Ending the Drought: Super Bowl 31

20 years ago today, the Packers ended the longest championship drought in franchise history by beating the New England Patriots 35-20 in Super Bowl XXXI. In between the team’s victory over the Raiders in SB II and the win over New England stretched 28 mostly futile years of frustration for Packer fans. However, other teams have gone through worse as this table of all 32 NFL franchise demonstrates:

Team Non-title streak Years Post-

Seasons

% Post -season Years Longest Playoffs Drought Losing season streak
Arizona Cardinals 69 1948-2016 9 13% 25 9
Detroit Lions 59 1958-2016 12 20% 12 10
Philadelphia Eagles 56 1961-2016 20 36% 17 7
Minnesota Vikings 56 1961-2016 28 50% 7 3
Tennessee Titans 55 1962-2016 19 35% 8 6
San Diego Chargers 53 1964-2016 15 28% 13 7
Buffalo Bills 51 1966-2016 14 27% 17 9
Atlanta Falcons 50* 1966-2015 13 26% 12 8
Cleveland Browns 49 1965-95 1999-2016 15 31% 14 9
Cincinnati Bengals 49 1968-2016 14 29% 14 6
New York Jets 48 1969-2016 13 27% 11 3
LA Rams 47 1952-98 18 38% 11 9
Kansas City Chiefs 46 1971-2016 15 33% 15 6
Miami Dolphins 43 1974-2016 18 42% 8 4
New Orleans Saints 42 1967-2008 6 14% 20 12
Pittsburgh Steelers 41 1933-73 3 7% 23 8
New England Patriots 41 1960-2000 10 24% 13 7
Washington Redskins 39 1943-81 7 18% 25 9
Denver Broncos 37 1960-96 11 30% 12 10
Seattle Seahawks 37 1976-2012 12 32% 10 4
Oakland Raiders 36 1981-2016 9 25% 14 7
Indianapolis Colts 35 1971-2005 12 34% 9 9
Chicago Bears 31 1986-2016 10 32% 6 5
San Francisco 49ers 31 1950-80 4 13% 12 4
New York Giants 29 1957-85 8 28% 17 8
Green Bay Packers 28 1968-95 5 18% 10 5
Tampa Bay Bucs 26 1976-2001 7 27% 14 14
Washington Redskins 25 1992-2016 5 20% 6 3
Pittsburgh Steelers 25 1980-2004 13 52% 4 2
Jacksonville Jaguars 22 1995-2016 6 27% 9 6
San Francisco 49ers 22 1995-2016 9 41% 8 6
Carolina Panthers 22 1995-2016 7 32% 5 3
Dallas Cowboys 22 1995-2016 9 41% 4 3
Chicago Bears 21 1964-84 3 14% 13 7
St. Louis Rams 17 2000-16 4 24% 12 10
Green Bay Packers 16 1945-60 1 6% 15 4
Houston Texans 15 2002-16 4 27% 9 5
Baltimore Ravens 11 2001-11 7 64% 2 1

Please note that the table includes the worst stretch for each franchises plus a handful of secondary title-less periods of at least 16 years for some squads. Within these fallow periods, the Packers percentage of making the playoffs is unimpressive, although the Steelers, Cardinals, Saints, Bears and 49ers have done even worse.

Green Bay’s worst streak of ten years without appearing in the postseason from 1983-1992 is bad, but does not compare to the Cardinals, Redskins and Steelers…although a good portion of those 20+ year streaks (and non-playoff percentage) occurred before the expanded playoffs began in 1967. The painful 20-year streak by the Saints, though, occurred entirely within the expanded format. The Bills have the longest current streak at 17 years.

The Packers worst streak of five consecutive losing seasons from 1973-77 is fairly ordinary and does not compare to the Bucs’ 14, the Saints 12, or the 10 of the Broncos, Lions and Rams. The Rams’ streak is currently running.

Aside from the 28-year length of the championship-less streak, it was not the worst period in team history, though. Even if we shorten the period to the 24 years before the arrival of Ron Wolf turned the franchise around, the winning percentage from 1968-91 was .423 (146-201-9). Sadly, the 11-year dark ages from 1948-58 “boasted” a winning percentage of .288 (37-93-2).

25 years of watching teams run by Wolf and Ted Thompson, coached by Mike Holmgren, Mike McCarthy and others and quarterbacked by Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers has blurred the memory of the lost decades of the 1970s and 1980s, but they were truly dispiriting.

1996sbtd

Custom card in 1961 Fleer style.

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