There are some iconic franchises in pro sports who everybody knows such as the New York Yankees, the LA Lakers, and the Green Bay Packers. There are also teams such as the Kansas City Chiefs and Toronto Raptors who rise to the challenge and win a title. But not every team has a winning mentality or performance. Many are losers and have been that way for decades.
In fact, some teams seem to exist to lose. So today, we’re going to look at 25 of the worst franchises in the top sports’ leagues. Some of these are plain awful and have never done anything good in their history. Then there are those with a strong pedigree but their glory days are a thing of distant memory. Lack of ambition and poor front office management destroyed many of these franchises. Check out the list below via GQ.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars should rename themselves the M26 Pershings because they tank so often. One winning season in the last 12 years says it all. They actually weren’t terrible in their early days under Tom Coughlin but since then, the franchise barely treads water. Fans can rely on them to be one of the worst teams in the NFL, year in and year out. So at least they have consistency going for them.
Meanwhile, their decision making as a franchise is so bad that you could almost describe it as avant-garde. The selection of Leonard Fournette over the likes of Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson goes down alongside Anne Boleyn’s decision to marry Henry VIII as one of the worst in human history. Do they even have a losing mentality? The Jaguars are always content to mire in their own ‘unique’ brand of teal ineptitude.
The only thing that hurts more than following a team that never wins, is following a team that used to win and now does not. You can’t miss what you never had, but if you know what success tastes like, then missing out on it year after year is a horrible sensation. The problem for the Knicks is that you have to have been born in the 1960s to remember their two NBA Championship wins a decade later. The hard truth is that only old people remember.
They made the Finals one last time in 1998-99, but since then have been past the first round just once in the past 21 seasons. Not that they’ve even traveled as far as the postseason often. Six times in that period is poor by any team’s standards. It’s confusing how a team with such a massive profile and in such a big city can be so bad. Their losing mentality is down there with the very worst.
It’s official, the Falcons are awful. After going 7-9 in 2019, they clearly have a losing mentality and are finding it incredibly difficult to shake it. Their Super Bowl defeat left the franchise shellshocked. While they did post a winning season the year after, their confidence and quality has steadily dropped. Now they look like one of the worst teams in the entire NFL. Nobody expected that a couple of seasons ago.
The front office fired Dan Quinn but they will need to do more to lift the franchise’s toxic atmosphere and to change their mentality. We’ve seen awful defending and terrible decision-making – yes, we’re talking about Todd Gurley’s touchdown. They’ve got one of the best stadiums in the entire world and should be putting on performances worthy of it. It’s time for the Falcons to fly.
The Blue Jackets are one of the most boring teams in the entire nation. Literally nobody cares who they are or what they do. Because of this, they’ve developed a clear losers’ mentality. It’s almost as though they are happy to make up the numbers. Sure, they made the playoffs last season, but once again they didn’t get far. Essentially they never do and there really isn’t much else to say about this ailing franchise.
They have made the playoffs just six times since 2001. Ok, so they’ve been relatively consistent in crashing out early over the past few seasons but that’s the best we can say about them. Meanwhile, attendance ian’t great and they never draft anybody good even though they usually get an early pick. Why are we even still talking about them? They’re the equivalent of eating McDonald’s when you could have a ribeye.
Zion Williamson almost singlehandledly revolutionizes the Pelicans. We admit that. But they still deserve a place on this list for historic reasons. In 16 seasons, they have only posted a winning record seven times. For those who are bad at math, that means their overall record as a franchise is a losing one. Meanwhile, they’ve also had the problem of struggling to make people care about them.
The former Charlotte Bobcats are an oddity in a football-mad city. Rebranding as the Pelicans didn’t help their identity either because it’s possibly the least intimidating bird they could have chosen other than the puffin. However, the addition of one of the most exciting young players in recent memory in Williamson could encourage change in New Orleans. We’ll see if he can be to the ‘Big Easy’ as LeBron was to Cleveland.
‘America’s Team’ is traditionally one of the biggest and most valuable franchises in the country. But this doesn’t necessarily translate to success on the playing field. The five-time Super Bowl winners haven’t held the Vince Lombardi Trophy since 1995. But since then it’s been misery after misery for one of the most iconic teams in the entire nation. It’s almost sad to watch.
Currently, they have one of the worst defenses in the league and severe quarterback issues. Meanwhile, the front office needs to take some responsibility and create a coherent plan because that has allowed a loser’s mentality to take center stage. They want to win but they keep grabbing handfuls of sand that inevitably slip through their fingers. In sum, eight winning seasons since their last Super Bowl win is horrendous.
It doesn’t matter whether they’ve been in New Jersey or New York, the Nets are the same letdown either way. Changing state doesn’t alter the mentality or culture of a franchise. The Nets front office is constantly rebuilding which says a lot about their organizational skills. In sum, they had about two years of ‘glory’ when they made the NBA Finals twice. That was between 2001-03, but since then they haven’t come close.
In the 17 seasons since then, they haven’t made it past the first round of the playoffs. The only thing is that there is room for optimism. A fit Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant should make some difference to this strange, strange team. Furthermore, being in Brooklyn has helped them gain some sense of identity. Now let’s see if their big names can create a winner’s mentality. It’s going to be interesting.
One of the worst attended teams in the NHL, sometimes you just have to ask what’s the point? Who goes to Islanders except for people who want to experience a hockey game but can’t get Rangers’ tickets? Who loathes their children enough to doom them to the fate of following this grim franchise for the entirety of their lives? Sure, they won four straight Stanley Cups from 1979-1983, but that was back when the drinking age was still 18.
The Islanders do make the playoffs but there is rarely any danger of them doing anything dramatic. Meanwhile, their state rivals, the Rangers, are the most valuable franchise in the entire NHL. In sum, if you love hockey then you’re probably going to support the better team unless you’re actually from Uniondale. Like the Mets who come next, it’s tough to be in the shadow of a bigger franchise. That’s a tough mentality to shake.
Yet another terrible New York franchise, the Mets live in the giant shadow of the Yankees. They’ve made three World Series appearances in their history, including one galling defeat to the Yankees. But whenever they produce some level of hope it dies a harrowing death. It must be a wearying experience to attend their games and follow this team as a diehard fan.
When you have such big cross-town rivals, you need to have something else to make you special and separate you in the eyes of fans. Even making the World Series in 2015 almost feels cruel in hindsight because they came so close to glory but in the end, they let their fans down again. The big question is whether or not they can get themselves together and shed their inferiority complex and losing mentality.
The Wild have never won a Stanley Cup and it looks like they’ll never win one there. They are masters of being mediocre. What they’ll do is look kind of decent throughout the regular season and then crash out of the playoffs after the first series. You almost have to admire their consistency if it wasn’t so boring. If you’re one of their fans then we both respect and fear you because you’re a special type of person.
In short, this time lacks initiative or the desire to be anything more than average. A strong franchise can put a flyover state on the map – look at the Kansas City Chiefs. But the Wild don’t seem to care about that. They just exist like bloodsucking ticks. Nobody knows what their purpose is but they are always there and they keep coming back. It’s such a strange mentality for a franchise.
Somehow the Earthquakes’ front office sold Matias Alymeda the manager’s job in 2019. After a successful period in charge of Chivas in Mexico, the Argentinian found himself in high demand. However, it turns out that one man by himself can’t turn around one of the most useless franchises in North America. San Jose is historically bad and fails to offer anything to the competition.
Despite winning two MLS Cups in their history, they overwhelmingly finish in the bottom quarter of the league. California is a rare hotbed for soccer in the U.S. because of the massive Latin population and the success of L.A. Galaxy as well as the relatively new Los Angeles F.C. But this hurts the Earthquakes even more because there are better teams up the road. You need to win to make fans and the Earthquakes don’t.
Light is finally on the horizon for the Browns after a couple of the most damning seasons in NFL franchise history. However, let’s ignore 2020 for the moment and just look at their overall season records. They won just four games between 2014 and 2017 and became just the second team in NFL history to post a winless record the latter year. That is astonishingly bad by anybody’s standards.
Meanwhile, their most recent postseason appearance was way back in 2002 when they crashed out in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. It’s been a long wait for Browns fans. Furthermore, the team has had historic problems in the quarterback position and front office mismanagement has cost them badly down through the years. However, is a new dawn waiting for Cleveland? Time will tell.
First of all, does anybody in Florida actually know that the Panthers exist? We’re not sure because they traditionally have one of the lowest attendances in the NHL. Meanwhile, there hasn’t been much positivity on the ice to encourage fans to come to games. For example, despite being near the top of the draft every year, they’ve never picked a superstar. That’s fairly damning.
The Panthers have only made the postseason six times in their history. Their best run was in their third season in existence as they tore their way into the Stanley Cup. But since then they typically go years without featuring in the playoffs and then falling out in the first round. Ironically, the relative success of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2020 won’t make the Panthers any more popular.
The Suns are possible the second-most unlucky franchise in NBA history. Like the Seattle Supersonics, they were unlucky in that their best era was during the Chicago Bulls’ incredible reign. They fell narrowly short of NBA Championship glory with Charles Barkley as their main man. But at least, unlike the Supersonics, they can say that they still exist. Although going off of their most recent results it’s easy to forget that.
2019/20 was historic for Phoenix, but not for any good reasons. They went 10 years without making the postseason, one of the worst runs in their history. As the most successful side never to win the NBA Finals, this is scandalous. How they’ve devolved into this meandering, aimless franchise is one of the sport’s great mysteries. Hopefully, they can snap their losing mentality and get closer to the best teams again.
The Royals won the World Series in 2015 for just the second time in their history. But since then they have slipped back into their miserable ways. At least David Glass has packed his bags and left. If you can think of one franchise owner who didn’t deserve to win his sports’ biggest prize, Glass is near the top of the pile. Now it’s up to John Sherman to change the team’s losing mentality.
They missed out on the playoffs from 1995 to 2013. Meanwhile, they only posted two winning seasons during that period. Have they improved since their most recent World Series? In short, no. They’ve yet to return to the postseason. Their fans are desperate for Sherman to be their savior. It was almost cruel for them to win the World Series and then be so bad again.
The Wizards own one of the lowest winning percentages in the entire NBA. We’re not actually sure what the point of them is except to guarantee other teams at least one victory per season. The weird thing about the Wizards is how consistently average they have been. While there are other teams with lower winning percentages and worse overall seasons, nobody else is as successfully mediocre.
There is an upside in that they possess some exciting young players these days, but historically they are one of the most difficult teams in the NBA to follow because they just don’t do anything. Even when they had Michael Jordan they were rubbish. The Wizards did win an NBA Championship back in 1978 during their strongest era. But since then they’ve posted a ridiculous number of losing seasons.
Chicago is home to one of the most storied NBA franchises in the history of the league. Meanwhile, the Bears have had severe ups and downs in the NFL, but have a Super Bowl to their name and have a massive following. Then you get to the Fire, their MLS franchise and it all spirals out of control. In sum, this is one of the worst-run sports organizations in the world, nevermind North America.
Even their name is rubbish because when you type it into google, the TV show is the first result to pop up. They were successful in their first few seasons, even winning an MLS Cup in year one. But since then, this team experienced failure after failure. Furthermore, it’s not like they don’t spend money. They actually spend more than many European teams but utterly waste it. Overall, this team is an utter shambles.
Two words: Dan Snyder. That’s why Washington is so bad these days. After a 3-13 season in 2019 and increasing misery in 2020, it looks like they’re going to continue slipping into Loserville. Three-time Super Bowl winners with their most recent in 1991, an entire generation of Washington fans have grown up without seeing their team bring home the glory that fans expected over a glorious 10-year period.
Like their division rivals the Dallas Cowboys, Washington is on this list because they should be so much better. However, they’ve developed a loser’s mentality and Snyder’s reign of terror threatens to sink the franchise. With losing records for all four teams this season, it seems like the NFC East is a battle to see who can be the worst instead of the best. The last time they won more than 10 games was in their Super Bowl year. Since then, they’ve been mediocre at best.
Minnesota made the playoffs an astounding once since 2004. This is a team so historically bad that despite having Kevin Garnett for 12 years, they only made it out of the first round one time. You can talk all you like about being a small market team but that argument doesn’t hold up. The San Antonio Spurs are a case in point while the Milwaukee Bucks are moving forward now too.
It’s all about management, or in the case of the Timberwolves, a distinct lack of it. The front office has wasted generations of talent and clearly, fans can’t trust them to set things right. With a .396 winning record, it’s the lowest in the entire NBA. That’s quite simply embarrassing. In sum, Minnesota has a loser’s mentality like few other teams in America’s major leagues. Utterly grim.
If it wasn’t for Joe Montana, the Bengals could have been Super Bowl champions. But since then they’ve been absolutely awful. The main reason for their historic dreadfulness is Mike Brown. Does he even want to own a sports franchise? Founded after Paul Brown left Cleveland for an even smaller backwater, the Bengals were up against it from their muddy conception.
They once went 14 years without making the playoffs. Now after flirting with the postseason for a few years they’re looking to make it another five years away in a row. They do have one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the NFL in Joe Burrow so maybe having a loser’s mentality is just playing the long game. Only time will tell how he returns after MCL and ACL surgery.
The Texans are up here because some of their most recent decisions are very perplexing. For example, why did they trade of DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals? Hopkins is arguably the best wide receiver in the entire NFL but they said no, we don’t need him. How can you build a winning team with that kind of ludicrous mentality? Meanwhile, they have a genuinely good quarterback in DeShaun Watson.
But they took away his best weapon. Why not just tie his throwing arm behind his back? Overall, the Texans are a mess. They made the ridiculous decision to give Bill O’Brien the dual role of the head coach and GM. This was never going to end well because he was effectively answerable to himself. The Texans have made poor choice after poor choice. Shut them down and bring back the Oilers.
The Sabres are the proud owners of the worst NHL record since 2011. Unfortunately, they are good at something but that something is losing. Of course, this makes it much more difficult to incentivize fans to come to games and support their team. It’s strange because on the face of it they have done some things properly. Buffalo fans are passionate and continue to come to games, while they also have drafted well.
But the Sabres play very badly. They haven’t featured in the postseason for an agonizing 10 years. When you have the New York Rangers, the most valuable franchise in the NHL, downstate, then you need to get some good results. However, with such a bad organization, it’s difficult to see where they will get those wins. This franchise could and should be much more than it is. That’s what makes them so disappointing and puts them high on this list.
The Padres made the playoffs again in 2020 just to prove that the end of the world was approaching. This was only 14 years since they last featured in the postseason and only the sixth time in their entire history. But this team has always had a loser’s mentality. Founded in 1968, it took them 10 years to post their first winning season. Since then they’ve consistently disappointed.
In 1984 and 1998 they made the World Series but lost to strong Tigers and Yankees teams. But it’s the way they responded to these losses that is interesting. In short, we’re talking of years in the wilderness without making the postseason again. Furthermore, with the San Francisco Giants and LA Dodgers relatively nearby, this smaller franchise is always going to be up against it.
The Hornets have never made it past the Conference semifinals and to be honest, it doesn’t look like they will in the near future. Michael Jordan’s vanity project ironically hasn’t made him look good at all as they have become one of the most pointless franchises in the NFL. The irony is that they weren’t bad in the ’90s and were actually one of the hipster fans’ teams of choice. But their losing mentality is too big to ignore.
One issue is the comparatively small base. This means that every executive decision when it comes to drafting and trading players needs to be on point if you want to be competitive. But Jordan and his cronies have messed this up time after time. They’ve lost the likes of Gerald Wallace, drafted one of the biggest busts ever in Kwame Brown, and wasted number-one pick after number-one pick. It’s just endless misery.
One of just four NFL teams never to win the Super Bowl, it’s been a grim few years for the Lions. In truth, they could easily top this list because they’re just so bad year in, year out. Whenever they make the playoff, which isn’t very often, they inevitably crash out in the first round. Furthermore, in recent years they have one of the worst offenses in the entire league and no plan to sort it out.
A lack of identity and terrible ownership compounds this team’s problems. Historically the worst team in NFL history, they just don’t know what they’re doing. In sum, this goes beyond a losing mentality. It’s a losing culture. Only time will tell if they can ever snap out of this and end their fans’ purgatory. If a genie ever gives you a wish, ask to live as long as it takes for the Lions to win a Super Bowl.
Is there a more depressing franchise on the planet right now than the New York Jets? In sum, they are a complete mess with a loser’s mentality. Their only championship win came all the way back in Super Bowl III in 1968. But they’ve fallen a long way since Joe Namath was their starting quarterback. Including 2020, they’ve had one winning season in the past 10 years but missed out on the playoffs then too.
Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of their playoff appearances are in the wildcard round when they almost inevitably drop out right away. The problem is that when you’re so bad for so long, fans stop getting angry. When they stop complaining then that’s dangerous because it means they no longer care. I’m just saying that when your fans start wearing paper bags on their heads you should start worrying.