The Super Bowl Hangover: Not Just the Fans' Excuse Anymore

Kayte HyattCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2008

We are all familiar with calling in sick Monday morning with a mix of the “Brown Bottle Flu,” brought on as a result of an extensive Super Bowl celebration.

However, many are unaware that fans are not the only individuals suffering.  A different “hangover” has been inflicted upon many of our favorite (and least favorite) teams as well. 

The “Super Bowl hangover” is a term that has been given to describe the phenomenon of the last seven out of thirteen Super Bowl runner-ups who have not made it to the playoffs the following year. 

These teams include the New York Giants (2001), St. Louis Rams (2002), Oakland Raiders (2003), Carolina Panthers (2004), Philadelphia Eagles (2005), and Chicago Bears (2007).

There is much speculation as to why this is the case.
One major issue that has impacted the success of these teams is the numerous injuries experienced by players.  And not just any players—key players.  In many cases, MVPs.
The Rams witnessed this happen to their MVP Quarterback Kurt Warner, whose broken finger cost him a good portion of the 2002 season—as well as Marshall Faulk’s mounting injuries and age, which resulted in less-than-impressive statistics.
Raiders Quarterback and MVP Rich Gannon experienced a shoulder injury in week seven of the 2003 season, which resulted in him being benched for the remainder of the season.
But the teams hit hardest with injuries were the Panthers and Eagles.  Over the course of their hangover season, the Panthers placed 14 players on the injured list—including their top four running backs. 

The Eagles lost a quarterback, running back, wide receiver, offensive tackle, center, cornerback, kicker, punter, and a defensive lineman over the course of their season.
Another contributing factor to the “Super Bowl hangover” is the strength of the following season’s schedule.  For example, the Rams, as well as the Bears, came out of nowhere to advance to the Super Bowl.  Was this because their schedule was easier than in previous years?  Possibly, the following year provided a too tough of a competition for these teams.
The success of these teams not only increased the level of competition the following year, but also implemented the “bulls eye” effect—now that other teams knew the strength of these squads, they worked harder to prepare for their face off.

Kurt Warner is one example of a player who fell under the “bulls eye” attack.  After advancing to the Super Bowl, teams were more concerned with scouting Warner, because previously there had been few reports on him.  This could have contributed to a lacklustre in performance in the following years.

Perhaps some of the biggest factors to the “Super Bowl hangover” are the effects of trades and free agency.  One of the most memorable examples is that of the Eagles' Terrell Owens.  After coming off a suspension and not being able to come to an agreement with the Eagles over his contract, Owens signed with the Cowboys.  The loss of Owens was obviously felt throughout the Eagles franchise, which was reflected by a major drop in their division.
So, will this year prove to be the end of the hangover?  Will fans of the runner-up team be able to wake up the next morning to find themselves feeling 100 percent ready for the new season?  Only time will tell.