Cleveland sports curse

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The Cleveland sports curse is an ongoing sports superstition involving the city of Cleveland, and all of its sports teams.

Cleveland has three major sports teams: the Browns of the National Football League, the Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball's Indians. The city's teams have endured a drought, having not won a championship title since the Browns won in 1964. Although the Browns won that game, it occurred two seasons prior to the first Super Bowl.

Cleveland Browns[edit]

Having not won a championship since 1964, the Browns have been at the center of the Cleveland sports curse. In 1981, trailing by 2 points to the Oakland Raiders, and having to only kick a field goal to take the lead with less than one minute remaining, the Browns executed a passing play that was intercepted. The play, called by Browns head coach Sam Rutigliano, would be known as "Red Right 88."[1]

Later on, the Browns were playing in the AFC Championship Game, one win away from playing in the Super Bowl. Leading the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter, Broncos quarterback John Elway led a 98-yard game-tying drive in a span of 5 minutes and 2 seconds. As the 37 seconds left in regulation following the Broncos' touchdowns ran off the clock, the Browns and Broncos would head into overtime. In overtime, the Broncos kicked a game-winning field goal, to win 23–20. The game would be known simply as "The Drive" in NFL lore.[2]

Only one season following The Drive, the Browns and Broncos would both return to the AFC Championship Game. Down 38–31 in the fourth quarter, Cleveland Browns running back Earnest Byner was handed the ball. As he was running for the game-tying touchdown, Byner fumbled the ball. The Broncos recovered at their own 2-yard line, and gave the Browns an intentional safety. Denver would go on to win 38–33, and the play would be known simply as "The Fumble."[3] As of the end the 2013 NFL season, the Browns have still not yet reached the AFC title game again, and remain one of four teams to never reach the Super Bowl.

The Browns would later be at the center of a relocation controversy in 1995.[4] The decision by then-Browns owner, Art Modell to move the team to Baltimore was infuriating to Browns fans.[5] The Baltimore Ravens were established as a new team in 1996. The Browns would return in 1999, after a three-year period of deactivation. In the 1999 NFL Draft, the Browns would select Tim Couch, planning he would be a franchise quarterback. Ty Detmer was brought in to usher in the planned "Couch Era", but after being dismal as a starter, Couch was rushed into the starting position.[6] Couch would not return to the Browns after the 2003 season. Although only winning 22 games in 59 starts, Couch led the Browns to their only playoff berth since their return, in 2002. However, he suffered an injury in the final regular season game in 2002, being forced to watch Kelly Holcomb play in the subsequent playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns would start 20 different quarterbacks since their 1999 return to the NFL, a league-high in that period.[7][8]

Cleveland Cavaliers[edit]

The Cleveland Cavaliers are a professional basketball team who play in the National Basketball Association.

In 1989, the Cavaliers played the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs. Craig Ehlo had given the Cavs the lead with :03 to play. However, Bulls legend Michael Jordan then jumped over Ehlo to make the game-winning shot, and the Bulls won the best-of-five series 3-2. The play, which put the Bulls ahead 101-100, would be known as The Shot.[9][10]

In 2007, LeBron James led the Cavaliers to their sole NBA Finals appearance. They faced the San Antonio Spurs, who swept them 4-0. The Cavaliers would later lose the 2009 Eastern Conferences Finals against the Orlando Magic in six games.[5]

During the 2010 NBA free agency period, LeBron James was featured in a television special, dubbed The Decision. Having notified the Cavaliers prior to the television event, James announced that he would be "taking his talents to South Beach," a quote that would be heavily criticized.[11][12] James signing with the Miami Heat was much to the dismay of Cleveland fans.

Cleveland Indians[edit]

The Cleveland Indians, like their city-mates, also experience the curse. The Indians' failure to win a World Series since 1948 has led some reporters to dub the team's shortcomings The Curse of Chief Wahoo.[13] Chief Wahoo is a Native American caricature which serves as the Indians' cap insignia. The Chief Wahoo insignia has been controversial. The Indians considered changing it in 1993, but the logo was retained.[14] The Curse of Rocky Colavito is another phenomenon that is supposedly preventing the Indians from winning a Major League Baseball title.[15]

The Indians failed to win the World Series in 1995, and once again in 1997.[16][17]


  1. ^ Tioseco, Raymond J. (January 4, 2014). "Greatest Moments: 1980 AFC Divisional Playoff". Oakland Raiders. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  2. ^ "History: The Drive". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  3. ^ Simmons, Bill (January 29, 2010). "Consider these teams officially tortured". ESPN. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  4. ^ Dyer, Bob (2007). The Top 20 Moments in Cleveland Sports History: Tremendous Tales of Heroes and Heartbreaks. Gray & Company. pp. 277–291. ISBN 9781598510300. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Folsom, Jim (May 15, 2010). "The Ultimate Sports Curse: The City of Cleveland". Bleacher Report. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  6. ^ Wassink, Zac (September 18, 2013). "The Cleveland Browns Have Had 19 Starting Quarterbacks Since 1999". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  7. ^ Friedman, Matt (January 14, 2014). "Ranking The 20 Cleveland Browns Starting Quarterbacks Since 1999". Return of Cleveland. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  8. ^ Sprow, Chris (February 23, 2014). "Browns can win with a rookie QB". ESPN. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Jordan Hits "The Shot"". National Basketball Association. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  10. ^ Hyduk, John (May 13, 2013). "Cleveland: Disappointing Fans Since ’64". New York Times. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  11. ^ D'Angelo, Tom (July 9, 2010). "The King of South Beach: LeBron James will sign with Miami Heat". The Palm Beach Post. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  12. ^ Kerasotis, Peter (December 24, 2011). "For Miami Heat, High Hopes but Lower Volume". New York Times. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  13. ^ Pattakos, Peter (April 25, 2012). "The Curse of Chief Wahoo". The Cleveland Scene. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  14. ^ Sheeran, Thomas J. (July 2, 1993). "Indians Will Keep Logo, Despite Objections". Desert News. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  15. ^ Pluto, Terry (April 16, 2010). "50 years later, the Cleveland Indians' trade of Rocky Colavito still stinks: Terry Pluto". Cleveland. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  16. ^ Miles, Scott (June 11, 2008). "Open Mic: 11 Years Later, Indians' World Series Loss to Marlins Still Hurts". Bleacher Report. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 
  17. ^ Blocks, Starting (October 19, 2011). "Cleveland Indians World Series teams: Won it in 1920 and 1948; lost it in 1954, 1995 and 1997". Cleveland. Retrieved March 2, 2014. 

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