The Yankees. The Canadiens. The Celtics. The Packers. Each name radiates with historical greatness. Indeed, it’s difficult to not imagine the glint of championship gold whenever you hear the names Lakers, Patriots, Red Wings and Cardinals (the St. Louis kind, not the one in Arizona.) Alas, while those tiffany franchises are considered the apex of North American pro sports, not every major sports squad is so lucky.
In fact, a whole bunch of them are totally and completely redundant, unnecessary and about as historically significant to their sport as chorizos are to Ramadan. The following ten NBA, NFL, NHL and MLB teams (I don’t consider MLS or especially the WNBA real pro sports leagues, and neither should anybody else) are unquestionably the dingleberries of American pro sports, the utterly needless, sadsack franchises who have done astonishingly little of note in their respective games, despite sometimes being around for decades and decades.
These are the teams with the least inspired fans, the least cluttered trophy cases and the emptiest Wikipedia articles, franchises with about as much value to their sports as Pauly Shore has contemporary box office power. Pity be upon any of the poor schmucks who support, follow, aid or abet any of the following teams – you miserable bastards have all our condolences.
#10 Los Angeles Clippers
If it wasn’t for the Blake Griffin era, this team would almost certainly have landed at the No. 1 slot. The entire existence of the Clippers is an absolute mystery; even with the Lakers recently establishing new standards of suck in pro basketball, L.A. has never – and never will – embrace their B-squad as anything other than something to forget about, like the city’s subway system and the fact Reno, Nevada is actually further west, geographically. In a league rife with redundant franchises, the Clippers might be the absolute most redundant of them all – still, since they have shown an ability to not only make the playoffs but even sniff the second round every now and then, we begrudgingly have to place them a few notches above a few other NBA failed states on this countdown.
Franchise Nadir: Either going 30 years between winning playoffs series or that time S.I. literally called them the worst franchise in sports history back in 2000.
#09 Florida Panthers
If putting an ice hockey team in the suburbs of Miami sounds kinda’ stupid to you … well, it is. Regardless, the gaudily-hued Panthers have been providing frustratingly inconsistent play to literally dozens of fans in south Florida for almost 30 years. Sometimes drawing barely a hundred people to home games, the Panthers would’ve been a lock for the No. 1 or No. 2 slot on the countdown had it not been for their miraculous 1996 Stanley Cup run – you know, the one that ended in abject misery when the Avalanche crunched their tacky red, orange and yellow asses four games to nothing. Alas, the fact the team has survived this long without being relocated to Quebec City makes them worthy of some admiration … or maybe just plain old pity, I’m not entirely sure.
Franchise Nadir: Failing to make the playoffs for 12 consecutive seasons – only to get bounced in the first round when they finally did make it back to the postseason and following that up by finishing with the NHL’s worst record the very next year.
#08 Phoenix Suns
Believe it or not, the Suns actually have the NBA’s fourth all-time highest winning percentage. However, that belies the team’s relative futility over the last 50 or so years, which comprises a good four decades of utter mediocrity only mildly offset by a few years of excellent play by Charles Barkley and Steve Nash. Although the team has made it to the Finals twice (both losses, of course) and made the playoffs 29 times, that doesn’t take away the sting of those other 20 lackluster, postseason-less seasons. And it especially does little to ameliorate the pain of failing to make the playoffs at all since 2010 – the longest such drought in franchise history.
Franchise Nadir: Not making the playoffs for the last seven years and/or having a mascot that’s better at dunking the ball than any of the team’s current players.
#07 Jacksonville Jaguars
Far and away the most inexplicable NFL team ever and perhaps the most inexplicable in the history of U.S. pro sports. Even now I’m not sure how a city that more or less represents the Florida/Georgia state line was even considered for a pro football franchise, let alone manage to keep it for the better part of three decades. With the team an almost lock to relocate to London over the next 10 years, the teal-bedecked Jags aren’t without some success on the gridiron – they’ve made a couple of runs at the AFC Championship and they were a perennial playoff contender for much of the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Still, the team’s lackluster performance over the last 10 or so years nonetheless makes them one of the NFL’s worst-operated franchises … and unlike the Browns and Lions, they can’t even reflect on their glory years from 60 years ago, neither.
Franchise Nadir: A 2012 campaign that saw the team post a franchise worst 2-14 record and a loss against the Raiders so bad, local TV affiliates apologized for airing it.
#06 Columbus Blue Jackets
The Columbus Blue Jackets are a team known exclusively for two things that each happened about 15 years ago – the early exploits of Rick Nash and that one time an errant puck at a game killed one of their fans (so if you’re looking for somebody to blame for that meshy, vision-obscuring netting at every hockey arena in the States, there’s your girl.) Sure, the Jackets have made the playoffs a few times since, but they’ve never gotten very far and to this day, they’ve yet to land a marquee name as big as Senor Nash. Add to the equation some butt-ugly uniforms and a tepid, glorified college-town home crowd and you have one of the least electrifying sports venues in the United States … mayhap the entire world.
Franchise Nadir: The 2001-2002 campaign ended with the team winning just 22 games and finishing the season with a goal differential of minus 91 – and that was just the first of four times they’ve finished dead last in their conference standings over the last 17 years.
#05 Winnipeg Jets
A small town market that literally lucked their way into scoring an NHL franchise because the upper brass in Atlanta couldn’t tell the difference between their collective asses and a hole in the ground. The second incarnation of the Jets haven’t fared anywhere near as well as the first iteration of the team, having made just one trip to the playoffs since 2011 – and even then, they got their asses smashed four games to nothin’ by the Anaheim Ducks. A team in dire need of starpower, the ex-Thrashers are pretty much relegated to the National Hockey League-equivalent of midcarder-for-life status; which raises the question – just how long until this team bolts out of Manitoba for more lucrative pastures again?
Franchise Nadir: Losing their first home game since 1996 to the Canadiens … 5-1.
#04 Minnesota Timberwolves
At the end of the 2003-2004 NBA season, the T-Wolves finished first overall in the Western Conference. Since getting bounced by the Lakers in the conference finals, the Timberwolves have yet to return to the postseason and haven’t posted a winning season at all since 2005. Hell, even in their “glory years” the T-Wolves never performed that well – despite making the playoffs seven consecutive years from 1997 to 2003, not once were they able to escape the first round of play. With hot up-and-comers like Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns, the franchise might be on the road to redemption, but unlike so many subpar NBA teams today, this is one that’s never really had a “golden age” to reminisce over. Shit, they’ve been in the league for almost 30 years, and can you name one memorable game outside of NBA Jam they’ve been in?
Franchise Nadir: Somehow finding a way to finish both the 2009 and 2010 seasons 38 games behind their division’s first place team.
#03 Milwaukee Brewers
Since the average MLB team has been around since the start of the Revolutionary War, just about every team in the pros has some sort of championship accolade in their past. Well, the Brewers are just one of eight franchises to never win the World Series, and unlike the Rockies, Rays, Astros, Rangers and Padres, they haven’t been able to even make it back to the October/Sometimes November Because of 9/11 Classic since 1982. From 1983 to 2016, the Brewers logged a grand total of just two playoffs appearances and just 12 seasons at or above .500, with the team’s most famous feat becoming its between-inning races featuring dudes dressed up in hot dog costumes. Taken as a whole, the Brewers might just be the least interesting team in the history of U.S. pro sports – shit, even their uniforms look generic as a bucket of Walmart-brand coffee.
Franchise Nadir: Finishing the 2002 season with an abysmal 56-106 record and – to rub salt in the wound – hosting the all-star game the same year.
#02 Cleveland Browns
I don’t believe in superstitious hokum like curses, but if there was ever a pro sports team that was hexed, it’d definitely be the Browns. Ever since winning their last NFL Championship in 1964, the Browns have been mired in a fluctuating cycle of cruel tragedy and abject hopelessness. They immediately lost back to back NFL Championship games in 1968 and 1969, managed just two playoff appearances in the 1970s, capped off the 1980s with three soul crushing AFC Championship losses to the Broncos and just when it seemed like they were starting to get good again in the 1990s – the whole damn operation gets uprooted and relocated to Baltimore, where they immediately pick up two Hall of Fame defenders and turn into a perennial playoff contender with two Super Bowl championships under the belts. Since being resurrected as the Browns 2.0 in 1999, the team has managed just one playoff appearance and only two winning seasons, concluding their ‘16 campaign with a hilariously awful 1-15 record. For the last 20 years the Browns have been a model of pro sports futility – and it doesn’t look like their luck will be changing for a long time to come.
Franchise Nadir: Leading arch rivals Pittsburgh 24-7 at the beginning of the third quarter in the team’s only postseason appearance in two decades … only for the Steelers to score 22 points in the fourth and win the game 36-33.
#01 Arizona Coyotes
Ice hockey, in the middle of a desert. Need I say anything more? Well, I suppose I have to, for the sake of being all journalistic and whatnot. The then-Phoenix Coyotes came to town via the relocation of the original Winnipeg Jets in the late 1990s. In addition to rocking the single ugliest uniform in the history of anything ever, the ‘Yotes would go on to lose in the very first round of the playoffs for the first four years of their existence. Only once have the Coyotes made it beyond the quarterfinals, and even then they got their asses poleaxed by the L.A. Kings en route to their first Stanley Cup win in ‘12. Since then, the Coyotes have failed to even qualify for the playoffs, continue to post among the League’s lowest attendance figures and seemingly only exist as a $500 million bargaining chip in case the city of Seattle finally gets the funding in place for a new NBA arena. In the rich history of the big four American sports, the Coyotes are quite possibly the only team in the annals of the NBA, NFL, NHL or Major League Baseball to never have what could rightly be considered anything even remotely resembling a “glory period.” Let’s face it; if all traces of the Coyotes ever existing vanished tomorrow, would anybody give a shit … or, for that matter, even notice?
Franchise Nadir: Having to be bailed out of bankruptcy by the League in 2008 and not being able to find anybody who wanted to own the team until six years later.