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We’ve all witnessed at one time or another a sports team have a season that just made you cringe. I mean, if I lose in ping pong game I’m bullshit for days. Never mind going through a whole entire season and barely scraping out some wins. That would suck. Then again, they do get tons of money to ease the pain of losing so… there’s that, I guess.
If you’re a student/obsessed fanatic of the different leagues like myself, you like to know as much about the history of sports as you can. Both the good and bad. Both the great and horrible. Both the legends and the comically inept.
The team that immediately popped into my head when I began thinking of the list were the ‘76 Buccaneers who are pretty much the poster boys for all time shitty seasons. Fortunately, I’m not old enough to have witnessed all of these teams’ sorry excuse for a season and that probably applies to you as well. Unless your pushing fifty and have a cataloging, photographic brain of course. If that does apply to you than, well, I’m sorry.
Teams were selected due primarily by their records since that’s how they’re judged in the actual leagues. Make sense? Good. Cue the list!
10. 1998 Denver Nuggets (11-71)
Out of the entire top ten, the Nuggets are the only team that I can actually remember watching. You didn’t watch Sportscenter to see if the Nuggets lost or not, you watched to see by how much. They came infamously close to the 76ers infamous nine win mark, with their tenth win turning out to be about the only exciting thing of the entire year. That is, if by exciting you mean barely avoiding becoming the worst basketball team in the history of the game. WOO-HOO!
9. 1935 Boston Braves (38-115)
Babe Ruth was actually on the Braves ’35 roster, but he was washed up and could barely run -- kind of like Barry Bonds, minus being a complete asshole. Ruth would only play in one game though, with the Braves younger players threatening to strike if he was kept on the roster. Apparently, all of the other players actually thought they were good, which, judging by their record was definitely false. They probably could have won some more games if they’d kept Ruth on the team, but that’s neither here nor there. They sucked and they sucked bad. Welcome to the basement of the building next to the Hall of Fame, boys!
8. 1916 Philadelphia Athletics (36-117)
The Philadelphia Athletics earn the title of worst team to ever play in the American League. In case you didn’t know, the AL has been around since 1901. They’re horrendous season is generally blamed on Connie Mack, who was a precursor to Marlins owners Jeffrey Loria. Both men were businessmen first whose love of money may have outweighed their perception of a contender. At least Mack didn't have a phobia of winning like Loria, though.
7. 1981 Winnipeg Jets (9-57-14)
Not much can be dug up on the Jets’ historically anemic 1981 season. Seriously, I tried every Google phrase I could think of. Maybe Canadians are just smart and don’t document things they don’t wish to remember. What I did discover was that the 1981 season was the Jets second in the NHL. When they joined the league, they were forced to give up many of their best players in what was called a “reclamation draft” which is actually a synonym for “highway robbery”.
6. 1975 Washington Capitals (8-67-5)
In addition to holding host to the worst record in NHL history, the 1975 Capitals are also disgruntled co-owners of the NHL’s longest losing streak with 17 games in a row (the other owner is the 1993 San Jose Sharks, they sucked too). It also could be argued that the 1975 Capitals had one of the worst logos ever. While it had all the basics (homage to hockey, different colors) it lacked anything more and ended up complimenting the Capitals bland, all that matters is we had fun play.
5. 1973 Philadelphia 76ers (9-73)
The 1973 Philadelphia 76ers posted the worst record the NBA has ever seen. The squad lost eight times as many games as it won and I think it’s safe to say that that’s one locker room you wouldn’t want to have been in. Unless the team was just a happy go lucky squad who didn’t really care whether or they won a game. That would definitely explain the miniscule amount of wins. I mean, they did live in the seventies after all. Regardless of the reasons, the 76ers will go down in history as the worst basketball team to have ever laced up the high tops.
4. 1899 Cleveland Spiders (20-134)
Out of every team on this list the Spiders ineptitude was influenced most by outside forces. The Robinson brothers, who owned the Spiders also managed to purchase the St. Louis Browns. Figuring they’d make the most dough in St. Louis, they proceeded to send all of their good players over from Cleveland. At least the Robinson brothers were entrepreneurs unlike Connie Mack. Yes, it was bad what they did, but you have to admit -- it’s pretty hilarious. The fact that no one said anything makes it even more so. With all of its good players gone, the Spiders would go on to have the worst season in pro baseball history. One paragraph doesn’t really do the team justice, but the entire season was summed up in its last game when they featured a local hotel clerk as their starting pitcher. He was racked 19-3 in what was not surprisingly his only pro appearance.
3. 1960 Dallas Cowboys (0-11-1)
In its first season ever, the 1960 Cowboys narrowly avoided losing all of its games and instead lost of all them and tied one. To be honest, I’d rather just lose them all. That one tie just makes it seem like it belongs in some other universe. To be fair, they were an expansion team and were playing in their first year as a team together. To be unfair, they really did suck, losing many of their games in blowout victories and failing to scrape out even just one win. Not a one.
2. 1942 Detroit Lions (0-11)
Even more surprising than the fact that the 1942 Lions lost every single game is how they managed to lose them. They were shut out in five of their eleven losses and averaged about 6 points per game in the ones where they managed to score. The Lions were the unanimous worst team to ever play in any sport for about thirty four years until a creamsicle colored cream puff of a football team would capture the crown.
1. 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-14)
Although the Bucs were also an expansion team in their horrible season, they lost in such a way that has never been replicated since. The Buccaneers loss margin averaged out to be about twenty points per game, they were shut out five times and they had the most heinous uniforms that may ever grace a professional football field. One thing that I did find incredibly interesting when educating myself on the worst team of all time was that Steve Spurrier was the QB. Yes, the old ball coach, former Florida Gator legend and current University of South Carolina football coach. The thing I want to know is, why isn’t this discussed more? Sure, he’s a great coach -- but the guy played on a team that was the worst in the history of living things. We always see clips of Archie Manning slinging interceptions in old Saints highlights, why not blind a couple of people and show some old Bucs highlights in HD during a Gamecock game?
It was not until the Bucs changed their uniforms in 1997 that they actually won on a consistent basis. Perhaps this was because no one could take a football team seriously who wore a light creamy orange uniform with a friendly pirate playfully biting a dagger on their helmet. Many have challenged the Buccaneers legacy, most notably in football and we may even see a team go 0-16 one day. But the Buccaneers horrendous season, along with their ridiculously non-intimidating uniforms will always be in the conversation when we talk of worst teams of all time.