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An imperfect season (more accurately, an anti-perfect season or a perfectly bad season) is defined as a team losing all of their games. It is the antithesis of a perfect season, and is often referred to as such in a tongue-in-cheek manner. This ignominy has been suffered eleven times in professional American football, six times in arena football, thrice in professional Canadian football.

Gridiron footballEdit

Because of the short schedules of college and professional football seasons, there is a possibility that a very bad team will not manage to win any games. Before overtime was used consistently, teams might tie a game without winning one; these are generally counted in lists of winless seasons.

NFL Teams with no wins in a season (8 or more games)Edit

Season Team Wins Losses Ties Remarks
2008 Detroit Lions 0 16 0 Most losses in a single season. Detroit was the first non-expansion team to lose every game in a full season since World War II.
1982 Baltimore Colts 0 8 1 Strike shortened season. Afterwards, the Colts drafted future Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway with the first pick in the 1983 NFL Draft, but due to protests from Elway before and after the draft, had his rights traded to the Denver Broncos a week later.
1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0 14 0 Team made league debut in 1976. Went on to lose the first 12 games of the 1977 season as well, to start 0-26-0 as a franchise.
1960 Dallas Cowboys 0 11 1 Team made league debut in 1960
1944 Brooklyn Tigers 0 10 0  
1944 Card-Pitt 0 10 0 Merger between Chicago Cardinals & Pittsburgh Steelers due to player shortages during World War II; the Steelers themselves merged with the Philadelphia Eagles the previous year for the same reasons. The Cardinals (now in the Phoenix area as the Arizona Cardinals) and Steelers eventually played each other in Super Bowl XLIII 64 seasons later.
1943 Chicago Cardinals 0 10 0  
1942 Detroit Lions 0 11 0  
1934 Cincinnati Reds 0 8 0 Folded before the season was over.
1925 Columbus Tigers 0 9 0  
1922 Columbus Panhandles 0 8 0  

The Rochester Jeffersons went a combined 0-21-2 over four seasons from 1922 to 1925, but in none of those seasons did they ever play more than seven games.

NFL Teams with only one win in a season (8 or more games)Edit

Season Team Wins Losses Ties Remarks
2009 St. Louis Rams 1 15 0 Only win came against the Detroit Lions (8th game) who ended up 2-14
2007 Miami Dolphins 1 15 0 Only win was against Baltimore Ravens in OT during Week 15 (14th game)
2001 Carolina Panthers 1 15 0 Became first team to lose 15 straight games in same season, only win was in opener against the Minnesota Vikings. Did not earn the number one pick in the 2002 NFL Draft by virtue of the expansion Houston Texans automatically having the first pick. Just two years later they ended up being a field goal short of a Super Bowl title.
2000 San Diego Chargers 1 15 0 Only win came in 12th game vs. Kansas City 17-16
1996 New York Jets 1 15 0 Only win came in 9th game vs. Arizona 31-21
1991 Indianapolis Colts 1 15 0 Only win came in 10th game 28-27 at the New York Jets
1990 New England Patriots 1 15 0 Only win came in 2nd game 16-14 at Indianapolis; several players involved in sexual harassment of Boston Globe sportswriter Lisa Olson
1989 Dallas Cowboys 1 15 0 Only win in sixth game versus vs Washington Redskins
1982 Houston Oilers 1 8 0 Strike shortened season
1980 New Orleans Saints 1 15 0 Only win came in 15th game 21-20 at the New York Jets
1973 Houston Oilers 1 13 0  
1972 Houston Oilers 1 13 0  
1971 Buffalo Bills 1 13 0 Only win in eleventh game against New England Patriots.
1969 Chicago Bears 1 13 0 Only win came vs. Steelers, lost coin toss to Steelers to draft future Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw with the number one pick.
1969 Pittsburgh Steelers 1 13 0 Won first game 16-13 vs. Detroit; first season for Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll & defensive tackle “Mean Joe” Greene.
1968 Buffalo Bills 1 12 1 American Football League
Drafted O. J. Simpson with the first pick in the ensuing draft.
1967 Atlanta Falcons 1 12 1 Only win 21-20 against Minnesota Vikings.
1966 New York Giants 1 12 1  
1962 Oakland Raiders 1 13 0 American Football League
Only win came against the Boston Patriots in the final week of the season
1962 Los Angeles Rams 1 12 1  
1961 Washington Redskins 1 12 1 Only win in final game against second-year Cowboys.
1960 Washington Redskins 1 9 2  
1958 Green Bay Packers 1 10 1 Packers hired Vince Lombardi as coach following the season
1953 Chicago Cardinals 1 10 1 Only win in final game against Chicago Bears.
1952 Dallas Texans 1 11 0 Successor to New York Yanks owned by Ted Collins.
Only NFL season; game against the Detroit Lions transferred to that team’s home field.
1951 New York Yanks 1 9 2  
1950 Baltimore Colts 1 11 0 Consecutive seasons with record of 2-22-0 worst until 1972/1973 Oilers.
1949 Baltimore Colts 1 11 0  
1949 New York Bulldogs 1 10 1  
1946 Detroit Lions 1 10 0  
1945 Chicago Cardinals 1 9 0  
1941 Pittsburgh Steelers 1 9 1  
1940 Philadelphia Eagles 1 10 0 Only win in penultimate game against Pittsburgh Steelers 7-0.
1939 Chicago Cardinals 1 10 0  
1939 Philadelphia Eagles 1 9 1  
1937 Cleveland Rams 1 10 0  
1936 Philadelphia Eagles 1 11 0 Lost 11 consecutive games after winning opener 10-7 against New York Giants.
1933 Chicago Cardinals 1 9 1  
1931 Frankford Yellow Jackets 1 6 1  
1930 Minneapolis Red Jackets 1 7 1  
1930 Newark Tornadoes 1 10 1  
1929 Buffalo Bisons 1 7 1 Only win came in final game of season. Played no games in 1928; previous season (1927), team went 0-5-0.
1929 Minneapolis Red Jackets 1 9 0  
1927 Duluth Eskimos 1 8 0  
1927 Dayton Triangles 1 6 1  
1926 Canton Bulldogs 1 9 3  
1923 Oorang Indians 1 10 0  
1921 Columbus Panhandles 1 8 0 American Professional Football Association[1]

Source: Worst NFL Teams of all time (ESPN) [2]

Arena Football LeagueEdit

The short length of seasons in arena football makes imperfect seasons quite possible. The following teams have gone through an Arena Football League season without winning a game:

Year Team Played Wins Losses Remarks
1989 Maryland Commandos 4 0 4 Relocated to Washington, D.C. after season ended
1991 Columbus Thunderbolts 10 0 10 Moved to Cleveland the following year.
1992 New Orleans Night 10 0 10 Team ceased operations after season.
1994 Milwaukee Mustangs 12 0 12 First winless team to remain in same city during following season. Went to 10-4 in 1996
1996 Memphis Pharaohs 14 0 14 Relocated twice, firstly as the Portland Forest Dragons from 1997 and then as the Oklahoma Wranglers. Folded in 2001.
2003 Carolina Cobras 16 0 16 Went to 6-10 the following season.

United Football LeagueEdit

The United Football League has had, to date, one winless season. In their inaugural season, the 2009 New York Sentinels lost all six of their games. The team, which was a traveling team that played games in Hartford, Long Island and New Jersey (and had intended to play a game in New York City but backed out), fired its head coach and settled permanently in Hartford to become the Hartford Colonials. Under the UFL's double round robin format, only one team can finish any particular season entirely with losses, since every team plays each other at least twice. The 2009 California Redwoods lost all their games except their two games against the Sentinels; they relocated from San Francisco to Sacramento (as the Sacramento Mountain Lions) for 2010. Both the Colonials and Mountain Lions made improvements on their records the following season.

Other American football leaguesEdit

Since non-professional, semi-pro and minor league teams are inherently unstable in their membership, it is far easier for seasons in which a teams wins no games to occur. In the case of non-professional teams, neither mechanisms to force a team to shut down against its will, nor effective drafts or revenue sharing mechanisms to distribute talent evenly among teams typically exist, leading to poor teams accumulating multiple winless seasons. Five teams in football history have failed to score a single point in an entire season; all played eight games or less.[3] There are at least twelve teams who have accumulated losing streaks of 20 games or more; there are also four teams who have accumulated seasons of all losses with at least 13 games.[4] In the case of minor professional football, particularly in indoor football leagues, winless seasons often result from an owner's abandonment or other financial hardship. The American Indoor Football Association had at least one winless team in five out of six seasons; it also had at least one team with one win or less in all six seasons, including one team (the Ghostriders/Ghostchasers) that, despite two reorganizations, lost every game in their two-year existence. The National Indoor Football League went its first three seasons without a winless season, but beginning in 2004, at least one team went winless every year until the league's collapse in 2007. Though the Spring Football League had two teams with winless seasons (the Los Angeles Dragons and the Miami Tropics), and the Stars Football League had one such team (the traveling 2011 Michigan Coyotes), they are almost never mentioned in discussions of perfect and perfectly bad seasons, since those teams only played two games each before the seasons were cut short.

Canadian Football LeagueEdit

The Canadian Football League currently has a regular season of eighteen games; from 1952 to 1985 it was generally sixteen games as with the current NFL season, though those teams in the Eastern Division played only fourteen as late as 1973.[5] Consequently, especially given the much smaller number of teams playing, there have been fewer imperfect or nearly imperfect seasons than in the National Football League, with the exception of the first decade or so when fewer games were played.

CFL teams with one or no wins in a season (based on official CFL site)Edit

Season Team Games Wins Losses Ties Comments
2003 Hamilton Tiger-Cats 18 1 17 0 Most losses in a CFL season
1964 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 16 1 14 1
1959 Saskatchewan Rough Riders 16 1 15 0
1954 British Columbia Lions 16 1 15 0 Expansion team: most recent of present-day CFL teams
1949 Hamilton Wildcats 12 0 12 0 Merged with the Hamilton Tigers for 1950 season
1948 Hamilton Wildcats 12 1 10 1
1946 Hamilton Wildcats 12 0 10 2
1941 Montreal Royals 6 0 6 0 Did not resume when Canadian football recommenced after World War II.
1941 Vancouver Grizzlies 8 1 7 0 Did not resume when Canadian football recommenced after World War II.
1940 Montreal Royals 6 1 5 0
1939 Montreal Royals 6 0 5 1
1938 Edmonton Eskimos 8 0 8 0
1938 Montreal Royals 6 0 6 0

CFL teams with only two wins in a season (qualification 12 games, no ties)Edit

Season Team Games Wins Losses Comments
1997 Hamilton Tiger-Cats 18 2 16
1988 Ottawa Rough Riders 18 2 16 First CFL team to lose 16 games. Franchise disbanded in 1996
1982 Montreal Alouettes 16 2 14
1981 Toronto Argonauts 16 2 14
1980 Saskatchewan Rough Riders 16 2 14 Successive seasons with combined record of 4-28
1979 Saskatchewan Rough Riders 16 2 14
1970 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 16 2 14
1967 Montreal Alouettes 14 2 12
1963 Edmonton Eskimos 16 2 14
1952 Montreal Alouettes 12 2 10
1949 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 12 2 10
1948 Winnipeg Blue Bombers 12 2 10

ReferencesEdit

  1. The American Professional Football Association was the predecessor to the National Football League
  2. "Worst NFL Teams of all Time". ESPN. August 22, 2002. http://espn.go.com/page2/s/list/football/teams/worst.html. Retrieved 2002-08-22.
  3. http://www.semiprofootball.org/minor/records/teampnts.htm
  4. http://www.semiprofootball.org/minor/records/teamgame.htm
  5. CFL.com
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