The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians haven’t won the World Series in a long time. For the Cubs, it’s been 107 years. The Indians’ drought, meanwhile, is at 68 years. At the end of this year’s Fall Classic, one of the most infamous streaks in baseball will be over.
Since the modern NFL didn’t exist until 50 years ago, no franchise can match that kind of futility. But there are several clubs whose fan bases have almost exclusively experienced losing. And here at SB Nation, we think it’s time for that to end.
Which NFL teams are most like the Cubs and Indians?
New York Jets: The Jets are an easy comparison to the Cubs. Unlike the Red Sox, who consistently fielded competitive teams in the 86 years they went without a World Series, the Cubs have seldom even been in the pennant race. Prior to 2016, they hadn’t even qualified for the World Series since 1945.
It’s a similar story for the Jets, who haven’t hoisted the Lombardi Trophy since Super Bowl III. During this time, they’ve never returned to the Big Game.
As the Jets have shown this season, they’re not just bad. At their worst, they’re comically inept and dysfunctional. The Jets are a marquee, yet futile franchise with a passionate fanbase in a major city. Sounds an awful lot like the Cubbies. -Alex Reimer
The early 1990s Denver Broncos: It takes a certain level of team ineptitude to earn your own place in pop culture history. The Cleveland Indians did it when they inspired Major League, the classic story of Corbin Bernsen being cuckolded by a felon thanks to the magical power of voodoo. The movie was such a hit it spawned two sequels, each of which is the comedy equivalent of 90 unblinking minutes of World War I trench warfare.
The Denver Broncos achieved greatness on a similarly grand cultural stage, simply by not being the Dallas Cowboys.
Let’s flash back to Nov. 3, 1996. The Simpsons, in its eighth season, is still in its golden era of being one of the funniest, most subversive television series to ever exist. That evening, writer John Swartzwelder drops a Hall of Fame episode of television on the world: “You Only Move Twice.”
In it, Homer Simpson is lured away from home by the Globex Corporation. Its leader, Hank Scorpio, is a madman bent on world domination, but also a really great boss. He motivates Homer by digging into the man’s soul, unearthing Simpson’s one true dream — to own the Cowboys.
By the end of the episode, the Simpson clan is back in Springfield and Globex has taken over the eastern seaboard. Homer no longer works for Globex, but his former boss hasn’t forgotten about him. Scorpio has one final parting gift for his employee:
Marge: I think owning the Broncos is pretty good!
Homer: Yeah, yeah.
Marge: Well, explain to me why it isn't.
Homer: [Sighs] You just don't understand football, Marge.
Less than 16 months later, Denver raised its first-ever Super Bowl championship. If Cleveland can win three more games this season, they’ll ride Major League’s prophecy to glory a mere 27 years afterward. -Christian D’Andrea
The Cleveland Browns: When you think of championship droughts and sports futility, it used to be that you could just lump all Cleveland sports together. Then the Cavaliers won a championship, and now the Indians are facing off against the Cubs in the World Series. Things are looking up for Cleveland sports … except the Browns.
The Browns last won a championship in 1964, two years before the AFL-NFL merger. Both the Indians and the Cubs have had many postseason appearances, as have the Browns, but neither of these teams have anything to show for it since 1948 and 1907, respectively.
Since the Browns are sitting at 0-7, it doesn’t seem like this will be the season Cleveland’s NFL fortunes change. But with the recent success of the Cavs, and with the Indians’ shot to break its own World Series win drought against the Cubs, maybe there’s hope for the Browns in the relatively near future. -Jeanna Thomas
The Minnesota Vikings: When I think of the Cleveland Indians, I immediately think of their great teams from the late 1990s. Those teams were absolutely loaded, including a young Manny Ramirez. They were among the most exciting teams in baseball, and they won a ton of games. Somehow, however, they never managed to win a World Series despite two trips. And they haven’t won a ring since 1948.
When I think Minnesota Vikings, I think of a similar time. When a young Randy Moss powered the Vikings’ offense to new heights. They were so fun to watch and also won a ton of games with no championships to show for it.
Both teams have had several spurts where they are arguably the best team in the league. Even stretches of multiple years of contending. Since 1949, the two teams have combined to play for the championship seven times with no victories. Close call after close call after close call. All heartbreak. -Mark Sandritter
The Detroit Lions: This one is obvious.
The Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs were both famously cursed, and if there’s a football equivalent to that it has to be the Curse of Bobby Layne. When the Lions traded the quarterback to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958 — one year after beating the Browns in the 1957 NFL Championship Game — he reportedly said the team would "not win for 50 years." It turns out that quote probably isn’t even real, but try telling that to Lions fans who still haven’t seen their team in the Super Bowl.
Exactly 51 years after Layne supposedly cursed the Lions, the team drafted Matthew Stafford ... who happened to go to the same high school as Layne. The curse had to be over, right? Except the team still hasn’t even won a playoff game with Stafford. The last postseason win was in 1991.
Only the Browns join the Lions as a team around for every Super Bowl, but always on the outside looking in. The Lions are the only team that has ever put together an 0-16 season. It’s all been bad and these poor fans deserve something good. -Adam Stites
The Buffalo Bills: The Bills are just like the Cleveland Indians. Yes, the Bills could easily be compared to either team, but they are much more like the Indians than the Cubs. This is because both teams have come oh so close to championships, specifically in the 90s, and came up short.
The Indians had a great run in the 1990s, specifically between 1995-99. The team made it to the 1995 World Series, but lost to the Atlanta Braves. They then made it to the 1997 World Series, and lost in a dramatic Game 7 against the Florida Marlins.
The Bills infamously went to four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-93, and lost each one. These teams have had their chances to get their titles within the past quarter century or so, but it just never happened.
That’s also more painful than just being terrible for decades. -Harry Lyles Jr.