Eagles DE Brandon Graham’s situation makes me think twice before using the word “bust”

Brandon Graham of the Eagles isn’t a bust … right?/AP

It’s easy to call someone a bust. You just look at a series of poor performances for a guy who was drafted highly, write that he’s a bust, and boom, he’s a bust. Even this week, Ravens WR Tommy Street was fighting through “bust” labels on, like, Day 2. Really?

That seems to be reality these days, but it kinda sucks. We heard the word again when Eagles DE Brandon Graham used it … to describe himself. Yup, himself.

And after reading this about him, it made me re-think how I use the term.

Graham was drafted 13th overall, a guy whose stock was soaring on draft day. I remember when I first met him as a prospect, Graham was bright-eyed and optimistic. And during the entire process, he remained that way. Doesn’t seem that way anymore, though.

His career was derailed quickly. A slow start as a rookie. A torn ACL and soon microfracture surgery. A late start to 2011 on the PUP list, and little production. And now … he’s a bust, according to himself and Eagles fans.

I understand why Graham is calling himself a bust. He’s trying to stay motivated. He’s trying to always be humble. It makes sense. Maybe that will help.

But it’s also kinda sad, too. Two injured-riddled seasons have led some to second-guess the fit of a guy who seemed like he was landing with the perfect team. But what could Graham have done? Not gotten injured? Not suffered an ailment that led to devastating microfracture surgery? Not done it during an offseason that already featured a lockout?

Maybe he wouldn’t have been a great player, anyway. Who knows? But there are so many factors at play that determine whether a player is a bust or not. Sometimes, there’s a bad fit in a scheme. Sometimes, a coaching change ruins things. Sometimes, injuries. Other times, off the field issues.

To me, the term bust should reserved for a highly thought-of guy who ends up being terrible for reasons that only have to do with himself, reasons only he can control. Vernon Gholston was a bust. JaMarcus Russell was a bust. Graham may not be successful, but in my mind, he won’t be a bust.

Not when a serious injury set him back two years and put him in a position to have to battle his way back. Not when a situation out of his control is the culprit. So, here’s what I’ll try to do:

I may use the term “bust” in the future. But, with respect to players like Graham, I’ll try to use it wisely. And only when it’s really warranted. And only for on-the-field reasons.

Graham may end up sucking. But, for instance, I won’t call him a bust.

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