Most broken fanbases in the NFL

Folks, football season is almost here. Now, if you’re a fan of the New England Patriots or Dallas Cowboys, you’re rolling into September full of hope and expectation. You may not win the Super Bowl this year, but you’re riding the crest of a wave of good feelings and warm memories. You’re one of the lucky ones.

But what if you’re NOT a fan of a championship favorite? What if you’re a fan of a team that can’t win three games a year? What if you like a team that has the draft savvy of a starving billy goat? What if your team—just throwing this out here—happens to blow a 25-point lead in the Super Bowl? How do you keep coming back for more punishment? (And maybe a better question is, why?)

The NFL has a way of tormenting its most dedicated fans that borders on insidious. Look, it takes absolutely no willpower to be a fan of the Patriots; any fan can leap on a bandwagon, which is why half of Patriots Nation doesn’t even realize the team existed before 2001. But being a fan of Cleveland? Of Buffalo? That takes grit and soul, my friends. That takes a strong will, strong enough to withstand the heartbreak you know is coming.

So raise a glass to these, the ten (or so) most broken fanbases in the NFL. They’ve put up with more disappointment, frustration, and existential agony than any fans ought to … and they keep coming back. This is going to hurt, but we can get through it together.

10. San Diego/St. Louis: Losing seasons are bad. Losing decades are worse. But losing your entire team? It doesn’t get any more painful than that. As bad as your team might be, at least they’re still, you know, your team. This is the last NFL list these two cities will make, and that’s a little heartbreaking.
Last playoff season: Doesn’t matter
Last championship season: Don’t remind them
Our 2017 preseason rank: Uh … let’s move on.

9. Cincinnati Bengals: Zero for their last seven trips to the playoffs, despite having one of the best receivers in the game. Somehow, their head coach hasn’t been run out of town yet, even though he’s overseeing a team that seems to be devouring itself from within. On top of all that, Bengals fans have to deal with that horrific chocolate-and-spaghetti nightmare they call chili.
Last playoff season: 2015
Last championship season: N/A
Our 2017 preseason rank: 15th

8. Chicago Bears: This is an underrated tortured fan base. They haven’t just looked bad in the last decade, they’ve looked terrible. They’ve been surfing on the waves of 1985 and Da Bearz SNL skits for more than three decades now, but what have you done for your fans lately, Chicago? Letting Jay Cutler walk doesn’t count.
Last playoff season: 2010
Last championship season: 1985, but you knew that
Our 2017 preseason rank: 29th

7. Buffalo Bills: As those four Super Bowl visits recede farther in the distance, we’re left with this inescapable fact: the Bills haven’t made the playoffs in this millennium. Tom Brady wasn’t even in the league the last time Buffalo reached the postseason … a visit that ended with the Music City Miracle. There’s now an entire generation of football fans for whom the Bills are about as relevant to football as Pat Boone is to music.
Last playoff season: 1999
Last championship season: N/A
Our 2017 preseason rank: 24th

6. Detroit Lions: Put aside the fact that Detroit’s former home, the Silverdome, just sits rotting and empty, like an open grave. When arguably the greatest running back AND the greatest receiver in NFL history retire rather than playing for your team, it’s really time to consider whether you’d be better off rooting for the Packers.
Last playoff season: 2016
Last championship season: 1957
Our 2017 preseason rank: 26th

5. Cleveland Browns: ‘Believeland’ and LeBron James can only carry you so far. Yes, with plenty of draft picks and a new regime, hope is in the air in Cleveland … but if history is any guide, some new stench will blow that away soon enough. Sorry, Cleveland, but you know it’s true.
Last playoff season: 2002
Last championship season: 1964
Our 2017 preseason rank: 31st

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Jags fans are pretty much resigned to the fact that their team is at least half-British, like a middle-schooler trying on a new haircut. But when you’re backing the fifth-most-popular football team in your own state, and the most popular football game in your own stadium is a college showdown, you accept mediocrity.
Last playoff season: 2007
Last championship season: N/A
Our 2017 preseason rank: 27th

3. Atlanta Falcons: 28-3. 28-3. 28-3. There’s no way around those numbers, and for Falcons fans, there never will be. With last year’s Super Bowl, the Falcons almost eliminated a half-century of frustration, only to fall into a deeper crevasse than ever before. You want a metaphor for Atlanta sports? The final 22 minutes of the Super Bowl sum it up nicely.
Last playoff season: 2016
Last championship season: (Heavy sigh) … N/A.
Our 2017 preseason rank: 3rd

2. New York Jets: They’ve been objectively terrible since the days of Broadway Joe. Even when they get decent enough to win a few games, the Patriots are always ready to squash them. And now, they’re in full don’t-call-it-tanking mode. Enjoy that one win this year, Jets fans.
Last playoff season: 2010
Last championship season: 1968
Our 2017 preseason rank: 32nd

1. Washington Redskins: The most broken fanbase, thanks to the most broken organization in the NFL, and it’s not even close. No stability, no on-field success, no trust, no love. Everyone hates everyone else, and the biggest losers are the fans. They squandered a generational talent in Robert Griffin III and have managed to pack the bags of Kirk Cousins, his competent-enough replacement, for him without even getting Cousins’ name right. Hail to the Redskins fans … you need all the help you can get.
Last playoff season: 2015
Last championship season: 1991
Our 2017 preseason rank: 18th

There, that wasn’t so bad. If you’re not a fan of one of these teams, why don’t you do something nice for someone who is? And if your team is on this list … well, at least you won something.

Falcons fans rank among the NFL's most broken. (Getty)
Falcons fans rank among the NFL’s most broken. (Getty)

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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