The Herschell Walker trade will always remain the all-time GOAT NFL trade but I think this one deserves to be the all-time draft-day trade. Sadly, I think it’s been forgotten about because nobody won the Williams trade unlike the Walker trade. Washington got some good players out of it, but they didn’t stick around and nobody got any playoff success from it. But let’s take a moment to look back at the nonsense that led to this famous ESPN magazine cover which served as the inspiration for the comic above.

Most people these days know Ricky Williams as a relative bust who liked pot too much. He was a stud in college, a Heisman winner at Texas who looked like a true franchise RB, back when that was a thing. The Saints wanted him. They publicly announced they wanted him and would trade their draft to get him. Seems dumb to me, you don’t have much leverage if you just tell the world you are willing to give up everything. When he fell to slot #5, Washington’s pick, the Saints made the deal. The Saints got Ricky Williams, Washington got the Saints entire 1999 draft (1,,3,4,5,6,7th rounders) and two picks from the 2000 draft (1,3). It is an absurd trade. Even teams who have traded into the #1 slot have given up less than the Saints did for Ricky Williams. Even for an era where runningbacks could still be the main building block of a team, this was ridiculous. It’s not like the Saints were a good RB away from competing. They went 6-10 and were at best mediocre. It was a desperate move from a bad franchise trying to stir the pot on a sinking ship.

Ricky was mediocre for the Saints. He wasn’t bad, but for an entire draft’s worth of picks he wasn’t living up to it. After 3 years the new Saints regime got a bunch of draft capital back and traded him to Miami, where he had a single all-pro season and another decent season before retiring early due to getting busted for pot. Back when pot was evil. He’d return to the league eventually but the rest of his career was basically proto Josh Gordon when it came to violating league policies for drugs.

So what about the other side? Well, Washington had recently been acquired by a new owner. One of Dan Snyder’s earliest known problems as an owner was not valuing the draft at all and spending huge sums of money in flashy free-agent signings. Albert Haynesworth is the poster child for this trait, but his very first draft as the owner was the first sign of things to come.

The pre-Commanders sent most of that Saints haul (1,3,4,5, plus another 3rd) to the Bears so they could draft Champ Bailey. You might not think that’s too bad. It’s not! Champ Bailey is a hall of famer. For the Broncos. Champ was absolutely a good pick for Washington but Toxic Dan and the DC Scumbags weren’t a great fit and eventually he was traded to Denver for Clinton Portis. Clinton Portis was good, and he was also delightful, but he was no Champ Bailey. This was their best result from the trade, and he cost most of the picks involved. The Commies then sent the 6th and 7th rounders from the Saints to the Broncos for Derek Smith. Smith fell in the draft due to injury concerns and he never played a down for Washington. The two picks from the next year would become LaVar Arrington (good, but plagued by injury), and Llyod Harrison, who was nothing.

The Bears may have become the ultimate losers in the whole deal, as they used the re-gifted picks from Washington via New Orleans to select Cade McNown and some other dudes you likely haven’t heard of. Chicago and first-round trades: a match made in hell.

I guess I should make a comic on the Walker trade someday huh