Philadelphia Eagles: 50 Years is a Long Time, But It Could Be Worse
This week, the Philadelphia Eagles announced that they would be honoring their 1960 NFL Championship squad this year, and will wear throwback Kelly green jerseys for the opening week game against Green Bay.
While the event was more pomp and circumstance than substance, it reminded people that it has indeed been 50 years since the Birds were league champions.
In a city that went a full quarter-century between championships, that might not seem like such a long drought—but now that the Phillies have made back-to-back World Series appearances and only two players remain from even the 2003 NFC Championship team (bonus points if you can name them without looking them up), it seems like an eternity.
But what’s in a championship? The Eagles haven’t won in a half-century, but they have been to two Super Bowls, were the winningest NFC team of the 1990s and have been, on the whole, a good franchise; counter that with say, the Florida Marlins, who have never won a division title but own two World Series trophies.
Depending on who you ask, prospects for this year range from dismal to dynastic. But fear not, Eagles fans; 50 years is a long time between titles, but it’s not the end of the world.
It could be worse—you could root for one of the following teams.
Detroit Lions: 52 Years (and counting)
You may know that the Birds won three NFL Championships between 1948 and 1960, with two of the three coming in back-to-back seasons.
The Lions did that, too—winning it all in ’52, ’53, and ’57.
Unlike the Eagles, however, Detroit’s less-than-ferocious kitties have never been to a Super Bowl.
Hell, in 53 seasons, they’ve gone as far as the NFC Championship Game only once, getting clobbered 41-10 by eventual Super Bowl Champion Washington in 1991.
Detroit and Cleveland are the only two franchises older than Dakota Fanning that haven’t been to the Super Bowl…but at least Cleveland had a couple years off (and the Ravens won the Super Bowl five years after leaving Ohio).
When you also add in that the Lions' 52-year drought includes only 14 winning seasons, the only 0-16 campaign in NFL history, and an atmosphere so bad that arguably the greatest running back in NFL history abruptly retired at age 30 to get away, you’ve got yourself a franchise that has made futility an art form.
Arizona Cardinals: Success (and failure) at the Eagles' expense
In 1947, the Chicago Cardinals ruled the world after defeating the Eagles 28-21 to claim the NFL Championship.
The following year, Philly’s birds struck back, shocking the 11-1 Cards (and shutting them out, no less) to win the first of back-to-back titles.
It wasn’t until 2008 that Arizona would even be in the same room as the championship trophy—oddly enough, earning their only Super Bowl berth by denying Philadelphia their second in five years.
That’s a hell of a legacy in 60-plus years, no?
In the 60 years between pinnacles, the Cardinals had four names, three home
cities and only 16 winning seasons (17 if you want to count ‘08 as well).
Again, a franchise based in futility, but like a broken clock, they’ve at least been right twice.
Still, I leave you with one other fun fact: the Eagles have made the playoffs eight times in the Andy Reid era, and the Cards’ next appearance will also be their eighth…since winning that title in 1947.
At least it’s a dry heat.
New York Rangers: 54 Wasn't Just a Studio
As a Ranger fan (don’t ask, just read my bio), this one hurts. But, it’s in here because, after all, the one thing Philly sports fans hate more than Santa Claus is New York.
The Rangers are one of the NHL’s original six, but have only won four Stanley Cups—with 54 years elapsing in between the third and the last.
In 1940, the Rangers defeated Toronto four games to two to capture the Cup.
They then sucked for most of the next 30 years, before coming alive and making the Stanley Cup finals twice in the 1970s and maintaining at least a shred of decency throughout the 1980s.
But until 1994, Lord Stanley’s Cup was persona non grata in Madison Square Garden.
All it took was 50 years of futility, a few different owners, a handful of guys from one of the previous decade’s dynasties, and of course, Stephane Matteau.
But they did it, and as Sam Rosen said when Captain Mark Messier lifted the cup, “this one will last a lifetime.”
It may have to, because they’ve only even advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals once since then.
As it stands, this drought is still the longest between Stanley Cup victories of any team in NHL history. The Blackhawks have the longest active streak at 47 years, with the Kings, Blues, and Maple Leafs close behind at 41.
Chicago Cubs: Billy Goats, Black Cats, and Bartmans
In 1908, the Chicago Cubs made their third straight World Series appearance and won their second consecutive “Fall Classic.”
Here we are, 102 years later, waiting for them to do it again.
You can blame Billy Sianis and his goat, you can blame the Mets and their black cat, you can blame Steve Bartman…hell, you can blame El Nino if you want.
But you better blame bad baseball, because the Cubs have played a lot of it over the last six or seven decades.
Sure, they’ve made the World Series (and lost, of course) seven times since 1908—but the last appearance came in 1945, not six weeks after Japan’s surrender aboard the USS Missouri ended World War II.
In the next 64 years, the Cubs posted 44 non-winning seasons (including a pair of 100-loss campaigns) and two of the most epically remembered collapses in baseball history.
So far in 2010, their highlights include demoting their $19m staff ace to a set-up role and continuing to employ a catcher who once sawed off four of the fingers on his right hand.
Oh, and to add insult to injury, the Cubs were the team Boston beat in 1918 to win their last title before “The Curse of the Bambino” was finally lifted in 2004.
Sacramento Kings: A Royal Flush
And we close with the least royal Kings in sports history, whose last NBA Championship came in 1951—when they were the Rochester Royals.
Since then, they’ve called four cities home (Cincinnati, Kansas City/Omaha, and now Sacramento) and had to change their name because K.C. already had the Royals.
That last anecdote has to be kind of an insult now, considering that baseball’s Royals were all of three years old when the Kings moved to K.C. and haven’t been remotely good for most of their lifespan.
Like the Eagles, the Kings have been pretty good for most of their drought and horrendously putrid for one long stretch (which is known to most insiders as “The 1980s and 1990s”).
Unlike them, however, the Kings have never even seen the brochure for the Promised Land.
Since 1951, they’ve only even advanced to the conference finals twice, getting hammered by Houston in 1981 and edged out by the Lakers in 2002 (which was, by all accounts, at least one of the best NBA postseason series of all time).
Plus they play in Sacramento, which might be the third hottest spot in the universe during the summer behind only Hell and the Playboy Mansion.
Unfortunately, the other two are much more interesting.