Professional athletes are paid handsomely by teams to perform well and to hopefully bring titles, prestige and glory to those organizations. Earning personal honors such as Most Valuable Player awards aren’t just about athletes eventually putting pen to paper on more lucrative contracts. Those who break the more famous records in sports live on for generations after they stop playing. Names such as Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Wilt Chamberlain, Peyton Manning, Wayne Gretzky, Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice and so many others are remembered for the historic numbers they posted during their illustrious careers.
History does not, unfortunately for some, only remember prestigious records that are actively chased by pro athletes during seasons and playoff runs. We also recall stats that are embarrassing for those who experienced patches of failures out on fields or on courts. That includes teams that literally could not beat anybody, a Hall-of-Fame quarterback known for throwing the ball to the other team as much as he is praised for the touchdowns he tossed, and a basketball team that couldn’t stop a player despite knowing he was getting the ball literally dozens of times.
These are the 20 most embarrassing records in sports history.
20. Biggest Rookie Contract (NFL)
The St. Louis Rams quarterback cashed in on the last monster NFL rookie contract before the league changed the way that first-year players are paid. Bradford got himself the biggest rookie contract in league history in 2010, guaranteeing himself no less than $50 million before he ever stepped out onto the field. Bradford has since been slowed by several injuries, and he has appeared in only 49 regular season games over the past five seasons. The 27-year-old has suffered a torn ACL twice over the past 12 months, and some believe that his career could be finished.
19. Most Missed Field Goals in a Season (NFL)
Professional football placekickers do not play multiple positions in 2014. They attempt field goals and extra points, they boot the ball down the field on kickoffs, and that is about it, minus the rare occasions when they are tasked with trying to stop a returner from completing a jaunt to the end zone. That wasn’t always the case, such as in 1964 when Paul Hornung missed a record 26 field goals. Hornung is more remembered for the positive things he achieved as a player, such as winning four NFL Championships and being inducted into the Pro Football hall of Fame in 1986.
18. Most Times Caught Stealing (MLB)
Rickey Henderson was baseball’s greatest base-runner during his time, and he may hold onto that title as long as the sport is played as it is under today’s rules. Henderson led the American League in stolen bases on 12 occasions, and his 1,406 career steals is the most in history. With great power comes great responsibility, and no player in baseball has been picked off more times than Henderson (335). Anybody who has ever talked to Mr. Henderson in person would tell you that Rickey creating 335 outs all on his own was just a matter of Rickey being Rickey.
17. Most Playoff Losses (NFL)
Peyton Manning deserves his own wing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame even before he calls time on his playing days. He will go down, statistically speaking, as the best regular season quarterback in the history of the NFL. That said, Manning’s postseason struggles throughout his time with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos have been well documented. Manning has 12 playoff losses to his name, more than any other quarterback. He may expand on that record this season depending on how he and the Broncos play in January 2015.
16. Most Career Strikeouts (MLB)
Reggie Jackson is known as “Mr. October” for how well he hit the ball in postseason play. He also rarely saw a pitch that he didn’t like. Jackson struck out a record-high 2,597 times during his Hall-of-Fame career. That is 13 more strikeouts than Jackson had hits. While it is a long-shot, there is a possibility, depending on how long he plays, that Jackson’s record could be in jeopardy before the end of the decade. Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees is sitting on 2,075 career strikeouts heading into the spring of 2015.
15. Most Times Tossed From A Game (MLB)
Major League Baseball managers utilize a variety of tools to motivate players during long and grueling seasons. One method is to argue a call made by an umpire until the ump has no other choice than to eject that manger from the game. This isn’t to say that Bobby Cox wasn’t genuinely upset each of the record-setting 158 times that he was thrown out of regular season ballgames. There is a method to the madness, at times, and Cox’s successes while with the Atlanta Braves indicates that he often knew exactly what he was doing whenever he would argue a call.
14. Lowest Single-Game Points Total (NBA)
The Chicago Bulls were the dominant force in the National Basketball Association during the 1990s, thanks largely to a certain player named Michael Jordan. That era was but a memory when the Miami Heat held the Bulls to 49 points on April 10, 1999. What was the lowest point total since the shot clock was established in 1954 remains intact 15 years later, and it isn’t difficult to understand how that is possible. One would think a team of professional basketball players would be able to average at least 1.5 points per minute.
13. Most Consecutive Super Bowl Losses (NFL)
Fans of the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns could have quite the interesting argument: Is it worse to root for a team that has never been to a Super Bowl, or to root for one that lost that game four straight times? The Bills are the only team in NFL history to have accumulated four consecutive Super Bowl losses, and each was more painful than the last. Super Bowl XXV was the “wide right” loss to the New York Giants. The Washington Redskins were better than the Bills in Super Bowl XXVII, and the Dallas Cowboys downed Buffalo in the other two title games.
12. Most Interceptions in a Season (NFL)
Vinny Testaverde, then of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, did not set an all-time record when he tossed 35 interceptions during the 1988 regular season. That mark is, to this day, held by George Blanda. Blanda was picked off 42 times in 1962. Pro football was a different game during that era, and Blanda is in the Hall of Fame for what he was able to do with his kicking leg. Testaverde, a quarterback by trade, averaged over two interceptions per game in his 15 starts in 1998. Odds are that a QB will, in this era, never be allowed to throw so many picks in a season before he gets the hook.
11. Worst Single-Game Shooting Performance (NBA)
There is a lesson that most young basketball players practicing in school basketball courts located all around the country are taught: Just keep on shooting if the attempts aren’t falling. The buckets will eventually come. That was not the case for Tim Hardaway of the Golden State Warriors on that forgettable December night in 1991. Hardaway’s attempts to open his account on the evening were thwarted time and time again, and he went on to set an NBA record by missing 17 of 17 attempts from the field. It wasn’t all bad news for Hardaway, though, as Golden State won the game.
10. Most Missed Shots Ever (NBA)
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers will be viewed as one of the best basketball players of his generation and to ever participate in the National Basketball Association. Bryant is a five-time NBA Champion. He twice won NBA Finals Most Valuable Player honors. Bryant is headed to the Hall of Fame at some point. He has also taken a boatload of shots during his career, and even the greats miss more often than they hit. Bryant made history on November 11, 2014 when he set an NBA record for most missed field goals ever for one player.
9. Most Strikeouts in a Season (MLB)
There is theoretically still a chance that Reynolds could pick himself up and finish his Major League Baseball career on a high note. Reynolds turned 31 years old in August of 2014, and he is currently a free agent. Reynolds made history during the 2009 season when he struck out a total of 223 times. That is an average of over one strikeout per game. That season wasn’t a one-off for Reynolds. He whiffed a total of 211 times in 2010. He finished the 2008 season with 204 strikeouts.
8. Most-Sacked Quarterback in a Season (NFL)
David Carr of the Houston Texans has a legacy for having to pick himself up off of the ground during NFL games, so much so that he is in the top-three of the NFL single-season sacked leaders. Carr was downed 68 times during the 2005 campaign. History was made three years prior, however, when Carr was sacked on 76 occasions. Carr, no longer in the league as an active quarterback, will be hoping his younger brother has more success in the pros. Derek Carr was taken by the Oakland Raiders in the 2014 NFL Draft.
7. City With Longest Championship Drought
Fans of the Detroit Lions have also had the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers to celebrate. Those who live and die on the Chicago Cubs have at least been able to enjoy the Chicago Bears and Chicago Bulls winning championships. The city of Cleveland has not been able to celebrate a professional sports title since the Browns won the NFL Championship in 1964. While the Cavaliers and Indians have come close at points over the past five decades, the Browns have yet to even appear in a Super Bowl. LeBron James is back with the Cavs, and maybe he can end what has been a painful drought for some of the most-loyal sports fans on the planet.
6. Most Career Interceptions (NFL)
The Green Bay Packers legend who also spent time with the Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings during his historic career was often referred to as “The Gunslinger” during his playing days. Those who used that term weren’t always offering praise to Favre, who routinely attempted to work passes through tight windows to wide receivers. Favre’s 336 career interceptions is far and away the NFL record, and that number may never be matched, Peyton Manning, 38 years old in the fall of 2014, would have to average 55 picks over two full NFL seasons just to match Favre for this stat.
5. Most Career Fumbles (NFL)
As noted earlier, Favre was no stranger to taking chances during regular season or postseason contests. His desire to make plays whatever the cost often resulted in Favre making highlight-reel plays with his arms and his legs. The future first-ballot Hall-of-Fame quarterback was also not immune to making mistakes or to not feeling pressure from oncoming pass-rushers. Favre retired with 166 registered fumbles to his name, good for most fumbles overall and a record that isn’t being matched anytime soon. Michael Vick and Tom Brady have the most fumbles among active players. Both have 96 fumbles as of the posting of this piece.
4. Worst Single-Game QB Rating (NFL)
New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith is one of many NFL quarterbacks to have posted a 0.0 rating during a game. His, however, stands out more so than others for multiple reasons. Smith’s record-low day came during the 2014 NFL regular season, after the league implemented rule changes to further benefit quarterbacks and wide receivers. The extra help did Smith zero favors on October 26 when the Jets were facing the Bills. Smith tossed interceptions on three of eight total passes, and he may never again start for the Jets unless injuries affect the depth chart.
3. Most Points Allowed By A Single Player (NBA)
Even casual fans of North American professional sports are aware of the fact that Wilt Chamberlain once posted 100 points on a team. While that remains an achievement of the ages for Chamberlain, it will, as long as it is remembered, be a night to forget for the New York Knicks. The Knicks could not prevent Chamberlain from hitting triple-digits despite the fact that the all-time great wasn’t draining buckets each time he touched the basketball on that historic day. Chamberlain converted on 36 of 63 attempts from the field.
2. Worst Single-Season Team Record (NBA)
Teams have bad seasons. Injuries pile up, players don’t live up to expectations, and coaches fail to make necessary adjustments. It happens. No National Basketball Association franchise should ever fail to win at least 11 percent of its games, and yet the that was the case for the Charlotte Bobcats during what was a shortened 2011-12 campaign. Charlotte notched victories in only seven of 66 contests. The Bobcats should have offered refunds to anybody who paid full-price to watch Charlotte live and in-person at home games.
1. Worst Single-Season Team Record (NFL)
There have, over the decades, been a plethora of winless professional football teams. The 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the first to be shut-out during a 14-game season. That campaign of woe was outdone during the 2008 season when the Lions failed to post a single victory over 16 contests. This occurred during an era when the National Football League was and still is set up for all 32 teams to compete in an “Any Given Sunday” league. That Lions team was historically bad, but Detroit has since righted the ship.