Lovable Losers

September 28, 2009 - 4:49 pm

For the first time since Dec. 23, 2007, the Detroit Lions finally were able to celebrate a win after snapping a 19-game skid with yesterday's 19-14 victory over the Washington Redskins. Last year, while becoming the first team in NFL history to post an 0-16 record, the Lions made watching Keanu Reeves and his gang of substitute players more enjoyable than catching a game at Ford Field. The 2008 Lions were not the only team in the league's history to scratch their claws trying to grasp a victory in any way, shape or form. In 1976, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made their franchise debut, hiring USC legend John McKay as coach and naming current University of South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier quarterback of the expansion squad. In their inaugural 14-game season, the Buccaneers were consistently tormented by defeat after defeat. To the distress of fans, players and coaches, Tampa Bay's disastrous rookie campaign would lead to an unlucky sophomore slump. Losing the first 12 games of the 1977 season, the Buccaneers finally were relieved from their misery when they won the final two contests to end the year with a 2-12 record. Detroit fans have experience with their home team being declared one of the worst of all time. Though the Tigers reached the World Series in 2006 and are in a position to clinch the AL Central and make another postseason run this year, they toiled through a brutal 2003 season in which their 119 losses gave them the disreputable record of most ever by an American League club. Tigers lefty Mike Maroth reached the mark that no pitcher wishes to attain by compiling an MLB-record 21 defeats to post on the Wall of Shame. While Yankees fans are partying after capturing the AL East title Sunday, their crosstown counterparts are reeling after the Mets finished up an utterly inauspicious opening season in their new Citi Field. However, as quickly as their season plummeted from the good to the bad to the ugly (think Luis Castillo), the 2009 Amazins' are not nearly as depressing as Casey Stengel's 1962 Mets. An expansion team like the Buccaneers, the Mets managed to win only 40 games and lose a modern-day record 120 while dwelling 60 games out of first in the division standings. (The 1899 Cleveland Spiders lost a record 134 games). What could be even worse than failing to reach double digits in wins in an 82-game season? The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers will be the first to relate among the teams of losers after going 9-73. They began the season dropping their first 15 contests and ended 59 games behind the Eastern Division champion Celtics. The 76ers won consecutive games on only three occasions. Air Bud could have lent this team a hand (or paw). The 1970s seemed to bring an array of worst teams. On the ice, the 1974-75 Washington Capitals joined the Buccaneers and the 76ers in the League of Extraordinary Losers by sliding to an 8-67-5 mark that still ranks among the worst ever in the NHL. An expansion club like the Mets and the Bucs, the Capitals had trouble motivating crowds to attend their frustrating games, managing to turn in only an .131 winning percentage and a revolting 1-39 record on the road.

Even though the Lions are finally able to exhale, they will forever be remembered as the first team to lose all 16 games in a regular season. Of course, they share the company of several other sports teams that are considered the worst in their sport, yet those are the few friends that no one wants to be on the same Top 10 list with. Congratulations on the win, Detroit. Hopefully, it will not be another 19 games until the next.