|Readers: Worst NFL team|
From the Page 2 mailbag
Earlier this week, Page 2 listed its choices for the 10 worst NFL teams of all time, but we knew there were others and as usual, we wanted your take. We received more than 875 letters on the dispute, and here's how you ranked them.
Be sure to vote in the poll at right to crown the greatest team ever to grace -- or disgrace -- the gridiron.
Only the completely inept Ford family could totally revamp a mediocre Lions management team and make things worse -- A TV color man as the general manager?! A head coach who kept trying to shove a square peg into a round hole by running a West Coast offense with personnel not tailored for it.
Marty Mornhinweg benched Charlie Batch for Ty Detmer after one subaverage performance! Detmer proceeded to throw seven interceptions against the Browns ... but he remained the starting QB for the next game! The season was all downhill from there.
Last year's squad was just the latest and greatest in a long series of pathetic teams. I am giving them bonus points for being consistently bad over a 40-year period. More points for having some of the worst quarterbacks of all time -- Charlie Batch, Scott Mitchell, Carl Sweetan, et al. ... More points for the worst coaching and front office in the NFL (always some guy named Marty, or Fred or Whatshisname) and finally, tally a few more for making you think they might just win, prior to their inevitable slide back to mediocrity and beyond.
The Detroit Lions are by far the worst team ever, any year. How many times can you watch a team struggle to make it to the playoffs just to lose the first game -- whether it's the first round or a wild card? Then, if they can't make the playoffs, they screw up a chance at the No. 1 pick by winning two games. Hell, they still would've drafted second at best because it was an expansion year. They can't win for losing.
Speaking of the draft, let's just take the Lions for the past 10 years or so. How many times can you sit through draft day feeling sick to your stomach watching your picks just waste away (Andre Ware, Aaron Gibson, Chuck Long ...).
In '99 we drafted Chris Claiborne before Dante Culpepper and Jevon Kearse. In '98 -- Terry Fair over Randy Moss. When it came down to linebackers, we took Reggie Brown over Ray Lewis in '96. Let's take it back to '90 -- Andre Ware before Emmitt Smith? Yeah, I know hindsight is 20/20 and we drafted Barry Sanders the year before, but could you imagine that backfield combo? We might as well just sell our first-round picks like we did in '93.
And boy doesn't it pay to remain a Lions' faithful? The fans have been rewarded with a new stadium 20,000 seats smaller than the Silverdome and with a quarter less tailgating space -- tailgating being one of the few guaranteed pleasures of attending a Lions game!
Don't forget the players. Herman Moore? Sent him packing, thanks for the memories. Chris Spielman, thanks for keeping the team together through the Wayne Fontes era ... have fun in Cleveland. Johnnie Morton? Forget about him because we've paid top dollar for somebody's third or fourth option who has the fumbles.
And let's not slight the Great One. How can you frustrate the best running back ever, to the point that he would rather retire -- in his prime -- than continue to play the sport?
Welcome to the Lions organization -- worse than the worst.
You're kidding, right? This is a joke. The '76 Bucs are the most god-awful louts ever to disgrace a football field. Our 1987 scab team could have routed them. If any of you self-obsessed New Englanders even try to push the 1990 Pats into first place, I'll personally drive up there and pour hot chow-dah on your groin.
The inaugural Bucs were the worst. Our coach didn't give a damn, our receivers couldn't catch, our offensive line was weaker than tin foil and our defense looked like they'd drunk a pint of Nyquil before the game. That, plus Steve Spurrier hadn't yet figured out a way to make his insanity work for him. Wearing replica jerseys of this city's home team back in those days was equivalent to walking up to someone and saying, "Hi, I'm a loser."
There are two remarkable things about this team. One is that they actually managed to produce a bona fide hall-of-famer, Lee Roy Selmon (who never has to pay for a drink, meal or table dance as long as I'm around). The other -- they've spent every year since '76 trying to top their initial incompetence. Doug Williams, Steve Young and Trent Dilfer were all brilliantly released before they were able to provide central Florida with a Super Bowl win. And Tony Dungy was fired for the unpardonable sin of rolling off six consecutive winning seasons. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will not tolerate being perennial contenders ... they have a history to live up to!
As a Buccaneers fanatic, born and raised in the Tampa area during one of the greatest losing streaks in NFL history, I can truthfully tell you that I, like many of my fellow Bucs brethren, have a sick sense of pride, joy and love for our team. We have the 1976 expansion disaster to thank for giving us such passion. One could view that team as the beginning of a curse -- a curse that has all but dominated Buccaneers history. It was as if God, fate and all forces supernatural had led the Bucs to eternal misfortune.
Anyone remember Bo Jackson's refusal to be drafted by the Bucs? How about the cold factor in 40 degrees or less, 0-20 lifetime? My personal favorite -- quarterbacks who never succeeded in Tampa, but once they left, went on to the land of playoffs and Super Bowls (see: Steve Young, Vinny Testaverde, Chris Chandler, Trent Dilfer, Doug Williams).
Excluding the success in the 1979-81 seasons, Tampa has been the whipping boy of the NFL for nearly two decades (1976 to 1996). I know my fellow Bucs fans were saying stuff back in the day like, "Well, it can't get any worse than this." I think that's up to opinion ... but we who endured the taunting, labelling and abuse of all those golden years of gray, we have long been awaiting these last few years of bliss ...
The following week after a media member had dropped off a case of bananas at his door he said, "You guys don't know the difference between a football and a Mercedez-Benz." Pure genius! The only highlight in an otherwise Dante-esque type tragic season.
3. Cincinnati Bengals (95 letters)
Consider that Cincinnati hasn't had a winning season since 1989. They are widely considered to be the worst team of the 1990s for any professional team in any sport, and its losing record is extending into the 21st century.
My kids don't get excited about pro football because their dad's team has been the butt of jokes and the laughing stock of the league for their entire lives. If the past decade is any indication, then I'm in the last precious weeks when there is hope of a playoff run, but most of the city has already given up entirely.
Then there is this weird thing of them winning like two or three of the last games of the year, when nothing matters, and saying how it gives us momentum for the next season. Give me a break.
Mike Brown is the greatest in the league. Why? He makes money on the least amount of possible effort. I believe he is a genius for getting cash out the fans' pockets for the cheapest NFL team out there ... then he makes a profit on a losing team (hello, baseball owners and players, take cue from Brown and learn the benefits of revenue sharing)!
Pick any season in the past 13 years, and its no wonder players call this place "The NFL Siberia."
4. 1996 New York Jets (80 letters)
What happened? Johnson did more with his mouth than on the field, O'Donnell got hurt early on after doing nothing and they had to use the terrible two of Frank Reich and Glen Foley (a.k.a., the guy the Jets gave up Jeff Blake for) and the team crashed into oblivion. Except for the emergence of Wayne Chrebet, I don't see a single thing coming out of that season that was positive for the Jets. Well, that and maybe Rich Kotite being canned.
For being such a god awful disappointment, they deserve the top spot.
They were so bad ... they were fun to watch! In college, my roommates and I were (and still are) die-hard Jets fans, we couldn't wait every week to watch the "Jest" blow another game. It was not a fatalistic attitude, but a realistic one. They found remarkable ways to blow games every week, even when they had seemingly insurmountable leads in the third and fourth quarters. They were 3-13 the year before, spent a ton of money (Neil O'Donnell, etc.) on free agents in the offseason and were actually worse!
With Rich Kotite "leading" the team, they were hopeless. With basically the same roster the next year, Bill Parcells guided them to a 9-7 record, making even more glaring the atrocious play of the '96 Jets. Kotite's Klowns were a team for the ages.
5. 1990 New England Patriots (68 letters)
What a circus! ... Sexual harassment charges were brought against three players by a female reporter. There was a bar room brawl between Irving Fryar and Hart Lee Dykes (their No. 1 pick a couple of years before) resulting in an eye injury that would eventually end Dykes' career. The last game of the season was a home game against the Giants ... knowing no local fans would go to the game, the Patriots promoted the game in the New York area instead. It resulted in their best attendance figures of the year, but everyone was a Giants fan so it felt like an away game in Foxboro.
The team set record attendance lows, plus the media was hoping the team would move to St. Louis so a new expansion team could take their place. I was the only Patriots fan around -- and I lived in New England!
I really don't understand how your staff named the 76 Bucs as the worst. Here's why:
I am damn proud to be a die hard Buccaneer fan (tears rolling down my face as I look skyward). You always hear about the Packers fans, the Redskins fans, the Browns fans, and so on ... but most of them have a Super Bowl victory (or at least went to the Super Bowl).
I was 9 years old when I went to my first NFL game. I saw Billy Simms of Detroit run all over the Bucs. They were decimated. On that day that I understood America's love of the underdog. I have never hopped on to another winners bandwagon. My loyalty has been steadfast. On that fateful day in January of whatever year, in whatever city, I hope they hoist the Lombardi Trophy high into the air, clad in disgusting orange and white jerseys with a somewhat sexually questionable figure biting a dagger emblazoned on their helmets!
With that said ... The 1990 Patriots should be worst.
6. 1989 Dallas Cowboys (41 letters)
The only win of the season against Washington. The Cowboys' top running back was Paul Palmer (remember him?) with his 446 yards rushing and the very Frankenstein-like Aikman finishing second with 302 rushing yards! Kelvin Martin (Kmart!) lead the Cowboys in receptions (46) and yards (644), while future Pro Bowler, Michael Irvin finished with 26 grabs for 378 yards. (Mr. Irvin had not yet mastered the art of the push-off) The kicking game was horrible with Roger Ruzek and Luis Zendejas hitting a combined 10 of 20 field goals.
The '89 Cowboys were shut out three times that year and managed to score more than 20 points only four times!
I don't care what its for, if I can give an "ineptitude vote" to the Dallas Cowboys, I'm a happy Page 2 voter.
7. 1980 New Orleans Saints (37 letters)
But, this year ... watch out! The Saints are marching into the playoffs!
Now that I am in Los Angeles, I still pull for them every week and if the game is televised, rest assured my entire apartment building knows it (and probably wonders why). I will always remain optimistic, but still, the memory of 1980 burns feverishly in my mind. I wore a bag at home ... I was only 9! I watched the games with my dad, I think I learned every curse in the book in 1980. God bless Archie Manning ...
8. 1981 Indianapolis Colts (34 letters)
It was the beginning of the end for one of the most storied franchises in football history. Let me stop, it's painful for me to bring back those long suppressed memories of that team!
The Bucs were dreadful, but they were an expansion team in the days before expansion drafts. My vote goes to those horrendous '81 Colts (perhaps give co-worst team to the '81 Pats). Colts, were last in defense, (allowing a record 553 points) and 26th in offense. If it weren't for the equally awful Patriots being in their division, they probably wouldn't have won a game.
I remember the last game of the season against the Pats. I'll never forget my father dubbing it, "the Stupor Bowl," ... watching it was guaranteed to bore you into a senseless stupor! They may not have been the worst team on paper, but there could not have been a worse season. At least the Bucs were comical to watch. The Colts and Pats of that year were just plain bad. No wonder Elway made such a stink about being drafted by them.
9. St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals (22 letters)
Heck, these guys can't even build a stadium with free money.
The Cardinals, any team, any city, any year ... I'd rather watch paint dry.
10. 1992 Seattle Seahawks (20 letters)
That's when it all started -- the "not enough fans" at Seahawks games. While the Bucs of 1976 may have the worst record in NFL history, the Seattle Seabags have the worst franchise in history.
Also receiving votes