Just as the 1972 Dolphins supposedly do every year when the NFL’s last undefeated team loses, the members of the 1976-77 Buccaneers may want to pop the champagne.
Saturday night’s win by the Philadelphia 76ers means the Buccaneers still own a share of the longest losing streak in the history of North American professional sports. Those expansion Buccaneers lost the first 26 games in franchise history, and the 76ers had lost 26 straight games until they beat the Detroit Pistons on Saturday. The Bucs’ streak of futility had been matched before (the Cleveland Cavaliers also suffered 26 straight losses in 2010-11), but it has still not been topped in the NFL, NBA, NHL or Major League Baseball.
It’s fitting that the Bucs retain their place in history, because they really were an extraordinarily awful football team. An offense that featured quarterback Steve Spurrier (pictured) was so awful that they were shut out 11 times during that 26-game losing streak. The defense could rarely keep games close; 22 of those 26 losses were by more than a touchdown.
Those Bucs also contributed one of the great lines an NFL coach has ever uttered. After a 21-0 loss to the Bengals, coach John McKay was asked what he thought of his team’s execution. He answered, “I’m in favor of it.”
But the expansion Bucs, as terrible as they were, began to build quickly once they finally won. After starting 0-for-26, the Bucs won their last two games in 1977, improved to 5-11 in 1978 and made it to the NFC Championship Game after the 1979 season. It didn’t take long for the Bucs to build themselves into a good football team. They’ll just always be remembered for how many they lost at the start.