Just as teams are defined and celebrated as dynasties for winning multiple championships and having dominated regular season records on a consistent basis, teams that are on the other end of the spectrum still warrant the spotlight, just for the wrong reasons.
No matter how successful a franchise has been, each has gone through its own period of darkness and failure, with some obviously being longer and more memorable than others. They always say that you have to hit rock bottom before you can rise to the top. Unfortunately for these teams, rock bottom was a long way down. While professional sports are traditionally a “what have you done lately” business, these following teams have etched their names in the record books for their futility.
All Time: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26 Games, 1976 through 1977)
Recent: Jacksonville Jaguars (20 Games, 2020-2021)
During their inaugural season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered what would become the NFL’s longest losing streak in history. As an expansion team in 1976, the Buccaneers as part of the AFC West failed to win a game in their first season.
Included in the Bucs' 0-14 season were five shutout losses including their first two games of the season and a 42-0 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Of the Buccaneers two best chances to nab a victory during their first season was a Week 6 13-10 loss against the Seattle Seahawks and a 23-20 defeat to the Miami Dolphins a week later.
It would take the Bucs until the second to last game of their sophomore season to tally their first victory, recording a convincing 33-14 victory over the New Orleans Saints. Ironically the team would put together back-to-back victories to finish the season, defeating the Arizona Cardinals 17-7.
All Time: Louisville Colonels (26 Games, 1889)
Recent: Baltimore Orioles (19 Games, 2021)
Believe it or not, the all-time record for futility in Major League Baseball has lasted 134 years and it doesn't seem like it will fall any time soon. As part of the Louisville Colonels' disastrous 1889 season, one in which the team became the first in MLB history to lose 100 games, they would embark on a disastrous 26-game losing streak.
Not only do the Colonels hold the record for the longest losing streak, but they also have the not-so-distinct honor of having their name attached to another record that will never be broken, losing five games in two days as the result of the now-defunct tripleheader and doubleheader on back-to-back days.
All Time: Philadelphia 76ers (28 Games, 2015)
Recent: Detroit Pistons (24+ Games, 2023)
Of all the losing streak records, it seems like the NBA record is the one that is most likely to be broken. However, this streak comes with an asterisk as it took place over the course of two seasons, with the single season record of 26 games belonging to both the 2013-14 76ers and the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers.
As part of the long-term plan known simply as “The Process”, the 76ers' front office intentionally set out to have the worst record over a period of time in order to eventually build a contending team through the draft. While the monumental losses were tough to suffer through, it did eventually pan out as the team has been a top seed in the Eastern Conference for the past six years.
All Time: Pittsburgh Penguins (18 Games, 2003-04) / Buffalo Sabres (18 Games, 2021)
Recent: San Jose Sharks (17 Games, 2022/2023 through 2023/2024)
Few would imagine that a team with “Super” Mario Lemieux would have the unfortunate honor of having the NHL’s worst losing streak record. However, to be fair to the Hall-of-Fame multi-time Stanley Cup winner, he was 38 years old and only played in ten games during the 2003-04 season. Thankfully, brighter days would be ahead as the team would welcome Sidney Crosby two years later.
As for the Buffalo Sabres, their 18-game skid included fifteen regulation losses and three overtime defeats. As with the Penguins, the Sabres were without their leader, Jack Eichel, who would be absent due to injury for half of their slump. The Sabres and their fans could argue a technicality on their record as starting with the 2005-06 season the NHL rewarded a point for an overtime or shootout loss in place of a tie game.
When it comes to losing streaks in sports, one of the toughest things for anyone to do is predict when it is going to end. Even for management, players, or fans, a presumably “gimme” game is never a guarantee, especially when one is in the middle of a downward slide. For those who partake in responsible gambling, it’s easy to assume that the heavily favored team is the safe bet, but as history has shown, even the best teams can fall to the bottom feeders on any given night.
How many sports leagues are there in the USA?▼
Major sports leagues in the United States are four. Those are NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL.
What are the 4 major sports leagues in the US?▼
There are 153 Major League sports franchises (MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA & MLS) in North America, that are spread across 52 cities in the United States and Canada.
What is the most watched sports league in the US?▼
Most watched sports leagues in the United States in 2023 was NFL. Here are minutes watched (in billions):- NFL: 974.7, MLB: 329.7, NBA: 285.2, NHL: 181.3