When it comes to professional sports, it’s all about winning. Not just winning games, but coming out as the only team left standing at the end of the season. Teams try to acquire the best players so that they can win trophies, but this can be challenging, particularly if you do not have a history of winning. Some teams have never experienced what it is like to emerge as champions in their existence, whilst some teams have tasted glory but spend decades re-chasing this success to no avail. For many of these teams, you shouldn’t hold your breath.
10. Tennessee Titans – 54 years
The Titans started out life as the Houston Oilers in 1960, and things got off to a flying start. They won the first 2 AFL Championships ever (1960 and 1961), and they would appear in the third but fell to the Dallas Texans in a historic double-overtime game. They joined the NFL as part of the merger in 1970, but these would prove to be more challenging times. Fast forward to 1997, the team relocated to Tennessee and would play a season in Memphis before settling in Nashville, where they became the Tennessee Titans in 1999. This fresh start appeared to work for them, as that year they posted a franchise best 13-3 record and then marched to Super Bowl XXXIV. Here they fell to the St. Louis Rams after Kevin Dyson was tackled one yard short of the end zone at the end of the game.
9. Texas Rangers – 54 years
Established in 1961, the Texas Rangers have never won it all. For a long time it looked like a lost cause, but they have improved in recent times. They have won six West Division titles, all since 1996. In 2010, the Rangers won their first ever American League pennant after defeating the Yankees in six games. They then fell to the San Francisco Giants in their first World Series, and they would make it back to the big stage once again the following season where they agonizingly lost to the St Louis Cardinals in seven games. They earned a Wild Card playoff spot the following year, but they lost the Wild Card game to the Orioles. They have failed to make it back to the postseason the last two years, and there will be fears that it may be another long wait before they get a shot at claiming their first World Series.
8. Minnesota Vikings – 54 years
The Vikings are an expansion team that first took to the field in 1961, and in 1969 they would defeat the Cleveland Browns in the last ever NFL Championship game. Despite being favorites, they would lose Super Bowl IV to the AFL champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. Following this, the two leagues would merge and the Vikings would continue to be a dominant force. They made the Super Bowl again in 1973, 1974 and 1977, but they would lose each time. Although plagued on the big stage, the Vikings have been a successful team with 18 division championships and 27 playoff appearances (although they have not won a division title since 2009). The Vikings have never won it all in their 54 years of existence, although they came agonizingly close on a few occasions in their infancy. They will hope that their new stadium will change their fortunes.
7. Philadelphia Eagles – 55 years
The Eagles have three league championships to their name, but they have never won the Super Bowl. Their championships came in 1948, 1949 and 1960, and they have made two Super Bowl appearances but lost both times. The first appearance was in 1980 against the Raiders, and more recently against the New England Patriots in 2004, where they would lose 24-14. They consistently made the playoffs after this and picked up division championships in 2006 and 2010, but 2013 has been their only playoff appearance since then (they also won the division championship that year). They may not have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success and are enduring a lengthy drought, but the Eagles have some of the most die hard fans in the NFL. They have sold out every home game since 1999, and they are consistently in the top three for attendance.
6. Atlanta Hawks – 57 years
The Hawks last tasted glory 57 years ago, winning the NBA title in 1958 by defeating the Celtics 4-2. At the time they were the St. Louis Hawks, and 10 years later they would relocate to Atlanta. They would win conference titles again in 1960 and 1961, but they have not enjoyed much success since then. They went 48 years without advancing past the second round, but this all changed in 2015, which proved to be a fantastic year for them. They finished with a franchise best record of 60-22, went 17-0 in January and had four players in the All-Star game. They clinched the top seed in the East, and would defeat the Nets in six games before squeezing past the Wizards also in six games. They were then swept by the Cavs, and their inexperience showed in this round. The future looks bright under Mike Budenholzer.
5. Detroit Lions – 58 years
Throughout history, the Lions have been one of the more successful NFL franchises. They have four NFL championships, which puts them 9th in total championships out of the 32 franchises. In recent times they have not been successful, however, with their last trophy coming in 1957. They are one of four teams that has never played in the Super Bowl, and the only team in the NFC that has not. Up until recently it had been a particularly bleak period for the Lions, punctuated by an ugly 0-16 record in 2008. They have gradually improved since then, including their first postseason appearance in 12 years in 2011. They qualified for the playoffs in 2014 after an impressive season, where they posted a record of 11-5, but they would lose to the Cowboys in the wildcard round. It will be interesting to see how they fare in 2015.
4. Sacramento Kings – 64 years
The Sacramento Kings are the oldest franchise and one which has bounced around the USA. They first originated as the Rochester Seagrams in 1923, and they have since gone on to be the Cincinnati Royals, the Kansas City Kings and finally the Sacramento Kings (since 1985). Despite having such a long history, they are a franchise that has not enjoyed much success. They have one NBA title to their name, which they won in 1951 by defeating the Knicks in seven games. Fans will always wonder what could have been in the 2001/02 season, where they posted a league best 61-21 record and were favored by many to win it all. They faced the two-time defending champions, the Los Angeles Lakers, in the Western Conference finals, in what is known as one of the most exciting and controversial series ever. The Kings would contentiously lose in seven games and have struggled ever since.
3. Cleveland Indians – 67 years
Trophies seem to evade the city of Cleveland. The Browns last won 51 years ago, whilst the Cavs have not won in their 45 year existence. The Indians are fortunate to have tasted glory, but this was a whopping 67 years ago. They have won two World Series championships (1920 and 1948), but the most success they have enjoyed since is five AL Pennants and seven Central Division titles (which is the most in the division). In the 2007 ALCS against the Red Sox, the Indians famously blew a 3-1 lead and missed out on a golden opportunity to end their lengthy drought. The next time they made the postseason was in 2013 after securing the number one seed in the Wild Card standings, but they would lose 4-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2013 AL Wild Card game. The city of Cleveland continues to wait.
2. Arizona Cardinals – 68 years
The last time the Cardinals won a trophy was two decades before the first Super Bowl was played, and they have been to the playoffs just nine times since then. During the 2008/09 playoffs, they managed to reach the Super Bowl, but it would be agony for the Cardinals as they fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers on a last minute touchdown. The Cardinals are the oldest continuously run professional football team, having been founded in 1898. Throughout history they have endured many losing seasons, and in 2012 they became the first team to lose 700 games since their inception. They do have two NFL championships, however, with their first being a controversial victory over Pottsville Maroons, and the second championship coming in 1947 when they faced the Chicago Cardinals. Enduring such a long drought, you can be sure that you get no fake fans with a team like the Cardinals.
1. Chicago Cubs – 106 years
In 1907 and 1908, the Cubs won back-to-back World Series and everything was looking peachy. Nobody would have predicted that over 100 years later, they would not once have tasted glory again. They have appeared in seven World Series since then, but come up short each time and not had another shot since 1945. No matter where your loyalties are, you can’t help but feel slightly sorry for the Cubs, which is why they have been dubbed “The Loveable Losers.” There are all sorts of reasons and superstitions surrounding this drought, but perhaps the most notable is the “Curse of Steve Bartman.” In the 2003 NLCS, a fan named Steve Bartman interfered with a crucial play and it led to a collapse that saw them lose and fail to reach the World Series. “Maybe next year” is what they chant, but the longest championship drought continues.