By Jim Caple
Page 2

As we detailed earlier with the Baseball Misery Index in the spring of 2004, rooting for a team can bring two types of misery.

There is the misery of being so close to a Super Bowl win that you can practically taste the Gatorade in the jug as the players sneak up on the coach … only to watch the football bounce off the upright. And there is the misery of enduring so many losing seasons that not even John Facenda could make the team's history sound interesting.

Six Facets of Misery
Historic despair: Has your team's history been so bleak it sells officially-licensed paper sacks to wear on your head?

Recent despair: Do you start looking forward to getting the top pick in the draft … during August two-a-days? Do you spend the last weeks of the season rooting for your team to lose so it can clinch the draft rights to Reggie Bush?

Historic pain: How many season-ending defeats have left you shaking like you just spent an entire afternoon trapped in an elevator with Drew Rosenhaus?

Recent pain: Is the anguish from a big loss so recent that you haven't repaired the TV screen yet?

Intangible misery: While subjective, this category takes into account misery (as well as apathy) not necessarily reflected in the won-loss record or on "Madden 2006."

Misery outlook: Are you preparing for the next round of the playoffs or already getting ready to boo the team's first-round draft pick?

Which is worse, getting left at the altar with nothing but the bill while Owen Wilson walks off with Rachel McAdams OR never even getting a date and spending all of your weekends eating TV dinners in your mom's house while watching "Supernanny"? Do a few recent years of enormous success overcome decades of attending games with a paper sack over your head? Do a few recent years of losing overshadow decades of riches from covering the spread? Or to put it more exactly to Steelers fans, do four Super Bowl rings in the 1970s offset Terry Bradshaw's singing "A Hard Day's Night" during the Super Bowl halftime show?

As Drew Rosenhaus might respond, "Next question, next question."

Unlike everyone's favorite agent, Page 2 is determined to answer these questions. To do so, we developed the Misery Index, a 60-point system that measures two types of fan misery -- despair (produced by losing seasons) and pain (brought on by agonizing ends to winning seasons). It also accounts for both historical and recent misery (though New Orleans fans might very well ask, "What's the difference?").

It's the same system we used with the Baseball Misery Index, but there was one major obstacle in compiling the NFL Misery Index that we hadn't faced before. Namely, what the heck do we do with all of the football teams that have moved?

The NFL has hosed fans so often in the past two decades that it's a tricky issue. Do you consider the Houston Oilers' woes when calculating the Tennessee Titans' misery? What about the Baltimore Ravens? Do you count the leftover angst from the Colts' midnight departure, or do you only consider the pain of dealing with Brian Billick's ego? And what of the Cardinals? Who is more miserable there? The fans in the city they left (St. Louis) or the fans in the city they moved to (Phoenix)?

NFL Misery
Caple: The NFL Misery Index
25 most miserable NFL moments
Vote: Which fans have suffered most?
NFL standings, 1979-2005
Updated! MLB Misery Index

In the end, we decided to focus on the city rather than the team. After all, it's not the teams that accumulate misery, it's their fans (along with mounting debt for personal seat licenses). And that type of misery remains in a city even longer than the exhaust fumes belching from a fleet of U-Hauls putting the pedal to the metal.

So for our purposes, Cleveland's misery index is based on the current team as well as the old Browns. Baltimore's ranking is based on the Ravens and the Colts. Houston's is based on the Oilers and the Texans. And so on.

Detroit's misery, however, is all its own.

Sportoon

1. Cleveland Browns
Sure, Cleveland once was an NFL powerhouse, winning three championships in the days before Roman numerals. But that was so long ago that America's heartland actually still manufactured things.

The decades haven't been kind to Cleveland since Jim Brown retired to the set of the "Dirty Dozen" to pursue his "acting career." The Browns have had more losing seasons than winning seasons in the past three decades. They've lost five games that could have sent them to the Super Bowl, losing three of them in a span of four years. They watched John Elway march the Broncos 98 yards for a touchdown in the final minutes of the AFC championship game on Jan. 11, 1987. They watched Ernest Byner fumble at the 3-yard line. But just when it seemed it could get no worse, owner/Satan spawn Art Modell stole the team and took it to Baltimore -- where the Ravens won a Super Bowl. Sure, Cleveland got a replacement team. But it stinks. It was like having someone take your Jim Brown throwback jersey and giving you a Jeff Garcia giveaway T-shirt in return.

Lousy teams, painful losses, a hijacked team. Sheesh. The only thing missing from the Browns' misery is Kathy Bates' crushing their ankles with a sledgehammer.

Cleveland Browns Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
8.5 8.5 10.0 6.0 10.0 7.0 50.0

2. New Orleans Saints
Forgive us for going off on a rant here, but if the NFL has so much damn money, shouldn't commissioner Paul Tagliabue take some responsibility, show some true leadership and really show a united way for the NFL? Hey, it's nice to promote charitable causes with those tear-jerking commercials, but how about actually doing something that really makes a difference? After fleecing communities of literally billions to build unnecessary stadiums, the NFL should do its part to rebuild New Orleans by paying for every dime of a new stadium. Then either subsidize Tom Benson enough money to shut him up about moving the Saints, or buy him out and have the league run the team until it's ready for another owner. New Orleans has suffered enough -- it doesn't need the richest and most controlling league in the world adding to its problems.

Then again, based on the Saints' history -- just seven winning seasons, only one playoff victory, and that ESPN The Magazine cover of Ricky Williams in a wedding dress -- perhaps the most charitable thing would be moving the team to Los Angeles.

New Orleans Saints Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
10.0 10.0 4.0 8.0 8.0 9.0 49.0

3. Houston Oilers/Texans
Years after the team left town, the misery still remains in the memory, not unlike that "We're the Houston Oilers …" jingle we can't get out of our heads. They lost twice in the AFC championship game. They've had 21 nonwinning seasons in the last 34 years. They humiliated themselves by blowing a 35-3 halftime lead to the Bills -- yes, the Bills! -- in the biggest choke in playoff history. After Elvis repeatedly failed to pick up the tickets Jerry Glanville left him each week in Houston, the team tried to better accommodate the King by moving closer to Graceland in 1997.

Worst of all, now Houston has to watch the Texans.

Houston Oilers/Texans Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
6.0 8.0 9.5 4.0 10.0 8.0 45.5

4. Detroit Lions
This is the sort of thing that happens to the Lions -- lineman Erik Andolsek was killed by a drunk driver while mowing his lawn.

That's real tragedy, as was Mike Utley being paralyzed, Chuck Hughes dying of a heart attack during a game, and head coach Don McCafferty dying of a heart attack before a season. But the fact that Detroit has won only one playoff game since 1957 is mostly due to a lot of bad quarterbacks ("And Ty Detmer is picked off again!"), inept management and terrible coaching (here's a hint: the next time you're in sudden death overtime and you win the toss -- take the ball). No wonder Barry Sanders abruptly retired rather than keep losing with the Lions. That was in 1999 and reflected good timing on Sanders' part -- the Lions went from 2000 to 2004 without winning a road game.

Detroit Lions Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
9.0 9.0 6.5 5.0 7.5 7.5 44.5

5. Minnesota Vikings
Forget about the four Super Bowl losses, Korey Stringer, the Herschel Walker trade, the missed field goal in the 1999 NFC championship game, missing the playoffs after starting the 2003 season 6-0, Mike Tice scalping the Super Bowl tickets, the Whizzinator, the Love Boat cruise, the move to the Metrodome, Jim Marshall's wrong-way run and all those Fran Tarkenton infomercials -- what STILL really ticks off Minnesota fans is the knowledge, the absolute knowledge, that the Vikings would have gone to the Super Bowl (and won it this time, dammit!) if that damn referee had only gotten it right and called offensive pass interference on Drew Pearson during Roger Staubach's Hail Mary pass in the 1975 playoffs. @#&%! @#&%! @#&%!!!

Minnesota Vikings Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
4.0 6.0 10.0 8.0 8.5 7.0 43.5

6. Buffalo Bills
How have they suffered? Let us count the ways:

Scott Norwood's kick sailing wide right. Thurman Thomas forgetting his helmet. Thomas' fumble and the blown lead at halftime. The Music City Miracle. Becoming a national punch line for failure -- their Super Bowl XXVIII loss led to a classic David Letterman Top 10 list, "The Top 10 Things Marv Levy Said at Halftime," including "No. 3. Let's plan exactly how you're gonna dump the Gatorade on me" and "No. 8, We've got a long ride home, so I don't want anyone wearing themselves out."

Let's see, does that about cover it? Whoops. No. Geez, how could we forget?

The Juice.

Buffalo Bills Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
6.0 5.0 9.0 5.5 9.5 4.5 39.5

7. Cincinnati Bengals
Was anyone surprised when Cincinnati played its first playoff game in 16 years and quarterback Carson Palmer immediately went down with a knee injury? If so, you shouldn't have been.

The Bengals have had one winning season since 1990. They lost to Joe Montana in Super Bowl XVI (how can you not score from first-and-goal at the 1?) and again seven years later in Super Bowl XXIII when they blew a fourth quarter lead with three minutes left (how can you give up a 90-yard drive with the title on the line?). And sure, Ki-Jana Carter's knee injury was a bad break. But what's the excuse for Akili Smith and David Klingler?

For crying out loud, they've been in the league nearly 40 years and their greatest contribution to the NFL is the Ickey Shuffle.

Cincinnati Bengals Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
6.5 8.5 8.0 4.0 7.5 4.5 39.0

8. Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks could disappear into Washington's Olympic Rain Forest and it would probably take six months before the NFL even started up a search party. About the only Seahawks moments fans outside of the Pacific Northwest remember is Bo Jackson bowling over Brian Bosworth on "MNF" and Matt Hasselbeck telling the refs that he wanted the ball and he was going to score against the Packers a couple of years ago. But trust us -- local fans know their miserable history all too well: the 21 consecutive years without a playoff victory, NEVER winning a game in the month of January (let alone February), the minus-7 yards of offense that one awful afternoon, former owner Ken Behring all but destroying the franchise, the Phil Luckett blown call, the near-move to Los Angeles, etc. But all of that could change in the next couple weeks if Seattle can finally reach the Super Bowl and give the city the championship it has long coveted.

Ahhhh, who are we kidding?

Seattle Seahawks Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
8.0 5.0 4.0 6.5 8.0 1.0 32.5

9. Philadelphia Eagles
Sigh. At least the Terrell Owens debacle means booing Santa Claus is no longer your team's most embarrassing moment.

Philadelphia Eagles Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
4.0 2.0 6.5 9.0 8.0 2.5 32.0

10. (tie) San Diego Chargers
Damn. If only it had been Ryan Leaf who insisted he would never play for San Diego.

San Diego Chargers Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
5.0 5.0 6.5 4.0 7.0 3.0 30.5

10. (tie) Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons traded Brett Favre on Draft Day 1992 and wound up with Tony Smith, who rushed for exactly 329 yards and two touchdowns. And in the Falcons' only Super Bowl appearance, Eugene Robinson was picked up for soliciting a prostitute the night before the game.

This is what they meant by Dirty Bird.

Atlanta Falcons Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
8.0 2.0 4.5 6.5 6.0 3.5 30.5

12. Arizona Cardinals
With just one winning season (but seven coaches) in 18 years and despicable ownership, it's hard to put a positive spin on this team, but here goes: At least Arizona fans didn't have to watch the Cardinals when they played in St. Louis. And they don't have to watch them in Arizona, either, because those games are always blacked out.

Arizona Cardinals Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
5.0 9.0 1.0 2.0 4.0 7.0 28.0

13. (tie) Indianapolis Colts
OK. So the Colts haven't been to the Super Bowl since moving to Indianapolis. But we bet John Elway would play for them now.

Indianapolis Colts Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
5.0 1.0 6.0 8.0 5.0 1.0 26.0

13. (tie) Kansas City Chiefs
They can always say they played in Super Bowl I and won Super Bowl IV, but the glory days are growing ever more distant (why, oh why, did they draft Todd Blackledge instead of Jim Kelly or Dan Marino?). Heck, even the Royals would have made a playoff opponent punt the ball at least once.

Kansas City Chiefs Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
4.0 4.0 4.0 5.0 4.0 5.0 26.0

15. New York Jets
There was the Dennis Byrd tragedy. And there was the Browning Nagle tragedy. There was the regrettable move to the Meadowlands. And there was the Rich Kotite Era (complete with the Sunday of 55,000 No-Shows). But like Bogie, Ingrid and Paris, Jets fans will always have Broadway Joe and Super Bowl III.

New York Jets Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
5.5 4.0 3.5 3.0 3.0 4.0 23.0

16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
They went 0-14 in their first season, lost their first 26 games, had 18 losing seasons in their first 21 years, lost Doug Williams to the USFL, went with Vinny Testaverde instead of Steve Young, lost Bo Jackson to the Memphis Chicks, played in a stadium named after Houlihan's, fired Tony Dungy … and don't even bring up that winking pirate on the old helmets.

Odd, isn't it though, how one Lombardi Trophy can make up for so many years of sucking?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
9.0 1.0 3.5 0.0 6.0 2.0 21.5

17. Chicago Bears
The Bears have won just three playoff games since 1985. Sweetness died. The front office fired Ditka. Someone thought making Dick Jauron head coach was a good idea. They absolutely ruined Soldier Field. And the Super Bowl season was so long ago now that the Refrigerator would be considered too small for the offensive line. But they won their division this season, and even after all of these years, memories of Sweetness, Samurai Mike, Danimal and the rest of the gang still choke us up as much as the ending of "Brian's Song."

(Or maybe it's the memory of Fridge singing in that video that makes us want to weep.)

Chicago Bears Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
5.0 3.5 2.0 2.0 5.0 3.0 20.5

18. St. Louis Cardinals/Rams
Nice timing, St. Louis fans. Not only did you get the Rams just in time for the Kurt Warner years, you got rid of the Cardinals.

St. Louis Cardinals/Rams Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
6.5 1.5 3.5 4.0 1.0 3.5 20.0

19. Baltimore Colts/Ravens
This is a tough one. Granted, losing the Colts in the dead of the night is still one of the most notorious moments in American sports that did not involve Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis or running back Jamal Lewis. On the other hand, Baltimore was only too willing to drive the getaway vans when another city's team was stolen a decade later. Shame on you, Baltimore. We're docking you misery points for this.

Baltimore Colts/Ravens Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
5.0 1.0 8.0 1.5 1.0 3.0 19.5

20. Green Bay Packers
If Favre's career really is over, we have only two words to say to him:

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. …

Green Bay Packers Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
6.0 1.5 2.0 3.0 2.5 4.0 19.0

21. (tie) New York Giants
A couple of NFL championships from the old days, two Super Bowl championships and a third Super Bowl appearance more than offset Joe Pisarcik's fumbled handoff. Although maybe not Lawrence Taylor's coaching gig in Lingerie Bowl I.

New York Giants Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
4.0 2.5 2.5 2.0 2.0 3.0 16.0

21. (tie) Carolina Panthers
OK, maybe it was a tad painful to watch Adam Vinatieri kill your Super Bowl hopes with that field goal. But you always have your cheerleaders.

Carolina Panthers Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
1.5 2.5 3.0 4.0 2.5 2.5 16.0

23. Jacksonville Jaguars
There was a time when expansion teams had to suffer through years of losing seasons and were forced to stand up and sing their college fight songs at the training table before being taught the league's secret handshake. But the Jaguars played in the AFC championship game in their second season. Sorry, but that means there's a moratorium on any whining about that loss to the Titans.

Jacksonville Jaguars Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
1.0 3.0 5.0 3.0 1.0 2.0 15.0

24. (tie) Tennessee Titans
Sure, it must have been agonizing to see Kevin Dyson fall one yard short of the end zone in Super Bowl XXIV. But for God's sake, don't let Houston fans hear you whine.

Tennessee Titans Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
2.0 3.0 4.0 1.0 0.5 4.0 14.5

24. (tie) Oakland Raiders
Look, no one made you invite Al Davis back to town.

Oakland Raiders Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
0.5 3.0 5.0 2.0 1.0 3.0 14.5

24. (tie) Miami Dolphins
All right, already. You guys are the only team to ever go undefeated and win the Super Bowl. Whoopie. Now, shut up and defend Dan Marino's performance in "Ace Ventura."

Miami Dolphins Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
1.0 1.0 2.5 4.0 2.5 3.5 14.5

27. Washington Redskins
The Daniel Snyder years have left fans feeling like (pick your analogy):

A. Joe Theismann after Lawrence Taylor twirled his leg like a pencil sharpener.

B. George Allen after he received another secret "trick" play from Richard Nixon.

C. John Riggins after he passed out under the banquet table.

D. Steve Spurrier after he was told, "Mr. Snyder would like to see you in his office."

But with three Super Bowl championships, the return of Joe Gibbs and their stubbornly proud display of the most offensive mascot in American sports, Washington gets no sympathy here.

Washington Redskins Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
2.0 3.5 2.0 2.0 1.5 3.0 14.0

28. (tie) Pittsburgh Steelers
You know the inane "How does it feel?" questions sideline reporters are forced to ask after a team loses the Super Bowl? Back when Lynn Swann drew that duty, we always thought it would be great if he phrased it this way:

"How does it feel to lose a Super Bowl? No, the producer in the truck isn't telling me to ask you that question -- I really want to know. I mean, I played in the Super Bowl four times and we always won. When we were celebrating and dousing ourselves with champagne and singing and dancing and thinking about how this meant we would all go into the Hall of Fame, I always wondered how the other team felt. So, that's why I'm asking you now. How does it feel to lose the biggest game of your life? Pretty bad, I'm guessing."

Pittsburgh Steelers Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
1.5 1.0 2.0 5.5 2.0 1.5 13.5

28. (tie) Denver Broncos
And to think. All those years of misery finally came to an end with consecutive Super Bowl victories, all thanks to a new helmet containing a sleek image of a horse face.

We're talking about the new logo, by the way, not Elway.

Denver Broncos Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
1.5 1.0 5.5 1.0 2.0 2.5 13.5

30. San Francisco 49ers
A certain Page 2 regular contributor who shall remain nameless complained recently about the woes of his 49ers. We won't mention his name, but he also speculated that he might have to find another team to start rooting for. Kurt Snibbe did this, mind you, in front of longtime Seahawks and Vikings fans.

San Francisco 49ers Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
1.0 3.0 1.0 1.5 1.0 3.5 11.0

31. New England Patriots
Hopefully with nine NBA titles, three Super Bowl titles, three Stanley Cup championships and now a World Series within the lifetimes of most New Englanders, Boston fans will finally quit plaguing us with their "No One Has Ever Suffered Like Us" bull.

Hey guys. Tell it to Cleveland.

New England Patriots Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
3.0 0.0 4.0 0.0 3.0 0.5 10.5

32. Dallas Cowboys
You want misery? How about having to listen to an arrogant, insufferable, obnoxious franchise appoint itself "America's Team"? Look guys, you're not America's team just because you had a White House.

But the cheerleaders, them we still like.

Dallas Cowboys Misery Index
Historic despair Recent despair Historic pain Recent pain Intangible misery Misery outlook MISERY INDEX
1.0 3.5 0.0 1.0 1.5 3.0 10.0

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com


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