The New Orleans Saints finally have made it to the Super Bowl, taking them off a list they never wanted to be on.
Now that the number of NFL franchises to never appear in a Super Bowl has been reduced by another team, this leaves only two storied franchises without an appearance—the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions.
For the sake of being fair, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans have not appeared in a Super Bowl either, but their franchises still have that “new franchise” smell fresh from the showroom, so they have a few more years yet before their continued appearance on this list will have significant meaning.
What is tragic about the Browns and the Lions is that both have very rich histories featuring years of success and a trophy case full of NFL Championships. The sad fact is, ever since the league began playing the Super Bowl in 1967, neither the Lions or the Browns have been able to make it to the final game.
The Browns, founded in 1946, won eight championships, four AAFC titles, and four NFL Championships. Their last NFL Championship was in 1964.
The Browns threatened to make it to the Super Bowl three times in the 1980s, all three playoff runs ending at the hands of John Elway and the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship game.
The Lions, founded in 1929 as the Portsmouth Spartans, have won four NFL Championships: 1935, 1952, 1953, and 1957. They had a good run in the 1990s, reaching the playoffs six times in a 10-year span, but only reached the NFC Championship once, losing to the Washington Redskins 41-10 in the 1991 season.
The Browns have only been to the playoffs once since returning to the league in 1999, losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2002 wild-card game.
The Lions haven’t even sniffed the playoffs since 1999.
Both franchises are going under extreme renovation in player personnel and front office makeup.
The Saints proved a formerly downtrodden franchise can rise from the ashes to reach the Super Bowl.
Who will be next? The Lions or the Browns?