It seems like no one brings up curses in sports any more. I mean sure, Aaron Rodgers consults Debra Silverman to understand how the universe and the constellations are affecting his life but he never seems to ask her about curses. While people may be familiar with the Curse of Bobby Layne or the Curse of Sid Luckman, here are some lesser known curses that exist to this day.
Cowboys: The Curse of Jimmy Johnson
I know what you’re probably thinking, ‘But they won a Super Bowl the year after he left.’ Well, let me enlighten you – Jimmy had a lot on his plate and didn’t quite get around to evoking the curse until a year later. The anger simmered beneath the surface, only to be unleashed as a relentless barrage of five playoff wins and an impressive record of zero conference championship games since.
Commanders: The UPS Curse
Upon acquiring the team from the Cooke family following the passing of Jack Kent Cooke, Daniel Snyder swiftly set out to unravel everything the Cookes had accomplished. One notable move was selling the naming rights of Jack Kent Cooke Stadium to FedEx. This decision left UPS in dismay, prompting them to cast a curse upon the team. The repercussions? A descent into becoming one of the most dysfunctional franchises in sports history, plagued by rampant corruption and incompetence.
Vikings: The Curse of Jimmy Johnson
No, this isn’t a typo – Jimmy Johnson did, in fact, cast a curse upon the Minnesota Vikings as well. The mysterious witchcraft he employed to pilfer all those crucial picks, integral to the Cowboys’ championship run for Herschel Walker, remains a chilling enigma. With Walker’s underwhelming performance with the team, never achieving a 1,000-yard season, the spooky specter of Johnson’s curse continues to haunt the Vikings to this day.
Bears: The Curse of Walter Payton
The 1985 Bears, often hailed as one of the most dominant teams in history, had the potential for multiple Super Bowls, right? Wrong. It didn’t have to unfold this way. Despite scoring three rushing touchdowns, none came from one of the greatest running backs of all time, Walter Payton. Matt Suhey got one, and Jim McMahon had two. In a moment that would go down in infamy, with the ball at the 1-yard line and a comfortable 37-3 lead in the third quarter, they opted to hand it to that fat ass William ‘Refrigerator’ Perry. Payton, understandably miffed, laid a curse upon the team. This curse not only saw the Bears lose their seemingly insurmountable lead in all-time wins to the Packers three decades later but also left the Bears without another Super Bowl victory to this day.
Cardinals: The Conzelman Curse
It’s perplexing how the Cardinals’ franchise struggles often go unnoticed. Perhaps it’s because they’ve relocated so frequently that people mistake them for a different team. Despite being the oldest team in the league, their win count is nowhere close to the highest, and they’ve only secured two World Championships. There was a glimmer of hope in 1947 when they clinched the World Championship, only to lose in the Championship game the following year. At the helm during this promising period was Jimmy Conzelman. However, after the 1948 season, he shockingly resigned as head coach to pursue a career at an advertising agency. Yes, you read that right. How dire must a franchise’s state be for a coach to think, ‘I’d rather create ads about doctors recommending a particular brand of cigarettes than continue coaching a championship-caliber team.
Dolphins: Curse of Jimmy Johnson
Believe it or not, Jimmy strikes again for a third time. Following a humiliating 62-7 playoff defeat to the Jaguars, Johnson decided to step down as the Dolphins’ coach. True to his bitter nature, he placed a curse upon the Dolphins, and since his resignation as head coach, they’ve managed to win only a single playoff game.
Jets: The Curse of Don Shula
Joe Namath’s famous guarantee and victory against the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III left Don Shula, then the Colts’ head coach, thoroughly embarrassed. In retaliation, Shula allegedly placed a curse on the Jets that persists to this day. Just two years later, Shula would become the Dolphins’ head coach, ensuring he could face the Jets twice a year. The result? Shula winning multiple Super Bowls with the Dolphins, while the Jets struggled to make it back. The curse deepened in the 1983 draft when the Jets, with the 24th pick and in need of a QB, faced the tough decision between Ken O’Brien and Dan Marino. True to the cursed narrative, the Jets selected Ken O’Brien, leaving Shula and the Dolphins, with the 27th pick, to happily secure Dan Marino – now recognized as a top 5 quarterback of all time.”
Bills: The Juice Curse
Look, we all know OJ was found not guilty in the double homicide of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman, but I still don’t think it bodes well for your franchise if the best player in team history likely murdered two people. I don’t think the universe jives with that. Let’s look at a four year stretch:
- 1990 – Lose to the underdog Giants on missed last second field goal by Scott Norwood
- 1991 – Lose another Super Bowl to the Washington Redskins
- 1992 – Get embarrassed by Jimmy Johnson and the Cowboys in the Super Bowl
- 1993 – Lose to Jimmy Johnson and the Cowboys again
- 1994 – Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman are murdered
- 1995-2023: Bills have never gone back to the Super Bowl
Titans: Curse of the AFL
The Houston Oilers claimed victory in the first two AFL Championships in 1960 and 1961, but the elusive Super Bowl win has forever evaded them. The pact they seemingly made with the AFL devil continues to haunt them to this day. In a desperate attempt to escape the curse, they even changed cities, only to be met with heartbreak, famously falling one yard short of sending Super Bowl XXXIV into overtime. The tragic irony is that their status as the inaugural champions of the upstart league that dared to challenge the NFL’s behemoth often goes overlooked and forgotten.
Browns: Curse of Cleveland
This is one of the perplexing curses because this curse sticks to the city instead of the team. In one of life’s cruel jokes for football fans who live in Cleveland, they would see the team they once loved become the Baltimore Ravens and win a Super Bowl a mere 5 years after relocating from Cleveland. The Ravens would also go on to win the Super Bowl again in 2012. Meanwhile the Browns were awarded another franchise in 1999 but have never even been to and AFC Championship game during that time and only have one playoff win total.
Bengals: No curse
They aren’t cursed, their owner is just super cheap and finally lucked into Joe Burrow.
Chargers: Curse of Don Coryell
Don Coryell, renowned for his innovative offenses and groundbreaking focus on the passing game, left an indelible mark still felt in teams today. His successful tenure as head coach of the Chargers from 1978 to 1986 came to a bitter end due to a dispute with owner Alex Spanos, resulting in Coryell’s firing. In a twist of irony, Coryell seemed to curse the team, despite consistently having two (and potentially three) Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and Justin Herbert. The Chargers, however, have been unable to secure a Super Bowl victory, a fitting homage to Coryell’s “Air” nickname. To make matters worse, the Spanos family, owners of the team, are widely considered among the worst in the NFL.
Raiders: Curse of Walt Coleman
In the 2001 playoffs, Charles Woodson seemingly secured a win for the Raiders against the Patriots with a strip sack of Tom Brady. However, the play would be forever etched in history as the infamous ‘Tuck Rule,’ with Walt Coleman as the referee making the decisive call. The Patriots capitalized, tying the game on that drive and eventually winning in overtime. Since that fateful day, the Raiders have only won two playoff games (both the following season) and suffered a humiliating defeat to the Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII. The animosity towards Coleman from Raiders fans ran so deep that he never officiated another Raiders game for the rest of his career. The hatred and vitriol prompted Coleman to cast a curse upon the Raiders, which persists to this day. Interestingly, he also placed a reverse curse on the Patriots, leading them to appear in 14 AFC Championship Games and clinch 6 Super Bowl victories.