Dilly Dilly! The Cleveland Browns finally won a game for the first time in what felt like forever in week 3 against the New York Jets. The sports world went nuts, the internet was in shock, Bud Light gave out free beer to the people of Cleveland, and even non-sports fans were talking about the Browns.
In celebration of their first win in 635 days, let’s look at some of the longest losing streaks in sports…
First off – the Cleveland Browns don’t own the longest losing streak in NFL history. That record belongs to the Chicago Cardinals who lost a total of 29 games in a row from 1942 to 1945. However, the Browns 1-32-1 record from 2016 to last Thursday night sure felt like the longest losing streak in NFL history to the Cleveland faithful.
The longest losing streak in the NHL is 17 games. The 1974-75 Washington Capitals and the 1992-93 San Jose Sharks both share the honour of holding that record.
The 1974-75 Caps were one of 2 expansion teams in the league that year, with the other being the Kansas City Scouts. Both expansion teams were bad – Washington went a horrendous 8-67-5 that year, Kansas City managed a slightly better record of 15-54-11. After such poor on-ice performances, many were wondering if either expansion team would last and both teams were at the butt-end of many hockey jokes. Washington had the last laugh – as they’re still around today and recently lifted the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history in 2018. The Scouts played another season in Kansas City before moving to Colorado (and rebranding as the Rockies) before ultimately finding a home in New Jersey as the Devils.
If you thought the 74-75 Capitals’ 67 losses in a season were a lot, the 1992-93 San Jose Sharks have that number beat. Their record of 11-71-2 accounts for the most losses (71) in a season. If you know hockey – you’d likely be surprised to hear that a goalie tandem of Jeff Hackett and Arturs Irbe hold the record for most losses in a season. Both goalies were still quite young when they suited up for the 1992-93 Sharks; Hackett having a couple of years of NHL experience under his belt, Irbe playing in his rookie season.
We’ll start out this stat with one small caveat, the longest losing streak in the NBA spans over two seasons. The Philadelphia 76ers hold that title – with 28 losses spanning the end of the 2014-15 season (10) and the beginning of the 2015-16 season (18). Things weren’t supposed to be this bleak for the 76ers at the time. The 76ers selected promising young star (and future all-star) Joel Embiid with the 3rd overall pick in the 2014 Draft. Unfortunately, Embiid underwent a series of surgeries which sidelined him from both the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. If you’re wondering what the longest single-season losing streak in the NBA is, the 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers share that honour with the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers.
So to recap, the 76ers had the 2nd longest losing streak in NBA history during the 2013-14 season, followed by the longest in league history over the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. Yikes.
Somehow, despite a 127-283 record, Philadelphia held onto for their head coach Brett Brown. Perhaps the Browns took a page out of the 76ers playbook as they’ve kept Hue Jackson (who now owns a 2-32-1 record with the Browns) as their head coach during their rough patch.
Also, fun fact: 2014-15 marked the Philadelphia 76ers’ 76th year of existence. Fun stat, not a fun year for Philly.
FBS: The record for the longest losing streak in Division 1 belongs to Northwestern. The Wildcats lost 34 straight games from 1979 to 1982. During this time, head coach Rick Venturi was fired after he went 1-32-1 (Sound familiar Hue Jackson?). He was replaced by Dennis Green at the end of the 1980 season. Green didn’t find immediate success either. Fans had fun at the expense of Northwestern, changing an Interstate 94 sign to read “Interstate 94, Northwestern 0”. After they lost 61-14 to Michigan State in 1981 and took sole possession of the longest losing record, fans chanted “We’re the worst!” as they stormed the field in some sort of celebration.
FCS: If Northwestern fans thought they were the worst, the FCS’ Prairie View A&M has something to tell them. Their 80-game losing streak between 1989 and 1999 is one of the longest in sports history. The Panthers suffered some off-field issues during this time which resulted in the team not being able to offer many scholarships along with a stand-off by players. They finally snapped the losing streak with a 14-12 win over Langston University. In total, Prairie View A&M only won a total of 23 games between 1998 and 2006. In 2007, the Panthers finally enjoyed their first winning season since 1976.
See Browns fans – it wasn’t all that bad. Things could have been worse, and everyone has their losing streaks. On the other hand, Cleveland couldn’t even manage to take the title of longest losing streak in NFL history – Chicago Cardinals, you’re still safe on that one.