Would you believe that out of 43 Super Bowl games and 32 teams in the NFL, there are still some teams that have never made it to the Super Bowl?
With recent appearances by first timers like the Seattle Seahawks (Super Bowl XL) and last season’s Arizona Cardninals, the list has been dwindled to just five teams. Hopefully after last weekend’s draft, some of these teams are looking towards next season as a “maybe” year for them.
The Detroit Lions actually started out as an independent professional football team in 1929 called the Portsmouth Spartans from Portsmouth, Ohio.
The following year, the team joined the NFL due to the financial strain of The Great Depression. In 1934, the team moved to Detroit, Michigan and was then called the Detroit Lions. Before the age of the NFL Super Bowl games, the Detroit Lions won a total of four NFL Championships: in 1935, 1952, 1953, and 1957.
The Lions have made it to the playoffs only nine times in their history and only made it past the first playoff game once. In 1991, the Detroit Lions beat the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional Playoff game to go to the NFC Conference Championship where the Washington Redskins deflated their hopes of going to their first Super Bowl.
In the 1990s, due to their explosive offense and running back Barry Sanders, the Lions made it to the playoffs five times: in 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1997, and 1999. The Lions haven’t made to a playoff game since then, but the fans of Detroit are still true to their team (even after going 0-16 last year!)
The Cleveland Browns started as a football team in 1946 as a member of the AAFC (All-American Football Conference) and became a member of the NFL when the AAFC ceased to exist in 1950.
Amazingly, from 1946 through 1949, the Browns won all four AAFC Championships. Also, in 1950, 1954, 1955, and 1964, the Cleveland Browns won the NFL Championship title. However, the Super Bowl had not yet been invoked. The first Super Bowl was in January of 1967 for the 1966 football season.
As the years went by, the Browns would make it to the playoffs every now and again, but never made it to the big game. On November 6, 1995, Art Modell, owner of the Browns announced that he was moving the team to Baltimore for the 1996 season.
To make a long story short, several legal battles ensued due to taxpayers losing money due to Modell’s decision. The city also won the right to keep the legacy of the Browns in Cleveland. Therefore, the team going to Baltimore consisted of the Browns’ players, but could not be called the Browns. Hence, the Baltimore Ravens were born.
Early in 1996, the NFL announced that the Cleveland Browns would be deactivated for three years and in 1999, they would either acquire a team from another city or they would get an expansion team. In 1999, the expansion team Cleveland Browns were created. Since then, the Browns have still not been to the Super Bowl. To add insult to injury, in the football season of 2000, the football team called the Baltimore Ravens (originally the Cleveland Browns) not only made it to Super Bowl XXXV, but beat the New York Giants 34-7.
Also, over the course of the Super Bowl years, the Cleveland Browns have gotten so close to the Super Bowl that they could taste it. In 1986, 1987, and 1989, the Browns went to the AFC Conference Championship game, but lost each time and they have been to the playoffs a total of 14 times. The ill-fated city of Cleveland’s story of how they were “robbed” of the Super Bowl by owner Art Modell is a heart wrenching one.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints were an expansion team in 1967, but for two decades, the team with the holy name didn’t seem to have any heavenly intervention, as they couldn’t even make it to the playoffs. The team’s first four times in the playoffs were 1987, 1990, 1991, and 1992, and they were bumped out in the Wild Card game. Several years later in the season of 2000, the Saints won their first NFL playoff game to the Rams but lost the Divisional game to the Vikings.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans as the entire city was destroyed and countless lives were lost. Due to this devastation, the Saints’ stadium was destroyed. That season they had no home games and had to practice in San Antonio, Texas. Between being geographically displaced and dealing with the emotional devastation, the New Orleans Saints finished the season with a record of 3-13, the second worse in the league.
These events allowed the New Orleans Saints the ability to draft running back Reggie Bush for the 2006 season. Reggie Bush and the other New Orleans Saints NFL football players rose to the occasion and gave the city a huge lift when they finished the regular season with a 10-6 record and went into the Divisional playoff game to beat the Philadelphia Eagles. They made it to the NFC Conference Championship, but lost to the Chicago Bears.
The Jacksonville Jaguars is one of the youngest teams in the NFL and has only been around since 1995 as it entered the league as an expansion team. Though they haven’t ever been to the Super Bowl, the Jacksonville Jaguars have made their mark on the NFL. In the 1996 football season, which was only the second season that the team had been in existence, The Jaguars not only went to the playoffs, but they beat the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card game and beat the Denver Broncos in the Divisional game. The New England Patriots stopped them in their tracks in the AFC Conference Championship game.
Jacksonville has been in the playoffs five other times out of its thirteen seasons in the NFL and went to the AFC Conference Championship another time in 1999, but lost to the Tennessee Titans. In the case of the Jaguars, I don’t really think that they’ve been dealt bad luck so much as it’s not their turn to go to the Super Bowl yet. I do feel that fate will be on their side.
The Houston Texans, the youngest team in the NFL, was founded in 2002 as an expansion team as well. Though they’ve only been in the NFL for six seasons, the Houston Texans are the only team in the NFL never to play in a playoff game. They’re definitely not off to a good start, as their best season was in 2007 with a 8-8 record; the worst season was in 2005 with a record of 2-14. They are still a very young NFL team, so there’s still a lot of hope that they won’t go down in history ill-fated like some of the teams mentioned above.
Which of these teams will make it to the big game this year? Do the Detroit Lions have what it takes to make the biggest turn-around in sports history? Will Drew Brees and his Saints live up to their powerful potential? We’ll have to just wait and see, kids.