Super Bowl LI saw the Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots in 2017. It remains one of the most infamous meltdowns in football history because the Falcons threw the game away. The result haunted Dan Quinn for the remainder of his tenure in Georgia and also embarrassed fans. To be honest, it did more than this, because it traumatized them.
“I was nervous at halftime of the Super Bowl,” explained one fan. “I was slowly dying in the 4th. When the game ended in a tie, I knew we already lost. I sat down on my bed, took my Ryan jersey off, and held it. I sat on the edge of my bed and cried for a moment, then I finally realized Atlanta was destined to suffer forever. That Super Bowl sucked some real joy out of my life.”
The Arizona Cardinals have been around for a long time, but don’t have a lot to show for it. They’re one of the least successful franchises in the NFL with just two championships to their name. Meanwhile, they’ve only made a single Super Bowl appearance and never won the Vince Lombardi Trophy. When they did play on the biggest occasion in American sports, they lost to the Steelers.
One fan explained how he reacted to the historic defeat. “I went to bed,” he said. “I live in PA so it sucked to hear Steelers fans say “You almost had us there” for the next 5 years.” The Cardinals came so close to winning the game in 2007. It ended 27-23 in favor of Pittsburgh and Arizona rued their missed opportunity. This was their opportunity to seal immortality but they failed to take it.
The Raiders have inflicted a lot of pain on their fanbase over the years. They’ve embarrassed their fans on many occasions after many soul-destroying results over the decades. But one of the worst in recent history was the Tuck Rule Game. With less than two minutes left, Charles Woodson hit Tom Brady and the referee ruled it an incomplete pass and handed the ball back to the Patriots.
They duly scored the game-winning field goal and the infamous ‘Tuck Rule’ became historic. One fan explained how he responded to this chaos. “I went to take a leak and when I returned my girlfriend and the bartender gave me a funny look,” he said. “Like, oh man I hope this guy doesn’t kill himself. The refs had ruled the Brady fumble a “tuck” so they gave them the ball. My reaction was the same as any other Raider game disaster. Bleak indifference.”
“I destroyed my Chad Johnson jersey after blowing it against the Steelers,” revealed a Bengals fan. He was talking about the 2005 Wildcard game between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. After beating the Steelers a few weeks earlier, Cincinnati was full of confidence before the playoffs. But it turned out to be a false dawn because they threw away a great opportunity of victory.
One of the NFL’s most depressing franchises, Cincinnati only made a single Super Bowl appearance in their history. They hoped to go on a deep postseason run that season, but it all ended too early. In the end, the result was 31-17 after the Steelers came from behind twice. Furthermore, they shut down Bengals star Johnson. They went on and won Super Bowl XL against the Seahawks.
It’s easy to forget New York Giant Daniel Jones in the awful NFC East, but he had a phenomenal first start in the NFL. The quarterback put on a display for the ages against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that embarrassed their fanbase. “Blowing an 18 point halftime lead to Daniel F***ing Jones in his first-ever NFL start and then having a clutch final drive, only for our kicker to miss a 31 yard FG, after Saquon also got injured,” said one fan about his worst moment.
Times have become a lot better in Tampa after their 2020 season Super Bowl victory. But they endured a lot of suffering down the years before this. This defeat against the Giants was very typical of the franchise. Of course, there was controversy on the New York side because they dropped Eli Manning. However, Jones proved up to the task of downing Tampa in Florida.
The Washington Football Team and especially Dan Snyder have a long and unillustrious history of humiliating fans. We could have made a separate list on Snyder’s misdeeds alone. But one fan claims that the moment that embarrassed him the most involved Albert Haynesworth. “I was 16. I was living in Philly. Albert Haynesworth’s fat a** couldn’t be bothered to stand up. Ugh, I hid in my room to avoid my friends.”
The moment this fan is referring to was when Haynesworth lay down against the Philadelphia Eagles and declined to get back up. Immediately, the NFL branded him a ‘fat disgrace.’ This was the same Haynesworth who almost killed the Dallas Cowboys’ Andre Gurode by knocking off his helmet before kicking and stomping his head. Gurode required 30 stitches to repair the damage from the 320-pound tackle’s cleats.
“When Bud Adams stole our team to go to Nashville, I stopped watching football for the next decade,” revealed an Oilers fan. This is an entirely justifiable take considering the manner in which Adams uprooted the Houston Oilers’ franchise. In short, he wanted a new stadium in Texas’ biggest city but they said no. So he tore away their team and turned them into the Tennessee Titans.
Revisionism wants people to blame the Houston populace and paints Adams as being without fault. But he already threatened to drag the franchise to Jacksonville if Houston didn’t upgrade the Astrodome. He remains one of the city’s most hated figures because of the manner in which he removed a part of their identity. It embarrassed the NFL and is a shameful part of NFL history.
“With no doubt in my mind, Orlovsky stepping out the back of the end zone,” replied a Detroit Lions fan with a sigh. The former Lions’ quarterback embarrassed his fanbase with a real facepalm moment in 2008. This was during their winless season which we have already address. While the season as an entity humiliated this once grand franchise, Orlovsky provided a moment that summed it up.
The Vikings’ Jared Allen effectively chased him out of the endzone for a safety in one of the worst plays in Lions and NFL history. It mortified long-suffering Detroit fans and made them the brunt of many jokes. Furthermore, Orlovsky struggled to shake off this moment as it became a part of his legacy. Unfortunately, such a high-profile mistake is very difficult to erase from people’s memories.
We’ve made it the whole way through this list without a single Dallas Cowboys moment but that changes now. Here’s two in one, courtesy of Leon Lett. The defensive tackle had a unique ability to stumble at the worst times. He embarrassed his franchise in the most hilarious manner. “Probably the Leon Lett slide in the Snowbowl vs Miami,” agrees a Cowboy fan. “That was following the infamous Lett fumble in the Super Bowl the season prior.”
These two moments are amongst the most memorable mistakes in NFL history. Lett can point to the fact that ultimately neither of his high-profile errors mattered. He won the Super Bowl in both seasons and even added a third ring. But they were so ridiculous that it’s impossible to forget about them. Lett was the perfect player to define the chaos that comes with ‘America’s Team.’