For those people that are fans of teams like the San Francisco Giants who get to see multiple titles in a short time period while in a beautiful stadium, life seems pretty easy. Also, teams that seem to just keep making the playoffs like the Patriots and Packers have been spoiling fans for over a decade now.
For those of us that don’t root for teams like that, life can be quite difficult. Between inept ownership, title droughts (and even playoff droughts), crappy stadiums and no sense of direction, being a fan of certain teams can be exhausting. There are certain teams out there that are so hard to follow that you just want to curl up and hide in a cave when you see other people celebrating yet another championship.
Out of those types of franchises, which are the hardest to follow? Fans of teams on this list have become so accustomed to pain that they don’t want to hear anyone complain about how they have gone a couple of years without a championship. Seriously, if it’s been five years since your last title, just don’t say anything to these teams’ fans. Here are the 20 hardest franchises to follow.
20. Chicago Cubs
Even though the Cubs have reached the National League Championship Series, following the Cubs has been hard to do for….oh, more than a century. Until the Ricketts family hired Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon, it looked like the Cubs were going to be perennial losers that just kept adding more and more advertisements to Wrigley Field. Things are definitely looking up, and 2015 alone has dropped the Cubs from close to the top of the list to barely even on it. If they can win the World Series, the Cubs won’t be on this list anymore.
19. Arizona Cardinals
The Cubs have the longest drought without a championship at a whopping 107 years, and next on that list is the Arizona Cardinals, who have now gone 68 years without a title. The Cardinals are the oldest team still in the NFL, moving from Chicago to St. Louis and now Arizona. Just like the Cubs, things are looking up, but a long string of failure has made the Cardinals a hard team to follow, especially in an area filled with transients that are already rooting for other teams. The Bidwill family hasn’t done much right, but at least they now have a nice stadium and a good head coach in Bruce Arians. It only took them a few decades to turn things around.
18. Sacramento Kings
You have to go all the way back to 1951 when the Sacramento Kings were the Rochester Royals to find the franchise’s last championship. Just to make things worse, the last decade for Kings basketball fans has been an absolute nightmare. Not only did the team flirt with moving away to a city like Las Vegas, but they haven’t reached the playoffs since the 2005-06 season. Throw in the fact that their best player, Demarcus Cousins, might not even want to be there, things are just a mess for poor Kings fans right now, and have been for quite some time.
17. St. Louis Rams
The St. Louis Rams have one of the longest current playoff droughts in all of sports, going for 11 years without reaching the NFL’s postseason. The Rams were a lot of fun to watch when Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt were leading the way, but things have changed big time. Now, the Rams are one of the laughing stocks in the NFL despite having a decent roster, play in one of the worst stadiums in all of American sports and have an owner (Stan Kroenke) that seems hell bent on moving the team back to Los Angeles.
16. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves have a lot of potential on their roster right now, but it might take a few years until they are relevant in the competitive Western Conference. The Timberwolves have only been around since 1989, but only have one division title to their name and almost no history of playoff success to speak of. Not only that, but the Timberwolves have the longest active streak of not making the playoffs, going for 11 years now. In a league where more than half of the teams make the playoffs, how can you go that long without making it? Not only that, but the fans had to deal with rumors of moving the team on a few occasions.
15. Calgary Flames
Moving from Atlanta to Calgary in 1980, the Flames haven’t had a lot of success in their 43 year history. In all of those seasons, the Flames have won just a single Stanley Cup, and have reached the finals three times. Now, it doesn’t look like the Flames are even close to getting back as they are going through a massive rebuilding that will likely see them at the bottom of the standings for a few seasons. The Flames also play in one of the oldest arenas in the NHL, the Scotiabank Saddledome, and they could really use a new one.
14. Miami Marlins
Now that the Blue Jays have made the MLB Playoffs, the second longest drought without making it currently belongs to the Miami Marlins. Despite winning the World Series in both 1997 and 2003, the fans have had to witness a massive fire sale after each one of those titles, and they haven’t been back to the postseason since their most recent championship. The Marlins are also subject to one of the worst owners in sports, Jeffrey Loria. Loria was able to convince the city to build him a brand new stadium despite having one of the most measly payrolls in baseball, showing almost no commitment to putting a decent team on the field.
13. Buffalo Bills
Unlike the Marlins, the Bills seem to have an owner that cares about winning in the form of Terry Pegula. Despite currently fielding a roster that seems like it will be competitive for years to come, the Bills still have to compete in the same division as the New England Patriots, and that just doesn’t seem fair. The Bills have now gone 16 years without reaching the postseason, and they don’t have a Super Bowl title to their name despite going to four consecutive championships. While Bills fans like Ralph Wilson Stadium for the most part, it’s more than 40 years old and might be time to hang it up.
12. Detroit Lions
A long, long time ago, the Detroit Lions were one of the model franchises in professional football, basically dominating the 1950’s. Since then, the Lions have been one of the most putrid franchises in all of sports, going 58 years since winning a championship. The Lions have not been to a Super Bowl, and have only reached the NFC Championship once before being dominated. The Ford family has not done a good job of managing the Lions on the field, either, especially when they hired Matt Millen. At least Ford Field is a pretty nice stadium and should hold up for a while.
11. Philadelphia 76ers
We all thought that the 76ers were geniuses when General Manager Sam Hinkie started his plan on rebuilding through putting the worst team possible together and racking up high draft picks. That hasn’t worked out well thus far, and the 76ers had one of the worst records in league history last season. With the future still in doubt, there just isn’t much to root for right now, and it’s been more than 30 years since Philly fans were able to celebrate their last championship. The best team in Philadelphia right now is the Eagles, who haven’t won a championship in more than 50 years. Ouch.
10. Seattle Mariners
No team has gone longer in the MLB without reaching the postseason than the Seattle Mariners, who dominated the regular season in 2001 before falling apart in the playoffs. The Mariners seemed to be turning a corner last season when they finished 12 games above .500, but they took a step back in 2015. The Mariners have at least shown some commitment to winning and have a nice stadium in the form of Safeco Field, but their lack of success over the past 20 years (just three playoff appearances) leaves something to be desired.
9. Chicago Bears
What makes the Chicago Bears so hard to follow? Try rooting for a team that has been looking for a franchise quarterback since before most of us were even born. The Bears had one of the best teams of all-time in 1985, but have been struggling to remain relevant since. They did have that one odd year in 2006 where they reached the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as the quarterback, but even that’s not enough to get them off of this list. With just one playoff appearance since then, the Bears haven’t been a model of consistent success like they were in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Soldier Field has also been ranked among the worst NFL stadiums despite a massive renovation.
8. Oakland Raiders
First thing first about the Raiders, they currently play in what most of us believe is the worst stadium in the NFL, and have to share it with an MLB team. The Raiders have been in a funk since 2002 when they were decimated in the Super Bowl, and haven’t been back to the playoffs since. Every time that analysts and fans believe that the Raiders are about to turn a corner, they end up going 5-11 and starting all over again. No stability, a terrible stadium and no success in a few decades all add up to the Raiders being a hard franchise to follow.
7. Edmonton Oilers
Out of all the teams in the NHL, nobody has gone longer without reaching the playoffs than the Edmonton Oilers, who made their last postseason appearance in the 2005-06 season. In the 1980’s, the Oilers were the model of consistency, winning five Stanley Cups, but it has been a nightmare ever since then with just one Conference Championship in the past 25 years. Thankfully the team has a sharp new arena that they will be moving into next year, but the last decade has been hard to watch with frequent high draft picks. The future is bright, but for now it’s painful.
6. Cleveland Browns
When people think of bad football teams, the first one that usually comes to mind for the casual viewer is the Cleveland Browns. The last time the Browns won a championship, the year was 1964, and they haven’t been able to reach the Super Bowl. As a matter of fact, the Browns only have one playoff appearance in the past 20 years. Some of those years were missed because the team packed up and moved to Baltimore, just to make matters worse. The roster is always a disappointment, the stadium isn’t that great and the ownership is subpar. Combine that with one of the worst performances over the past couple of decades and a few heartbreaks, and you have the recipe for a painful franchise for the fans.
5. San Diego Chargers
The Chargers aren’t thought of in the same line of ineptitude as the Browns, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t just as hard to follow. The Chargers have been around for more than 50 years, and have yet to win a Super Bowl, only making the big game once. While they have been respectable for the past decade, the Chargers have had a lot of down years and currently play in one of the worst NFL stadiums. There are talks about moving the team up the road to Los Angeles, so their fans have had to deal with watching a franchise playing in a dump that remains in limbo without getting to feel what winning a championship is like.
4. New York Jets
If you tell a lot of younger fans that that Jets have won a Super Bowl, they might be a little surprised. It has been a long time since Joe Namath led the Jets to a win in Super Bowl III, and things have been a mess ever since. Despite making a couple of AFC Championship Game appearances recently, the Jets have not reached a Super Bowl since their last victory and have had one of the most inept ownerships in all of sports. Woody Johnson is not a well liked owner and coaches and general managers have been involved in a revolving door for a long time now. Just to make things even worse, the Jets have had to watch the Giants win two Super Bowls in the past decade.
3. Toronto Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the original six hockey teams in the NHL and have a slew of Stanley Cups with 13. The only problem with that is the fact that the Leafs haven’t won a Stanley Cup in nearly 50 years, and haven’t even been to the finals to add up to the longest drought in the NHL. All of this despite the fact that the team is the most valuable in the NHL, valued at more than $1.3 billion. Tickets are expensive and the team has been lousy, but at least there’s hope with Brendan Shanahan, Lou Lamoriello and Mike Babcock leading the way into the future. Will they be like the 2015 Cubs or fail to deliver?
2. Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins would have been one of the easiest franchises to follow if you were making that list in the early 1990’s. With three Super Bowls under Joe Gibbs, an owner that stayed out of the way and a stadium that actually got loud, the 1980’s were a good time to be a Redskins fan. These days, it’s truly terrible as they are stuck in a stadium that has decreased in capacity because fans don’t want to pay hand over fist to a greedy owner (Dan Snyder) that meddles in the team’s affairs way too often. The Redskins have the same problem with quarterbacks as the Bears, but somehow it’s even worse. Maybe new GM Scot McCloughan can turn things around like he did for Seattle and San Francisco…maybe.
1. New York Knicks
After 70 seasons, the team that plays in the world’s most famous arena in the country’s biggest city have only been able to muster two championships, with neither one of them coming in the last 40 years. The Knicks’ owner, James Dolan, is one of the most hated owners (right up there with Dan Snyder) in all of sports and seem to have been tricked by Phil Jackson into thinking he was a great team president. The Knicks are the team that always seems to get into the headlines of newspapers and shows like SportsCenter despite not doing anything worth of value for over a decade just because they play in New York City. It almost makes you feel bad for Knicks fans because of the awful franchise that they have to watch.
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