The Chicago Cubs ended 108 years of heartache last night with their exhilarating extra-inning win over the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday night. While there is no century-old title drought in pro football, the euphoria surrounding the Cubs got us thinking: Which NFL team do we want to see finally win a Lombardi Trophy?
Lions have suffered long enough
The Detroit Lions reside in the crawlspace of the modern NFL, not even good enough to sneak into the spacious cellar where other losers drown their sorrows on fermented potions dreaming of grandeur gone wrong. Not since the days when a hungover Bobby Layne patrolled the field during the Eisenhower Administration have the Lions won anything worth telling your children about. The last Lions championship famously came in 1957. Since that time, Ford's felines have been flagrantly awful. Detroit has not sniffed a championship game since 1957. In 58 seasons since its pre-Super Bowl championship, Detroit has one playoff win -- in 1991. Following that lone victory, they got shellacked by the Washington Redskins, 40-10, in the NFC title game. There was no Bartman to blame for the lack of a Lions championship appearance. Detroit has lost seven straight wild card games since 1993 -- when it last won a division title. Oh, and don't forget the 0-16 season, the worst team in modern sports. You can never forget a perfect loser.
I'll level with you: I grew up in metro Detroit; I now live in Chicago. The belligerent glee with which the Cubs have intoxicated the locals is a wondrous sight: strangers embracing in a realized dream previously thought too farcical to whisper aloud; fathers, sons, mothers and daughters dancing in the streets, bathing in the cleansing aura of victory. The strength and power of fandom are on display. It can unite generations, bully past prejudices, churn grief and anxiety into euphoria. I sit in the middle of someone else's party, understanding the bliss, unable to revel. We remain fans of destitute teams for this one glorious moment of victorious rapture. It's for this. And this. And this. One day we know -- KNOW -- every hour lost on a loser, every bitter defeat, every joke at our team's expense, every eye-rolling embarrassment will be washed away in one moment of triumph. It's what we wait for, pray for, long for. My father was 2 years old when the Lions last won a championship. One day that sentence will no longer be true. One day.
-- Kevin Patra
Browns' outside-the-box thinking deserves a Super Bowl
The Cleveland Browns last won an NFL championship back on Dec. 27, 1964, in a now eerie defeat of the Baltimore-based franchise (Colts) that later gutted the city's football soul. A 52-year gap between titles is nothing compared to Cubs standards, but it is a drought we would like to see end.
Witnessing the Browns win a title would represent a victory for patience and outside-the-box thinking. Cleveland's rebooted franchise has spent its first 16 years doing what the rest of the league hoped it would do: cycle through ho-hum head coaches, spend good money on middle-tier free agents and squander years of golden opportunities in the draft. Now, the franchise is looking to turn in the other direction. At the moment, the Browns seem to be taking the worst of the close-range cannon fire stocked by angry football gods. Their first-round pick (Corey Coleman) is just getting healthy again. Three quarterbacks have gone down. Promising defensive players, too. It will all make the eventual championship that much sweeter.
*-- Conor Orr *
A ring for Rivers and San Diego would be beautiful
An all-time great quarterback in Philip Rivers goes on a career-altering run. An organization with its entire existence in peril ends a 53-year title drought for the entire city, securing the team's long-term future in San Diego. It's too beautiful not to happen.
Yes, living in San Diego involves endless sunshine and tacos. They have it good. But the fans who have lived and died with this team have suffered as much as any group outside of Cleveland. To overcome a 3-5 start and the incessant injuries on the backs of a likable group led by Antonio Gates, Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, Melvin Gordon and Rivers would be a story told at beachside bars until the end of time.
*-- Gregg Rosenthal *
The pain from being a Jets fan is justified
The answer for me is obviously the Jets, and I don't feel like I should have to justify it. And yet I will. Every Jets fan born between 1965 and 1995 (myself included) has been changed -- on a fundamental, human level -- by the carnage of the past four-plus decades. And don't be the guy who says, "What do you have to complain about? You had Joe Namath." Fall right off a mountain. I adore Broadway Joe, and embrace him as the eternal face of the franchise (most of the time), but Namath didn't make any guarantees for my generation. Joe was for my dad. I lay in bed on Sunday nights and wonder if I'm wrong to pass the Jets down to my own sons. You see what I'm talking about when I say that being a Jets fan changes a man? You think this is fun? And why is Tom Brady still good at quarterback? The world is a stacked deck.
-- Dan Hanzus
Bengals beset by NFL's longest playoff win drought
During the 1990 playoffs, Bengals linebacker Kevin Walker ended Bo Jackson's career on a routine tackle that shattered the Los Angeles Raiders star's hip, preventing football aficionados from watching the most physically gifted running back ever to stalk the gridiron. Cincinnati hasn't won a playoff game since -- the longest running drought in the NFL. The Bengals' January futility is so entrenched that the Around The NFL Podcast has created a holiday named Wesstivus to celebrate their annual season-ending loss on the opening weekend of the playoffs.
Paul Brown, the only man ever to start two NFL franchises, had two shots at the Super Bowl. Both times he was undone by 49ers legend Bill Walsh, the mastermind who had invented the misnamed West Coast Offense as Brown's understudy in Cincinnati. After blocking Walsh from job openings around the league, Brown bypassed the brightest mind on his staff when he moved from the sidelines to the owner's box in 1976. If not for Brown's monumental lapse in judgment, San Francisco's dynasty of the 1980s might have been replaced by a decade of dominance on the banks of the Ohio River.
-- Chris Wesseling
Patriots' nagging Super Bowl drought comes to an end
Patriots fans have been through the ringer. After winning a fourth Lombardi Trophy under Bill Belichick two seasons ago, New England's faithful watched in horror as last year's team endured a concerning loss to Denver in the AFC title game. If that wasn't enough, Pats-lovers gazed in awe -- hands tied behind their backs -- as Brady was sent into exile to start 2016. For four games, fans were stripped of seeing the game's greatest quarterback suit up and destroy opponents with war-droid-like efficiency. While Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett forged a serviceable 3-1 record, in-the-know Belichick-philes couldn't help but ask: "Would we be 4-0 with Tommy?"
Now instead of going undefeated in the regular season, New England operates with a gargantuan chip on its shoulder, fueled by a dangerous/sexy "us against the world" mentality that should serve as an X-factor come January. Ponder that a loaf of white bread cost just $1.98 the last time New England won the Super Bowl. That price point remains stuck at $1.98, which wholly fails to illuminate the pain these fans have lived through. Despite everything working against this hard-scrabbled franchise, I'd like to see the rogue Patriots do the impossible by getting back to the Super Bowl -- and winning it. Consider it a first step toward easing the flood of unpleasant memories and emotions since their last world championship.
-- Marc Sessler