Thursday, January 21, 2010
Hard Luck NFL Fans
I was watching ESPN the other day and they were showing NFL’s greatest games. The feature game was the 1998 NFC Championship game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Atlanta Falcons. This was the season where the Vikings went 15-1, sent 10 players to the pro-bowl and looked destined to meet the defending Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl. The Vikings were dominating the game early, but could never put the falcons away. The Vikings had a chance to go up by 10 and seal the game with Gary “35-35” Anderson attempting a 38 yard field goal. He ended up missing the field goal, and the Falcons came back to beat the Vikings in overtime. Great game when I watched it live and when I rewatched it now.
While I was watching it, I remembered a scene in the TV show How I Met Your Mother where Marshall is at a Minnesota bar with a sign that says, “I will drink until I forget the 1998 NFC Championship Game.” This got me thinking, man, Vikings fans have had it rough. Can they reverse their bad luck this season? Is there another fan base that has had it as tough as the Minnesota Vikings? I came up with 3 other contenders; The Buffalo Bills, the Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles. I am going to lay out each case for the most hard luck fans, and then let you decide who you think has had it the hardest.
Super Bowl Record: 0-4 (1969, 1973, 1974 and 1976)
The Vikings went to the Super Bowl 4 times in 8 seasons including 3 of the last 4 seasons in that run, but were unable to win any of them. They were heavily Favored in 1969 over the Cheifs but lost 23-7.
Non Super Bowl Heartbreak
The before mentioned 1998 NFC championship where Gary Anderson missed the game sealing field goal.
Super Bowl Record: 0-4 (1990-1994)
The Buffalo Bills used their no huddle offense to go to a record four straight Super Bowls, but were unable to win any of them.
In 1990 they sweeped through the AFC relatively easily and were favored to beat the New York Giants by 7. It was a close, low scoring game. The Bills had a chance to win the game, but Scott Norwood’s last second field goal went wide right by less than a yard.
Non Super Bowl Heartbreak
Music City Miracle
The Buffalo Bills started Rob Johnson in this game instead of 15 game starter and 10 game winner Doug Flutie, a move that only Wade Phillips know why it happened. Buffalo had taken a 16-15 lead in the closing seconds of the game on Steve Christie field goal. On the ensuing kickoff, Lorenzo Neal Received the Kickoff, handed the ball off to Frank Wycheck who then threw a lateral to Kevin Dyson who ran 75 yards for the score as time expired.
(Editor’s Note: I watched the entire game on my couch. The game was relatively boring and I feel asleep at the 2 minute warning. I missed Buffalo’s drive and score (with Rob Johnson only wearing one shoe) and woke up with from my dad yelling with excitement as Dyson crossed the goal line)
Super Bowl Record: 0-2 (1980 and 2004)
The Eagles, coached by Dick Vermeil and quarterbacked by Ron Jawsorski, were favored by 3 over the Raiders in 1980. The Raiders got up 14-0 in the 1st quarter and dominated the Eagles the rest of the game.
In 2004 the Eagles were 7 point underdogs to the Patriots. They scored first and matched the Patriots scoring output in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. They were down 10 in the fourth, and scored a TD to bring it within 3. They got the ball back with one last drive to try to win, but McNabb’s pick to Harrison with 9 seconds left ended the game.
Non Super Bowl Heartbreak
5 NFC Championship games in the 2000s, only 1 trip to the Super Bowl, 0 Super Bowl Wins.
The Eagles went to 4 straight NFC championship games starting in 2001, but lost their first 3. They finally won the NFC Championship in 2004 where the lost the Super Bowl. They returned to the NFC Championship games in 2008 where the lost the Arizona Cardinals.
Super Bowl Record: 0-0
The Cleveland Browns are 1 of 5 teams to have never reached the Super Bowl (Texans, Jaguars, Lions and Saints)
Non Super Bowl Heart Break
AFC Championship Games.
The Cleveland Browns played in 3 AFC Championship games in 4 years and all 3 were the Denver Broncos.
This game is best remembered for “The Drive”. Cleveland was at home and up 7 with 5:11 remaining. The Browns then pinned the Broncos down on their own 2-yard line with the wind in their face. John Elway led the Broncos down the field on a 98 yard touchdown drive that ended with a 5 yard pass to Mark Jackson to tie the game at 20. The Broncos ended up beating the Browns in overtime
A rematch of the previous years AFC Championship game, and this one was just as heartbreaking for the Browns fans. The game is best remembered for “The Fumble.” The Browns were on the road and marching towards the game tying touchdown. Earnest Byner took a hand off and appeared to be going into the score, when he was stripped at the 3 yard line with 65 seconds remaining. The Broncos took an intential safety and went on to win the game.
On the road again against the Denver Broncos, the Browns did not keep it as close as their previous two AFC championship game match ups. The Browns ended up watching the Broncos head to the Super Bowl instead of them for the 3rd time in 4 years.
This is a scary sight for Browns fans.
Super Bowl Heartbreak
Baltimore Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV
In 1995 the Cleveland Browns were Sports Illustrated’s pick to win the Super Bowl, this was also the year the team announced it would be moved to Baltimore, once the announcement occurred the teams performance deteriorated. The Team moved in 1996 and became the Baltimore Ravens and 4 seasons later won the Super Bowl. Ouch.
So there you have it, the 4 most hard luck fans in the NFL. So who had it the hardest? I tend to lean toward the Buffalo Bills because of their 4 straight Super Bowl losses including the gut wrenching wide right in their first one. I do feel bad for the Cleveland Fans to be so close to the Super Bowl, and never making it, only to see their “franchise” win it 4 years after leaving their city.
This week’s NFC Championship game will be interesting for hard luck fans. Either the Saints will make their first ever Super Bowl or the Vikings will be one step closer to forgetting about their hard luck of the past with a Super Bowl win.