Speaking of Kevin VanDam, in the first eight years of the Bassmaster Elite Series, he missed the first cut (top 50 or so; it's varied depending upon field size) four times — once in 2007, once in 2008 and twice in 2010. That's 73 tournaments and 69 checks (95 percent!). During that stretch, his worst finish was 59th. It was an amazing run — almost certainly the greatest in professional bass fishing history, by the man who is the greatest professional bass angler of all time.
But in 2014, things have changed and VanDam is struggling. In eight events he missed the first cut four times — the same total as for all of 2006-2013 — and has posted the worst four finishes of his Elite career — 70th at the St. Johns and Cayuga, 71st at Dardanelle and 97th at the Delaware River. He will also finish with his worst-ever AOY ranking (somewhere around 53rd — the dust hasn't settled yet and he could move up or down). Before this year, his worst finish was 26th.
Are his best days behind him? Of course they are. To say they aren't would mean that he has seven more AOY titles ahead along with four more Bassmaster Classic wins. No rational person believes that.
Does he have another AOY or Classic victory in him? I wouldn't bet against it. Remember, he's the BOAT, and he still has plenty left in the tank. He's almost certainly going to win more B.A.S.S. events before he hangs it up.