This one was a bit of a role reversal. When asked what his franchise’s most embarrassing moment was, an old Philly fan was quick to reply. “Throwing snowballs at that jolly fat f*** in the red suit,” he said. He summed it up pretty well because that definitely was an awful moment for one of the most loathed fanbases in the NFL. Christmas is a time of love and coming together but in 1968, the Eagles sealed their notoriety.
Santa Claus strolled out onto the field at Franklin Field for a big halftime show. But the fans weren’t happy because the team was dreadful and they blamed the owners. As Philly’s Stan Hochman said, “The fans pelted Santa Claus with snowballs because they would have needed a bazooka to reach the owner’s box.” The one thing that hasn’t changed is the actions of many Eagles fans leave the team embarrassed.
Depending on who you ask, Eli Manning was either an elite quarterback or just consistently solid on a good team. However, one thing that is certain is that there was a massive controversy in 2017. The Giants benched their greatest-ever QB for the first time in favor of Geno Smith. Brian McAdoo immediately attracted criticism because of the move. Furthermore, it didn’t work out and may have had a massive impact on the franchise’s progression.
“No one will ever come out and say it but I believe the reaction to Eli’s benching is a large part of the reason the Giants chose not to draft a QB with the second overall pick,” one fan told Bleacher Report. This is a bold take but one that stacks up. This incident embarrassed McAdoo and his minions, but it also had a profound impact on the franchise’s ability to compete over the next 10 years.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the grand old franchises of the NFL. However, being around for a long time means that bad things can happen. One fan explained that a loss to draft bust Tim Tebow’s Broncos left him mortally embarrassed. “For recent history, the loss to Tebow,” he said. “I’ve never been more upset or disappointed in my team ever in my life. The only thing that comes close is blowing the playoff game to the Chargers in ’95.”
Context is important to understand how bad this was for the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s inability to shut down one of the most inconsistent quarterbacks in NFL history tricked the watching world into believing that Tebow was a franchise quarterback. The highlight moment was a pass for an 80-yard touchdown by Demaryius Thomas in the first play of overtime. But it all went downhill from there for Tebow.
The Cleveland Browns have been around since the ’40s yet have never won a Super bowl. In fact, since 1999 they somehow managed to cause an eternity of pain for their fanbase. So much so that when analysts asked one fan what moment left him embarrassed, he had an emphatic response. “That time between 1999-2018 haha remember that time guys,” he replied. A lot of things have gone wrong in Cleveland.
Now, we could focus on their winless season in 2017 because this was literally rock-bottom for the franchise. But in truth, they’ve had a very rough time of it, with just three winning seasons between 1999 and 2020. Finally, they snapped their playoff drought in the latter year, but as this fan revealed, it’s been a tough go to be a Browns fan. They have embarrassed their fans and the city so often.
Similar to the Browns, the Buffalo Bills also suffered a lengthy absence from the postseason. As a result, one of the Bills’ Mafia agreed that this embarrassed him more than most other things with the franchise. Missing out on the playoffs was worse than losing four Super Bowls in a row. “As for a single moment, probably Nathan Peterman against the Chargers,” he said. “It takes a lot for me to turn off a Bills game and that was one of them.”
This is a good call because it was a truly awful game for the Bills. Their rookie quarterback was so out of his depth that it wasn’t right. If he was a racehorse, his owner would have sent him to the dogmeat factory after because it was that bad. The Chargers picked him off five times throughout a miserable game that saw the Bills lose 54-24. This definitely embarrassed the Bills Mafia.
An Indianapolis Colts fan made it clear that the moment that embarrassed him the most was the notorious fake punt against the Patriots. This humiliating play was the brainchild of Chuck Pagano but it’s safe to say that it didn’t work out properly. The worst part was that Griff Whalen, who initiated the play, had never practiced it before. The only reason that he was on the field was that Clayton Geathers suffered an injury.
“I find it hilarious that Chuck never even told Whalen about the purpose of the play (he wasn’t even at the practice), then asked him why he snapped the ball,” said the fan. Todd McAfee spoke to the media after the game and told them that the plan was actually viable. However, the fatal flaw was that Pagano hadn’t spoken to Whalen about him and filled him in on what they were going to do.
The Chicago Bears have endured their fair share of problems throughout the 21st century. Their last Super Bowl win was way back in 1986 and they also have had serious problems at quarterback. In terms of a single moment that embarrassed fans, there is one that stands out. The Sunday Night Massacre was one of the worst games in their history as the Packers blew the Bears out 55-14.
“Specifically, this after a bye week, which was right after the Pats hung 50 on us. F**k,” said one long-suffering Chicago fan about the 2014 game. The Packers established a ludicrous 42-0 lead by the midpoint of the game to the misery of the Chicago fans. It effectively saw the end of Marc Trestman’s reign in charge of the franchise and rightfully so. In sum, this was a very grim period.
“When Wilson tried to pass the ball to Ricardo Lockette instead of handing it off to Marshawn,” explained a Seattle fan about the most embarrassing moment in franchise history. This was one of the most analyzed plays in Super Bowl history. The Seattle Seahawks were on New England’s one-yard line. Instead of offloading to the marauding Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson attempted to pass to Lockette.
But Pats’ rookie Malcolm Butler picked it off and the rest is history. Of course, Pete Carroll later defended this play but it still embarrassed the franchise because of the visibility of the moment. Furthermore, Lynch actually had a poor record throughout the season from similar positions but fans overlooked this when they criticized Carroll for throwing the game away.
When one Cincinnati fan replied to this question, they had a great response. “I liked the question so I asked my dad who has had Bengals season tickets since 1984,” said the Bengal fan. “He said it wasn’t embarrassing, but he will never forget crying at a Super Bowl party after Tim Krumrie broke his leg.” This happened in Super Bowl XXIII when Krumrie broke his leg during a tackle on Roger Craig.
He was one of the Chiefs’ most important players and this was a massive turning point in their one opportunity to win a ring. The Niners stole the momentum and Joe Montana dominated the rest of the game. What could have been a turning point in the Bengals’ history turned out to be a rare false dawn. That’s because most of the time they are the bleakest NFL franchise in the country with the Jaguars.
The Denver Broncos traveled to San Diego for a game that would put the winner in control of the division. But the Broncos were down by 24 points by the halfway point of the game. After a quiet opening, Manning sparked to life and Denver scored 35 unanswered points. Meanwhile, it totally embarrassed the Chargers fans who mocked the famous quarterback through the first couple of quarters.
“We were trouncing the Broncos in the first half and Manning was doing nothing,” described one fan. “Then the stadium started chanting “Tebow! Tebow!” in a jab against Manning. Personally, I found it unbecoming and it just made me feel kinda disappointed in our fan base. Manning then came out and destroyed us, having what in my opinion was one of the most embarrassing second-half meltdowns I’ve personally watched.”
One quarterback from the first round of the 2011 draft class has won a Super Bowl. It wasn’t Cam Newton or Jake Locker but Blaine Gabbert. The Jacksonville Jaguars actually traded up several places with the Redskins to land Gabbert’s signature. But history isn’t kind to this decision. When a Jaguars answered the question of which moment in franchise history embarrassed him the most, he was emphatic.
“Passing up JJ Watt for the legend that is Blaine Gabbert,” he said. Obviously, there is recency bias there, but it’s a good point because Watt is a physical marvel. He went with the 11th overall pick, which was a great steal in the context of that weak draft class. Meanwhile, Gabbert went 5-22 as a starter in Florida and won a Super Bowl as Tom Brady’s backup. Not quite the franchise quarterback they hoped for.
The first Seahawks moment on this list was a doozy. But one supporter disagreed that it was the moment that embarrassed him the most. No, he gives full credit to former QB Matt Hasselbeck for the most cringeworthy moment in franchise history. “You might think the infamous pass is our most embarrassing moment,” said the fan. “I’m gonna go with “We want the ball and we’re gonna score!”
This iconic incident occurred in the 2003 NFC Divisional Round between the Packers and Seattle. The game went to overtime and Hasselbeck won the coin toss. Then, he turned to the camera and spoke those immortal words that haunt him forever. Inevitably, he threw a pick-six that cost his team the game and their Super Bowl hopes. But he did make the rest of the league laugh, so thanks, Matt.
“41-0 was comically the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” said a grizzled Minnesota fan about the end to their Super Bowl hopes in 2000. That’s an entirely fair assessment because it was one of the most humiliating endings to a season in NFL history. The Vikings fought their way to the NFC Championship game where they lost to the New York Giants. It was a crushing defeat that embarrassed their fanbase.
After an 11-5 season and a great win over the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round, the Vikings came into this game with hope. The worst part was that this was a strong Vikings’ team with the likes of Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper, and Robert Smith. Then, the Baltimore Ravens hammered the Giants to win the Super Bowl. It was one of those very strange seasons.
Catching a Miami coach snorting coke on camera sounds like the most Miami moment in the history of Miami. But this really happened and embarrassed the franchise and fanbase. “O-line coach doing lines on camera. That was cool,” said a Dolphins supporter sarcastically. The incident saw offensive line coach Chris Foerster resign from his position with immediate effect in 2017.
“I am resigning from my position with the Miami Dolphins and accept full responsibility for my actions,” said Foerster in a statement. “I want to apologize to the organization, and my sole focus is on getting the help that I need with the support of my family and medical professionals.” To be fair, this was in Miami so it’s surely the same as a Seattle coaching drinking Starbucks?
A Philly fan had a great answer to what moment embarrassed him the most about his team. “Probably the 2003 NFC game,” he said. “We were heavily favored with a veteran team, in our third straight NFC championship appearance, and couldn’t even score a touchdown. I don’t know about “most embarrassing” but that was probably the most dejected I was as a fan.”
It’s a very good call because that was one of the Eagle’s most insipid displays in playoff history. They faced the Carolina Panthers and were the favorites. However, the Panthers dominated and shut down the Eagles’ defense. Meanwhile, Donovan McNabb went 10-for-22 in a terrible game. The game finished 14-32 in favor of the Panthers and was a grim one for Philadelphia.
It’s almost not fair to ask a Detroit fan this question because they have suffered a lot throughout the years. However, the answer was instantaneous. “0-16. Haven’t won a playoff game since ‘91. Haven’t clinched the NFC North since ‘91,” said the fan. It’s a wonder anybody can bring themselves to care about this team anymore because they cause their fanbase so much pain.
In 2008, the Lions became the first team of the 16-game era to finish without a single win. The only previous winless season was in 1976 in the Buccaneer’s inaugural year. This is a shadow that they will never shake loose because it’s a moment of infamous NFL history. To say that it embarrassed their fans is an understatement. In sum, it totally humiliated them because it was pure misery.
“Gang Green” hasn’t had much to boast about since Joe Namath was in town. This is because the New York Jets have put their fanbase through a lot of pain and embarrassed them on multiple occasions. From the disaster that was Adam Gase’s recent reign, to Rex Ryan’s foot fetish, they’ve suffered a lot. But one on-field moment stands out more than any other. We’re talking, of course, about the ‘Butt Fumble.”
Alcohol doesn’t solve problems but it helps people to forget them. In the case of one Jets fan, this helped him to survive Mark Sanchez’s hilarious and horrific error. “I gotta admit, I was pretty sloshed by the time the butt fumble happened on Thanksgiving. Thankfully!” said the fan. But this failed play against the Patriots in 2012 instantly became a classic replay moment.
Sometimes fights happen on the football field because there’s a lot of testosterone out there. When players are too pumped they can release this intensity in a negative way. In 2010, the Houston Texans hosted the Tenessee Titans in a Week 12 game. Houston’s receiver Johnson and the Titans’ Finnegan had a strong physical battle it finally reached a peak.
Finally, Finnegan snapped and tried to land a cheap shot on Johnson. But the Texans’ star proceeded to put a beating on his rival. One fan said that Finnegan embarrassed the Titans. Not because he was fighting, but because he lost so badly. “Cortland Finnegan getting molly whopped by Andre Johnson was embarrassing solely because he started the s**t and couldn’t back it up,” the fan said.
The Baltimore Ravens had an extremely promising 2011-12 season. They went 12-4 and made the playoffs for the fourth season in a row. There was genuine anticipation that they could make a Super Bowl run but their hopes ended in a crushing fashion. The Patriots defeated them in the NFC Conference game after Baltimore wasted two massive opportunities to get the result.
First of all, Lee Evans missed a game-winning touchdown. Then, Billy Cundiff kicked a 32-yard field goal effort wide left. “When Cundiff missed the kick I turned the television off and laid on my stomach on the floor for 20 minutes,” revealed a Ravens fan. “Then I got into the liquor hard, boys.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only hangover suffered after this game.
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.’