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Longest championship droughts within the four major sports
The Phoenix Suns came up short in the 2021 NBA Finals, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks. (Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

Longest championship droughts within the four major sports

PHOENIX (BVM) – It’s been a long time coming for some of sport’s historic teams to capture championships. With the NBA and NHL playoffs underway, a number of teams have put themselves in position to change that. With teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs and Phoenix Suns steadily in playoff contention, some of them might be closer than others to changing history. Here’s a look at the longest championship droughts for teams still in their original cities

1. Cleveland Guardians (MLB) – 73 years

Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

One of two teams from Cleveland on the list, the Guardians not only hold the longest drought, but also have the most championship appearances of any team on this list with six. The franchise probably had the best chance of breaking its drought when it was up 3-1 in the 2016 World Series but were unable to close out the final game. With a host of playoff appearances in the last decade, the team is hopeful an opportunity will present itself. 

2. Detroit Lions (NFL) – 64 years

Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Lions have been the poster for lost seasons throughout the history of the organization and with no Super Bowl appearances throughout their time, it’s one of the more historically woeful teams throughout all sports. With just three playoff appearances since 2000, the Lions had to watch their all-time leading passer – Matthew Stafford – win a Super Bowl elsewhere in 2021.

3. Minnesota Vikings (NFL) – 61 years

Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Another NFC North franchise makes the list with a similar resume to the Lions. Although they have achieved a higher level of success throughout the last decade, the Vikings still have yet to capture the team’s first Super Bowl trophy. One of their closest opportunities came in 2017 when they lost in the NFC Championship game to the Philadelphia Eagles.

4. Cleveland Browns (NFL) – 58 years

Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Browns’ last championship came back in 1964 and after a host of disappointing seasons, the team continues to look for its first ever Super Bowl win and appearance. With a growing list of quarterbacks and head coaches, the team is hopeful it has found both heading forward while it looks to change the narrative.

5. Buffalo Bills (NFL) – 56 years

Credit: Jamie Germano / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Buffalo Bills had one of the best championship runs out of any team on the list after making it to four straight Super Bowls from 1990-1993. Since those 90’s teams, the Bills have been in search of postseason success. Sean McDermott has helped the recent teams back into contention as Buffalo looks to remove itself from its fellow counterparts.

T6. Atlanta Falcons (NFL) – 55 years

Credit: Eric Seals-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons were maybe the closest team on the list to capturing a recent championship with their performance in the 2016 season. After an impressive 11-5 campaign, Atlanta was just a few plays away from taking down the mighty New England Patriots. Unfortunately, the history of the 28-3 blown lead continues to live on for the franchise as it looks to obtain another opportunity.


T6. Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL) – 55 years

Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a long time coming for one of the NHL’s ‘Original Six’. After picking up 13 championships from 1918-1967, the Leafs have struggled in the playoffs since, finding more ways to lose than win. With a solid last decade that’s resulted in a handful of playoff opportunities, Leafs’ fans are hoping one of them wind up with Toronto hoisting the cup.

T8. Cincinnati Bengals (NFL) – 54 years

Credit: Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Over the last few decades, the Bengals have been a quick exit from any opening playoff series they were a part of. Following a new direction in the past few years, the Bengals returned to the final game in 2021, making an appearance in Super Bowl LVI. The team’s transcendent climb through the standings has given the fanbase hope that a title is on the way.

T8. Phoenix Suns (NBA) – 54 years

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Suns are a part of a handful of teams on the list who have enjoyed recent success. With an NBA Finals appearance in 2021, Phoenix seems destined to end its drought sometime soon. Following a plethora of Hall of Famers donning the Suns uniform over the past three decades, it seems hard to believe they have been unable to get over the hump up until this point.

T8. Atlanta Hawks (NBA) – 54 years

Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The lone Hawks NBA championship came back when the franchise was still located in St. Louis. Since then, the team has had a handful of conference finals appearances but hasn’t been able to quite bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy. After matching up against the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021, the team would run out of gas, losing to the eventual NBA champions.

Others nearing the top:

53 years – New York Jets; San Diego Padres

52 years – Buffalo Sabres; Denver Nuggets; Milwaukee Brewers; Vancouver Canucks

Photo: The Phoenix Suns came up short in the 2021 NBA Finals, losing to the Milwaukee Bucks. (Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)