Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson is set to jump into Lake Erie Friday, fulfilling a promise he made after predicting that his team would not go 1-15 again in 2017. Instead, they went 0-16, so he’s taking his lumps.
But then again, we’ve all had our bad sports predictions, haven’t we?
Maybe you thought the Browns were good for two wins in 2017. Or maybe you, like our own James Brady, noted football expert, thought in 2008 that quarterback J.T O’Sullivan was going to be a Pro Bowler under Mike Martz for the San Francisco 49ers.
Sometimes, you’re just unbelievably, spectacularly wrong. Sometimes, we all are. So let’s all go jump in a lake and collectively dunk on ourselves for what are some truly terrible sports predictions.
J.T. O’Sullivan to the Pro Bowl. The 49ers’ dysfunction certainly didn’t start with the firing of Jim Harbaugh. No, it started long before that, and it was in its heyday when Mike Nolan was the head coach and Mike Martz was the offensive coordinator.
Back in 2008, the 49ers signed Martz after a stint with the Detroit Lions, and Martz brought in O’Sullivan, who ostensibly “knew the system.” What followed was a sham of a quarterback battle against Alex Smith and Shaun Hill that O’Sullivan won solely because it wasn’t actually a battle at all. Martz, by that point, was more than set in his ways and was convinced he could keep doing the same exact thing regardless of the personnel and make it work. He could not.
But that didn’t stop me, in my first year of sports writing in any capacity, going all-in on O’Sullivan as a gunslinger who would not only get the job done, but make the Pro Bowl and take the 49ers deep into the playoffs. I went in hard on it, I believed firmly that this would happen. It did not.
At the time of his eventual benching halfway through the season, O’Sullivan and Brett Favre were tied for the league lead in interceptions (11), while O’Sullivan also led the league in fumbles (11). He was responsible for more turnovers at the time of his benching than any single NFL team. He was also sacked 32 times in just eight games. I will never give myself a pass for this. — James Brady
It is Game 7 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. The Bruins, once up in the series 3-0, are now staring a horrific collapse in the face.
[INT. A house in Cape Cod, empty except for two people. One, a Flyers fan, the other, a Bruins fan. Both intensely competitive with each other.]
Bruins fan: There’s no way they blow this lead. There’s no way! This Philadelphia team wasn’t even supposed to make the playoffs.
Flyers fan: You will probably regret saying that.
Bruins fan: I’ll go grab beers.
Bruins go up 3-0 in the game, and things look dandy.
Bruins fan: They already blew the 3-0 game lead, what are the chances they’ll blow this lead too? We’re fine! Stresssss free.
Flyers fan: No seriously you’re tempting fate here, stop talking.
Flyers come back to tie things up 3-3, and every Bruins fan in the country starts having heart palpitations.
Bruins fan: Wow, huh, Simon Gagne has had a decent amount of ice team tonight but I haven’t really felt his impact in any major way.
Flyers fan: What is WRONG with you?!
Simon Gagne almost immediately scores a goal on the power play to win the game and series 4-3.
And that, dear reader, is the story of how I learned to shut the hell up during important games. — Whitney McIntosh
I also thought the 2017 Browns would win some games — plural! Hue Jackson isn’t alone here, though I was smart enough not to promise to jump in a lake if I happened to be wrong for, pretty much, the first time in my life. I didn’t think the Browns would be good last season, but I did think they’d win somewhere in the range of 4-6 games.
It wasn’t until Corey Coleman’s final “my god, man, how do you not catch that?” drop that I ever really believed they’d go 0-16. Have I learned my lesson? Nah. I think the Browns will win between 4-6 games this year, in case anyone is keeping track of our future worst predictions. — Sarah Hardy
I picked LSU to win the national title in 2016. Head coach Les Miles got fired at 2-2. — Jason Kirk
I thought Vanderbilt would play Alabama close after the Commodores’ 3-0 start last fall. They lost by a million points instead and got outgained by nearly 600 yards. At home. One week after fans chanted “We want ‘Bama.” Cheering for Vanderbilt football is like riding a train whose only stops are “misguided hope” and “embarrassment.” — Christian D’Andrea
I thought Blaine Gabbert would be better than Cam Newton before the 2011 NFL Draft. I’m going to let this serve as my catharsis, because I’m ashamed of this one to this day. Before the 2011 draft, it was really unclear who the best quarterback was going to be. It was an honest-to-goodness crap shoot between Newton, Gabbert and Ryan Mallett.
It wasn’t so much that I thought Newton was going to be bad, I just didn’t think the Panthers had the tools to build around a quarterback with creativity. There were mammoth holes in Gabbert’s game too, but I truly believed with work he could develop into an Aaron Rodgers-esque passer with mobility in the pocket.
The worst part about this horrible take is that it’s really difficult to say in public without people assuming I’m just a horrible person. I am a horrible person, and this take was horrible. Luv u Cam. — James Dator
Nelson Cruz was the dumbest idea the Mariners ever had. He was aging, and Safeco Field was a notorious soul-sucker of a ballpark. Rereading this debacle of a prediction, I can’t fault the logic. But Cruz ended up being one of the best DHs the Mariners have ever had.
Heck, I’ll go so far to predict that Cruz will end his career as the best DH the Mariners have ever had.
What? Why is everyone looking at me like that? — Grant Brisbee
I thought Virginia would beat UMBC in the first round of the 2018 NCAA tournament. [silent weeping] — Caroline Darney
Michigan State would win the 2016 national championship. I make instant NCAA tournament predictions minutes after the bracket drops for this fine website every single year. Sometimes it works out OK, like when I picked Villanova to win it all this past March. Sometimes it does not, as anyone who saw my 2016 bracket predictions will tell you.
I thought Michigan State was poised to win it all. The Spartans had a senior star in Denzel Valentine, who was right there with Buddy Hield all season for the best player in the sport. They had tons of shooting. They had a very good defense. Then second-seeded Michigan State played No. 15 Middle Tennessee and it all fell apart.
We wrote that this was the biggest upset in NCAA tournament history when it happened. The honor would be short-lived, as UMBC secured that title forever only two years later. Even still, it remains shocking that what felt like one of Tom Izzo’s best teams underachieved so much. Thanks for making me look dumb, Middle Tennessee. — Ricky O’Donnell
I once said in print that the XFL was going to be awesome. I don’t often reflect on the many things I put down in newspapers during my career in print sports writing. Sports happen so fast and so often that many events just get overwritten in my mind.
Unfortunately, there are a few times in which something I put down in print has come back to haunt me in my idle thoughts. Like the time a headline read “XFL will be a hard, fast hit” and had my smiling mug under it. I was working at the Kenai Peninsula-Clarion in Alaska at the time. My sports editor, Jeff Helminiak, probably could have stopped me. He probably SHOULD have stopped me. But, then I couldn’t be adding it to this list of really, really bad takes.
As all of you know, I was horrifically wrong. The XFL was like getting invited to your cousin’s wedding in which he will be marrying another cousin (hey, don’t judge — I’m from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan). It wasn’t fun, even if you did tune in. And, please, avert your eyes when the words “You may kiss the bride” are uttered.
Oh, and the newest version of the XFL? This time, my take is that it is going to be a hard, fast hit — right into the gutter. No thanks. Fool me once, XFL, shame on you. Fool me twice, then I clearly need to hand out copies of the family tree because I’m not going to another cousin-cousin wedding, dammit. - Sam Eggleston
LeBron James couldn’t beat the Warriors. OK, this might not be my worst, but not only was I wrong, but we got an endless amount of “The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead” memes to go along with it. I have never counted out LeBron again since. — Harry Lyles Jr.
Want to fess up to any of your own terrible sports predictions? Let us know in the comments.