Usually, we reserve this feature for players a bit more obscure than the likes of J.J. Stokes, but Stokes is a special case.
Using the 10th pick in the 1995 draft, the 49ers drafted the UCLA wideout with high expectations. Stokes’ 6-4, 225 frame dominated Pac-10; with Steve Young throwing to him, he was expected to be the heir apparent to Jerry Rice. Well, in his eight years as a Niner, Stokes pouted his way to dozens of dropped balls, while another young wide receiver by the name of Terrell Owens worked his way into the starting lineup alongside Rice. As TO gained a reputation as one of the best young wideouts in the game, Stokes became best known for getting spit on.
After the 2002 season, the 49ers released Stokes, which we vaguely remember. What we don’t remember is what happened next. Stokes fell off the face of the earth. Apparently, he signed with the team from “Jacksonville.” After spending the first half of the 2003 season with the Jags, he was signed by New England for the stretch run. He was released soon thereafter.
His Wikipedia entry reads as follows: “Although he is not retired, Stokes last played in the NFL in December 2003.” Prior to the 2006 season, he announced his desire to play in the NFL again. Got that? He’s not retired yet. He just hasn’t played for three years. Any takers?
J.J. Stokes [Wikipedia]