Let’s be clear: nothing is forever. Sometimes it just feels like forever. Sometimes it feels like forever will never end.
That’s probably how fans of the teams below must feel. They say hope springs eternal at the beginning of every new season, no matter the year or the sport. Everyone starts undefeated, and everyone has a chance to shock the world.
Everyone except these teams.
Maybe one day, sooner rather than later, these teams will make us eat our words. Maybe in the very near future the battered fan bases of these franchises can finally pull their jerseys and hats out of the back of their closets and wear them in public without feeling shame and ridicule.
Their wishes will likely not be granted, though, as the teams listed below have dug themselves into holes so deep that the light is but a vague speck miles above the surface.
For the most part, a couple of savvy roster moves, some smart draft picks and proper player development over a few seasons following a bad year can at least get a team back into the postseason discussion. That has been far from the case with these franchises – in fact, they’ve generally been the exact opposite. It starts at the top in any business, and it applies just as much (if not more) in the sporting context.
If you’re a fan of one of these teams, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news. I salute you for your continued allegiance and loyalty, but I wouldn’t blame you if you decide to make an executive decision and cut your losses now, to avoid many more years of sadness.
15. Detroit Lions
This entry might come as a surprise to some of you. The Detroit Lions have been playoff contenders for the past few seasons, what are they doing on a list like this?
You know exactly why they are on this list. Because they’re the Lions, that’s why.
When the Lions are bad, they’re bad. Everyone remembers the winless season a few years back. That year helped start the “turning of the ship”, but some things never change – come playoff time, this team cannot be trusted. The worst of it? Even when they look like they might do some damage in the postseason, fate and bad luck gets in the way (see this year’s playoff shocker against the Cowboys). The 50th anniversary of the Lions not winning anything, ever, is fast approaching – there’s a good chance there will be a 60th year before there’s a Super Bowl parade.
14. Cincinnati Bengals
If there’s a team that is more frustrating than the Cincinnati Bengals, please direct me towards them. I can’t imagine what it must be like for a Bengals fan to gear up for a season knowing that barring any surprises, your team will either win the division or at least sneak in with a wild card berth, only to then sit down for a playoff game and know that somehow, someway, Andy Dalton is going to screw it up. Based on what we’ve seen thus far, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe that the Red Rifle is anything more than a Ferrari you rent for 16 weeks, which then gets replaced by a beat up 1994 Civic the day before a street race.
13. Toronto FC
Now we can get into the teams that generally suck all around. Major League Soccer hasn’t reached the level of popularity the other major North American sports enjoy, but those who follow soccer know about Toronto FC’s many woes. Even when they add a superstar like Jermain Defoe (last year) or Jozy Altidore (this year), they find a way to be brutal. In a relatively young league, they own the longest playoff drought in the league – currently standing firm at eight seasons, and looking like that number will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.
12. Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres ended up finishing second in the 2015 NHL draft lottery, so they won’t have a generational talent in Connor McDavid to get them off this list (though Jack Eichel is far from a talentless bum). The future of the franchise isn’t exactly bright, as the talent level on the team is exceptionally low. McDavid would’ve changed that instantly, but even with him the Sabres would be nothing more than a bad team with a really good young player, and that wouldn’t get them very far anytime soon.
11. San Jose Sharks
In the same vein as the aforementioned Lions and Bengals, the San Jose Sharks are the good team that, for reasons no one will truly be able to understand, cannot get it done come playoff time. Last season’s playoff meltdown, combined with this season’s pitiful 12th place finish, are clear-cut signs of a messy situation in the Shark Tank. Despite the abundance of talent of their roster, the Sharks seemingly forget how to play hockey as soon as spring rolls around – and now they’re not even giving themselves the chance to choke in the postseason.
10. Sacramento Kings
Here’s something you probably didn’t know: the Sacremento Kings haven’t won a championship since 1951. That’s a whopping 64 years, and that number figures to rise over the next couple of seasons. Between the distraction of playing through a messy ownership situation, rumors of relocation and a generally mediocre roster outside of DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings have given no one reason to believe that they are anywhere close to turning things around and breaking their six-decade long curse.
9. Chicago Cubs
One hundred and six years.
ONE HUNDRED. AND. SIX. YEARS.
Sorry Cubs fans – go re-tape your broken hearts together…I can wait. We’ve all waited this long, right?
If any professional sports franchise is cursed, it’s this one. From overall bad teams to the wicked Steve Bartman, the Cubbies can’t catch a break. They look solid on paper going into this season, so we’ll see if they can finally turn their luck around, but they land on this list based on history alone – and deservedly so.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves
Those of you familiar with the YouTube machine the kids are using these days might have come across a chuckle-worthy video posted by Minnesota Timberwolves fans who decided against burning their Kevin Love jerseys (a la Cleveland) and instead thanking their longtime star for his services. The Wolves have a great young piece in Andrew Wiggins, but he can’t do it all by himself – it’s going to take awhile for that team to become a threat.
The problem is this: the NBA, more than ever before, has become a “top-heavy” league, insomuch that players are flocking to big cities to form super teams that will dominate for a few seasons until the next wave of stars does the same somewhere else.
With that in mind, does anyone really think Minnesota has the “sex appeal” to names like (or similar to) LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and James Harden? Barring the NBA’s next three superstars coming out of the North Star State, it’s likely that the Wolves will be getting by with whatever they can cobble around Wiggins – and who’s to say he doesn’t bolt the second he gets a chance to?
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
Gus Bradley has seemingly brought some sort of stability to the horrendous Jacksonville Jaguars, but until they translate what they have on paper into real results, they’ll remain a lock on this list. The Chad Henne/Blaine Gabbert experiment not only didn’t work, it should have never happened, and the Jags better hope that Blake Bortles is the real deal or they’ll remain on this list forever – literally. The Jags spent a lot of money in free agency this summer, but it remains to be seen if the names they brought in can turn around this “doormat” franchise that its opponents have used to wipe their shoes on for years.
6. Miami Marlins
The Miami Marlins are a peculiar case, because the problems aren’t necessarily related to talent or star power. Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez are studs, and are two core pieces any team would be lucky to build around.
No, the problem here begins and ends with owner Jeffrey Loria. He destroyed one franchise in Montreal, and looked to be on the verge of doing the same thing when he got rid of Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle. The Marlins look to be back on track for now, having dolled out the big bucks to keep Stanton on board, but as long as Loria is around there is always legitimate reason to worry about a full-blow fire-sale that would leave the Marlins with the ball-boys as the middle of their lineup.
5. New York Knicks
The fall of the New York Knickerbockers has almost been saddening – except for the fact that it’s pretty funny if you’re a fan of any of their rivals (except the Lakers, you guys suck too).
A team that was once a star-studded title contender is now a shell of it’s former self, loosely held together by a worn-down, aging Carmelo Anthony and a half-interested Phil Jackson, who is collecting cheques from much-maligned owner James Dolan to say things like “s**t happens” to sum up the Knicks struggles.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs
Where do we start with the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Let’s ignore the past and spare our Toronto friends more pain – let’s just focus on why this team is going nowhere fast. There is seemingly no one out there able to handle and understand how to operate this team under the intense Toronto spotlight, which has often resulted in haphazard decisions, questionable roster and personnel moves, and generally horrible management of what should be one of the proudest organizations in the league.
Brendan Shanahan cleaned house last week, so we will see in time if he can finally get this train back on the rails, but even if that does happen, it’s hard to believe it will happen anytime soon.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers are…bad. So, so bad.
Sure, they have Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel around, and should be able to snag another top talent this summer at the draft. However, both those guys can be considered “somewhat” damaged goods, and haven’t proven anything yet. The Sixers are a far away from the Allen Iverson glory days, and don’t look to be anywhere close to being able to set lofty goals – let’s see if they can get over 20 wins, for a change, before we start getting too far ahead of ourselves.
2. Cleveland Browns
If someone really wanted to, they could write an entire article on what is wrong with this franchise – in fact, I’m sure someone has. In the past two years alone, the Browns have managed to spend a first-round pick on a quarterback who might never play another meaningful down of football (let alone meet the ridiculous expectations placed upon him), let go of a seemingly half-decent option (Brian Hoyer) for nothing, change their logo from one shade of brown to…another shade of brown, and finally have the man in charge of their roster suspended for illegal texting.
You can’t write this stuff. The Browns are just gonna be the Browns, simple as that.
1. Edmonton Oilers
If your team is “lucky” enough to have three first overall picks in the span of four seasons, you better be hitting home runs on every single pick and becoming a powerhouse within a year, max two. That hasn’t been the case in Edmonton; even with incredible young talents Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers have somehow gotten worse over the past few years.
The biggest reason the Oilers have the top spot (which they’re used to) on this list is because they refuse to open their eyes and realize that their problems are in the press box, and not on the ice. Owner Daryl Katz is clearly a big fan of the little boys club he’s assembled in Edmonton, as Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe are inexplicably not only still employed, but still in charge of hockey operations.
Until Katz and the Oilers do what Shanahan did in Toronto (completely clean house), this team is going to continue to find itself in the basement of the NHL.
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