“Regrets, I’ve had a few.” The old song takes on a new meaning when it comes to football teams. Every team has regrets at the end of the season, moves they should have made, games they should have won and some bad draft picks. But some mistakes are even bigger. They are regrets that hang over a team for years, even decades. In some cases, it’s missing a future star; many a team today wishes they had grabbed Tom Brady in the 2000 draft. Sometimes, a team does have a major star but lets them slip through their fingers. They make the wrong choices on who to hire, who to take and other events that rock them hard and bring major pain to their fans.
Yes, sometimes, the big regret is what happens on the field, a devastating loss that still hurts. However, more often, it’s a bad move in personnel that ends up hurting the team big time down the road. From horrible trades and draft picks to coaching blunders, so many teams and their fans have moments they regret deeply. Here is every NFL team’s biggest regret that show how such shames can linger on a team and their fandom for a very long time.
32 Arizona Cardinals: 2006 MNF Loss
True, there was their Super Bowl loss. However, few things make Cardinals fans shake their heads like this absolutely horrific humiliation. In 2006, the Cardinals were hosting the Chicago Bears, who were coming off a 5-0 start and were the heavy favorites. However, the Bears had a rough night with Rex Grossman tossing four interceptions and losing two fumbles. By the third quarter, the Cardinals had built up a 23-3 lead.
However, the Bears managed a stunning comeback, scoring two touchdowns on fumbles and another on a punt return. As time wore down, the Bears had the 24-23 lead but the Cardinals were in field goal range. With less than a minute left, they kicked it…and it went wide. The Bears ran out the clock, allowing Cardinals fans to just stare as Arizona blew a 20 point lead to a team that had eight turnovers and no offensive touchdowns. The aftermath was famous as Arizona coach Dennis Green had a meltdown in front of reporters (“The Bears are who we thought they were!”) that became one of the first viral sensations. A decade later and it’s a national showcase for how bad a team can blow it.
31 Atlanta Falcons: Trading Favre
It’s very tempting to now list the Falcons’ greatest regret being their Super Bowl 51 collapse. But in long-term implications, this still ranks as Atlanta’s worst move. After a fair career in college, Brett Favre was drafted by the Falcons in the second round of the 1991 draft. Coach Jerry Glanville was not a fan of the move, openly saying “It will take a plane crash” for him to decide to start Favre. The fact that Favre’s first pass was a pick six didn’t help. The Falcons thus traded him to the Packers for a first round draft pick. Once in Green Bay, Favre would turn into one of the best QBs in the league, leading the Packers to two Super Bowls, winning one. He was the only man to be named AP MVP for three straight seasons and holds the record of 297 consecutive starts. While his career had its rough end with the Vikings and Jets, Favre is a lock for the Hall of Fame and it's astounding the fantastic star the Falcons literally gave away.
30 Baltimore Ravens: Kyle Boller
In 2003, the Ravens were in need of a new push with a big star. Kyle Boller had a good career in college and was cited as a future star. So they traded several picks to bump up in the first round to take him. They thought they were getting an elite guy but instead, they ended up with a 5-3 record before Boller was taken out by injury. He played all of 2004 and did well but more injuries hampered him in 2005. Then Steve McNair came around and led Baltimore to a 13-3 record, far better than Boller had ever done. He had more chances but it never worked out.
The Ravens finished 2007 5-11 and that led to some overhaul with the drafting of Joe Flacco. Cut after another injury, Boller played for the Rams and Raiders but did nothing too notable. Thus the Ravens wasted several years of an elite defense by not finding a capable quarterback.
29 Buffalo Bills: Wide Right
Just a few inches to the left. That was all that was needed, all that could have capped off one of the most thrilling Super Bowls of all time. Super Bowl XXV had been a fantastic game with the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills going at it in a back-and-forth contest with the lead shifting. As time wore down, the Giants were up 20-19 but Buffalo was threatening. With eight seconds left, Scott Norwood took to the field for a 47-yard field goal attempt. He ran, kicked the ball and it ended up just a yard wide of the upright.
The Giants won and the agony for Buffalo would begin. For the next three seasons, the Bills would go to the Super Bowl and lose every time. Yet the first remains the worst, one of the closest Super Bowl contests ever and had that ball just gone a bit to the left, Buffalo would have avoided so much pain for so many years.
28 Carolina Panthers: No to Norman
True, it’s still fresh but many in Carolina will agree this was a terrible move. After time as an All-American in college, Josh Norman was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2012 and showed promise. By 2014, Norman was turning into one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, holding opponents back in touchdowns and passes and recording some great tackles. In 2015, he was a key component in the Panthers dominating the NFC with a 15-1 record, named to the Pro Bowl and also known for his tough demeanor such as threatening Odell Beckham Jr. over the latter’s use of homophobic slurs.
In the Super Bowl, Norman looked to be the one guy on the Panthers really giving his all but that wasn’t enough to prevent a loss. Norman expected to be able to get a good contract extension but the Panthers refused to meet his demands so he left. Signing with the Redskins, Norman had a great 2016 with 67 tackles, two forced fumbles and three interceptions. Without him, meanwhile, the Panthers had a major collapse, finishing 2016 6-10. Norman’s presence was missed.
27 Chicago Bears: No Payton Super Bowl TD
There are a few regrets for the Bears: Losing Gayle Sayers; not turning the 1985 team into a dynasty; failing to draft Brett Favre; Jay Cutler. But this is notable in that Mike Ditka openly calls it the worst decision and his own biggest regret of his career. If anyone imbued the spirit of the Bears, it was Walter Payton. A fantastic player, Payton could do it all; run, throw and astound with his amazing agility. He missed only one game in 13 seasons and set the record for the most rushing yards while his pride and good behavior had him nicknamed “Sweetness.” When the Bears reached the Super Bowl, Payton was ready, expecting to be given the ball for a touchdown. However, the Bears just didn’t do it.
Instead, media star William Perry ended up scoring one for the roars of the crowd. The Bears had a dominating victory but Payton was hurt by the fact he never got to score in the Super Bowl as he dreamed. Ditka now says he wishes he could do it over, especially after Payton’s death in 1999. It may not be as damaging as other moves the Bears have made but it remains a deep regret their most iconic player never got his glory.
26 Cincinnati Bengals: Super Bowl XXIII
The Bengals have had their ups and their downs. But no down can possibly be worse than their Super Bowl XXIII loss. Unlike so many other Super Bowls that were blowouts, the Bengals had a chance to win their first ever championship but fate seemed to combine with bad moves to hold them back. Tim Krumrie suffered one of the most gruesome injuries imaginable, tearing his leg nearly 180 degrees and shattering two bones. Lewis Billups dropped an interception that would have changed the entire course of the game. It was actually until the third quarter before either team scored a touchdown, showing their skills and how badly they both wanted it.
It looked like the Bengals were pulling ahead until Joe Montana recorded one of the most amazing drives of his entire career, hitting John Taylor in the end zone with just 34 seconds left. The 49ers celebrated yet another Super Bowl victory while the Bengals had to put up with so close and yet so far.
25 Cleveland Browns: Brady Quinn
It’s almost too easy to slam the Browns. But even by their standards, this has to rank among the biggest regrets any team can make. Coming off a fantastic tenure at Notre Dame, Quinn was the must-grab QB of the 2007 draft although he actually went all the way to 22 before the Browns took him with a $20 million contract with a reported $30 million in incentives. And what did they get for all that? Quinn was on the bench in his first year, lost his first start in 2008, won the next but then missed the rest of the season after breaking his thumb.
The next season had him on the bench and after a couple of good games he suffered another injury. The Browns had to eat the contract and trade Quinn to Denver and he bounced around the rest of his career. All that cash and all the Browns got for it was a so-so player, a decision only Cleveland could make.
24 Dallas Cowboys: Firing Johnson
When Jerry Jones took over the Cowboys, they were suffering in mediocrity. Jones hired Jimmy Johnson as coach and thanks to the genius trade of Herschel Walker, Jones soon built the Cowboys into a powerhouse that won back to back Super Bowls. It looked like they were a new dynasty but Jones and Johnson soon had a falling out. Each had a big ego and were not happy about the other wanting to take the credit for the team’s success. The conflict grew until finally, Johnson left after the second Super Bowl win. That was rough enough but even crazier was that Jones hired Barry Switzer as his replacement , a man who hadn’t coached in five years.
While Switzer was good, he just didn’t have the skill at coaching Johnson did, proven when the Cowboys lost the NFC title game. They did regain the Super Bowl the next year but Switzer lacked the discipline Johnson had to lay down the law and keep things under control. Without that, the egos of the players soon spiraled out of control and led to the dynasty’s collapse. Had Johnson stayed, the Cowboys could have remained on top much longer.
23 Denver Broncos: Tebow
A national champion and Heisman winner, Tebow sure had the qualifications to be good in the NFL and for a brief time, he seemed to live up to the hype. He led Denver to some great last-minute victories and was pushed well by the media as 2011 saw him showcasing some great skills. Little did anyone know that his Week 14 victory would be the last regular season victory of his career. Soon, Tebow was struggling, tossing interceptions in tough losses and while he had a good first-round playoff win, he ended up sacked five times as the Broncos lost to the Patriots.
When the Broncos signed Peyton Manning, Tebow was gone for some rough tenures with the Jets, Patriots and Eagles. Today, most look at him as just a flash in the pan, a college star who didn’t work in the NFL and the Broncos ended up looking worse, not better, by his time with them.
22 Detroit Lions: Trading Layne
A lot of Lions fans will claim the team is cursed. They have yet to make it to a Super Bowl and their horrible years include going winless for all of 2008. As far as Detroit fans are concerned, all that pain is because of one idiotic decision by the team. Back in the 1950s, the Lions were actually top dogs in the NFL, winning three championships in five years. That was thanks to Bobby Layne, one of the best QBs of his time and a placekicker as well who pushed the team to fantastic heights of success. However, in 1958, the team traded Layne to the Steelers amid much fan revolt.
According to legend, Layne declared the Lions “would lose for 50 years” without him and history seems to bear his curse out. They have suffered so much but giving away their best player has to be the move the Lions regret the most.
21 Green Bay Packers: 4th and 26
Sure, they’ve missed on some players and it can be argued they should have done more to keep Brett Favre. But ask any Packers fan of the moment they regret and the answer is pretty much the same. On January 11th, 2004, the Packers came to Philadelphia for a major playoff game, both teams divisional champions who wanted the big prize. With time running down, the Packers led 17-14 and looked ready to secure the win. The defense benefited from a five-yard penalty and then a major sack so the Eagles were left with fourth down and 26 yards.
Donovan McNabb threw a perfect strike to Freddie Mitchell for the first down. Somehow, the Packers defense fell on their faces with no one defending Mitchell. This set up a field goal to send the game into overtime which the Eagles won. To lose on such a play is a shame Green Bay fans loathe.
20 Houston Texans: David Carr
He is historic as the very first draft choice for the Texans when they started in 2002. It's just a shame he also ranks as probably their worst draft choice ever. Yes, he won their very first game but it was downhill from there. Carr holds another distinction, being sacked 73 times in his rookie season, a record that stands today. In total, over five seasons, Carr was sacked 249 times, twice more leading the league in that “record.” That was matched by utterly horrible play with 2005 having the Texans finish 2-14 and not faring much better afterward.
When the chance to get Matt Schaub came along, the Texans cut Carr and he wandered to the Panthers, 49ers and Giants. Today, Carr comes up high on the list of the biggest draft busts ever and the Texans have to regret how their first choice turned out to be so damn bad.
19 Indianapolis Colts: Cutting Peyton Manning
Many Baltimore fans still haven’t forgiven the Colts for leaving literally in the middle of the night for Indianapolis. But the team has done a great deal of success, much of it pushed by Peyton Manning. After years of carrying the team, Manning finally got his championship with a great Super Bowl win. His following years were rough, including a pick six in the Super Bowl loss to the Saints.
After missing the 2011 season with a neck injury, Colts fans thought Peyton's time was done. With Andrew Luck, cited as one of the best QB prospects in years, coming up in the draft, the Colts decided to cut their most popular and successful player. Manning signed with Denver and proceeded to have some of the best years of his career. Instead of closing himself out quietly, Manning went out in style, leading the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory after several great years in Denver. So far, the Colts have yet to replicate their success under Manning.
18 Jacksonville Jaguars: Hiring Gus Bradley
The Jaguars have long had a rough time of it as despite so many losing seasons, they have yet to find any winners in the draft. In 2013, they hired Gus Bradley as their new head coach, thinking his experience building up Seattle’s defense would be just the thing to make Jacksonville winners. Over the course of four seasons, the Jaguars ended up 14-48 with 2016 being the worst with Jacksonville winning only two games. Bradley was soon cited as the classic case of a defensive guy who had no idea how to run an entire team.
Despite an actually promising team that could put together some wins, the Jags suffered under Bradley’s bad coaching and tendency to fire coordinators. Jacksonville finally got the hint and fired Bradley after a horrible 2016 campaign and showcased how one bad coach can make a poor team even worse.
17 Kansas City Chiefs: Herm Edwards
In various speeches before games, Herm Edwards would make huge speeches about winning. It's a shame that his teams couldn’t pull that off on the field. After a rough tenure with the Jets, Edwards was hired by Kansas City in 2006. His first year was good at 9-7 and making the playoffs. But the next year had them slumping to 4-12 and then in 2008, they went 2-14 (12 consecutive losses), the worst season in franchise history. Edwards had cut aging players and traded away Jared Allen but that just left a team of youngsters too inexperienced to make it to victory. His “youth movement” just ended up running the Chiefs into the ground and it took them years to rebuild. Edwards may be known as a great speaker but his coaching tenure in Kansas City is considered a low point of the team.
16 Los Angeles Chargers: Ryan Leaf
There have been scores of bad draft choices in NFL history but this one stands out from the bunch. Leaf had been a top QB at Washington State and a finalist for the Heisman. He came in number two in the draft behind Peyton Manning with many at the time thinking he should have been number one. He was taken by the Chargers and boasted on how he would have them in the Super Bowl in no time. Before the season started, he missed a mandatory meeting and was fined $10,000, a major warning sign.
But no one could imagine that Leaf would embark on one of the most astounding self-destructions the NFL has ever seen. Over three seasons, Leaf won just four games, completing only half his passes and recording 11 touchdowns. Those seasons were marked by horrible off-field behavior with drinking, partying, fines for his attitude and some injuries. After failing with the Bucs and the Cowboys, Leaf was out of the NFL and today stands as the biggest draft bust of all time.
15 Los Angeles Rams: Jeff Fisher’s Tenure
The Rams have seen a lot of changes over the years, the biggest being the move from St. Louis back to Los Angeles. But one change fans wish the team had never done was hiring Jeff Fisher as coach. It’s not just his horrible record that made his tenure so bad. There was:
- Wasting a #2 draft pick on Greg Robinson.
- Doing nothing to stop the epic 2014 fight with the Giants.
- Leaving Case Keenum in a game despite suffering a concussion because they were blowing a 13-3 lead.
- Banning Eric Dickerson from the sidelines.
On a 2016 episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” Fisher was shown doing a major speech on how this was not going to be “a 7 and 9 team.” He was right as the Rams were 4-9 when Fisher was finally fired. With a total of 165 losses, Fisher holds an NFL record all right but not a good one and his tenure with the Rams makes fans wish they’d left him in St. Louis.
14 Miami Dolphins: No Ring for Marino
In terms of playing skill, Dan Marino is one of the greatest QBs in NFL history. With a passer rating of 86.4, 420 touchdowns and a Hall of Fame ring, Marino proved himself on the field. He is a legend among Dolphins fans, spending his entire seventeen season career in Miami and led the Dolphins to the playoffs ten times. Yet, for all his success, somehow Marino never got a Super Bowl championship. He led Miami to the big game in 1984 but they were crushed by the 49ers. Despite record for most seasons leading in completions, lowest sack percentage and multiple records for a Monday Night Football game, Marino just doesn’t have a ring. It doesn’t seem right and Marino has even played on it (in the comedy “Little Nicky,” he offers to sell his soul for a championship). Marino is well regarded for his work as an NFL broadcaster but it just doesn’t seem right he has to rank high on the list of the greatest quarterbacks to never get a championship.
13 Minnesota Vikings: Trading For Walker
At the time, it looked like the deal of a lifetime. Instead, it turned out to be a total debacle. When the Dallas Cowboys sunk to a terrible record in 1989, coach Jimmy Johnson decided something had to be done. While Herschel Walker was the biggest star of the team, Johnson thought the guy was not fitting into the high-powered offense he wanted. So he decided to trade Walker despite the backlash. The Vikings’ general manager, Mike Lynn, jumped at the offer and, without bothering to check with any of his coaches, agreed to an epic deal. Five players and first and second round draft picks over three years, all for Walker.
It turned out to be one of the worst deals ever made. Walker never worked out in Minnesota and was gone after a couple of years. Meanwhile, all five players the Cowboys got were eventually cut. More importantly, Johnson was able to use the draft picks from the deal to get his hands on Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson and others to form the Cowboys dynasty that would win three Super Bowls. Thanks to the trade, the Vikings suffered and gave the Cowboys the keys to dominating the NFC, as bad a move as there ever has been.
12 New England Patriots: Hernandez
Some Patriots fans will no doubt cite the helmet catch that prevented the team from a perfect championship season. But in many ways, Aaron Hernandez has to be a much bigger regret for the team. Part of Florida’s national championship team, Hernandez was drafted in 2010 and was soon helping the Patriots for their own attempts at another Super Bowl. He was soon a major part of the team on the run to Super Bowl XLVI and the team loved to pair him with Rob Gronkowski, both seen as fan favorites.
That would bite them badly when Hernandez was arrested in June of 2013 for the murder of Odin Lloyd and indicted for murder. The Patriots cut ties of course but the weight of the trial hung over the team as Hernandez was found guilty. Many a team has had a player in rough times but the Patriots’ dynasty has been tarnished by one of their brightest stars becoming a killer.
11 New Orleans Saints: Bountygate
The 2009 season should have been the dream season for the Saints. After the mess of Katrina and so many bad seasons, New Orleans finally rode high with a major Super Bowl championship. But the great year was soon tarnished by word of how the Saints were offering bonuses to players for hurting opponents. This included $1,000 for a guy carted off the field and $1,500 for knocking a guy out. Major targets included Brett Favre (said to be worth $10,000), Matt Hasselbeck, Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers and more. The fallout was huge as Sean Payton became the first head coach to be suspended for an entire season. Several players were suspended but they were overturned as the league decided the coaches were to blame. The Saints were fined half a million and lost draft selections. While Payton is still with the team, the stigma of this hangs over New Orleans to put a blemish on what should have been the Saints’ golden year.
10 New York Giants: 73-0
If George Preston Marshall had just kept his mouth shut, the Giants wouldn’t have to live with this shame. In the last regular season game of the 1940 season, New York beat the Chicago Bears on a controversial last-minute play. Marshall ran down the Bears as losers and crybabies. A few weeks later, the Bears and the Giants were to face off in the NFL Championship and Chicago coach George Halas reminded his players of the insults. What followed was nothing short of wholesale slaughter as the Bears ran roughshod over the Giants at will. They were soon scoring so much that the officials had to ask them to stop kicking extra-points as they were running out of footballs. The Bears replied by going for two and scoring there as well. By the time it was done, the Bears had amassed 73 points, still the most in a single NFL game, while the Giants were scoreless.
When the final gun sounded, a reporter cracked “Marshall just shot himself” as New York fans tore into him for setting this loss up. It’s still the most lopsided loss in NFL history which the Giants have to bear.
9 New York Jets: Losing Belichick
Few things sum up the Jets like this. In February of 1997, the Jets named Bill Belichick interim head coach but then hired Bill Parcells to take over, the man having good experience from the Browns and the Giants. In 1999, Parcells stepped down and it was no secret Belichick had been named as his successor as Parcells wanted. But after just one day, Belichick turned his press conference into a bizarre bit where he resigned before anyone even realized he’d taken the job. Belichick felt New York wasn’t giving him his due in either money or control of the team. So he took up the offer from New England and transformed them into the dynasty that would end up humiliating the Jets several times over the next decade and a half. Leave it to the Jets to somehow blow a perfectly good transfer of power and unleash their greatest foe onto the world.
8 Oakland Raiders: Trading Gruden
The Raiders have had scores of mistakes over the years but this one stands tall among them. Taking over as Raiders head coach in 1998, Gruden soon began building the team into a real contender, finishing 2000 12-4 and reaching the AFC Championship game. He was 40-28 total in four years, a good record and most thought he would be around for a while. Instead, in 2002, the Raiders decided to trade Gruden to Tampa Bay in a major deal for four draft picks and $8 million in cash. Fans were annoyed at the loss but had no idea how bad it would get.
Once in Tampa Bay, Gruden immediately overhauled the team, boosting them majorly with new free agents added to the offense. He lit a fire that turned the Bucs from chokers in the NFC to a real powerhouse that finished 2002 12-4. As fate had it, the Bucs faced the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, many thinking the Raiders were the favorites. Instead, Tampa Bay destroyed Oakland 48-21 to give them their only championship. To let go of the guy who ended up beating them in the biggest game of the year has to rank as the low point for the Raiders.
7 Philadelphia Eagles: Attacking Santa Claus
There’s an old joke that whoever named Philadelphia “the City of Brotherly Love” never attended a sporting event there. The city is infamous for a fanbase that react with hostility to their own teams and for being outright bloodthirsty on opponents. Yet nothing sums up Philly fandom like the end of the 1968 season. It was one of the worst years in Eagles history with them finishing 2-12 and the fans that showed up had to be in a foul mood. For the final game of the season, the Eagles planned to reward fans with a Christmas pageant. However, the bad weather meant that it had to be changed so the team found Frank Olivo, a fan dressed as Santa Claus and talked him into going out to cheer up the crowd.
The fans didn’t just react badly, they booed louder than anything in the game. Olivo kept it up only for the fans to pelt him hard with snowballs. Soon, the national papers were filled with stories of “attacking Santa,” a bad image for the city and the team and a choice of entertainment the Eagles wish they’d ignored.
6 Pittsburgh Steelers: Cutting Unitas
In many ways, the Pittsburgh Steelers have nothing to complain about. They have been to eight Super Bowls, and won six championships which is a record. They are known for their great years like the dynasty of the 1970s and a slew of fantastic players. But Pittsburgh fans also remember how they had one of the greatest players of all time on their roster only to give him away. Drafted out of Louisville, Johnny Unitas looked ready for a good career in the pros. But Steelers coach Walt Kiesling thought Unitas wasn’t smart enough for football, refused to use him in practice and finally cut him.
After spending time away, Unitas was picked up by the Colts and soon transformed into the quarterback who revolutionized football. He led the Colts to three NFL titles and a Super Bowl victory, retiring as a revered icon and still considered one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. That could have all been Pittsburgh’s if not for Kiesling, showing he may have been the stupid one.
5 San Francisco 49ers: Passing on Rodgers
Here’s a tip for an pro team: When a very promising player says he wants to play for you and makes it clear he’ll do what it takes to make it happen, you draft him. Coming off a terrific turn at California, Aaron Rodgers entered the 2005 draft expecting the 49ers to pick him. He lived in California and had grown up a 49ers fan all his life. Instead, San Francisco took Alex Smith and Rodgers would slide down. Rodgers said he felt crushed by the decision as he’d looked forward to proving himself equal to Montana or Steve Young.
According to reports, the 49ers didn’t think Rodgers had a strong enough arm. Rodgers was finally picked up by the Packers and after a few seasons as a backup to Brett Favre, he was soon becoming one of the best QBs in the league. While he’s only gotten to one Super Bowl, A-Rod's stunning ability for comeback wins makes him a certain future Hall of Famer and had he stayed, the 49ers might have been able to finally find the right successor to Montana and Young.
4 Seattle Seahawks: Passing the Ball
What else could it be? After the “Legion of Boom” dominated the NFL for a Super Bowl championship, expectations were high going into 2014 and Seattle lived up to them, going 12-4. In Super Bowl XLIX, the Seahawks seemed ready to win back-to-back Super Bowls and were up 24-14 in the fourth quarter. However, the Patriots managed a big comeback and were up 28-24 in the final moments. Seattle was threatening, getting down to the one yard line and by all logic, what happened next should have been obvious - handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch to run it into the end zone.
Instead, in the call that will haunt him for the rest of his life, Pete Carroll decided to pass the ball. One interception later and the Patriots were once more champions. Seattle has had a rough time since and their fans still can’t believe Carroll could make such a stupid call. It’s considered one of the stupidest coaching decisions of all time and while he says he doesn’t regret it himself, deep down Carroll has to know how this choice ruined so many dreams of so many.
3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 0 and 26
When the Buccaneers came to be, it was a big deal for the NFL as a “secondary” Florida city was getting its own franchise. Hopes were high. Of course, most thought their first season wouldn’t be that good as they were an expansion team. But no one could have guessed that the Bucs would set a record for futility never matches since. For the first time ever, a team failed to win a single game in a full season. Soon “The Yucks” as they were known, were the butt of massive jokes across the country as even Johnny Carson chimed in with how terrible they were. Soon, opponents were happy to face them as going against Tampa Bay meant an automatic win. Finally, in Week 13 of their second season, Tampa Bay pulled off a victory over the New Orleans Saints.
To show how bad they were, the Saints fired their coach on the spot for losing to this train wreck. While Tampa Bay has shown improvement since (even a Super Bowl win), they still have the stigma of the worst start to any team in pro sports history.
2 Tennessee Titans: One Yard
While known as “the Greatest Show on Turf,” the Rams had yet to make it count as a championship. They got the chance in Super Bowl XXXIV as the 13-3 Rams faced the 13-3 Titans. The game was a thriller, both teams going at it with Kurt Warner winning MVP honors for his great work, putting the Rams up 16-0 in the third quarter. However, Tennessee made a spectacular comeback, tying the game up with just two minutes left. Warner then hit Isaac Bruce with a 73-yard TD pass to put the Rams ahead. The Titans then made a powerful drive and with six seconds left, they were on St. Louis’ 10-yard line. Kevin Dyson took the pass and made his way to the end zone with Mike Jones tackling him down.
In what is now one of the most iconic images in Super Bowl history, Dyson was seen stretching his hand out with the ball, desperate to get it over the goal line. He failed, the ball landing inches from the line as time ran out. The Rams celebrated their win as Tennessee fell into despair. Football is called “a game of inches” but never has that been more proven as just one yard prevented the Titans from tying the game and they’ve never gotten as close as this.
1 Washington Redskins: The Name
It’s the massive elephant in the room wherever Washington plays. That in 2017, a team still go around with a name like the Redskins. True, some polls show Native Americans don’t mind it as much as some think. However, the name is a throwback to a dark time, the 1930s where Native Americans were treated as savage people, dismissed in movies as unintelligent brutes and stereotypes that lasted far too long. Washington has had great success with Super Bowl victories and the fans are proud of the name yet it doesn’t change how this was created in an age of bigotry being openly accepted and it’s not something people want to face today.
Even if many Native Americans are okay with it, others are not and to continue to push what was once a slur on an entire race as the name of a major football franchise is something the Redskins should be ashamed of.