"If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all…”
There are a lot of sports fans around the country that feel those Eric Clapton lyrics are meant for them and their favorite teams. “If we could just catch a break.” Everyone feels picked on. Some take serious measures to avoid bad luck. Baseball players don’t step on the white lines on the way on and off the field. Players worry about what they eat, what they wear and who they talk to before games. And of course NO ONE can mention the words “no hitter” while a pitcher is actually throwing one.
It’s a wonder athletes get out of bed on this day of unluckiest days. Friday the 13th is the day we’re all on guard for the unlucky, for curses and for just plain bad breaks. So in honor of our most un-favorite day, here’s an AXS Six-pack of the best sports bad luck charms and curses that are still going strong. (The Bambino has been retired for a decade now.)
6. BasedGod's Curse. Placed on Oklahoma Thunder star Kevin Durant by rapper “Lil B” in 2011. The curse developed when Durant challenged the rapper’s relevancy. The two have been exchanging barbs ever since with Lil B proclaiming the Durant will never win an NBA title. He even went so far as to create a song around it. This is a family site. We won’t discuss the lyrics. You get the idea.
5. The Curse of Justin Bieber. The night before a game against the New York Jets just last season, the Biebs decided to attend a chapel service with the Steelers. Pittsburgh was 6-3 at the time and QB Ben Roethlisberger had thrown six TD passes the week before. The Steelers were hot. Their opponents, the 1-7 New York Jets, were not. You guessed it. After bolting out to a 17-0 lead on their cursed rival, the Jets coasted to a 20-13 win. Bieber got all the blame from Steeler Nation. Perhaps they didn’t know about his friendship with Floyd Mayweather. Either that, or Floyd is jinx-proof.
4. The Curse of Chief Wahoo. Cleveland fans truly believe they are jinxed. No Cleveland team, with or without LeBron James, has won a major sports championship since 1964. That’s 156 consecutive sports seasons if you’re counting. In recent years, the mascot of the baseball Indians, Chief Wahoo, has gotten the blame. “Are we paying the price for embracing America’s last acceptable racist symbol?” Whoa. That’s heavy. Hopefully LeBron can help at some point.
3. The 'Madden’ Cover curse. Just in terms of longevity, this finishes third. Madden hasn’t been around as long as the other two, and the best curses are the ones that have stood the test of time. This one began in 1999, when Garrison Hearst of the San Francisco 49’ers was chosen to be on the cover of a new video game being marketed by former NFL head coach and television personality John Madden. Hearst was on the cover and proceeded to break his leg and miss TWO seasons. In 2000, Barry Sanders retired during training camp. Duante Culpepper threw 23 interceptions in 2002, Marshall Faulk had his first bad season in 2004, Donovan McNabb tore his ACL in 2006. Shaun Alexander got hurt, Peyton Hillis got hurt and was never heard from again. You get the idea.
2. The Sports Illustrated cover curse. Talk about longevity. The SI cover curse started with their very first cover of the Braves Eddie Matthews in 1954, and there have been far too many occurrences in the past five decades to list here. From Matthews, to the “unbeatable” Oklahoma Sooners in 1957 losing the day after the magazine hit the newsstands to Notre Dame to end a 47-game win streak; Texas losing the 1977 Cotton Bowl; Pete Rose having his 44-game hitting streak snapped in 1978; Top-ranked Nebraska losing to Syracuse in September of 1984; Jack Lambert, dubbed “The Man of Steel” forced to miss the season with an injury; The New York Giants losing Super Bowl XXXV; the Detroit Tigers being swept in the 2012 World Series. The high flying Denver Broncos on the eve of a Super Bowl beatdown at the hands of Seattle in 2014. The examples are endless. This curse has its own Wikipedia page.
1. The Curse of the Billy Goat. This “wins” - barely - on longevity. The poor Chicago Cubs. As the story goes, during the 1945 World Series, the local owner of 'The Billy Goat Tavern' brought his well known pet goat to the game at Wrigley Field as he’d done all season. But unlike the regular season, he and the goat were refused entry. The owner, Billy Sianis, left and proceeded to send a telegram to the Cubs offices placing a curse on the team saying they would never win another World Series. They haven’t. It’s a good guess that the billy goat has passed away, but his legacy lives on on Chicago’s north side.