that the Pretty Things were, and, besides "Itchycoo Park" they had no hits in the US.
Old 02-04-08, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Mrs. Danger
I guess we can add the Patriots to the list.
We'll have to watch. For all we know, they could go 19-0 next year. Alternatively, they could go 8-8 and be the biggest flop in the history of sports.
Old 02-04-08, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by John Galt
Is that George Bluthe at #8?
I'm Oscar! (dot com)
Old 02-04-08, 12:52 PM
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This thread depresses me.
Old 02-04-08, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by wendersfan
The Small Faces were ten times the band that the Pretty Things were, and, besides "Itchycoo Park" they had no hits in the US.
Rod Stewart was basically completely awesome until "Never a Dull Moment" and then became nothing but complete crap.

My nominations:
Nikola Tesla: the guy basically invented the modern world and ended up dying completely broke.

Two from watching "Triumph of the Nerds":

Seattle Computer Products/Tim Paterson - Microsoft buys his OS for $50K and goes on to create the biggest pile of cash the world has ever seen. Actually, he ripped it off from Digital Research's CP/M, so the argument could be made that Gary Kildahl/ Digital Research blew the biggest deal in business history when they refused to sign IBM's NDA.

Xerox- invented a windowing-gui-based, mouse-interfaced, ethernet-linked, object-oriented programming-based computer system in 1975 and then never even released the damned thing or any aspect of their work. They had basically every top computer scientist in the world working for them at PARC at the most pivotal point in PC history and never lifted a finger to capitalize. Even worse, in a move of almost unfathomable bone-headedness, the execs forced PARC to demonstrate everything to Steve Jobs and his band of theives. The rest is history.

Last edited by Hiro11; 02-04-08 at 01:38 PM.
Old 02-04-08, 02:43 PM
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#11 - The '07-'08 New England Patriots
Old 02-04-08, 02:50 PM
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Kate Hudson -- when Almost Famous came out she was the big "it" girl. Today, her "career" consists of costarring with Matthew McConaughey in romantic comedies.
Old 02-04-08, 02:57 PM
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Mallory Speakman -- my gf in 10th grade
Old 02-04-08, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by dork
Mallory Speakman -- my gf in 10th grade
Are we really supposed to believe that you went to high school?
Old 02-04-08, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
Are we really supposed to believe that you went to high school?
His girlfriend is in tenth grade. He's made no claims about his own educational status (or lack thereof).
Old 02-04-08, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by dork
Mallory Speakman -- my gf in 10th grade
not so much speaking going on then...
Old 02-04-08, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
Rod Stewart was basically completely awesome until "Never a Dull Moment" and then became nothing but complete crap.

My nominations:
Nikola Tesla: the guy basically invented the modern world and ended up dying completely broke.
Word
Old 02-04-08, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by dork
Mallory Speakman -- my gf in 10th grade


Is it wrong to tell you that I love you?
Old 02-04-08, 04:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
His girlfriend is in tenth grade. He's made no claims about his own educational status (or lack thereof).
Actually, I took it to mean that Mallory is his current girlfriend, and currently in 10th grade.

Which would explain her purpose in this thread (pre-dork = greatness, caving into dorks's advances (and ability to buy cigarettes) = horribleness).
Old 02-04-08, 04:54 PM
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Please, people. You don't deconstruct a dork joke. Or a dork joke.
Old 02-04-08, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Numanoid
Is it wrong to tell you that I love you?
You had your chance, Mallory!
Old 02-04-08, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by matta
Which would explain her purpose in this thread (pre-dork = greatness, caving into dorks's advances (and ability to buy cigarettes) = horribleness).
I find that hard to swallow. I would argue that most 10th graders (Hannah Montana withstanding) have potential greatness. Which means I'm afraid that Ms. Speakman doesn't really apply to the original thesis.
Old 02-04-08, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Groucho
I find that hard to swallow. I would argue that most 10th graders (Hannah Montana withstanding) have potential greatness. Which means I'm afraid that Ms. Speakman doesn't really apply to the original thesis.
Old 02-04-08, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by dork
Mallory Speakman -- my gf in 10th grade

yeah, but she went on to date:
Old 02-05-08, 10:38 AM
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Burt Reynolds IS great. List invalidated!
Old 02-05-08, 10:39 AM
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Who?
Old 02-05-08, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by John Galt
Is that George Bluthe at #8?
No, that's Neil Young.

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