As we are quickly approaching Super Sunday and all the hype and festivities that go with it, I have noticed a common theme among the sports talk shows and analyst. The New Orleans Saints have never been to or won a Super Bowl. Although they are not the only team to fall into this category, there are four other teams that have never taken part in the game, and 15 of the current teams have never won the Super Bowl including the Minnesota Vikings who lost to New Orleans in the NFC Championship Game, it seems that you just can’t talk about the game without this fact being mentioned. The Saints are not favored to win the game, so this also adds to that underdog feeling associated with sports. If your team is not in the game, this added information may turn you into a New Orleans Saints fan, at least for one day. But as far as championship droughts go, the Saints do not even come close to topping the list. There are eight other football franchises that have longer droughts, and if you include all four of the major American professional sports, they would only come in at number 18.
So, who are these other teams that have not won a championship in their sports for so long? I think I smell another Top Ten list coming. Some will be obvious, but a few might be surprising. To make it easier, I have ranked them by the date of their last championship. In the case of a team that has never won a championship, the date given is the first game they played. In the case of the New Orleans Saints, the date would be September 17, 1967. I have also limited my list to just American sports teams. Although I am sure there is a rugby team somewhere that hasn’t won it like 80 years, this list is confined to the sports I know.
Top Ten Worst American Sports Droughts
10 – Chicago Blackhawks – April 16th, 1961
The only hockey team to make the top ten, and one of the Original Six that helped form the NHL in 1926. The Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup three times, but a long history of ownership turmoil have help keep them from winning. The last time the Blackhawks made it to Stanley Cup Finals was back in 1992, but they were beaten by the Pittsburgh Penguins in four straight games. New ownership and a young team have revitalized hockey in Chicago, and the Blackhawks advanced to the Western Conference Championship last season, but lost out to the Detroit Red Wings. Of all the teams on this list, the Blackhawks would seem to have the best chance at ending their drought.
9 – Texas Rangers – April 10, 1961
The Rangers began life as the Washington Senators back in 1961, this was actually the third baseball team to play in Washington using the name, and the previous team had just left the year before, moving to Minnesota to become the Twins. To ward off threats against its antitrust exemption, MLB added two teams in 1961, the other was a new California team in Los Angeles called the Angels. While in Washington, the team only managed one winning season, and lack of ticket sales along with some questionable financial problems led to the team being relocated to Arlington where they were renamed the Texas Rangers. Since that time, the Rangers have only made the playoffs three times, and have a dismal post season record of 1-6.
8 – Philadelphia Eagles – December 26, 1960
In the days before the Super Bowl, the Eagles last won the NFL Championship in 1960. In all, they won three NFL Championships, the other two being in 1948 and 1949. They have made it to the Super Bowl twice, in 1980 where they were beaten by the Oakland Raiders, and again in 2004 when they lost to the New England Patriot. Since coming under new ownership in 1994, the Eagles have consistently done well, winning their division five times and making the playoffs ten time. But they just can’t seem to make that final step and win the whole thing.
7 – Atlanta Hawks – April 12, 1958
Another transplanted team, but this time several times over. The franchise was originally formed in 1946 as the Buffalo Bison as part of the National Basketball League. After playing just 13 games, they were relocated to Moline, Illinois where they became known as the Tri-City Blackhawks, and were one of the original 17 teams that formed the NBA in 1949. In 1951, the team was moved again, this time to Wisconsin, and the name was shortened to the Milwaukee Hawks. Four years later, the team moved yet once again, and became the St. Louis Hawks, where in 1958 they won their only NBA Championship. The team contended several times during the sixties, but never managed to capture another title, then in 1968 the team was sold and finally moved to Atlanta. Although the team did have some success during the eighties, the Atlanta Hawks have never managed to make it past the semi-finals.
6 – Detroit Lions – December 29, 1957
The Lions spent their first four seasons as the Portsmouth Spartans before moving to Detroit in 1934. After winning the NFL Championship in their second season as the Lions, the team remained pretty dismal until the 1950’s where they won three Championships in six years. After that, there is really not much to talk about. Since the inseption of the Super Bowl for the 1966 season, the Lions have only made the playoffs nine times, and have amassed a record of 1-9. Needless to say, the Lions have yet to play on Super Bowl Sunday.
5 – San Francisco Giants – October 2, 1954
Technically, the San Francisco Giants are yet to win the World Series, it was the New York Giants led by Willie Mays that won the 1954 World Series, beating the Cleveland Indians in four games. Since the move, the Giants have made it to the World Series three times, most recently in 2002, but there most famous series in San Francisco has to be the series of 1989. The Giants were swept by the Oakland A’s, but not until after a ten-day delay. Game three was scheduled for October 17, 1989 at Candlestick Park, but an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter Scale postponed the game until October 27th. The delay did nothing to help the Giants.
4 – Sacramento Kings – April 21, 1951
Yet another team that had trouble staying in one place. In their history, the Kings have won two championships. In just their second year as the Rochester Royals, they won the National Basketball League Championship, and they won their only NBA Championship in 1951. In 1957, the team was moved to Cincinnati, but it wasn’t until they moved again in 1972 that the name was changed. Between 1972 and 1975, the team split it’s home games between Kansas City and Omaha, and they agreed to change their name so that there would be no confusion with the baseball Kansas City Royals. The Omaha market was eventually dropped, and the Kansas City Kings were later moved to Sacramento in 1985. The Kings did have some moderate success in the early part of the last decade, but they never made it past the Conference Finals.
3 – Cleveland Indians – October 11, 1948
In 1901, Cleveland was one of the eight charter members of the American League, although the history of the team can be traced back to 1894 and the Grand Rapids Rustlers. When they originally joined the American League, they were the Cleveland Blues, but after several name changes, they settled on the Indians in 1915. They won their first World Series in 1920, but didn’t return to the fall classic again until they beat the Boston Braves in 1948. The Indians made it back to the World Series one more time in 1954, losing to the Giants, before starting a very long slide of losing years. It wasn’t until the mid nineties that the Indians became a dominate force in baseball, winning the American League Central six times in seven years. During that stretch, they reached the World Series twice, but losing both times, to the Atlanta Braves in 1995, and the expansion Florida Marlins in 1997. Seven post season trips over the past 15 years, have failed to produce any World Series Championships.
2 – Arizona Cardinals – December 28, 1947
Last year, the Cardinals were this year’s Saints. They reached the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. The last time they had even participated in a championship game was in 1948, the year after they won their last NFL Championship. But in those days, they were the Chicago Cardinals, where they competed directly against the Chicago Bears and played in Comiskey Park. In 1960, the team moved to St. Louis where they remained until 1987. During that time, the Cardinals only made the playoffs three times, never winning a game. After losing the Super Bowl last year, the team made the playoffs again this year, but lost the Divisional Game to the New Orleans Saints.
1 – Chicago Cubs – October 14, 1908
Ok, I am not going to dwell on this one for very long. We all knew who the number one team was. There is a reason why they called the team The Loveable Losers, although many of their current fans are not willing to accept that title anymore. The Cubs have won the World Series twice, in 1907 and 1908, both times beating the Detroit Tigers. Ironically, it was the same Tigers that beat the Cubs in their last World Series appearance in 1945. They did not make another post season appearance until 1984, where after going up two games to none against the San Diego Padres, they lost the next three games, ending their chance at the long eluded championship. This past winter, the Cubs came under new ownership, and it is in the hands of the Ricketts Family that the fate of the Cubs now rests.
The one good thing about being on this list is that it only takes one winning year to take you from the top to the bottom. Just ask the Red Sox and the White Sox. In 2004, the Red Sox ended an 86 year drought by winning the World Series for the first time since 1918, and the very next year, the White Sox ended their own 88 year drought, becoming World Series Champions for the first time since 1917.