Reaching the postseason is the goal of every professional sports team, and a reward for a successful regular season. For fans, the postseason is an emotional thrill; for players, it can mean professional and monetary rewards; and for the franchises, it’s additional revenue. Yet, not all teams make it to the playoffs, and some have been in a playoff drought for years.
It has become increasingly easy for professional sports teams to make it into the playoffs. About half of the teams in the NBA and the NHL qualify for the postseason each year. Major League Baseball and the NFL have expanded playoff opportunities in recent years by adding wild-card teams to the playoffs for teams that did not win their division but won enough games to reach the postseason. Ten MLB teams qualify for the postseason and 12 professional football teams make the playoffs.
Franchises such as the New England Patriots, the Boston Celtics, and the New York Yankees get to the postseason with such regularity that it has become a given for those fans. But for some unlucky teams, the playoffs are elusive. Before snapping the drought this year, the Buffalo Bills held the longest postseason drought of any professional sports team, missing the NFL playoffs for an astonishing 17 seasons.
To identify the 19 teams with the longest playoff drought, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the NBA, MLB, NHL, and NFL franchises that have gone the most full seasons without making it to a playoff game. It has been at least five seasons since any of these 19 professional teams played in a postseason game.