Biggest Embarrassment in Every NFL Team's History
Failed draft picks and blowout defeats dominate the list of the biggest embarrassments in NFL history. No team is safe from the type of follies that shame a franchise name.
Some have been victim to improbable comebacks. Others have blown their closest shots to glory in one play of infamy.
Some have endured an entire season of inept performances. Others have let one bad game forever define an otherwise stellar team history.
1. Dallas Cowboys: 1-15 Season in 1989
The warning signs were there for the Cowboys in 1988. That season they finished 3-13, and that doomed the storied tenure of franchise linchpin Tom Landry.
The team was sold to Jerry Jones, who promptly brought in Jimmy Johnson to patrol the sidelines. But before Jones and Johnson could deliver the team of the '90s, they had to embarrassingly exit the '80s.
There was plenty of humiliation to go around in the 1989 season. Johnson's first team won only one game and stumbled through one calamity after another.
In among all the losing, Jones and Johnson even traded away star player, Herschel Walker, a move not too well-received by the Cowboys' faithful at the time.
Of course, this season of ignominy was merely the starting point for a dynasty. The lumps the Cowboys took in '89, including trading Walker, paved the way for three Super Bowl wins in four years.
So maybe the embarrassing footnote of the Johnson-era Cowboys deserves to come with a disclaimer. However, a 1-15 finish for a franchise as grandiose and successful as the Cowboys will always be a point of shame, no matter what came after.
2. New York Giants: "The Fumble" vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 1978
Joe Pisarcik and an over-the-hill Larry Csonka contriving to lose from a seemingly impossible position is still the biggest embarrassment in New York Giants history.
In a game against their most bitter rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, Big Blue self-destructed in farcical fashion. The Giants simply needed to run down the clock and earn a victory that would have had significant playoff implications.
They were using fullback Csonka to do exactly that. At least that was the plan. With only 31 seconds left, Pisarcik somehow made a complete mess of the handoff and fumbled the ball.
Sadly, he fumbled it right into the path of Eagles defensive back Herman Edwards. He ran it in for the score and the saddest chapter in Giants history was written.
3. Philadelphia Eagles: 2003 NFC Championship vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Philadelphia Eagles lost four NFC Championship Games in the 2000s. But the most painful came in January 2003.
A powerful Eagles team was entertaining the upstart Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Eagles had whipped the Bucs in the playoffs both of the previous two years and were expected to brush them aside again.
They also had the extra motivation of playing the final game in Veterans Stadium. The stage was set for Philly to send the old stadium off in glorious fashion.
At least it was until Warren Sapp and the Buccaneers trampled all over the stage and the Eagles in the process. Late, great Eagles defensive guru Jim Johnson's blitz schemes were defeated by some select big plays through the air.
As for Tampa Bay's defense, Monte Kiffin's star-studded unit produced possibly their finest postseason performance. Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber and Co. destroyed Donovan McNabb and the Eagles offense.
Barber had a sack and sealed things with a 92-yard interception return for the last of Tampa Bay's 27 points. The final game at the Vet saw the Eagles on the wrong end of a 27-10 scoreline and blowing another chance to at last win a first Super Bowl.
4. Washington Redskins: The 2009 Season
It is painful to know the Washington Redskins are the team that lost to the Cowboys in 1989. It is painful to know the Redskins lost the 1940 NFL title game 73-0 against the Chicago Bears, still the biggest margin of defeat in league history.
However, for true humiliation, nothing compares to the 2009 season. That year came together to form an entire catalogue of embarrassments.
First there was free-agent disaster Albert Haynesworth making off with $100 million and then playing as if he did not even belong in a semi-pro league.
Then there was losing to the Detroit Lions in Week 3. A team that failed to win a game in 2008 and owned a 19-game losing streak.
Things only got worse from there for the Redskins. Owner Dan Snyder publicly undercut cringe-worthy head coach Jim Zorn, by dragging Sherman Lewis away from calling bingo to call the offense.
Since Mike Shanahan was hired in 2010, there has been a healthy section of Redskins fans who worship his every move. The two-time Super Bowl winner can do no wrong.
This was sometimes difficult to understand, especially when Shanahan was winning only 11 games in the two years before last season. But Shanahan was so well-received because his hiring represented credibility for a franchise that looked as if it had lost that quality for good after 2009.
5. Chicago Bears: William Perry's Touchdown in Super Bowl XX
To some, or even many Chicago Bears fans, this might not rank as an embarrassment, but it certainly should. There is no other way to describe the decision to give the ball to mammoth defensive tackle William Perry in Super Bowl XX.
During their glorious 1985 season, Perry had emerged as something of pop culture phenomenon for the Bears. The rookie played his part on Chicago's legendary defense, but the player dubbed "the refrigerator" earned his fame thanks to his exploits as a runner.
Head coach Mike Ditka had taken to using Perry as a goal-line runner. It was a gimmick that amused many. But it had no place in the Bears' biggest game ever and at the expense of maybe their greatest player.
When Perry scored on a one-yard plunge in the Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, the game was already won. Chicago had a 37-3 lead late in the third quarter.
The ball should have gone to running back Walter Payton. He was one of the best ever at his position and had been the Bears' star during their lean years.
The Patriots had singled him out for special attention and kept him contained throughout the game. However, few can doubt that the great back would have taken it in from the 1.
Payton deserved his moment of glory in his first and, as it turned out, only Super Bowl. Instead, Ditka shamefully indulged the gimmick play and the celebrity status of Perry.
Years later Ditka told The Herald-Review he "regretted" the decision.
6. Detroit Lions: Going 0-16 in 2008
No matter what they do, the Detroit Lions will never be able to live down going 0-16 in 2008. It is the only winless season in the 16-game era and was the culmination of mounting embarrassments for the Lions.
Hiring Matt Millen in 2001 started the rot, and there was literally no limit to how bad the Lions could be in the 2000s. Appointing Rod Marinelli as head coach in 2006 was the final push the Lions needed to be confirmed as the kings of NFL infamy.
Marinelli won only 10 games in his first two years but was still around in 2008. The losses just mounted and mounted, but still it was hard to believe the Lions would not win a game.
The Green Bay Packers finally put them out of their misery on December 28, 2008. That confirmed a mark the Lions franchise will never shed.
7. Green Bay Packers: Taking Tony Mandarich in the 1989 Draft
It is often a little unfair to judge somebody based on the luxury of hindsight. Unless you are judging the performance of the Green Bay Packers in the 1989 draft.
They were one of the worst teams in football, but had the second overall pick. They were primed to choose a top name from a talent pool featuring the likes of Deion Sanders, Derrick Thomas and Barry Sanders.
They opted instead for herculean-looking offensive tackle Tony Mandarich. The Packers got it badly, badly wrong.
They did not know Mandarich's awesome feats of strength were the product of steroid use. In 2009, ESPN's Kory Kozak recounted Mandarich's admissions about using steroids:
Well, for starters, he was cheating.
He was chemically enhanced to the nth degree. He was the Six Million Dollar Man of steroids.
"I was taking Winstrol V, equipoise, Anadrol 50s, testosterone, Anavar, Dianabol," he told me dispassionately in an ESPN interview last month at the W Hotel, near his home in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Nobody knew because Mandarich manipulated drugs tests, as he told Kozak:
The rumors of steroids started to surface, but schools were not testing for steroids yet, and the NCAA tested only at bowl games. Mandarich kept beating the system. He cheated on the tests for the Rose and Gator bowls.
"I basically strapped something to my back a little -- it was actually a little doggie toy," Mandarich said in an interview that stretched longer than 2½ hours. "Hooked up a little hose to it … ran a tube underneath and put a piece of gum to cap the tube."
Before they saw what Mandarich was without the artificial enhancements, the Packers had paid him $4.4 million. Once he got onto a pro field, Mandarich was quickly revealed as perhaps the biggest draft flop in league history.
8. Minnesota Vikings: Losing 1999 NFC Championship Game vs. Atlanta Falcons
The Minnesota Vikings simply were not supposed to lose the 1999 NFC Championship Game. Their opponents, the Atlanta Falcons, were no pushovers.
They had completed a 14-2 season, but the Vikings just seemed fated for that year's Super Bowl. They had roared through the 1998 regular season, finishing 15-1.
Along the way, they had lit up scoreboards every week and boasted the most prolific offense in NFL history. Randy Moss was a rookie sensation who was redefining the modern prototype for pro wide receivers.
The Vikings were at home and just didn't lose in the Metrodome. However, the Falcons kept hanging on their coattails for four quarters.
Minnesota's suspect defense could not stop the overused connection between Falcons quarterback Chris Chandler and wideout Tony Martin.
They also could not control running back Jamal Anderson, a man every team knew was coming that season but nobody could stop.
The Falcons pushed the game into overtime and eventually pinched the George Halas trophy after Morten Andersen kicked the winner. It is easily the most embarrassing and painful loss in Vikings history.
The failure was forever symbolized by kicker Gary Anderson. He had not missed a kick of any kind all season, but he failed to seal the game late with the Vikings ahead by seven.
9. Atlanta Falcons: Bobby Petrino Walkout
Bobby Petrino's walkout after 13 games in the 2007 season is still a source of embarrassment for the Atlanta Falcons. He ditched a losing team to return to the college ranks and take over at Arkansas.
The problem was that Petrino decided not to let anybody in Atlanta know. He simply left a letter behind for the players to read while the door their head coach had just bolted through was still swinging.
ESPN's Len Pasquarelli described the chaos at the time:
Because the Falcons players had Tuesday off, and there were no team meetings scheduled, Petrino did not personally address his squad. Several veterans said that Petrino did not call them to apprise them of his departure.
There was a palpable tension much of the season between Petrino and the players, and most of the veterans felt the first-year coach was aloof and lacked solid communications skills. On both radio and television here, players such as middle linebacker Keith Brooking and cornerback DeAngelo Hall ripped Petrino for leaving the franchise with three games remaining in the season.
Petrino's exit was a humiliating low point for the standing of the Falcons franchise. The calm stability and sustained success Mike Smith has since brought to Atlanta is a just reward for the way Petrino treated the organisation.
10. Carolina Panthers: Losing 15 Straight Games in 2001
The 2001 season unraveled in a blink of an eye for the Carolina Panthers. Despite a Super Bowl winner as head coach in George Seifert, the Panthers could not stop losing.
They actually began that season by beating the Vikings in Minnesota. Yet that was as good as it got for Seifert and his squad.
They proceeded to lose 15 straight games. That established a record for consistent ineptitude, which lasted until the Lions helped them out in 2008.
Seifert decided to start fourth-round pick Chris Weinke as his quarterback, and that decision doomed the season. The 1-15 finish remains the worst mark in Panthers history.
11. New Orleans Saints: "Bountygate" Scandal
The New Orleans Saints' one and only Super Bowl win will forever be tainted with the stain of "Bountygate." The scandal involving the nefarious tactics of malevolent defensive coordinator Gregg Williams shamed the Saints, all pro players and the art of defense.
Williams earned a suspension for overseeing a bounty scheme, offering fiscal rewards for injury to opposition players. In a move that defies belief, Williams has now been reinstated. Talk about damaging the credibility of the league's push to improve player safety.
What is still shocking about "Bountygate" is that it took so long to be uncovered. Anyone who watched the 2010 NFC Championship Game against the Vikings could see what was happening.
The Saints will probably never totally shed the image of this nasty chapter in their history.
12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1976-77
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have never quite been able to escape the image of their first two years in the NFL. From 1976-77, the Bucs went 0-26 and their overall play was worse than those uniforms.
Low-light reels charting the great follies in NFL history are often dominated by clips of the early Bucs. Some of those images are imprinted on the minds of football fans.
At least there were the endlessly entertaining quips of the late John McKay to add humour to proceedings. Eventually, McKay molded a playoff team in Tampa Bay, a testament to his resilience and a reward for all those who suffered those lean early years.
13. Arizona Cardinals: Dennis Green's Rant in 2006
Coaching rants are usually entertaining and always bizarre. They don't come much stranger than Dennis Green's explosion after his Arizona Cardinals lost to the Chicago Bears in 2006.
It came after a pretty innocuous-sounding question. Green launched into a full-throated lament about preseason games and "knowing" who the Bears were.
It is still not quite clear exactly what he was trying to say.
14. San Francisco 49ers: Mike Singletary as Head Coach
The king of coaching rants is undoubtedly Mike Singletary. The problem was that every one of his rants was a source of embarrassment.
His time in charge of the San Francisco 49ers was one tragi-comedy after another. Singletary bellowing to a room full of reporters about "hitting people in the mouth" and "the old school" is a sad sight.
From the very beginning, Singletary acted and sounded like a coach out of his depth. He got into sideline altercations with more than one player and could not win with a team loaded with talent.
His Iron Mike ranting and raving was incredibly out of touch with the modern NFL and reality in general. His tenure was a real low point for a franchise so often associated with sophistication and innovation.
15. Seattle Seahawks: The 2009 Uniforms
One day the true perpetrator of the Seattle Seahawks' 2009 uniforms will be revealed and suitably punished. It could only happen on a Jim Mora Jr.-coached team.
Money was probably spent on these shame rags. Surely it would have been more cost-effective to simply have the players vomit on the perfectly good uniforms they already had.
No matter how many losses they endure in the future, the Seahawks should always reserve their embarrassment for wearing these uniforms in 2009.
16. St. Louis Rams: Losing to the 49ers in Week 8, 1995
By 1995, St. Louis was more than ready to have a pro football team again. The Rams had moved in and their debut year in the city was off to a great start.
They opened the '95 season 5-1, and the whole city was ready to host division kingpins and reigning NFL champions the San Francisco 49ers.
The moment came on October 22 in Week 8. The game was billed as a chance to for the "new" Rams to put the 49ers in their place.
Sadly, the 49ers were just too good and humiliated the Rams and their new city. San Francisco walloped the Rams and left St. Louis 44-10 winners.
Linebacker Ken Norton Jr. punching the goalposts summed up the day for the Rams, but worse was to follow. It was the sight of gloating defensive linemen Tim Harris and Dana Stubblefield that came to symbolize this embarrassment.
17. Buffalo Bills: 4 Consecutive Super Bowl Defeats
The Buffalo Bills are not the only team to be losers in four Super Bowls. The Vikings and the Denver Broncos also share that shame.
But the Bills are the only team in NFL history to lose four consecutive Super Bowls. The AFC's true powerhouse in the '90s, the Bills won thanks to a formidable offense and a big-play defense.
They would routinely romp to the Super Bowl with few problems. Instead, the Bills seemed to save all their problems for the big game.
Their defense was always awful on the grandest stage. But it is the failings of the offense that have to hurt the most.
They were destroyed by a blitzing game plan from the Washington Redskins in 1992. A year later, they committed nine turnovers against the Dallas Cowboys.
The heartbreak of losing in their first Super Bowl thanks to a missed field goal seemed to force the Bills into regression in their next three appearances.
The franchise has never recovered from losing four straight and likely never will, unless they can ever actually win one.
18. Miami Dolphins: 62-7 Loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, 1999 Playoffs
Even to this day, it remains difficult to explain exactly what happened to the Miami Dolphins in the 1999 AFC playoffs. Jimmy Johnson had a solid-looking team with Dan Marino still under center and a powerful defense.
The Dolphins scored a big win on the road over in the Seahawks in the Wild Card Round. They looked set to spring a few more surprises in the AFC race.
Then they traveled to Jacksonville and were thumped by the Jaguars. Seriously thumped. The Dolphins were beaten 62-7 by their state rivals.
It was a massacre right from the start. Johnson's team could not tackle, pass protect or run the ball. It was sad to witness a great coach and quarterback leave the pro game in this way.
19. New England Patriots: Losing Super Bowl XLII
The "Spygate" scandal was a close contender here. But the New England Patriots failing to complete an unbeaten season at the last hurdle has to rank as their most embarrassing moment.
The 2007 Patriots were an awesome team. Offensively, they surpassed the '98 Vikings, and their veteran defense was savvy and tough.
Many teams were simply destroyed by this juggernaut. The Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season and a fourth Lombardi Trophy seemed inevitable.
They made it 18-0 in the playoffs, and the Super Bowl seemed merely a formality against the 10-6 Giants. The Giants had surprised many with their playoff run, but few, if any, believed they could stop the Patriots.
Yet that is exactly what Big Blue did. They blitzed Patriots quarterback Tom Brady into oblivion and the New England brain trust had no answers.
In the end, the Giants snatched the Super Bowl with a 17-14 win. They became the team that has the Patriots number, repeating the trick four years later.
This was a dream outcome for all those who have ever thought there is just something too smug about Bill Belichick.
Suffering their one loss in the biggest game of all will always tarnish what was a superb showing from the Patriots in 2007-08. The figure 18-1 is not even a consolation; it only underlines the embarrassment.
20. New York Jets: The Rich Kotite Years
It would not have been easy to be a fan of the New York Jets during the two years Rich Kotite was in charge. He was hired in 1995 to turn around a team that had gone 6-10 the season before.
Kotite went three games worse in his debut campaign. He won only one game in 1996. Lions fans must wish the Jets had kept him around for the 1997 season.
Kotite's tenure was defined by one major blunder after another. Whether it was selecting Kyle Brady ahead of Warren Sapp in the 1995 draft or paying mega bucks to hapless quarterback Neil O'Donnell.
Kotite left a 4-28 record behind, and it took a superior coaching job from Bill Parcells to quickly make the Jets relevant again.
21. Baltimore Ravens: Blowing a Lead in the 2010 AFC Playoffs
Letting a big lead slip in a playoff game is embarrassing for any team. But that pain and humiliation is only compounded against your fiercest rival.
That is what happened to the Baltimore Ravens in the 2010 AFC playoffs against arch foe the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens went into Pittsburgh in the divisional round and toyed with the Steelers in the first half.
Baltimore built a commanding 21-7 halftime advantage and clearly felt good about it. A veteran team like the Ravens are never expected to collapse the way they did after the break.
The Steelers pushed back and outscored the Ravens 24-3 in the second half. The Steelers went to a Super Bowl, and the embarrassed Ravens had to wait two more seasons before they would do the same.
Given the pride and animosity in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry, this is one loss neither franchise will ever forget.
22. Cincinnati Bengals: The Dave Shula Years
The Cincinnati Bengals could not look past the name when they hired Dave Shula to be their head coach in 1991. He was, after all, the son of legendary winner Don Shula.
Not at all surprisingly, that plan did not work out well. The younger Shula's time in Cincinnati was an embarrassment for all concerned.
What is amazing is how long Shula lasted. He went 5-11, 3-13 and 3-13 again in his first three years. Yet he would not be fired until seven games into the 1996 season.
Bad drafts and poor choices at quarterback were staples of the Shula era. His tenure represented the time when the Bengals had the title "worst franchise in the NFL" all to themselves.
Thankfully things have changed a lot since.
23. Cleveland Browns: 43-0 Loss to the Steelers, Week 1, 1999 Season
When you are playing your first game in three seasons in front of a rabid fanbase against your biggest enemy, you ought to make a good impression. The returning Cleveland Browns did anything but on the opening day of the 1999 season.
Deserted in 1995, Cleveland had a team back and a showdown with their archrivals was the ideal way to celebrate their return. At least it would have been had the Steelers not embarrassed the Browns 43-0.
Even the excuse of being an expansion team cannot dim the humiliation of being shut out by your greatest foe on your big night. Believe it or not, the Browns would actually gain some measure of revenge by winning in Pittsburgh later in the season.
But the franchise has stayed an almost permanent resident in the league's basement since '99. The pattern of those failures was set by this drubbing on its first night back.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Losing 4 Home AFC Championship Games 1994-2004
When you have won six Super Bowls, there probably is not a lot of room for embarrassment. Except maybe for the ones that might have been.
The Steelers lost four AFC Championship Games at home from 1994 to 2004. In each one, they were clear favourites.
The first is perhaps the most notable and maybe still the most humiliating. The 1994 Steelers were a truly imposing team.
Their "Blitzburgh" defense was feared, as was their bruising, power running game. The upstart San Diego Chargers seemed like no match.
The Steel City was stunned when the Chargers escaped with a 17-13 win. In 1997, the Steelers hosted the Denver Broncos, a team they had crushed earlier in the season.
The Broncos took the AFC crown with a 24-21 win in Steelers territory. But the Steelers were far from done embarrassing themselves in conference title games.
They let a young Tom Brady and the un-fancied Patriots come into Pittsburgh and catch them cold in 2001. Three years later, the 15-1 Steelers seemed primed for revenge. Instead, Brady and his mates coasted to a 41-27 win.
The Steelers have since won two Super Bowls and made it to another. But the pain of these home defeats is probably still strong.
26. Houston Texans: Sack Record on David Carr, 2002
The Houston Texans should be embarrassed by the number of times they let quarterback David Carr get sacked. The top pick in the 2002 draft, Carr spent his rookie season becoming part of a very dubious record.
He was sacked 76 times in 2002. That is worth typing again. 76 times in 2002. Just what was happening in Houston that season?
Carr could not have been blamed for asking his offensive line if it was personal. Amazingly, he survived all 16 games of that expansion year.
Unfortunately, things rarely got any better. Carr was sacked 49 times in 2004 and suffered 68 in 2005. He was gone after the 2006 season and 43 more sacks.
Every NFL player wants to play. But spending the last six years as a backup must have felt like one long holiday on the beach to Carr after his torment in Houston.
26. Indianapolis Colts: Mike Vanderjagt Missed Kick, 2005 AFC Playoffs
The Indianapolis Colts were left embarrassed by their arrogant kicker in the 2005 AFC playoffs. Mike Vanderjagt failed to back up his cocky advice to teammates, or his brash behaviour on the field, against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Colts were hosting the Steelers in the divisional round, and the game had become closer than expected. Vanderjagt had the chance to seal the win late on.
He had already publicly chided quarterback Peyton Manning and head coach Tony Dungy for their perceived failings in previous playoff defeats. So this was the perfect chance for Vanderjagt to show his team what delivering when it counts really looks like.
His swagger before the kick was almost unbearable. When Steelers coach Bill Cowher called timeout to ice the kicker, Vanderjagt responded with a cocky point of the finger towards the Pittsburgh sideline.
That show of bravado meant he had to kick it. Except he failed. Failed big time. Vanderjagt dragged a relatively easy kick wide and the Steelers would go on to win.
This was an embarrassing low in the Manning-Dungy era. It narrowly beat their annual playoff drubbings against the Patriots to deservedly make this list.
27. Jacksonville Jaguars: Chris Hanson and the Ax, 2003
For reasons defying understanding, then-head coach Jack Del Rio brought a wooden stump and an ax into the Jacksonville Jaguars' locker room in 2003.
Perhaps inevitably, disaster soon ensued. Punter Chris Hanson was participating in the strange "keep chopping wood" ritual, when he injured himself with the ax.
The Florida Times-Union described the incident at the time:
Pro Bowl punter Chris Hanson was lost for a minimum of four to six weeks and possibly the season yesterday when he sustained a deep gash in his lower right leg while swinging an ax at a tree stump in the Jaguars' locker room.
Coach Jack Del Rio, who had the tree stump and ax brought into the locker room on Sept. 26 as an illustration of his "keep chopping wood" slogan, had the ax removed after the accident and said the stump will be removed soon.
File this under the heading, "you couldn't make it up."
28. Tennessee Titans: Bud Adams Not Being Shy About Celebrating, 2009
Profanity from an NFL owner is never going to come off as charming. Clearly nobody explained that to Tennessee Titans boss Bud Adams.
The team's owner celebrated a win over the Buffalo Bills in 2009 in, to put it politely, bold fashion. Very bold fashion.
He rose to his feet and appeared to extend both middle fingers, before proceeding to display the gesture more than once. Adams quickly apologized and put it all down to excitement.
29. Denver Broncos: The Josh McDaniels Years
During under two seasons in charge of the Denver Broncos, Josh McDaniels represented the worst traits of a young up-and-coming coach.
McDaniels seemed to believe "getting in people's faces" was the only way to run a team. In October 2010, his need for control extended to filming the San Francisco 49ers' walk-through at Wembley Stadium.
That rightly proved enough to finally earn McDaniels a shove through the exit door in Denver.
30. Kansas City Chiefs: Home Playoff Defeats in 1995 and 1997
Aside from 1993, the Kansas City Chiefs were never great in the playoffs during the '90s. Their two biggest failures came after the 1995 and 1997 seasons.
Head coach Marty Schottenheimer had built two powerful teams. In '95, quarterback Steve Bono was the surprise success story.
He led a 13-3 team into the playoffs for their its game. It was at home to the wild-card entrant Indianapolis Colts.
The Chiefs should have dismantled the Colts. But instead they succumbed to a 10-7 defeat, mostly thanks to hapless kicker Lin Elliott.
A stunned crowd saw a season of great promise evaporate in freezing conditions. Two seasons later, the Chiefs had an even better team.
Bono was gone and Elvis Grbac had replaced him. When he was injured, Rich Gannon had stepped in and performed superbly.
Come the playoffs, though, Schottenheimer erred on the side of caution. He brought Grbac back in for the home game against the Denver Broncos.
Again, the Chiefs found a way to collapse. In one of its most painful and embarrassing defeats, Kansas City fell to the Broncos 14-10.
The Chiefs were the class of the AFC in these two seasons and were good enough to make it to the Super Bowl. But they simply could not avoid embarrassment in the playoffs.
31. Oakland Raiders: Drafting JaMarcus Russell 1st Overall, 2007
The Oakland Raiders have not often gotten it right in the draft during the last decade. Their biggest failure undoubtedly came in 2007.
That year, the Silver and Black selected quarterback JaMarcus Russell. Trouble began when he held out for a long time.
However, the Raiders were in real trouble once Russell made it to the field. He won only seven games in three years.
His poor performances became a farce that embarrassed both the player and the franchise. Russell is currently trying to make amends.
He has slimmed down and maintains hope for a comeback. The Raiders are probably still too embarrassed to make him an offer, though.
32. San Diego Chargers: Ryan Leaf
Ryan Leaf took hardly any time at all to collapse in spectacular fashion in the NFL. The unfortunate franchise that had to endure it was the San Diego Chargers.
The Chargers had drafted Leaf second overall in 1998. He was erratic and immature on and off the field. Leaf lasted only four seasons, during which he threw 36 interceptions.
Things have been even harder away from the NFL. Leaf was arrested twice in four days in 2012 and has reportedly battled drug addiction and other health issues.
His time in San Diego symbolizes a true low point for the Chargers franchise.