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Tom Jones' Two Cents

Sports analysis, perspective and more.

Biggest curses in sports



The poor Portland Trail Blazers. Even when they look like they're doing the right thing, the move backfires and kicks them right in the teeth. The NBA team won the draft lottery, selected the consensus No. 1 pick — Ohio State center Greg Oden — and now comes word he will miss the 2007-08 season with a knee injury. That begs the question: Is the franchise cursed? Maybe. Just maybe. Here's a look at 10 notable sports curses. Of course, not included is the Curse of the Bambino because, as Red Sox Nation will tell you, the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.

Oden Portland Trail Blazers
They did have some success. Bill Walton'ss bunch won an NBA title in 1977. But in 1984, the Blazers had the second pick in the draft and took Kentucky center Sam Bowie, passing on some kid named Michael Jordan. Bowie's career was plagued by injuries, while, of course, Jordan went on to win six NBA titles with the Bulls. Portland's NBA titles remain at one.

Bias Boston Celtics
You're talking about one of the most storied franchises in all of sports, so it can't be too cursed. But, isn't it hard to believe that Boston's last title was 21 years ago? That is when the curse, in the form of tragedy, began. Len Bias was supposed to bridge the gap between Larry Bird's Celtics and another dynasty. But less than 48 hours after he was drafted second overall in 1986, Bias died of cardiac arrhythmia that resulted from cocaine use. With new additions Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the Celtics hope to return to glory this season.

Bartman Chicago Cubs
Of course, the most cursed team in baseball, having gone  100 years without a World Series title. This is the stuff of legend: Curse of the Billy Goat, the Black Cat Collapse of 1969, blowing a 2-0 lead in a best-of-five National League Championship Series in 1984 and, of course, interfering-fan Steve Bartman helping the Cubs blow the 2003 pennant. Sweet Lou Piniella has been brought in to reverse the curse.

Andretti Andretti curse
The Andrettis are, perhaps, the most famous and successful family in auto racing. Except when it comes to the Indianapolis 500. Five Andrettis spanning three generations have competed 58 times in one of racing's most illustrious events. And only once has an Andretti won. That was Mario all the way back in 1969.

Norwood_2 City of Buffalo
Maybe we should change the name from Buffalo to Bridesmaid. The city has two major North American sports teams — the Bills of the NFL and the Sabres of the NHL, but neither has won a championship despite numerous appearances in the title round. The Bills lost four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-93, including Scott Norwood's infamous miss of a field goal in Tampa in Super Bowl XXV. The Sabres are 0-2 in the Stanley Cup final, including Game 6 in overtime of the 1999 final when, to this day, Buffalo fans swear Dallas' Brett Hull was illegally in the goal crease.

Astrodome Astrodome curse
The Astros played 15 seasons in the Astrodome before making the baseball playoffs, and it wasn't until they moved onto a grass field at Minute Maid Park that they made it to the World Series, which they lost in 2005 to the White Sox. Meantime, the Oilers played 29  seasons in the Astrodome and never went to a Super Bowl. Although, the Oilers' trouble might have to do more with the Super Steelers of the 1970s than the Astrodome. Still, the franchise did make it to a Super Bowl after the team relocated to Tennessee.

Marty San Diego curse
It is one of the nicest cities in the world, but people don't live there for the sports. Despite having an NFL team, a major-league baseball team and, for a while, an NBA team, San Diego has never won a major sports championship unless you count a 1963 American Football League title. Last year is a prime example. The Chargers went 14-2 and were favored to win it all, only to get knocked out in their first playoff game. By the way, San Diego State has never won an NCAA men's basketball tournament game and the football team hasn't won a bowl game since the 1969 Pasadena Bowl.

Si Sports Illustrated jinx
One of sports' most famous curses says anyone who appears on the cover of Sports Illustrated is sure to run into bad luck. The curse supposedly started with the first issue (Aug. 16, 1954) when Milwaukee Braves star Eddie Mathews appeared on the cover then injured his hand a week later. About five years ago, SI looked back over its 2,456 covers (at that time) and determined that 37.2 percent of the time something "unhappy'' happened afterward. Still, Michael Jordan was on the cover a record 49 times and his career went pretty well. But 37.2 percent? Thats a pretty significant number.

Curse of Muldoon
Chicago Blackhawks coach Pete Muldoon put a curse on the Hawks when he was fired in 1927. Since then, they have won three Stanley Cups — 1935, 1938 and 1961.  Speaking of 1961, no current NHL team has gone longer without winning the Cup than the Blackhawks.

Madden Madden curse
The John Madden NFL video game curse really does seem real. Check out these cover boys:
Garrison Hearst: The running back who appeared on certain versions of Madden '99, broke his ankle in a Jan. 9, 1999, playoff game and missed 1999 and 2000 seasons.
Barry Sanders: The running back who shared the 2000 cover with Madden, stunned the Lions by retiring before 1999 training camp.
Eddie George: The running back who dominated the Madden 2001 cover, finished 2001 with a then career-low in yards and TDs, partly because of a nagging toe injury.
Daunte Culpepper: The quarterback's 2001 season ended after 11 games because of a knee injury. In those 11 games, he threw 14 TDs and 13 interceptions.
Marshall Faulk: The running back  missed two games in 2002 and five in 2003 with ankle, knee and hand injuries.
Michael Vick: The quarterback broke his leg in the preseason and missed the first 11 games of the 2003 season.
Ray Lewis: His Ravens missed the 2004 playoffs after winning the division in 2003, and the linebacker played in only six games in 2005 because of a hamstring injury.
Donovan McNabb: A year after the 2004 Super Bowl, the quarterback suffered a sports hernia midway through the season.
Shaun Alexander: After missing one start in his first 64 games, the running back missed six games in 2006 with a broken foot.
How real is this curse? Well, put it this way. San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson refused to be on Madden '08. Tennessee second-year quarterback Vince Young is on the cover. So we'll wait and see.

[Last modified: Monday, June 14, 2010 2:40pm]


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