At some point, when you’re a very popular, extremely rich sports franchise that used to be elite, but isn’t anymore, a transformation happens.
You’re no longer a football/baseball/hockey/etc. club, you’re a brand/marketing firm that includes playing a sport as one of its corporate divisions. A few of the teams on this list are morphing into this designation. Welcome to the Al Bundy (fixated on past athletic glory because you haven’t been winning for a long time) List part two. (Part one can be found here)
As of Sunday, it is now 28 years without even a conference title game appearance, let alone a Super Bowl title (which came way back in 1993). You know all about how they consistently top those Forbes sports business lists every year.
You’re also well aware of the cutting edge, state of the art practice facility The Star, and Jerry’s World/The Cowboys Death Star in Arlington.
They’re such a huge brand that even their cheerleaders are a massive brand all in themselves.
But when all is said and done, the Cowboys are more a big target for criticism than they are a powerhouse. “America’s Team,” as they like to call themselves, is a moniker that hasn’t been accurate since the 1970s.
I don’t remember who shot J.R. and if you’re a millennial, you probably don’t recall this franchise ever being the top dog of the NFL.
Texas Longhorns Football
Staying in Texas, where everything is bigger, including the hype for a team that can never seem to back it up. Honestly, at this point, you might need to be a Baby Boomer in order to recall the Longhorns being elite (other than during the Vince Young years maybe).
Given what UT did to lead the way towards ushering in the brave new world of mercenary college athletics, you have every right to enjoy their demise.
Yes, the notion of amateurism in college football has long been bullshit, and yes, it has always been all about making money.
However, the era of a conference being totally meaningless, as now they’re just moving towards loosely affiliated groups of teams that share a television contract- that is all thanks to UT football.
We can schadenfreude UT’s failures, given their greed. We do still love Bevo though. He’s adorable.
Ah yes, Major League Baseball’s de facto farm team. Hard to believe I was alive, barely, when they last won a World Series. I am also old enough to remember when they dominated the NL East division in the early 1990s.
Unfortunately, they lost all three of those NLCS back then and didn’t qualify for October again until the mid 2010s.
The Jolly Roger has just one post season series win since 1979. Why? Because they consistently sell off all their good players and don’t retain their top talent.
Nor do they go out and sign any elite players Nothing is going to change either, until they get revolutionary new ownership.
Toronto Maple Leafs
While being a fan of the previous franchise is painful, supporting this club is an even worse experience. They haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967, and the nation of Canada in total hasn’t won it since 1993 (Montreal Canadiens). In fact, only four Canadian teams have even been to the final since Montreal last lifted Lord Stanley’s Cup.
You could almost throw the Canadiens in here too (and maybe should have?), as their glory days are never coming back either, but this is more than a franchise thing.
It’s a national thing. Hockey is Canada’s national game, but their clubs are second rate to the American sides. That doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon either.
Also, “HOW DOES THIS AFFECT THE LEAFS?!!” is a big hockey Twitter thing, @NYIllini tells us.
And that in itself is unintentionally hilarious schadenfreude, in its purest form.
DePaul Blue Demons Men’s Basketball
No one under 40, and outside of Chicagoland, knows this but DPU used to be the trendy local winter sports team. This was before the Chicago Bulls drafted Michael Jordan and the Blackhawks joined the year 1955 and decided to televise home games.
Also, the Demons were on the WGN Superstation all the time, in an era when not all college basketball was televised. This was a huge advantage for them, and well, obviously that specific reality will never return. But there is hope now that Jean Lenti-Ponsetto is long gone.
The issue now is assessing whether or not the long-term damage she inflicted is reparable or not. It’ll be about two decades now since they last made the NCAA Tournament, and 44 since they reached the Final Four, but the new coach A.D. and Coach are worth rooting for.
We haven’t seen any progress though on any sort of turnaround. Also, the Big East, without Jay Wright is going to inevitably nosedive.
Their fans are just so nice that I really don’t want to point this out. But as George Michael taught us, “there’s no comfort in the truth, pain is the whole you’ll find.”
There is absolutely no reason to believe that Big Red is ever going to be large, or even slightly big again. Sorry! Honestly, let’s give Tom Osborne and company credit for what they were even able to accomplish in yesteryear.
It’s a likable brand, but it is what it is.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.
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