Across North America, fans don the jerseys of their favorite teams and flock to arenas and stadiums to see them play. Many fans are eager to see their favorite team win the game, in the hopes that winning the game will give their team a chance to make it to the postseason. In most cases, a victory is far from assured and the postseason will have to wait for yet another year.
Fans of a select number of professional teams have learned to have short memories and forgive their favorite teams for one season after another of agony or futility or a combination of both. These are the “diehard fans” of teams that continue to be mediocre year after year or teams that show enough consistency to make the playoffs only to never be able to win the big game.
Some of the 25 teams that have the longest active championship droughts might be surprising, but a good number are well known for being absent from the postseason festivities at the end of each year. It is hard to imagine rooting for a team that hasn’t won a title in over 100 years, but that continues to happen in one major U.S. city. The following 25 teams are united by their common mission to end their championship droughts.
Honorable Mention: Vancouver Canucks and Cleveland Cavaliers – 44 seasons
25. Los Angeles Clippers/San Diego Clippers/Buffalo Braves – 44 years
There are many teams tied at droughts of 44 years, but the Clippers’ NBA drought is quite severe. Since the franchise started off as the Buffalo Braves in 1970, the team has not even won a conference championship. Unbelievably, the Clippers have had only two divisional championships, which were won recently in 2013 and 2014. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul might be on a mission to change the Clippers’ losing ways, but even two playoff berths in a row is an accomplishment for this franchise. The Clippers still have to learn how to beat the Spurs and Thunder before thinking about ending this drought.
24. Kansas City Chiefs/Dallas Texans – 44 years
The Kansas City Chiefs have struggled since winning the AFL Championship and Super Bowl IV many years ago. The Chiefs with Len Dawson, Willie Lanier, Marcus Allen, Joe Montana and more players of note have only had 17 playoff appearances since coming into the AFL as the Dallas Texans in 1960. The Chiefs achieved some early success in the AFL, but have been pretty dormant ever since. The current Chiefs have been a threat to end this title drought, but they must be more consistent to become more than just a threat.
23. Minnesota Vikings – 44 years
The Minnesota Vikings’ last championship title was for the NFL in 1969. They went on to lose the NFL-AFL Title game (Super Bowl) to the Kansas City Chiefs, making the Vikings title drought more severe. The Vikings have had Fran Tarkenton, the “Purple People Eaters” and their share of great players of the past and even present (Adrian Peterson), but they have struggled to win the big games.
Their most gut-wrenching losses include the 1998 NFC Championship, in which Gary Anderson missed a potential game-clinching field goal late and most recently, we saw the Vikings lose a heart breaker to the Saints in the 2009 NFC Championship, where Brett Favre threw a late interception and never got the ball in overtime. The Vikings have had 27 playoff appearances and 18 division championships since becoming a member of the NFL in 1961. Despite their storied past, the current Vikings are in no position to end this current title drought.
22. Milwaukee Brewers/Seattle Pilots – 46 years
The Milwaukee Brewers entered MLB as the Seattle Pilots in 1969, but the franchise fell into bankruptcy and was bought by Bud Selig and moved to Milwaukee before the start of the 1970 season. The Brewers started off in the American League, but moved to the National League in 1998. The early Brewers had some success with Robin Yount, but have only one World Series appearance to show for this era. The current edition of the team is competitive, but not that much closer to ending the team’s longstanding championship drought.
21. San Diego Padres – 46 years
The San Diego Padres get a slight nod over the Brewers only because they have spent all their time of futility in one city. The Padres not only have a lengthy title drought, but also have the distinction of being the only MLB team yet to have a no-hitter thrown. The Padres have had Tony Gwynn, Trevor Hoffman, Steve Garvey and Randy Jones and have even made two World Series appearances (1984, 1998), but have spent far more time staring up at the Giants and Dodgers in the NL West. The Padres face the reality of being a small market team, so don’t look for a quick change or end to this drought.
20. Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos – 46 years
The Washington Nationals are by far the most futile of the three MLB teams whose title droughts equal 46 years. The Nationals/Expos have never played in a World Series and have only been to the playoffs three times (1981, 2012, 2014). Despite launching the careers of Andre Dawson, Tim Raines and others, the Expos were never considered to be a postseason threat. The Nationals, on the other hand, have achieved more success in 1o years than the Expos have achieved in their first 36 years in the league. The “Nats” have as good a chance of any on this list of ending this title drought sometime soon.
19. Phoenix Suns – 46 years
The Phoenix Suns were established in 1968 and have made it to the NBA Finals twice, but have no titles to show for their efforts. The Suns had their chances when the team included Kevin Johnson, Dan Majerle, Charles Barkley and Danny Ainge. The Suns have also seen the likes of Paul Westphal as a player and coach, Sir Charles Barkley, Steve Nash and Jason Kidd, only to come up short during the playoffs. The current Suns team continues the franchise’s tradition of having an exciting team, but ending the title drought would be a stretch that extends far beyond a half-court three point shot.
18. New York Jets – 46 years
The New York Jets haven’t won a Super Bowl since Joe Namath boldly predicted they would beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. Many Super Bowls have passed since Namath’s famous remark, but the Jets haven’t been successful enough in any year since to be a participant in the big game. The Jets have had some characters and even a good number of playoff teams, including four trips to the AFC Championship, but futility has been more like par for the course. The current team with its problems at the quarterback position doesn’t appear to be in the best position to break this championship drought.
17. Cincinnati Bengals – 46 years
The Cincinnati Bengals entered the NFL in 1968 and have yet to win a championship. They have made it to the big game twice (1981, 1988) but ran into a very determined San Francisco 49ers squad both times. The Bengals have had 12 playoff appearances as well as their fair share of productive players, but the NFL championship has been elusive. The current Bengals team has shown an ability to play with anyone during the regular season. They are one team on this list that has a more realistic chance at ending this drought if they could learn to win in the playoffs. They have not won a playoff game since 1990, going one-and-out five times since then.
16. Cleveland Browns – 46 years
The Cleveland Browns have not won a title since capturing an NFL Championship in 1964. The Browns have always had a very passionate fan base, but haven’t even given fans a Super Bowl appearance since the first game was first played in 1967. It seems like the Browns haven’t been able to draft an elite quarterback or productive running back who could enable them to get over the hump. “Johnny Football” Manziel might be able to energize the Browns fan base, but it will take more than one player to end the team’s championship drought. Hopefully Manziel’s horrific debut will prove to be early growing pains and not the norm for the next few years.
15. St. Louis Blues – 46 years
The St. Louis Blues are members of the original six-team expansion that doubled the size of the NHL in 1967. The Blues have yet to earn a Stanley Cup, but do have the distinction of making it to the playoffs in 25 consecutive seasons, a steak that ended in 2004. The Blues have made it to the Stanley Cup Final three times– which were their first three years of existence, in 1968, 1969 and 1970, but have never been able to finish with hoisting the cup. The current squad has as good of a chance as any to end this championship drought. If they can win another playoff series like they did in 2012, they might have a chance.
14. Toronto Maple Leafs – 47 years
The Toronto Maple Leafs have not exactly been a historical disaster on ice, as their total of 13 Stanley Cups stand can attest, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t struggled. Their big issue now is in just making it to the playoffs. The Maple Leafs have struggled to finish seasons with a positive goal differential, even though they have been fortunate enough to win their share of close games. Wining close games has not been enough for a fan base that supported a team scored 84 points last year without qualifying for the playoffs. Their effort was good for a 6th place finish in the Atlantic Division of the NHL. They have yet to even make it back to the Stanley Cup Final since their last championship in 1967.
13. Atlanta Falcons – 48 years
The Falcons get a nod over the Bills due to the fact that they entered the league as an expansion franchise in 1966. The Falcons did make it to the Super Bowl following the 1998 NFL season, but the franchise has more double digit losing seasons (21) than playoff appearances (12) throughout the team’s existence. Their lone trip to the Super Bowl came in the 1998-99 season, defeating the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship, only to be overwhelmed by the Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII
The current team has a good nucleus on offense, but the defense and team’s ability to overcome injuries is still rather suspect. They also have a lot of difficulty closing out games, and despite making it to the playoffs in four of the last six seasons, they won just one playoff game in that stretch. It still seems pretty likely that this season will not bring an end to this championship drought.
12. Buffalo Bills – 48 years
The Buffalo Bills got their start in the AFL, where they won two consecutive titles in 1964 and 1965. Their drought since then includes four consecutive Super Bowl appearances (1990-1993) where they where left knocking on the door with teams that included Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith and Andre Reed. Buffalo has had its share of talented players through the years, but getting back to the Super Bowl includes making the playoffs first. The Bills haven’t even been capable of doing that lately, with their last playoff appearance occurring all the way back in 1999, a game they lost thanks to the famous Music City Miracle.
11. San Diego Chargers/Los Angeles Chargers – 51 years
The San Diego Chargers have a long championship drought that goes back to the AFL days, where the Chargers won their last title in 1963. At least Charger fans have been able to enjoy the Dan Fouts era, dynamic players like Lance Alworth and LaDainian Tomlinson to name a few and even the connection between Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates. Offense has historically been the team’s strong point. In the Chargers’ 15 playoff appearances since 1963, they have made it to only one Super Bowl (1994) where they were beaten decisively by the San Francisco 49ers.
10. Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers – 53 years
The Houston Oilers won the AFL title the first two seasons the team was a member of the league. Since its last title in 1961, the team’s championship drought has been lengthy but not devoid of successful moments. The team has had 19 playoff appearances in the Super Bowl era, with Earl Campbell, Warren Moon and Steve McNair leading the way, since winning its last title in 1961. They managed to make a Super Bowl appearance debuting as the Titans in 1999. Despite the successful debut in Tennessee, the team has given its fan base very little to cheer about lately and little hope that things can dramatically change.
9. Houston Astros/Houston Colt .45s – 53 years
The Houston Astros have had some competitive teams and players like Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and even Nolan Ryan, but have never seemed to have a serious shot at winning a championship. The current version of the team is a glorified minor league team at best guided by leadership that is determined to keep payroll costs in check. Fans have been asked to have patience, however, there remains to be very little to get excited about in the immediate future. Don’t look for this championship streak to end any time soon.
8. Texas Rangers/Washington Senators – 54 years
The Texas Rangers started out as the Washington Senators before moving to Arlington, Texas prior to the 1972 season. For the 54 seasons of the franchise’s existence, the team has only two World Series appearances (2010, 2011) and six playoff appearances. Despite having some talented players come through its ranks, the Rangers have struggled to put it all together in one season of play. It is probably a good thing that football is king in the state of Texas because fans of both the Rangers and Astros have had very little to celebrate when it comes to titles.
7. Philadelphia Eagles – 54 years
The Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the most competitive teams to make it on this list. Despite making it to the playoffs 20 times since winning their last NFL championship in 1960, the Eagles have failed to bring another title home to its fans in Philadelphia. Philly fans love their Eagles, but have little patience when it comes to voicing their displeasure with a loud chorus of boos. Chip Kelly has brought some excitement back to Philadelphia and its fans, but it remains to be seen if this era will produce any championships.
6. Atlanta Hawks/St. Louis Hawks/Milwaukee Hawks/Bufalo Bisons – 56 years
The Atlanta Hawks have represented the city of Atlanta since 1968 and despite the long tenure, they have not been able to bring a victory parade to the city’s downtown. The NBA franchise was successful in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s when the team won a title over the Boston Celtics when it represented St. Louis in 1958. Hawks fans did get to enjoy “The Human Highlight Film”, Dominique Wilkins, throughout the 80’s and 90’s, but not much else. The current team doesn’t appear to be ready to put an end to this drought.
5. Detroit Lions – 57 years
The Detroit Lions were a very successful NFL football team in the 1950’s, last winning a title in 1957. Unfortunately for their fan base, that success was very short lived. The team has only won one playoff game, in 1991, since that last championship in 1957. The Lions have had many exciting players on their roster, including the great Barry Sanders, but expectations never seem to be met. The current team has one of the best receivers in the league, Calvin Johnson, and defensive players as well, Ndamukong Suh, but still manage to struggle with the consistency necessary to break their streak.
The supposed curse came after the Lions traded the legendary Bobby Layne after he’d led the Lions to three straight NFL Championships. Following his trade to Pittsburgh, Layne allegedly said that Detroit would not win a championship for 50 years. Eerily enough, 50 years after the trade is when the Lions went 0-16. Let’s hope for Detroit’s sake that was the end of the spell.
4. Sacramento Kings/Kansas City Kings/Cincinnati Royals/Rochester Royals – 63 years
The Sacramento Kings of the NBA had some terrific teams with Chris Webber, Mike Bibby and Peja Stojakovich, pushing the Lakers in the Western Conference and energizing their fan base, but the franchise has had a long history of coming up short. It’s interesting that the team experienced some early success as the Rochester Royals, only to move to Cincinnati and then Kansas City for financial reasons. The current Sacramento team has had similar financial issues, despite having a loyal fan base and talented young roster that would probably make them a playoff team in the East.
3. Cleveland Indians – 66 years
The city of Cleveland might have LeBron James and Johnny Manziel, but championships have been hard to come by. The Cleveland Indians have endured a 66-year championship drought to lead the city in sports futility. The Indians have a history that dates back to the Cleveland Lake Shores in 1900 and includes only two world championships (1920, 1948) since this time. Their patient fans were rewarded with a wild card berth in 2013 followed up with a respectable 85-77 season in 2014. The Indians almost ended the drought with a World Series appearance in 1995. Two years later they came painfully close to ending it, when they were two outs away in Game 7 of the World Series, before the Marlins tied the game on a sacrifice fly and won in extra innings.
If LeBron could swing a bat, the Indians might be able to end their championship drought.
2. Arizona Cardinals/St. Louis Cardinals/Chicago Cardinals – 67 years
The Arizona Cardinals are one of the charter members of the NFL, which was established in 1920. Getting their start as the Chicago Cardinals, the team eventually moved to St. Louis, later to Tempe, Arizona and finally to Glendale, Arizona where the team currently resides. The Cardinals have had some close encounters with success, more recently with Kurt Warner, but remain the NFL team with the longest active championship drought of 67 years. The current Cardinals have a terrific defense and state of the art stadium but must pick it up on offense in order to have a realistic chance at putting an end to their championship drought. Had Carson Palmer remained healthy this season, the Cardinals likely would’ve been seen as Super Bowl favorites.
1. Chicago Cubs – 106 years
The lovable Chicago Cubs of MLB have such a loyal fan base for a team that has not won a championship in more than a century (106 years). The enormity of this drought is compounded by the fact that Chicago is the third most populated U.S. city as well as third most populous metropolitan area. That’s a big media market, large fan base and a team with lots of tradition, albeit a losing one, to have such a championship drought. It will not get any easier for the Cubs and their fans as the club is coming off a 73-89 season and last place finish in the NL Central. Even though the team has a proven new manager in Joe Maddon and Jon Lester as their new pitching ace, a 106-year curse is a scary obstacle to overcome.
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