Special Report

Once Great Sports Franchises That Have Fallen on Hard Times

Source: Glenn Cratty / Getty Images

16. New Jersey Devils
> League: NHL
> Most recent playoff appearance: 2018
> Total championships (most recent): 3 (2003)
> Recent playoff performance: one postseason appearance since 2012

After moving around in the 1970s and 1980s, the Devils franchise found a home — and success — in New Jersey. The team missed the playoffs just once from 1990-2010, winning the Stanley Cup in 1995, 2000, and 2003. New Jersey struggled after that run, however. The Devils made the postseason just twice since 2010, losing in the 2012 Finals and the first round of the 2018 playoffs.

Source: Chris Trotman / Getty Images

15. Miami Dolphins
> League: NFL
> Most recent playoff appearance: 2016
> Total championships (most recent): 2 (1973)
> Recent playoff performance: last postseason win was in 2000

Head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 1970 to 1995, Don Shula took his team to the playoffs 16 times, appearing in five Super Bowls and winning two. His 1972 squad is still the only team to win a Super Bowl after an undefeated regular season. Miami has not won a playoff game since 2000, though. The team lost in the first round in 2001, 2008, and 2016.

Source: Joe Sargent / Getty Images

14. Pittsburgh Pirates
> League: MLB
> Most recent playoff appearance: 2015
> Total championships (most recent): 5 (1979)
> Recent playoff performance: no postseason series wins since 1979

The Pittsburgh Pirates are one of just eight MLB teams to win the World Series at least five times. Pittsburgh’s most recent title came in 1979, and the team has not won a postseason series since. The Pirates have earned six playoff berths after that 1979 title, losing in the first round in 1990, 1991, and 1992. Pittsburgh earned wild card spots in 2013, 2014, 2015, only advancing to the NLDS in 2013, where they lost in five games to their NL Central rival St. Louis Cardinals.

Source: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

13. New York Rangers
> League: NHL
> Most recent playoff appearance: 2017
> Total championships (most recent): 4 (1994)
> Recent playoff performance: one postseason series win since 2016

One of the Original Six NHL teams, the New York Rangers have won four Stanley Cups — in 1928, 1933, 1940, and 1994. The team has struggled in recent years, missing the postseason from 1998-2004. Even after making it back into the postseason consistently in the following years, the Rangers could not earn a title, making it as far as the Finals just once, in 2014. The Rangers finished last in their division in 2018 and next to last in 2019. Despite having a winning record, New York was on pace to miss the playoffs again in 2020.

Source: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

12. Detroit Lions
> League: NFL
> Most recent playoff appearance: 2016
> Total championships (most recent): 4 (1957)
> Recent playoff performance: last postseason win was in 1991

The Detroit Lions’ most recent playoff win was after the 1991 season. Their previous one was in 1957, in the NFL title game. The Lions won championships in 1952, 1953, and 1957 but struggled ever since. They never made the playoffs in the 1960s, and did so just once in the 1970s, and twice in the 1980s. Running back Barry Sanders propelled Detroit to six playoff berths in the 1990s. Apart from the one 1991 playoff win, the team exited in the first round every time. After another prolonged playoff drought, QB Matthew Stafford helped Detroit make the playoffs in 2011, 2014, and 2016, but those seasons ended in wild card round losses as well.

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