*Definition of “Worst” – The most disappointing, most humiliating, the biggest waste of a good opportunity, or what seemed like a good opportunity… Not simply the worst record, but true sadness and depression.
It could be a one-year sickness or it could be the cap on a few years or awfulness.
1. Detroit Lions
This may be an odd choice to some. I mean, they weren’t God awful. But they have the greatest receiver since Jerry Rice (and maybe since before that), a damn fine quarterback in Matthew Stafford, a good-enough defence, and a running Reggie Bush.
And, until a few weeks ago, they were in control of their destiny at 6-3, sitting atop a quite weak NFC North and competing with teams without Jay Cutler or Aaron Rodgers. Then the Lions lost everything they were supposed to win, dropping three in a row and finishing the season on a 1-6 ride, ending at 7-9 and falling right through the pit and out of the conference’s playoff race. And they fired their head coach Jim Schwartz – the sort of move that could be necessary but is also evidence of a major failure.
Detroit has taken a couple terribly big steps back after a 2011 that seemed like it was the beginning of something great.
They may not be the worst team in football, but I’d rather be a fan of 31 other teams right now.
2. Toronto Blue Jays
Vegas odds. The biggest summer in the franchise’s history. And a general consensus of ‘World Series or Bust’ despite the fact they hadn’t won a hand in 20 years. Not to mention, the team is owned by Canadian media giant Rogers, and you couldn’t turn on Sportsnet without seeing how proud and braggy the network was of its new blossoming product. (So much for unbiased reporting.)
So, how’d it go?
3. Edmonton Oilers
Okay, so they can win games and – on occasion – they can score. And it’s not all bad, because you know the Oil will be able to put it together one day, but they’ve been saying one day for seven years
This team is a mess. Management and, specifically, Kevin Lowe seem to be trying to drive standards even lower with every new year and the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006, when a miracle run to the Stanley Cup Final become the first and last thing that city has been able to cheer about since 1990.
Sure, there’s a future in Edmonton. But after three straight No. 1 picks and a decade of collecting prospects and pity, shouldn’t there be a present?
4. Los Angeles Lakers
That whole Howard-Nash-Gasol-Bryant thing was a 2012 fumble, no doubt. But the Lakers are continuing to pay for their seemingly safe gamble in 2013. Howard is in Houston, Nash is crippled, Bryant is even more crippled, Ron Artest is in New York and also thinks he’s an alien, and Pau Gasol is… playing, but that doesn’t mean a lot. Not when he’s the only guy and it isn’t 2010 anymore.
The Lakers have arguably never been lower. Not since I’ve been alive.
5. Rory McIlroy
Okay, so he’s one athlete, not a team. But whatever… it wasn’t fun.
6/7. Houston Texans/Atlanta Falcons
They were both so bad, it’s almost not fun to include them. It’s just mean. When your dog dies, you’re not still mad he peed on the rug a few times, are you?
The Texans went from preseason Super Bowl contenders to the worst team in football and the proud owners of 14 straight losses. The Falcons went from a near-NFC champion and Tony Gonzalez’s crescendo to a weekly doormat and Tony Gonzalez’s resting place.
The Texans should get their pick of either Jadaveon Clowney or whatever quarterback ends up being the consensus top pivot this summer. The Falcons? Yeah, they’ll get a good pick, too.
So, whatever. It gets better. But it also can’t get worse.
8. Brooklyn Nets
Fall has been more than just a season for Brooklyn.
It’s unclear whether the Nets even want to win. It’s been that bad, that embarrassing. And yet, it gets worse, because this is also the sophomore campaign for a recently re-branded, re-situated, re-coloured once-nothing franchise.
When you hold a grand opening, you don’t want the sparkle to fade as soon as the first weekend’s guests fly home, and Brooklyn’s honeymoon was over as soon as last year’s playoffs started.
They’ve gone from Jay-Z’s pet project to Jason Kidd’s open bar.
They came out to confetti and they became the Knicks.
9. Dallas Cowboys
Really, the ‘Boys should and could be much, much higher on this list, but they were a late entry – their existence here solely dependent on Week 17 – and the injury to quarterback Tony Romo just kind of sucks, so even a Dallas hater like myself has to admit I feel guilty for piling on.
Alcohol in the wounds n’ all that.
Most will point to that collapse against Green Bay as the reason Dallas missed the playoffs. But it wasn’t just that. It seemed like every week in Big D ended with a Romo interception, a Jason Garrett “helpless hands in the air” move, and an overreaching Jerry Jones saying something nobody needs to hear. When the owner is this much of a week-to-week celebrity, you know your team has a problem, and the Cowboys continue to be dogged by a cheque-slinger whose expertise and relevance expired a decade ago.
I feel like I saw the Cowboys lose every single week, and somehow they ended up 8-8 with a chance to make the playoffs in their final week… AGAIN.
I don’t know if that means the Boys were lucky to win or if it means they squandered a bubbling cauldron of talent. But after how many years and counting, it’s gotta be the latter.
10. Vancouver Canucks
I take some flack from my own friends east of Winnipeg, certainly for sounding like I’m a pro-VanCity Toronto hater. I can’t hide my favouritism, but I’ll make an effort to be unbiased and I’ll start right here, because the Canucks and their end to the first half of 2013 was as embarrassing and – even worse – as expected as it gets.
The sweep to San Jose was the second straight rapid-fire first round exit for the Canucks. Alain Vigneault was fired because, well, duh. The Roberto Luongo saga dragged both the goalie and the team through PR hell and, in the end, the other guy got moved. And, again… the playoffs.
Three straight years of depression. Each continually worse than the last. But why was 2013 the lowest point in an era that also showed so much promise? Nobody seemed to care, almost like the whole city was used to losing and had adjusted to it.
It ended up with a whimper, not a bang.