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Friday The 13th: 13 Unlucky Professional Sports Franchises

Posted on May 13, 2011 by A.J. Foss

The Steve Bartman foul ball is just one of many unlucky moments for the Chicago Cubs and their fans.

Today is Friday, the 13th, a date that superstitious people believe is unlucky.

With that in mind, here is a list of the 13 most unlucky teams in professional sports.

These are teams that have not won championships in the past few decades, have suffered numerous devastating losses, and fan bases that believe that their team is cursed.

13. Phoenix Suns (NBA)
The Suns have more regular season wins than any other NBA franchise without an NBA championship, as there have 19 seasons where the team won at least 50 games, three of those of at least 60 wins, and been to the NBA Finals twice, only to lose both times.

Suns fans believe the reason for their bad luck stems for the 1969 NBA Draft where the Suns and Milwaukee Bucks were up for the number one pick, which would be decided by a coin flip.

The winner of the coin toss would get the #1 pick and would select Lew Alcindor, now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Suns executive Jerry Colangelo called “heads”, but the coin landed “tails” and the Bucks won the rights for the #1 pick and of course picked Alcindor, who led Milwaukee to a NBA title just two years later.

12. Philadelphia Eagles (NFL)

The Eagles have gone over a half a century without a NFL title, their last championship coming in 1960.

Most of the Eagles’ heartbreak has come in the 21st century as the team has made five appearances in the NFC Championship Game, only winning once in 2004, where they advance to Super Bowl XXXIX and lost to the New England Patriots 24-21.

Philadelphia also appeared in Super Bowl XV but lost to the Oakland Raiders and lost the famous “Fog Bowl” to the Chicago Bears in a loss that many Eagle fans feel cost them another appearance in the Super Bowl.

11. Pittsburgh Pirates (MLB)

The Pittsburgh Pirates have not had a winning season since Sid Bream slid home to defeat the Bucs in the seventh game of the 1992 NL Championship Series.

Probably more because of their small market and bad ownership, but the Pittsburgh Pirates have been cursed ever since Barry Bonds left the team following the 1992 season.

After the Pirates’ bitter loss to the Atlanta Braves in Game7 of the 1992 National League Championship Series, Bonds signed with the San Francisco Giants as a free agent during the offseason.

The Pirates have failed to record a winning season in the 18-plus years since Bonds’ departure from Pittsburgh.

10. New York Jets (NFL)
Ever since Joe Namath guaranteed and delivered an upset win over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, the Jets have been unable to get back to the big game.

The Jets have appeared in the AFC Championship Game four times, including the previous two seasons, and have lost all four times.

But perhaps their most heartbreaking defeat came in the 1986 AFC Divisional Playoffs, when the Jets blew a 20-10 lead in the last four minutes of regulation and lost in double overtime to the Cleveland Browns.

9. Portland Trail Blazers (NBA)
While the Blazers are the team that has won a championship more recently on this list, the team has been cursed in its inability to keep a potentially dominant center healthy.

Bill Walton, the center who lead Portland to its lone NBA title in 1977, broke his foot the following season and never played again for the Blazers as he sat out the 1979 season, before signing with the Clippers as a free agent.

The next and most famous chapter of the curse came with the selection of Kentucky center Sam Bowie, over North Carolina guard Michael Jordan, in the 1984 NBA Draft.

Bowie would only play 139 games for the Blazers, 76 of those in his rookie season, while Jordan went to lead the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, including one over the Blazers in 1992.

Then, there it is Greg Oden, who the Blazers picked as the #1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft, over Kevin Durant.

Oden has only played a total of 88 games in the five seasons since his selection while Durant has become the top scorer in the NBA the previous two seasons.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)
It is hard to believe that the Maple Leafs have not won the Stanley Cup since 1967, the last year before the National Hockey League expanded from its original six teams to twelve teams

Before the expansion, Toronto had won 13 Stanley Cups, second to the Montreal Canadians’ 15 Stanley Cups.

Since the expansion, the Maple Leafs have not even made the Stanley Cup Finals and are the only “Original Six” team that has not won the Stanley Cup since the expansion in 1967.

7. Detroit Lions (NFL)

Poor decisions, like drafting Andre Ware with the 7th overall pick in 1990, have haunted the Detroit Lions.

In the 1950s, the Lions were one of the elite franchises in the NFL as they won played in the NFL Championship four times in six years, winning three of those games.

But after their championship season in 1957, the Lions traded quarterback Bobby Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a move that angered Layne and lead him to say that the Lions would “not win for 50 years”.

In the 53 years since the trade, the Lions have won only one playoff game and are the only NFC team not to appear in a Super Bowl.

6. Cleveland Indians (MLB)
Even though their team is off to a great start, Indian fans probably fear that their hearts will be broken once again.

The Indians currently hold the second longest drought for a team not winning the World Series, as Cleveland’s last World Series title came back in 1948.

Following their shocking loss to the New York Giants in 1954 after the Indians won a then-AL record 111 games in the regular season, Cleveland did not win the American League pennant until 1995, only to lose to the Atlanta Braves in six games.

Two years later, the Indians were back in the World Series and held a 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning against the Florida Marlins.

But the Indians could not hold to the lead as they gave up the game-tying run and eventually lost the game in the 11th inning.

Ten years later, the Indians blew a 3-1 series lead to the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series.

5. Buffalo Bills (NFL)

The missed field goal by Scott Norwood at the end of Super Bowl XXV started a streak of four straight Super Bowl losses for the Buffalo Bills.

The Bills are the only professional sports team to lose its league championship four straight times, as they lost Super Bowls XXV through XXVIII in the early 1990s, with their most devastating loss coming in XXV when Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal that would have given Buffalo the win.

Another notable heartbreak come in the 1999 NFL playoffs as the Bills fell victim to the “Music City Miracle” a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Kevin Dyson in the final seconds of the AFC Wild Card Game in which Buffalo lost 22-16.

4. Washington Capitals (NHL)
The Capitals are not on this list just because of their recent playoff failures with Alex Ovechkin.

In their 40-year history, the Capitals have become infamous for blowing huge leads in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Washington has lost five times after winning the first two game of a series, and lost four times after building a 3-1 series lead.

The Capitals have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals only once, back in 1998, before they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings.

3. Minnesota Vikings (NFL)

The Vikings became the first team to lose four Super Bowls as they lost the big game four times between 1969 and 1976.

In addition to their 0-4 Super Bowl record, the Vikings had been on the short end of some of the most famous games in NFL history.

In 1975, the Vikings lost to the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Playoffs when Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach completed a 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson in the final seconds to give the Cowboys a 17-14 victory on a play that became known as the “Hail Mary”.

Then in 1998, the Vikings went 15-1 as they complied a then-record 556 points during the regular season only to lose in the NFC Championship Game to the Atlanta Falcons after Gary Anderson missed a game-clinching 38-yard field goal after not missing a single field goal or extra point during the entire 1998 season.

Their most recent heartbreak came sixteen months again when quarterback Brett Favre threw an untimely interception at the end of regulation with the Vikings in field goal range for a game-winning field goal.

Minnesota never saw the ball again and lost in overtime to the New Orleans Saints.

2. Cleveland Browns (NFL)

Ernest Byner's last-second fumble in the 1987 AFC Championship Game is one of many unlucky plays for the Cleveland Browns.

If it were not for bad luck, the Browns would have no luck at all.

The Browns lost won the NFL title back in 1964 and are one of only four teams not to appear in the Super Bowl.

In the Super Bowl era, the Browns have had numerous heartbreaking defeats that are simply known as “Red Right 88”, “the Drive”, and “the Fumble”.

Also, the Browns have been the victims of huge comebacks in the playoffs as they blew an 18-point lead against the Miami Dolphins in the 1985 Playoffs and then lost a 17-point lead against the Pittsburgh Steelers in their 2002 AFC Wild Card Game.

But the Browns’ biggest heartbreak came in 1995 when owner Art Modell moved the franchise from Cleveland to Baltimore.

After a bitter fight, Modell was allowed to leave Cleveland, but the team colors and history remained in Cleveland as the city was awarded an expansion team in 1999.

While the “new” Browns have made only one playoff appearance since their return, the “old” Browns became the Baltimore Ravens have been in the playoffs seven of the last 11 years and won Super Bowl XXXV.

1. Chicago Cubs (MLB)
When a team has had a championship drought of more than 100 years, that team is the most cursed franchise in professional sports.

The Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908 and have not been to the World Series since 1945 when the “Curse of the Billy Goat” began after Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, and his pet goat were kicked out of Wrigley Field during Game 4 of that World Series against the Detroit Tigers, proclaiming Sianis in a telegram to owner Phillip K. Wrigley “You are going to lose this World Series and you are never going to win another World Series again. You are never going to win a World Series again because you insulted my goat”.

From their surrender of a 8/12 game lead in the 1969 race for the National League East division, to their collapse in the 1984 NLCS which included a ground ball going through the legs of first baseman Leon Durham in Game 5, and the infamous “Bartman” incident that lead to the Cubs to disintegrating five outs away from the World Series and losing the NLCS to the Florida Marlins, the Cubs have become known as the “lovable losers” for their inability to win it all.


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