A sports-related curse is a superstitious belief in the effective action of some power or evil, that is used to explain the failures or misfortunes of specific sports teams, players, or even cities. Teams, players, and cities often cite a "curse" for many negative things, such as their inability to win a sports championship, or unexpected injuries.
- 1 American football
- 2 Association football
- 2.1 Aaron Ramsey
- 2.2 América de Cali
- 2.3 Australia national team
- 2.4 Bayer Leverkusen
- 2.5 Benfica
- 2.6 Birmingham City F.C.
- 2.7 Cruz Azul (Comizzo curse)
- 2.8 Derby County F.C.
- 2.9 England Penalty Curse
- 2.10 Hibernian F.C.
- 2.11 Liverpool F.C.
- 2.12 Mexico national team
- 2.13 Mick Jagger curse
- 2.14 Netherlands' FIFA World Cup curse
- 2.15 Scotland national team
- 2.16 World Cup champion's Curse
- 2.17 Women's World Cup quarter-finals' Curse
- 3 Baseball
- 4 Gaelic Games
- 5 Ice hockey
- 6 Motor sports
- 7 Other sports
- 8 Multiple sports
- 9 References
The Arizona Cardinals National Football League (NFL) franchise is allegedly suffering a curse by the citizens of Pottsville, Pennsylvania for undeservedly claiming the 1925 NFL championship from the Pottsville Maroons who were stripped of their title by the NFL in one of the greatest controversies in sports history. The curse will supposedly only be lifted when the championship is returned to Pottsville and to the correct shade of red team; this can only be met by overturning the original ruling, as Pottsville no longer has an NFL team and is too small to ever receive another one (with a metropolitan area roughly half the population of Green Bay, the league's smallest), making it impossible for the long-defunct Maroons to win another title. The Cardinals team holds the record for the longest championship drought, with their most recent championship coming in 1947, which is also the longest drought in American professional sports; the 1947 team was notable for having two of its members die during their playing careers within a year of each other, with Jeff Burkett dying in a plane crash following appendix surgery during the season and Stan Mauldin dying of a heart attack after a game the following season. Arizona also lost Super Bowl XLIII to another Pennsylvania team: the Pittsburgh Steelers (whose founder Art Rooney supported Pottsville's claim to the title). The franchise also leads the NFL in the total number of losses (730 through the 2017 season).
George Halas, owner of the Chicago Bears, hired a cheerleading squad in 1977 known as the Honey Bears. When he died in 1983, he left the team to his daughter, Virginia Halas McCaskey. Virginia McCaskey did not like the cheerleaders at all because she saw them as "sex objects", and tried to have them disbanded, but the Honey Bears had a contract through the 1985 season. The Bears lost only one regular season game that year and won Super Bowl XX, but the Honey Bears contract was not renewed. In spite of repeated attempts to bring back the Honey Bears, the idea has been killed by the organization as long as the McCaskey family owns it, and the Bears have not won the Super Bowl since then. The last time the Bears appeared in the Super Bowl was Super Bowl XLI. They were defeated by the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 29–17. Since then, the Bears have only made two playoff appearances, in 2010, when they lost the NFC Championship to the rival Green Bay Packers at home, and again in 2018, but lost in the Wild Card round to the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 16-15, surrendering a late touchdown and missing a field goal late.
In 1958, the Detroit Lions traded Bobby Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Layne responded to the trade by supposedly saying that the Lions would "not win for 50 years". This story has been disputed as being a hoax, particularly because the quote was never published at the time.
Still, for the next 50 years after the trade, the Lions accumulated the worst winning percentage of any team in the NFL. They are still one of only two franchises that have been in the NFL since 1970 that have not played in a Super Bowl (the other team is the Cleveland Browns, but because of the Browns' three-year franchise suspension after the 1995 season due to its controversial relocation to Baltimore, the Lions' streak is longer). The Lions postseason record in this time was 1–10 in ten appearances, their lone playoff win coming against Dallas following the 1991 season. In the last year of the supposed curse, in 2008, Detroit finished 0–16, the first team to lose every game of a 16-game season. When the Pittsburgh Steelers won their fifth Super Bowl championship in 2006, they won it at Ford Field, the Lions' current home.
Prior to 1999, every annual installment of the Madden NFL video game franchise primarily featured John Madden on its cover. In 1999, Electronic Arts selected San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst to appear on the PAL version's cover, and has since featured one of the league's top players on every annual installment despite Madden's opposition.
While appearing on the cover has become an honor akin to appearing on the Wheaties box, much like the Sports Illustrated cover jinx, certain players who appeared on the Madden video game box art have experienced a decline in performance, usually due to an injury.
When asked about the "Madden Curse", Chris Erb, then director of marketing for EA Sports, commented, "I don't know that we believe in the curse. The players don't believe in the curse."
This alleged curse supposedly prevented the Philadelphia Eagles franchise from winning a Super Bowl game. The origin of this curse dates back to 1960, when the Eagles defeated Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers in the 1960 NFL Championship Game. This would be the only playoff loss in Lombardi's coaching career. Following Lombardi's death in 1970, the league honored his legacy by naming the Super Bowl trophy after him. This renaming, combined with the Eagles inability to win another championship after their 1960 victory, led some Eagles fans to believe the franchise was cursed by Vince Lombardi; that beating Lombardi meant never winning the trophy named after him. During that time, the Eagles accumulated a lot of playoff heartbreak, including 2 Super Bowl losses to the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots, and 3 consecutive NFC Championship Game losses from 2001-2003.
The Super Bowl curse or Super Bowl hangover is a phrase referring to one of three things that occur in the National Football League (NFL): Super Bowl participant clubs that follow up with lower-than-expected performance the following year; NFL teams that do not repeat as Super Bowl champions; and host teams of the Super Bowl that do not play the game on their own home fields.
The phrase has been used to explain both why losing teams may post below-average winning percentages in the following year and why Super Bowl champions seldom return to the title game the following year. The term has been used since at least 1992, when The Washington Post commented that "the Super Bowl Curse has thrown everything it's got at the Washington Redskins. The Jinx that has bedeviled defending champs for 15 years has never been in better form". The phenomenon is attributed by football commentator and former NFL manager Charley Casserly to such elements as "a shorter offseason, contract issues, [and] more demand for your players' time". Casserly also notes that "once the season starts, you become the biggest game on everybody's schedule." Alleged curse notwithstanding, multiple teams have indeed repeated as Super Bowl champions, including the Pittsburgh Steelers twice in the 1970s, the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s, the Dallas Cowboys in the 1990s, and the New England Patriots in the 2000s (decade), and there are multiple cases of teams reaching the conference championship or further up to four times in a row: the 1990s Cowboys and Buffalo Bills and the 2000s Philadelphia Eagles being three recent examples.
Online users and tabloid journalists have written of a "Curse of Ramsey", in which celebrities die within hours of Welsh footballer Aaron Ramsey scoring regardless where he plays. The phenomenon has been brought up after such high-profile deaths as those of Ted Kennedy, Osama bin Laden, Muammar Gadaffi, Steve Jobs, Whitney Houston, Robin Williams, Paul Walker, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Nancy Reagan, Chester Bennington, Tommy Smith, Gregg Allman, Roger Moore, Stephen Hawking, Eric Bristow, Burt Reynolds, Mac Miller, George H. W. Bush, Keith Flint and Luke Perry.
América de Cali
The Colombian football team América de Cali was under a curse since 1948. There was a discussion that year, in a meeting held by team owners, about moving América into the professional league. Benjamín Urrea, one of the owners, was opposed to the idea, so he said famously "They can do whatever they want with the team, but I swear to God they will never be champions". He left the room, while the other owners laughed at him, and he never returned to the team. The team had to wait for 31 years to get its first professional title, in 1979. In 1980, journalist Rafael Medina and singer Antonio del Vivar performed an exorcising ritual on América's home field, to help the team to overcome the curse in the Copa Libertadores, the tournament that decides which team is the South American champion. After that performance, the team went to win five straight national titles, but, notwithstanding the seven more national championships that the team has obtained since then, some fans still believe the curse is alive, as América de Cali is famous for not having been able to win this South American title. The team has been four times the runner-up in Copa Libertadores, three of them in a row – 1985, 1986 and 1987. The last of the sequence was especially painful to the fans, as the team lost the title in the last minute of overtime in the third match, when the tie would award them the title due to goal difference, leading a Colombian narrator to a dramatic narration of the goal.
América de Cali is known as The Red Devils because the shield of the team sports a devil, with horns, tail and trident, which lead to some players masking their own shield with tape to overcome the curse, apparently to no avail. During Gabriel Ochoa's twelve-year tenure as coach, the crest was removed from the uniform for personal religious reasons and, after returning to the uniforms, it was removed again in 1992. In 2010 the crest with the devil was revived and the team went into severe financial problems that moved the Colombian football authorities to ask the team to pay its debts if they wanted to play during the 2011 season, the first of the five seasons they were to spend in relegation. The team returned to the first division for the 2017 season.
Australia national team
In a story told in Johnny Warren's 2002 autobiography, Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters, during a trip to play against Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the 1970 Mexico World Cup qualifiers in Mozambique, members of the Australia national soccer team (nicknamed the "Socceroos"), including Warren, consulted a witch doctor preceding their game. The witch doctor buried bones near the goal-posts and cursed the opposition, and Australia went on to beat Rhodesia 3–1 in the decider. However, the move backfired when the players could not come up with the £1000 demanded by the witch doctor as payment, and he subsequently cursed the team. Subsequently, the Socceroos failed to beat Israel and did not qualify.
Whilst the curse is used as an explanation for failing to qualify for the World Cup for 32 years, including in the last match in the 1994, 1998 and 2002 qualifications, the curse is used in particular reference to the failure to qualify for the 1998 World Cup by drawing on aggregate against Iran, despite leading 2–0 in the second half of the final match of qualification.
The curse was supposedly lifted by John Safran during episode 7 of his 2004 TV series John Safran vs God. After reading the story in Warren's book, Safran travelled to Mozambique and hired a new witch doctor to channel the original to reverse the curse. The following year, the Socceroos not only qualified for the 2006 World Cup, but reached the second round before being beaten by Italy in Kaiserslautern. The Socceroos have since qualified for the 2010, 2014 and 2018 World Cups.
German Bundesliga club Bayer 04 Leverkusen were given the nicknames "Neverkusen", "Vizekusen" (vize meaning "second") and "Bridesmaid of Europe" for its record during the 1990s to 2000s of reaching finals of major tournaments but failing to win the actual title or finishing runner-up in the league. Bayer were runners-up in the Bundesliga for three seasons in a row (1998–99, 1999–2000, 2001–02) and, as of the 2018-19 season, have yet to win the title. The nicknames were popularised after the 2001-02 season when the club finished runner-up in the two major domestic competitions (league and cup) and the Champions League. Additionally, the German national team which finished runners-up to Brazil at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final featured five Leverkusen players.
Béla Guttmann, a former Hungarian footballer and then manager, joined Benfica in 1959 and coached the Portuguese club to two Primeira Liga titles, one Portuguese Cup and two European Cups. In 1962, after his second European Cup title, he asked for a pay rise but had his request turned down despite the great success he achieved at the Lisbon club, also having his contract terminated. Then, he cursed the club declaring: "Not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champion." Benfica has appeared in five European Cup finals and three UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League finals since 1962 and lost all eight matches.
Birmingham City F.C.
English football side Birmingham City F.C. played 100 years under an alleged curse from 1906 to 2006. As the legend goes, the club moved from nearby Muntz Street into its current location at St Andrew's, building the stadium on land that was being used by the Romani people. After they were forced to move, the angry Romani people put a 100-year hex on the stadium.
Throughout the years many Birmingham City managers would try to remove the curse but with little success. Former manager Ron Saunders tried to banish the curse in the 1980s by placing crucifixes on floodlights and painting the bottom of his players' boots red. Another manager, Barry Fry, in charge from 1993 to 1996, urinated in all four corners of the pitch after a clairvoyant said it would break the spell. On Boxing Day 2006 the curse was finally lifted and on that day Birmingham City celebrated a 2–1 win over Queens Park Rangers F.C.. Just over four years after the alleged curse ended, Birmingham City finally won the first major final in their history – beating Arsenal 2–1 to win the League Cup at Wembley. Unfortunately, Birmingham City was relegated to Football League Championship in the same of the season after they lift the 2010-11 Football League Cup trophy, and they never promoted to Premier League since 2011 until now.
Cruz Azul (Comizzo curse)
Origins of the curse began during the final of the Mexican League winter tournament in 1997, contested between Cruz Azul and Club León in a two-legged match. At the time they were the 3rd and 4th teams with the most league championships in Mexico respectively. Both teams were tied until the last moments of the second leg when Leon's goalkeeper Ángel Comizzo kicked Cruz Azul's star striker Carlos Hermosillo in the face, causing Hermosillo to bleed profusely inside the penalty area, leading to a foul and a penalty kick in Cruz Azul's favor. As the penalty was given, the referee asked Hermosillo to wipe the blood from his face, but Hermosillo ignored him and took the penalty kick, scoring a late winner. Cruz Azul became league champion for the 8th time in club history, but fans believed that both teams were cursed by the blood. Leon was then relegated to an inferior league in 2002 but since 2012 they were promoted back to the now-renamed Liga MX (formerly Primera División) and would later become back-to-back league champions after defeating Club América in the 2013 Apertura playoffs, breaking their part of the curse.
On the other hand, Cruz Azul has lost several finals in the Mexican league, the CONCACAF Champions League, and the Copa Libertadores, many of them at the last minute, which has their part in the curse hold true. Although Cruz Azul won the 2013 Clausura edition of the Copa MX and the CONCACAF Champions League in 2014, the club has yet to win their first league championship since 1997. Their multiple losses and inability to win any league championship has rival club fans bestow Cruz Azul with the mock title "Sub-Campeonísimos" (literally "the most high of runner ups".)  Additionally, the term "'Cruzazulear'" (to pull off a Cruz Azul) was coined to describe whenever the team (or any team in general) loses in a humiliating fashion.
Derby County F.C.
English football side Derby County were placed under a curse by a group of Romani Gypsies who were forced to move from a camp so that they could build their stadium, the Baseball Ground. The curse was that Derby County would never win the FA Cup. This mirrors the curse placed on Birmingham City F.C..
Despite reaching six FA Cup semi-finals between 1896 and 1903, including three finals, they never managed to win the trophy. The next time they reached the final was in 1946 against Charlton Athletic. In the buildup to the final, a representative from the club went to meet with Gypsies in an attempt to lift the curse. During the match, with the score tied at 1-1, the ball burst. It has since been seen by fans of the club as the moment the curse was lifted. Derby County went on to win the match 4–1.
England Penalty Curse
Until the 2018 FIFA World Cup England had never won a game on a penalty shootout in a competitive international competition.
The curse was broken with a penalty victory against Colombia in the 2018 World Cup last 16.
Additionally the curse affected the women’s national team in the 2019 Women’s FIFA World Cup with the team missing all 3 penalties kicks awarded to them as a foul.
Scottish football side Hibernian endured a 114-year wait to win their third Scottish Cup, eventually doing so against Rangers in the 2016 final. Prior to this success, Hibs had lost an agonising ten straight Scottish Cup finals in a drought stretching back to 1902. Hibernian's hoodoo was made all the more noteworthy by their relative success in other major Scottish footballing honours - the Leith side won four league titles and three league cups whilst remaining fruitless in their search for Scottish Cup glory. In spite of remaining a prominent force within Scottish football and building notoriously excellent sides such as the Famous Five and Turnbull's Tornadoes, Hibs were for so long unable to lift the oldest trophy in world football.
Some Hibs fans attributed the absence of Scottish Cup success to a curse which a gypsy woman allegedly placed upon the club during the chairmanship of Harry Swan. Whilst renovation works were being carried out at Hibernian's Easter Road stadium in the 1950s, a harp crest – which had been displayed on the South Stand symbolising Hibernian's founding Irish roots – was removed and subsequently did not reappear when work had finished. During the 2015-16 season, Hibs' modern day badge (which includes the harp) was placed upon the facade of the West Stand at Easter Road. Less than eight months after the harp had been reinstated onto the walls of Easter Road, Hibernian were once again Scottish Cup winners after more than a century in the making.
Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar has claimed in interviews on 2018 that the reason why Liverpool hasn't won the league since the 1989-90 season is because a witch-doctor put a curse on the club from ever winning the league and that the only way to break the curse is to urinate on the four goalposts at the Anfield stadium; Grobbelaar himself has urinated on two.
Mexico national team
The Mexico national football team have been eliminated from every FIFA World Cup at the round of 16 stage from 1994 onward, with the first incident happening in the 1994 FIFA World Cup when the team lost to Bulgaria through a penalty shootout, and since then were eliminated at the same stage from every tournament afterwards (losing to Germany in 1998, the United States in 2002, Argentina in 2006 and 2010, Netherlands in 2014, and Brazil in 2018.
Mick Jagger curse
When singer Mick Jagger openly supports a team or attends a game supporting a team, the supported team has suffered losses. The curse was widely speculated and reported on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Netherlands' FIFA World Cup curse
The Netherlands national football team has been a frequent participant in the FIFA World Cup, but has never been able to lift off the glorious World Cup trophy, with the team failed to win in 1974, 1978 and 2010. The women's team had managed to reach the same final in the equivalent FIFA Women's World Cup when they did it in 2019, but also failed to win the trophy.
Scotland national team
Scotland has a dubious record when it comes to any major competitions. The Scottish team, regardless men's or women's, have always been eliminated from the group stage of every major competitions, be it UEFA European Championship, UEFA Women's Championship, FIFA Women's World Cup or FIFA World Cup with mysterious circumstances.
World Cup champion's Curse
Starting in 2002, winners of the FIFA World Cup have frequently gotten eliminated in the group stages of the next World Cup. As of 2018 Germany has become the third World Champion in a row to bow out at the group stages of the World Cup, and the fourth in 5 competitions. Previously, 1998 FIFA World Cup winners France, got eliminated at the group stages in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, 2006 FIFA World Cup winners, Italy got eliminated in the groups stages in 2010, then 2010 FIFA World Cup winners, Spain got eliminated in 2014 FIFA World Cup group stages, and the most recent occasion was 2014 winners Germany, who were also eliminated in the group stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Only 2002 FIFA World Cup winners Brazil broke the curse in 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Women's World Cup quarter-finals' Curse
Another similar phenomenon also exists in every FIFA Women's World Cup since 1991. With the exception of the United States, no host nations have ever managed to pass through the quarter-finals, with China, Sweden, Germany, Canada and recently, France were all eliminated from the quarter-finals.
Boston Red Sox
Some allege that there was a curse placed on the Boston Red Sox, who failed to win a World Series after 1918, apparently due to the selling of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Before the sale, the Red Sox had won four titles in seven years (1912–1918). After the sale, the Yankees went on to win 27 World Series Championships. The "curse" was broken when, after 86 seasons, the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 0 in the 2004 World Series (before the Series, the Red Sox had come back from a 3-games-to-0 deficit, a first in Major League postseason history, to defeat the Yankees at the original Yankee Stadium for the American League pennant).
Chicago Cubs and White Sox
Both of Chicago's baseball teams were involved in supposed curses. The Chicago Cubs, after benefiting from a baserunning error by New York Giants' Fred Merkle during the last couple of weeks in the season, won the 1908 World Series. From 1909 to 2015, the Cubs did not win a World Series, despite participating as the National League (NL) champion seven times between 1910 and 1945. The 1945 World Series appearance was most notable because it marked the start of the Curse of the Billy Goat. That incident involved Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, who was asked to leave a World Series game vs. the Detroit Tigers because his pet goat's odor bothered other fans. From 1946 to 2015, the closest the Cubs had advanced to the World Series was five outs away in game 6 of the 2003 NLCS vs. the Florida Marlins, when Steve Bartman, a Cubs fan, attempted to catch a foul ball. The Cubs defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2016 National League Championship Series (NLCS), winning the organization's first National League (NL) pennant since 1945. The Cubs finally won the 2016 World Series against the Cleveland Indians, their first championship in 108 years. The Chicago White Sox were said to have been cursed because of their role in fixing the 1919 World Series. As a result, the Cincinnati Reds won that series in eight games, and eight White Sox players were banned by baseball for their actions in throwing the series. The White Sox wouldn't win another World Series until 2005, when they swept the Houston Astros in four games
This curse supposedly prevents the Cleveland Indians from competing in a pennant race, reaching postseason play, or winning the American League (AL) pennant and/or World Series. The origin of this curse dates back to 1960, when the Indians traded outfielder Rocky Colavito to the Detroit Tigers for outfielder Harvey Kuenn. The Indians played in and lost the World Series in 1995, 1997, and 2016, and last won the Series in 1948.
This curse was supposedly cast on the Hanshin Tigers by Colonel Harland Sanders (the founder and mascot of Kentucky Fried Chicken) after fans of the team threw his statue into the Dōtonbori Canal while celebrating the Tigers' 1985 Japan Championship Series.
San Francisco Giants
This curse is an alleged hex placed on the San Francisco Giants following their move from New York City and refers to Coogan's Bluff which is a cliff that overlooks Polo Grounds, the Giants' home in New York. In 1921, the Giants honored Eddie Grant, the first Major League Baseball player killed in World War I, with a plaque in centerfield, but the plaque was lost during the field invasion by fans that followed the Giants' final game at Polo Grounds at the end of the 1957 season.
Since then, the Giants, who had won five World Series titles, all but the first with the Eddie Grant plaque in centerfield, lost in their next three World Series appearances, including the '89 Series that was delayed because of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Two of those series losses were in the seventh game.
The Giants were approached on multiple occasions with offers to replace the plaque, but the management refused, citing a preference to keep the team's New York history separate. But the team eventually relented, installing a replica of the original plaque in AT&T Park on Memorial Day, 2006. A club official at the time said, "Baseball fans are so superstitious, and players are too, so you have to take this stuff seriously. And if by putting up a plaque we can break some sort of curse, who's to say it's not the right thing to do?"
The Giants won their first World Series in San Francisco in 2010, followed by World Series victories in 2012 and 2014. It should be mentioned that all three victories were won on the road, away from San Francisco.
The Curse of '51 allegedly prevents Mayo from winning the Sam Maguire Cup ever again, or at least until the death has occurred of every member of the last winning team from 1951. It remains unbroken—despite the team reaching the final on nine occasions since then, they have either completely collapsed on the day or been undone by a series of other unfortunate events.
The legend tells us that while the boisterous Mayo team were passing through Foxford on the victorious journey home, the team failed to wait quietly for a funeral cortège to pass by on its way to the graveyard. The presiding priest consequently put a curse on Mayo football to never win a subsequent All-Ireland Final until all members of the 1951 team are dead.
In 1989, Mayo reached their first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final since their last victory in 1951 only to lose to Cork. In 1996, a freak point by Meath at the end of the final forced a replay, which saw Mayo concede another late score that would deny them victory. Kerry bridged an 11-year title gap against them in 1997 with a three-point win, before torturing them by eight points in 2004 and thirteen points in 2006
Mayo returned to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final in 2012. Even with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Rome seeking divine intervention through Pope Benedict XVI the day before, the "Kafkaesque black farce" continued from where it had left off—with Donegal allowed bridge a 20-year gap between titles, helped in no small part by a nightmare opening quarter for Mayo as Michael Murphy—whose father is from Mayo—launched a rocket of a shot into the goal after three minutes. Then, in the eleventh minute, Colm McFadden seized the ball from the grasp of Kevin Keane and slid it into the net for a second Donegal goal. Mayo only got on the scoresheet after sixteen minutes and never led at any point during the match. They eventually lost with thirteen points to Donegal's two goals and eleven.
They qualified for the 2016 Final on 18 September 2016 where they faced Dublin the curse seemingly struck again when they scored two own goals in the opening half before drawing with Dublin in the last few minutes of the game. They faced Dublin again in a rematch on the 1st October 2016 but lost by a point.
Following the death of Fr Peter Quinn in January 2016 and Dr. Pádraig Carney in 2019 two living members of the 1951 All Ireland winning team remain: Paddy Prendergast and Mick Loftus. Mick Loftus was a sub but didn't play.
Biddy Early was a 19th-century healer from Feakle in County Clare remembered as a witch. Her curse or prophecy was said variously to afflict two hurling teams which endured long droughts in the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship: Clare (1914–1995) and/or Galway (1923–1980). The two counties played a famous semi-final in the 1932 Championship: Clare won, but lost the final to Kilkenny. After Clare's "curse" was broken in 1995, Billy Loughnane from Ennis wrote to The Irish Times:
Biddy Early is fondly remembered in Co Clare as an extraordinary woman who devoted her time to comforting and healing the sick. She is not known ever to have cursed anyone. She experienced some difficulty with one local clergyman of the day who, for reasons of his own, would have her labelled a "witch". This clergyman's malicious intentions have been greatly assisted recently by those journalists and commentators (outside of Clare) who have been busily referring to the "Curse of Biddy Early". Who started this silly rubbish? ... Some of these people would try to tell us that Biddy decreed that Clare would win no All-Ireland until after all the 1914 team had passed away. Biddy Early died in 1875 before the foundation of the GAA and long before there was any inter-county competition!
In 1993, the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup behind the Herculean effort of goaltender Patrick Roy. It was Roy's second Stanley Cup with Montreal, and his second Conn Smythe (Awarded to the Most Valuable Player of the NHL playoffs). It cemented him as one of the premier NHL players. This was also the Canadiens' 24th Stanley Cup championship, as they are historically the most dominant NHL team, winning 25.3% of all Cups, as of 2014. In 1995, Montreal hired coach Mario Tremblay. Tremblay and Roy had a strained relationship from Tremblay's playing days. Tremblay would consistently make fun of Roy's struggle to speak English. On December 2, 1995, Montreal played Detroit. In what would be the worst loss at home in Montreal's storied history, Roy would allow 9 goals before being pulled. In hockey, you usually pull a goalie much earlier when they are having a bad night. Roy later stated that Tremblay did this to humiliate him. Once Roy was pulled, he went by Canadiens President Ronald Corey and told him "It's my last game in Montreal." He was traded to the Colorado Avalanche four days later in what is known as "Le Trade". (The Avalanche had just moved out of Canada that same offseason; they had played the previous 23 seasons as the Canadiens' in-province rivals, the Quebec Nordiques.) It is considered one of the most lopsided trades in NHL history. That same year, the Avalanche won their first Stanley Cup. The curse wasn't said or implied by anyone. But as of 2019, no Canadian team has won a cup since Roy's 1993 Canadiens. It is now known as "The Curse of St. Patrick".
A significant losing streak the Calgary Flames had during games played in Anaheim has come to be referred to as the "Honda Center curse". After winning game 3 of the 2006 Western Conference Quarter Final at the then Arrowhead Pond on April 25, 2006, the Flames have gone on to lose an NHL record 29 consecutive away games at the Arrowhead Pond/Honda Center, including all 27 games played there under the arena's current name (the arena became Honda Center starting in the 2006-07 season ). Of these 29 losses, 2 came in the remaining games of the 2006 Western Conference Quarter Final, 3 came in the 2015 Western Conference Semi Final, and 2 came in the 2017 Western Conference Quarter Final. Furthermore, the Flames last regular season win in Anaheim came on January 19, 2004. The Flames losing streak at the then Arrowhead Pond/Honda Center has led some Ducks fans to taunt the Flames with chants of "You can't win here!". On October 9, 2017, the Calgary Flames beat the Ducks 2-0, ending a NHL record 29 (25 in regular season) consecutive away game losing streak including the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the then Arrowhead Pond/Honda Center.
A curse allegedly placed on the Chicago Blackhawks in 1927 by head coach Pete Muldoon when he was fired, stating that they would never again finish in first place. The "curse" was first mentioned in print in 1943 by Toronto sportswriter Jim Coleman. They would not finish in first place in their division (1928–1937) or in the single-division NHL (after 1938) until 1967, the final season of the Original Six era, despite winning the Stanley Cup three times since Muldoon supposedly "cursed" the team. However, immediately after this, Coleman admitted that he had completely fabricated the "curse" to break a writer's block.
Los Angeles Kings
During game 2 of the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals, with the Los Angeles Kings leading the Montreal Canadiens 2-1, Canadiens coach Jacques Demers requested the on-ice officials to measure the curvature of Kings defenseman Marty McSorley's stick. McSorley's stick was ruled illegal and he was given a two-minute penalty. McSorley's absence allowed the Canadiens to score a goal late in the third period to force overtime, and the Canadiens scored in the extra period to win the game and even the series at one game apiece. The Canadiens would subsequently win the next three games of the series to win the Stanley Cup. This series was the last time that the Kings played in the Stanley Cup finals, until they won the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history in 2012 and again in 2014. Coincidentally, the Canadiens' championship victory in this series is the most recent time a Canadian-based National Hockey League (NHL) team has won the Stanley Cup.
New York Rangers
The Curse of 1940 was a mythical explanation for the failure of the NHL's New York Rangers to win the Stanley Cup since 1940. It was broken when the Rangers defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4–3 in 1994.
Toronto Maple Leafs
NHL player Bill Barilko, of the Toronto Maple Leafs, had just scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in the 1951 season in overtime against the Montreal Canadiens. In his off-season, he went on a fishing trip with his dentist. Their plane crashed, both passengers died. The Maple Leafs did not win another cup until 1962, 11 years after the crash, and the same year that Barilko's body was found. His number was retired by the Maple Leafs in honour of his legacy and remembrance after his death. The Maple Leafs also notably have the current longest Stanley Cup drought as they have not won the cup since 1967. In fact, the Maple Leafs haven't even returned to the Stanley Cup Final since.
Since its NHL inception in 1970, the Vancouver Canucks have never won a Stanley Cup. The Canucks are the only team to have never won the Stanley Cup with three Stanley Cup Finals appearances. The Canucks are the only team to have been one game away from winning the Stanley Cup and have done so twice. Both times came to east coast teams ending their long droughts: the New York Rangers in 1994 and the Boston Bruins in 2011. The Canucks are further cursed in that they have never drafted first overall in the NHL Entry Draft and have dropped the most spots in NHL Drafts since the 2015–16 NHL season.
The Ascari curse is a "curse" involving Antonio Ascari and his son Alberto having eerily similar deaths. Both of them died at the age of 36 in racing accidents 30 years apart. Coincidentally they also died on the 26th of a month. They also left behind a wife and two children. Ascari's good friend, driver Eugenio Castellotti, whose Ferrari Ascari had driven on the day of his death, would die just two years after him in a crash in 1957, also in a Ferrari.
The Allison Family is a well known family in NASCAR. Bobby Allison who won the Daytona 500 in 1978, 1982 and 1988 would be the first of the Allison's to have major accidents while racing, first at Talladega, Alabama in 1987 where Bobby would crash into the catch fence and second at Pocono in 1988 where he suffered a career ending crash.
In 1992 Bobby's youngest son Clifford would be killed in a racing accident while his other son Davey would have a horrific, near-fatal crash in Pocono after his car flipped several times and hit a guardrail, oddly enough it was the same track where Bobby had his career ending crash. Davey would later be killed in a helicopter crash.
Since winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1969, auto racing legend Mario Andretti was plagued with bad luck in his efforts to win the great race for a second time before his retirement in 1994. The misfortune at Indianapolis has notably extended to his sons Michael and Jeff, nephew John, as well as grandson Marco. It is also said to have affected, to an indirect extent, his twin brother Aldo, and former car owners Paul Newman and Carl Haas from Newman/Haas Racing.
Toyota Gazoo Racing Le Mans Curse
For a long time, Toyota had been plagued with horribly bad luck in their attempts to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and become the first Japanese manufacturer to win the race since Mazda in 1991. Examples include in 2014, when the leading 7 car was forced to retire in the middle of the night after a piece of monitoring equipment failed, in 2015, where they failed to challenge Audi and Porsche in any way, only finishing in 8th, and most painfully in 2016, when the leading 5 car broke down just after the finish line when the final lap had been signalled, which let Porsche overtake and win. In 2017 a mistaken interpretation of a thumbs up signal from the driver of the leading Toyota car caused him to crash into an LMP2 car in the pit lane, leading to its retirement from the race and giving Porsche a straight run to the finish, as there were at that point only 2 LMP1 cars remaining, the fastest Porsche, and the 8th placed Toyota. The Porsche easily overtook the by then race leading LMP2 cars to cruise to the finish unchallenged. The curse was finally broken in 2018, when Toyota achieved a 1-2 finish with the 8 and 7 cars, after dominating the race and occupying 1st and 2nd for every single lap.
NASCAR racetrack Talladega Superspeedway has been said to have been cursed by a Native American shaman; other stories claim that it was built on an Indian burial ground. The curse allegedly explains the high number of unusual occurrences, untimely deaths, and spectacular accidents that have plagued the track since its opening in 1969 (part of this alleged curse has a rational underpinning; Talladega is the largest racetrack in NASCAR, allowing for much faster and more dangerous racing). During the 1970s, on the eve before a race, roughly a dozen cars were sabotaged with gas tanks being filled with sugar or sand, and tires were slashed as well. Bobby Isaac, the 1970 Cup champion, parked his car mid race despite nothing being wrong with the car. When asked why, Isaac claimed a voice from above ordered him to park the car.
The Kennett Curse (AFL)
This is the name given to AFL club Hawthorn's 11 match losing streak against rivals Geelong, from the 2008 AFL Grand Final to the 2013 preliminary final. After the Hawks won the 2008 premiership, then-Hawthorn President Jeff Kennett proclaimed that Geelong "lacked the mentality to defeat Hawthorn in big games". From that time, however, Geelong defeated Hawthorn eleven times in a row, most games being decided by 10 points or less. The winning streak was also attributed to comments made by Paul Chapman that the Cats will "never lose to them again" following the 2008 Grand Final. Chapman missed Hawthorn's curse-breaking win in 2013 due to suspension.
The Colliwobbles (AFL)
The Colliwobbles refers to the Collingwood football club's failure to win premierships from the years 1958 to 1990 in which the Collingwood football club which had been the most successful team for the first 60 years of the VFL. Following their famous upset against Melbourne in 1958, Collingwood went on to lose the next 8 grand finals, including a hat trick of losses in 1979,1980 and 1981. Grand Final losses in 1960,1964,1966,1970,1977,1979,1980 and 1981 often in close tight matches where Collingwood were leading only to let the opposition club to get back into the game and win it, famously in the 1970 Grand Final Collingwood led by 44 points at half time against Carlton, for the blues to steamroll back into the game in the second half to snatch the game by 10 points. The term Collywobbles was first coined by Lou Richards. The curse supposedly was buried in 1990 after Collingwood ended there 32 year long drought by defeating Essendon, however the Collywobbles still curse the Collingwood football club during September with both Collingwood premierships since 1958 in 1990 and 2010 having been won in October, with Collingwood losing 4 of the 6 Grand Final they have appeared in since 1990, all occurring in September these being 2002,2003,2011 and 2018.
The Curse of The Red Fox (AFL)
This is the name given to the curse for the Melbourne Football clubs premiership drought since 1964.It is suggested that upon the sacking of coach Norm Smith a curse was put on the Melbourne football club, the curse of the red fox. Between 1954 and 1964 The Melbourne Demons were the most dominant club in the VFL competition participating in 8 Grand Finals, including a record 7 consecutive grand finals from 1954 to 1960. In that era winning 6 premiership, half of Melbournes 12 flags, including 3 in a row from 1955 to 1957 led by the ruthless coach Norm Smith, during the Smith era Melbourne didn't miss the finals from 1954 to 1964. Norm Smith would be recognised by the AFL in 1996 as the Coach of the century in the AFL's team of the century. In 1965 Melbourne would sensationally sack Smith after winning 9 of the first 12 matches and looked likely to participate in another finals series. Smith was soon reinstated but the damage had been done, Melbourne wouldn't make the finals for the next 22 years, and have only appeared in 2 grand finals since, in both instances Melbourne were convincingly beaten by Essendon and Hawthorn respectfully in 1988 and 2000.
Cheltenham cemetery curse (SANFL)
For a long time such was the Port Adelaide Football Club's dominance at Alberton Oval there has been conjecture that opposition teams became cursed as they passed by Cheltenham cemetery on the way to the ground.
|“||Your fellows are beaten as soon as they pass the Cheltenham Cemetery.||”|
|— Unknown Port Adelaide player, Adelaide Advertiser, 10 May 1946, |
Malcolm Blight as coach for Woodville played up the curse for his players in the lead up to a match, parking the bus before the cemetery, and making his players walk past Cheltenham cemetery. Unfortunately it didn't work and Woodville still lost but Blight suggests his team would've lost by more if he didn't make everyone walk past.
|“||The adage, you lose five goals every time you came to Alberton Oval as soon as you passed Cheltenham Cemetery.||”|
|— Malcolm Blight, Sportsday SA, 2 July 2018, |
In the 1972 Air Canada Silver Broom curling tournament, Robert LaBonte, the skip of the American team, accidentally kicked the stone belonging to the Canadian team at the end of the match. This put the match into an extra end, and Canada won one more point to win the championship. Canada did not win another World Championship until 1980, and this was said that LaBonte put a "curse" on Canada.
The BasedGod's Curse
In May 2011, Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant tweeted an insult directed at cult rapper Lil B, a.k.a. "The BasedGod," in which Durant expressed incredulity at the idea that Lil B had become "relevant". In response, Lil B tweeted out the BasedGod's Curse, claiming that Durant would never win the NBA championship. The two men have exchanged further insults and basketball-related challenges on Twitter. In June 2012, Lil B claimed on Twitter that he had lifted the curse; however, in February 2014, during the NBA All-Star Game in which Durant was playing, Lil B resumed insulting Durant on Twitter, implying that the curse had returned. Lil B later released a diss song directed at Durant entitled "Fuck KD". in 2016, the Thunder blew a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals to the Golden State Warriors. In the offseason, he left for the Warriors. On July 4, 2016, following that announcement, Lil B rescinded the curse again. In the 2017 NBA Finals, the Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games to win the NBA championship, giving Durant his first ever title.
St George Illawarra Dragons
In the National Rugby League (NRL), the Canberra curse referred to the St. George Illawarra Dragons' constant inability to defeat the Canberra Raiders at their home ground, or anywhere else, between 2000 and 2014. The Raiders enjoyed an unusual dominance of the Dragons, winning matches between the pair on a regular basis regardless of which team enjoyed favouritism or home ground advantage. This curse came to an end in Round 23, 2014, with the Dragons winning 34–16; it was their first win over the Raiders in Canberra since 2000, overall since 2007, but just their second since 2001.
The Masters Tournament held annually at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia begins with an informal par-3 competition. No winner of this has ever gone on to win the main tournament the same year. Eleven golfers have won both the contest and the Masters, with two of them winning the Masters later in the career after winning the contest. Raymond Floyd came the closest to winning both in 1990, but he lost in a sudden-death playoff.
World Snooker Championship
In snooker, the "Crucible Curse" refers to the fact that no first-time winner of the World Snooker Championship has successfully defended his title since the event was first held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in 1977. Of the 17 first-time champions in this era, only two have even made the final the following year, and six were eliminated in their first match. The "curse" can even be seen in the pre-Crucible era—the three first-time champions between the start of the championship's "modern era" in 1969 and its move to the Crucible all lost in their respective semifinal matches the next year. All three players went on to win a championship at the Crucible, and all failed to retain their title after their first victory at that venue.
Curse of the rainbow jersey
In cycle racing, the "curse of the rainbow jersey" is a popular term referring to the phenomenon where cyclists who have become World Champion (who wear the rainbow jersey during their reign as world champion) often suffer from poor luck the next year.
Reports of an "Olympic curse" (French: malediction olympique) were noted in French media in 2015 following the murder of Belarusian sprinter Yuliya Balykina and the deaths of French athletes Alexis Vastine and Camille Muffat in a helicopter crash during the reality show Dropped. By April 2016, 18 of the 10,568 competitors had died but, based on mortality data for people of the competitors' average age of 26, this was actually lower than the expected death rate, which would have been seven competitors per year and a total by April 2016 of 28.
The city of Atlanta, Georgia has won only one major professional sports championship (the 1995 World Series). Atlanta United FC won the 2018 MLS Cup, however most residents choose not to consider this a major title.
The National Football League (NFL)'s Atlanta Falcons won their first division championship in 1980 and were favored against the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional playoff game. Despite trailing 24–10 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Cowboys rallied to out-score the Falcons 20–3 in the quarter to defeat the Falcons 30–27. In 1998, the Falcons advanced to play in the club's first-ever Super Bowl game after upsetting the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game 30–27; however, the Falcons lost to John Elway (in his final game) and the Denver Broncos 34–19 in Super Bowl XXXIII. In 2010 and 2012 the Falcons held the number 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, but were upset by the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers, respectively. The latter occurred in the NFC Championship Game, where the Falcons held a 17–0 lead. In Super Bowl LI, the Falcons' second-ever Super Bowl appearance, Atlanta jumped out to a 28–3 lead over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. However, the Falcons suffered by far the greatest collapse in Super Bowl history (25 points; the previous record was 10) and lost to the Patriots 34–28 in the first Super Bowl game to ever be decided in an overtime period.
Consistently fielding one of the best teams in Major League Baseball, the Atlanta Braves won 14 straight division titles from 1991 to 2005, but won the World Series only once (1995). In the 1996 World Series, the Braves seemed poised to win their second straight championship after jumping out to a 2–0 series lead going home. However, the Braves lost 4 straight games to the New York Yankees, including a Game 4 in which they held a 6–0 lead at one point. The Braves have only played in one World Series since (1999; the Braves were swept in four games by the New York Yankees). Currently, the Braves are 0-10 in their last 10 postseason series and have not advanced in the playoffs since 2001. Notable examples of the Atlanta sports curse as it pertains to the Braves include Lonnie Smith, Ed Sprague, Charlie Leibrandt (in back-to-back World Series), Jim Leyritz, Eric Gregg's wide strike zone, Brooks Conrad's errors, blowing an 8 1/2 game Wild Card lead in September 2011, the 2012 National League Wild Card Game, and the 2019 National League Division Series.
The National Basketball Association (NBA)'s Atlanta Hawks have not played in an NBA Finals since the club's move from St. Louis, Missouri in 1968. Their only appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals was against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015, in which they were swept four games to none despite being a 60-win team and the number one seed in the conference.
In addition, Atlanta has lost two National Hockey League (NHL) franchises to Canadian cities: the Atlanta Flames (who moved to Calgary in 1980) and the Atlanta Thrashers (who moved to Winnipeg in 2011), either due to low attendance, poor ownership, or both.
The 2017 Georgia Bulldogs college football team blew a 13-point lead at halftime in the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship to Alabama and lost in overtime, 26-23, despite Alabama benching their starting quarterback, Jalen Hurts, at halftime in favor of Tua Tagovailoa. Later that year, in the 2018 SEC Championship Game, Georgia once again blew a 14 point lead to Alabama in the same venue as their National Championship loss and once again also losing to the backup quarterback (this time Hurts, who replaced an injured Tagovailoa).
Atlanta's Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) team, the Atlanta Dream, has also fallen victim to the city's curse. All three times the team has reached the WNBA Finals, they have been swept three games to none each time (2010, 2011, and 2013).
Off the field, the curse has found its way towards athletes as well. Eugene Robinson, who played for the Falcons during the 1998 season, was arrested for soliciting a prostitute the night before Super Bowl XXXIII. Michael Vick's arrest for involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring came while he was still with the Falcons. Thabo Sefolosha, the Hawks' star defender in 2015, was arrested in New York City weeks before the beginning of the NBA playoffs and suffered a fractured tibia while being detained.
Buffalo, New York
The Buffalo sports curse is an explanation for Buffalo's inability to win a Super Bowl, Stanley Cup, or an NBA championship. Those who believe in the Buffalo curse cite as examples the four consecutive Super Bowl losses by the Buffalo Bills for the 1990–1993 seasons (and the team's failure to qualify for the NFL playoffs from 2000 to 2017), as well as the failure of the Buffalo Sabres ever to win the Stanley Cup (despite winning the Presidents' Trophy for most regular-season points in 2006–07). The Bills, however, won two American Football League (AFL) titles (1964 and 1965), the latter occurring just months before an agreement was reached to merge the AFL and the National Football League (NFL) (Bills owner Ralph Wilson initiated the talks to merge the two leagues, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame). In spite of that, it has been argued that this was achieved when the AFL was in its infancy as an upstart league, garnering little, if any, national attention before merging with the established NFL, and that even if they are considered to be at par, since there would be no Super Bowl until after the 1966 season, the Bills could be no greater than co-champions. There have been conflicting suggestions on how the Bills would have fared against the Green Bay Packers or Cleveland Browns, much as there have been disputes over how well the San Diego Chargers would have played against the Bears in 1963, had the Super Bowl existed at that time.
Some writers and historians specifically attribute the Bills' lack of success to the location of their current stadium next to a family cemetery and very likely on the site of an old Wenro Indian village. There are others who link the Bills' 17-year playoff drought to the benching of quarterback Doug Flutie for the game now known as the Music City Miracle, which was also their last playoff game until 2017. One non-supernatural cause of the alleged curse was Bills owner Ralph Wilson, who cared more about running a profitable business than a winning team; Wilson was quoted in 1969 as explicitly not wanting to win championships because it would cause his players to demand more money.
The earliest reference to the curse traces to 1921, when the city's first NFL team, the Buffalo All-Americans, lost the NFL championship that year to what is now the Chicago Bears on a controversial tiebreaker. Other teams based in Buffalo, such as the Buffalo Bandits, Buffalo Bisons, Buffalo Beauts and Western New York Flash, have all won championships in their respective leagues, and athletes from Buffalo (with the possible exception of heavyweight boxing contender Joe Mesi), when playing for teams outside of Buffalo, have not been affected and have won multiple championships.
Prior to 2016, Cleveland was particularly known for not winning a championship in any major sport since 1964, as well as repeatedly losing playoff games in heartbreaking fashion. Although the Cleveland Browns won the 1964 NFL Championship Game, the match occurred two seasons prior to the first Super Bowl and six before the AFL–NFL merger. More than fifty years after winning their last league title, the Browns remain one of only four teams yet to play in the NFL title game during the modern era. More recently, the Cleveland Indians lost the 1995, 1997, and 2016 World Series, and the Cleveland Cavaliers were swept in both the 2007 and 2018 NBA Finals. In 2004, ESPN.com ranked Cleveland "the most tortured sports city in America". In 2012, Cleveland Scene dubbed the city's sports struggles "The Curse of Chief Wahoo", a reference to continued use of the controversial logo.
The Drake curse is a sports curse attributed to rapper Drake. Endorsement from Drake, including wearing a team's or player's jersey, publicly declaring support for a team or attending a game has resulted in a loss or negative outcome for players and teams. Teams and athletes supposedly affected by the curse include Alabama football, Conor McGregor, the Toronto Raptors, Kentucky basketball, Juventus F.C., Serena Williams and Anthony Joshua. In 2019, after the Toronto Raptors defeated the Philadelphia 76ers with a buzzer-beater from Kawhi Leonard, it was revealed Drake was wearing 76ers shorts in order to use the curse to his advantage.
The Drake curse was officially lifted on June 13, 2019 when the Toronto Raptors defeated the Golden State Warriors in game six of the 2019 NBA Finals to win the series 4-2 and claim their first NBA championship.
Marketing experts have highlighted the "curse of Gillette", given the mishaps that happen to sports stars which are associated with the brand, most notably Tiger Woods, Thierry Henry and David Beckham. One notable exception to the curse is the New England Patriots, who have played at Gillette Stadium since 2002 and won six Super Bowls in that time frame.
Gold Coast, Queensland
The Gold Coast is notorious for having teams perform poorly in the major Australian sports leagues and either fold, rebrand or relocate shortly after. Most of the city's sports teams have never reached the Grand Final of any major sports league in Australia, let alone win a premiership/championship. The Gold Coast is often referred to as "the graveyard" due to the number of professional sports teams that have folded in the city. The teams will often fall into trouble over poor on field performances, financial problems, ownership issues and/or under performing shortly after signing a marquee player. One of the city's two current professional teams fell dangerously close to suffering the same fate in 2015 as Australian media outlets reported they were trying desperately to avoid the curse.
The city of Houston, Texas has only won three major-league championships in its over 50 years of major league sports: the Houston Rockets winning back-to-back NBA Finals in 1994 and 1995, and the Houston Astros winning the 2017 World Series.
They are various origins of such a curse, but many believe the fact that the city was built on ruins of old Harrisburg that was destroyed by Mexican forces during the Texas Revolution and gives the notion the whole city was built on destroyed sacred ground.
The Houston Astros of Major League Baseball have only won three pennants in their 56-year history, in 2005 while still in the National League, where they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 4 games in the 2005 World Series; since moving to the American League they have not won a pennant till 2017, and thereafter, they won another pennant in 2019. In the 1980 National League Championship Series, the Astros lost Game 5 when they blew a 3-run lead in the top of the eighth inning to the Philadelphia Phillies, who would go on to win in the tenth inning 8-7. In the 1986 National League Championship Series, the Astros lost Game 6 in a heartbreaking fashion by blowing a 3-run lead in the top of the 9th inning as the New York Mets scored 3 runs, forcing extra innings; in the 14th inning, both teams scored one run, and two innings later, the Mets scored 3 more runs while the Astros could not finish a comeback and lost the game to the Mets. After four of five seasons of first-round playoff exits from 1997-2001, the Astros lost in the 2004 National League Championship Series to the St. Louis Cardinals. In the 2015 American League Division Series, the Astros would blow a 6-2 lead in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals in Game 4 before losing the series in five games. The Astros would later win the 2017 World Series, 4 games to 3 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in their first appearance as a member of the American League, ending decades of heartbreak.
The Houston Oilers were established in 1960 as an inaugural franchise of the American Football League, where they won the first two AFL Championship Games (both against the San Diego Chargers); the Oilers would later join the National Football League during the AFL–NFL merger in the new AFC Central division; the Oilers met the Pittsburgh Steelers two years in a row in the AFC Championship Game, losing each time (5–34 in 1978 and 13–27 in 1979) and never returning to the AFC Championship Game during their time in Houston. In the 1992–93 NFL playoffs, the Oilers blew a 32-point lead to the Buffalo Bills in the 1993 AFC Wild Card Game; this game is locally known as The Choke within Houston. Two years later, the Oilers would relocate to Nashville and become the Tennessee Titans; in 2002, the NFL would return to Houston, this time under the name the Houston Texans.
The Texans have made the playoffs 5 times since coming into the league in 2002, but have only managed to go as far as the Divisional Round in 3 of those 5 appearances, and have never reached an AFC Championship. As of 2018, they remain the only NFL franchise to have not played in their conference championship.
The "Curse of Billy Penn" was cited as a reason for Philadelphia sports teams' failure to win championships since the Philadelphia 76ers swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1983 NBA Finals. Some[weasel words] fans believe that the city's breaking a gentlemen's agreement in 1987 that no skyscraper could be higher than the statue of William Penn on the top of the spire of City Hall put a curse on the city.
When the final beam in the construction of the Comcast Center, was raised on June 18, 2007, iron workers of Local Union 401 attached a small figurine of William Penn to the beam in an attempt to break the curse. The following year, the Philadelphia Phillies won the 2008 World Series. Ten years later, when the even taller Comcast Technology Center was topped out, the iron workers on that skyscraper did the same thing and the Philadelphia Eagles would go on to win Super Bowl LII.
The city's sports teams have also lost in championship finals in years of presidential inaugurations, beginning with the 76ers' loss in the 1977 NBA Finals and includes the Phillies' loss in the 2009 World Series. During that span, each of the four city's teams have lost championships during such years twice.
San Diego, California
The city of San Diego, has never claimed a modern North American major league professional sports championship (Super Bowl, World Series, Stanley Cup, or NBA Finals). San Diego is currently home to Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres and was the home of the National Football League's San Diego Chargers from 1961 to 2016 (now located in Los Angeles). San Diego has never had a National Hockey League franchise. The city has previously hosted two teams from the National Basketball Association: the San Diego Rockets from 1967 to 1971 (now located in Houston, Texas), and the San Diego Clippers from 1978 to 1984 (now located in Los Angeles).
Since 2016 when the Cleveland Cavaliers won an NBA championship, San Diego became the city with the longest championship drought in North America with at least one major league franchise. San Diego's only championship was the 1963 AFL Championship, when the Chargers beat the Boston Patriots 51–10, before the AFL merged with the NFL to form the current National Football League.
The Chargers would only appear and lose in three championship games since then. The Chargers were set to defend their 1963 AFL title in 1964 against the Buffalo Bills. However, a key play by Mike Stratton on Keith Lincoln would help the Bills win, 20–7. The next year, the Chargers played the Bills again in the championship game and were shut out 23–0. The quarterback for the Bills (and the game MVP) in both of those games was former Charger Jack Kemp (and incidentally, those two championships would also be Buffalo's last). In 1966, team owner and founder Barron Hilton was forced to sell off the team to appease the board of directors of Hilton Hotels. Since Hilton sold the team, the Chargers have only had one Super Bowl appearance, in 1994, when they lost 49–26 to the San Francisco 49ers, as San Francisco quarterback and eventual MVP Steve Young threw for a Super Bowl–record six touchdowns. Additionally, eight members of that 1994 Chargers team, including team captain Junior Seau, died before the age of 45. Since appearing in the Super Bowl, the Chargers have fielded some dominant teams that appeared to be Super Bowl-type teams, only to take an early playoff exit. In 2004, the Chargers finished 12-4 and hosted the New York Jets in the Wild Card Game, but they lost the game in overtime 20-17 despite rallying from a 17-7 fourth quarter deficit. In 2006, the Chargers finished a league-best 14-2 and clinched the 1 seed in the AFC Playoffs. They hosted the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round. Late in the 4th quarter, with the Chargers leading 21-13, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw an interception to Marlin McCree, which likely would've clinched victory. However, he was stripped of the ball by Patriots wide receiver Troy Brown and the Patriots recovered and took over in Chargers territory. The Patriots were able to tie the score at 21 and ultimately won the game 24-21 on a late field goal. This has since gone down as one of the greatest "what-ifs" in Chargers history, going down as "what if Marlin McCree holds on to the ball?". In 2007, the Chargers finished 11-5 and won the AFC West once again, and this time were able to advance to the AFC Championship Game. Despite praise from the media for Philip Rivers playing through a torn ACL he had suffered the previous week in the Division Round win over the Indianapolis Colts, the Chargers fell to the 17-0 New England Patriots by a score of 21-12. Since their Super Bowl appearance in 1994, this remains the only time the Chargers have reached the AFC Championship Game since that time. In 2008, the Chargers became the first team in NFL history to start a season 4-8 and make the playoffs by winning their final 4 games, including a 52-21 victory in a win-and-in game over the Denver Broncos. After upsetting the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card Game, the Chargers lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the next round 35-24. In 2009, after a slow 2-3 start, the Chargers won their last 11 games to finish the season at 13-3 and finish as the AFC's number 2 seed. But in the divisional round against the New York Jets, the Chargers lost 17-14 which included 3 missed field goals by normally reliable kicker Nate Kaeding. After the string of 4 consecutive AFC West crowns from 2006-2009, the Chargers only made the playoffs once in their final 7 seasons in San Diego, in 2013 when they finished as the AFC's number 6 seed after having won 4 in a row after a 5-7 start. They beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the Wild Card Round 27-10, but lost to the Denver Broncos in the next round 24-17.
Founded in 1969, the Padres are one of seven Major League Baseball franchises that have never won the World Series. Of those teams, only the Texas Rangers (1961) have been in existence longer than San Diego. The Padres have twice advanced to the World Series, losing 4–1 to the Detroit Tigers in 1984 and being swept 4–0 by the New York Yankees in 1998. Asides from those 2 World Series appearances, the Padres have only made the playoffs 3 other times, and in each appearance, they lost the NLDS to the St. Louis Cardinals. As of 2019, the last time the Padres made the playoffs was in 2006, and their last winning season was in 2010. Since their last playoff appearance, the Padres are 775-892 (.465). The Padres streak of 13 consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance is the 3rd longest current streak in the league, only behind the Florida/Miami Marlins (16, 2003) and the Seattle Mariners (18, 2001).
Sports Illustrated cover
The city of Washington, D.C. did not win a major professional sports championship for 26 years, between the Washington Redskins' Super Bowl XXVI victory in 1992 and the Washington Capitals' win in the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals. None of the major sports teams qualified to play in a conference or league championship game or series between 1998 and 2018, for a total of 70 combined seasons. This was the longest such streak in combined seasons of any city with at least one major sports team. Of cities with three or more major sports teams, D.C. had the second-longest title drought, and the longest time without an appearance in the conference finals. Between the Capitals' 1998 trip to the Eastern Conference Finals and the team's trip to the Eastern Conference Final in 2018, Washington, D.C. sports teams had appeared in 16 quarterfinal playoff rounds, losing all 16. Further, Washington sports teams held a 13 game losing streak in games with the chance to send the team to a Conference or League Championship. The drought ended on May 7, 2018, when the Capitals defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of the semifinals to advance to the Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Capitals would go on to defeat the Lightning four games to three in the Eastern Conference Final, and then defeated the Vegas Golden Knights four games to one in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Washington Capitals had been the epitome of the Washington, D.C. sports curse. They have lost 5 playoff series when leading 3 games to 1, the most out of any NHL team. Out of NHL teams that have been involved in 10 or more playoff game 7's they have the worst winning percentage and have the second most losses despite being in existence 50 years less than the Boston Bruins, the team with the most losses. Their .131 winning percentage during the 1974-75 season is still the worst in league history.
The Washington Redskins have won three Super Bowl championships, the most recent coming in Super Bowl XXVI over the Buffalo Bills. However, since that time, the Redskins have not appeared in a Super Bowl or even a Conference Championship Game, and have only made the playoffs six times, losing in the First Round in three of those seasons. That Super Bowl season also represents the last time the Redskins got either the 1 or 2 seeds in the playoffs, as well as the last time they got 12 or more wins in a season.
Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals were one of only 2 teams in Major League history to have never appeared in a World Series (the only one now being the Seattle Mariners). They were formerly the Montreal Expos from 1969 to 2004. In that span, they had only made the playoffs one time, the strike-shortened 1981 season. They played in the National League Division Series (NLDS) as a result of the strike. The Expos won the series over the Phillies 3-2, but lost the National League Championship Series (NLCS) to the Dodgers in 5 games. The Expos win in the 1981 NLDS remains the only postseason series win in the franchise's history. The Nationals first started playing in Washington in 2005. Since that time, the Nationals have made the playoffs only 5 times.
In the 2012 season, the Nationals clinched the best record in baseball at 98-64 and clinched home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs. They met the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. In game 5, the Nationals lead 6-0 at one point, and looked poised to make the NLCS. However, the Cardinals were able to cut the lead to 6-5 in the later innings. The Nationals led 7-5 heading into the 9th inning after they got a much needed insurance run in the bottom of the 8th inning, and 3 times were 1 out away from the Championship Series. Of those 3 instances in which they were one out away, twice they were one strike away. Closer Drew Storen entered the 9th inning, and allowed a lead-off double to Carlos Beltran. He was able to get the next 2 outs via groundout and strikeout. However, Storen failed to record the final out. He walked the next two batters, both on 3-2 pitches to load the bases. The next batter, Daniel Descalso, then hit a two run game tying double that ricocheted off the glove of Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond and trickled out into center field. The Cardinals would then take the lead 9-7 later on in the inning. Washington went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. The game has gone down as one of the most memorable chokes in sports history, as well as one of the most painful.
In the 2014 National League Division Series, the Nationals lost to the San Francisco Giants, who would go on to win the World Series. In Game 2, the Nationals held a 1-0 lead heading into the top of the 9th inning, but they could not close the game out. The Giants tied the game 1-1, and the game went into extra innings. In the top of the 18th inning, the Giants took the lead on a home run from Brandon Belt. The Nationals would win Game 3, but they ultimately lost the series 3-1.
In the 2016 National League Division Series, the Nationals lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2. In the seventh inning of Game 5, the Dodgers rallied from a 1-0 deficit to score four runs while the Nationals responded with only two in the bottom half of the inning. The inning lasted an hour and six minutes, with seven pitching changes, six runs, four pinch-hitters, two pinch-runners, and a double switch. In the bottom of the ninth, Clayton Kershaw, who had thrown 110 pitches in Game 4 two nights earlier, came in to pitch in the inning with one out. He induced a pop-up by Daniel Murphy and struck out Wilmer Difo swinging to end the game and series. This happened to be his first ever career save in the majors, along with the third time in four years that the Nationals lost in the NLDS.
In the 2017 National League Division Series, the Nationals lost to the Chicago Cubs 3-2. In Game 5, the Nationals lead 4-1 at one point. However, starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez was pulled after 3 innings for allowing 3 runs (all earned) and walking 4 batters. With the score 4-3 heading into the 5th inning, manager Dusty Baker bought in starting pitcher Max Scherzer to pitch the 5th inning. Scherzer, a Cy Young candidate for the season, came in and easily had his worst performance of the season by allowing 4 runs (2 earned), while walking a batter and striking out a batter, allowing the Cubs to pull ahead 7-4 and essentially putting the game out of reach. Washington attempted a comeback on their own, but ultimately, they could not fully recover, and they ultimately lost 9-8, ending the season for them and making them one and done for the second season in a row. Overall in the game, the Nationals used a total of 7 pitchers, the most pitchers they had used in a single game during the season. Three of their four postseason losses have been at Nationals Park, with the three losses also being a Game 5.
Until 2019, Washington, D.C. had not won a pennant since the Washington Senators did so in 1933. The last MLB championship for a Washington team until 2019 was in 1924. Those Senators moved to Minnesota in 1960, although a replacement team was created the following year. In eleven seasons, the Senators had just one winning season (1969), with four finishes in dead last. The team moved to Arlington, Texas after the 1971 season to become the Texas Rangers.
On October 15, 2019, the Washington Nationals completed the sweep versus the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS and advanced to the World Series for the first time in 86 years. The Nationals won the World Series on October 31, 2019, defeating the Houston Astros in 7 games. However, the Nationals did not win a single game at home, making them the only team in World Series history to win without doing so.
The Washington Wizards franchise has not won an NBA championship since 1978, when they were known as the Washington Bullets. They have not made the NBA Finals or the Conference Finals since 1979, one year after they were crowned champions. Since that time, the franchise has made the playoffs 16 times, but have only won five series in those appearances, and each time, they either lost in the first round, or lost in the semi-finals. From 1982 to 2005, the Wizards lost seven consecutive postseason series, with their win over the New Jersey Nets in the First Round in two games in 1982 being their last postseason series win until they beat the Chicago Bulls in six games in 2005. After that, the Wizards did not win another postseason series until 2014, when they beat the Bulls in five games. Since then, the Wizards won in the First Round in their next two playoff appearances, although each time they lost in the Conference Semifinals.
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