BOSTON (CBS) — In case you missed it, the Colts raised a banner this offseason. It’s a banner that celebrates the Colts’ grand accomplishment of … losing. Of not making the Super Bowl. Of getting blown out by 38 points in the AFC Championship Game.
That’s some banner.
But is it the worst in sports?
For whatever reason, many franchises have felt the need to adorn the rafters or walls of their stadiums and arenas with some of the worst banners imaginable. From canvases that celebrate attendance to others that honor athletes who played other sports, some franchises have made some very poor, poor decisions.
So let’s take a gander at some of the worst banners in sports, and see where the Colts’ latest entry stacks up.
10. New Orleans Saints: First Season Sellout
The New Orleans Saints played their first ever season in 1967. They moved into the Superdome in 1975. Apparently, they endured a stretch of multiple decades before selling out for an entire season with season-ticket holders.
To me, that inspires one reaction: Saying “neat” and moving on.
To the Saints, it inspired a different reaction: Let’s. Raise. A banner.
I understand the whole post-Katrina, civic pride groundswell. That’s good that they sold out in 2006. But, uhh, how did they never sell out before then? A 73,000-seat stadium shouldn’t be that hard to fill. I know, the “Aints” and all of that. But they made the playoffs for three straight years in the early ’90s. Come on now, New Orleans. Buy some season tickets.
I originally had this higher when making the list, until I learned of the season-ticket holder distinction. But still. This is not banner-worthy.
9. Tampa Bay Rays: Wild Card Banner
Eh, Tampa. I’d say you can do better than this. But really, I’m not sure.
8. Montreal Canadiens: Montreal Expos Formerly Existed
Hey … hey, do you guys remember back when we had a baseball team, but we couldn’t get even 10,000 people to show up on a given night, so we lost them forever? Yeah … yeah, that was awesome.
(This one doesn’t rank high on the list because if you don’t love the Expos and if you don’t have a thirst for nostalgia, something’s wrong with you.)
7. Seattle Seahawks: No. 12 Jersey Retired For Fans
This one’s admittedly personal, because I had to spend a week in Arizona surrounded by these humanoids who referred to themselves and each other as “12s.” This is not a real thing! You are not a “12.” You are a person. You like this football team. You’re a fan of the Seahawks. You’re not a “12.” Every other fan base in sports manages to refer to themselves as “[Team name] fans,” yet you’re “12s” and you wear jerseys with the number 12 on the back and “FAN” on the nameplate and you consider this “12” phenomenon to be a weird special thing and you think you’re special and that your voice is louder than other humans’ voices because your team’s home stadium was designed to trap noise better than any other stadium and you approach each other in coffee shops and ask “Are you a 12?” and it is annoying. OK?
Now excuse me while my head explodes.
6. Miami Heat: Dan Marino Retired Jersey
The Miami Heat are a basketball team. The Miami Heat have retired Dan Marino’s jersey. Dan Marino played football.
5. Miami Heat: Michael Jordan Retired Jersey
The Miami Heat, as previously mentioned, are a basketball team. Michael Jordan was a basketball player. But he did not play for the Heat. He played 13 years for the Chicago Bulls and two years for the Washington Wizards which everyone in the world would rather forget.
During that career, Jordan scored 1,142 points in 38 games against the Heat. That’s 30 per game. Not bad. And the Heat were apparently impressed to the point where they felt the need to retire MJ’s jersey. In Miami.
This is not normal.
It’s just too bad that the Heat eventually won some championships. If not for the Dwyane Wade-Shaq duo and later the LeBron-Wade combo, I shudder to think what other cockamamie banners they’d have hung by now.
4. Washington Mystics: WNBA Attendance Champions
Wow. What an accomplishment. Apparently, there are six — six! — of these bad Larrys hanging from the Verizon Center rafters. Six!
I only have one thing to say to you, Washington Mystics:
(Out of respect for the WNBA, I won’t look up the whopping attendance figures that led to this achievement.)
3. Multiple Teams: Regular Season Conference Champions
The San Jose Sharks have a banner for being the best team … in the Western Conference … in the regular season. So do the Red Wings. As noted in that linked blog, the Washington Capitals have one for being the best in the East.
These banners should not exist! Regular seasons really mean very little in terms of history. And I’m a lenient judge; I’m even willing to excuse Presidents’ Trophy banners that hang in many NHL arenas. At least those teams can lay claim to being the best team in the whole league in a given year. But why print out the best in the conference banners? What are we celebrating here?
Maybe you could excuse the Sharks or the Capitals, who own a combined zero Stanley Cups and just one Stanley Cup Final appearance between them, but the Red Wings? There are plenty of Stanley Cup banners to fill those rafters.
Plus, Detroit, Washington and San Jose are all doubling up on banners! The Red Wings display their “Regular Season Conference Champions” banner right next to their Presidents’ Trophy banner! The Sharks have a Presidents’ Trophy banner for that same 2008-09 banner! The Capitals have banners for the Presidents’ Trophy and best record in the conference! That is not only redundant (in banner form, no less!) but also a waste of some perfectly fine cloth.
2. New England Patriots 16-0 Banner
This is an opinion that I’ve discovered to be very unpopular in New England, but that doesn’t change what most people think about the “Regular Season Record” banner that hangs in Gillette Stadium opposite the Super Bowl banners.
For sure, going 16-0 is an accomplishment. No other team has ever done it. In the Super Bowl era, only the 1972 Dolphins ever completed a perfect regular season, which was 14 games at the time. So sure, yes, going 16-0 is impressive. Yeehaw.
That’s all well and good, except for this:
OK? The 2007 Patriots had a chance to go down as the undisputed, unquestioned, no-doubt-about-it single greatest football team of all time. Yet after outscoring opponents 589-274 in the regular season, and after averaging 37 points per game, and after putting 38 points on the board outside on the road in New York against the Giants in Week 17, the undefeated Patriots scored just 14 points and came up short against the Giants in the Super Bowl, thereby face-planting in the only game that actually mattered.
They failed to cement their legacy as the best team of all time. This banner serves as a reminder of that. If it upsets your stomach to look at the Tyree catch, then looking at the banner should evoke the same response. Plus, the rest of the country laughs pretty heartily upon seeing this thing.
1. Indianapolis Colts: 2014 AFC Finalist
Here’s the issue with the Colts’ banner: They accomplished nothing. Every single year, there are two “AFC Finalists.” (I’m using quotation marks, because “AFC Finalist” is not a real thing.) There are also two “NFC Finalists.” Every year. No matter what.
Being a conference finalist only means you are in the top eighth of the league. The top 12.5 percent. That’s not an “accomplishment” which needs to be memorialized or preserved in perpetuity. Especially when you lose 45-7, as the Colts did this year, or when Peyton Manning lost in Foxboro in 2003 (there’s a banner for that, too), or when Jim Harbaugh lost to Pittsburgh in 1995 (yes, there’s a banner for that one, as well).
While you could rightfully argue that the regular season conference champions banners are worse than this one, the Colts earn the top spot here because of the added element of not only losing by 38 points but also starting the whole DeflateGate controversy. They complained to the league ahead of time, as if the PSI of footballs was going to make a difference, and they (probably) leaked the investigation news to the media just minutes after losing said AFC Championship Game by said 38 points. They allowed the Patriots to rush for 177 yards and three touchdowns, and they looked like sore losers in the process. This should not be a point of pride for any franchise.
So congratulations to the Colts, not only for doing something that four NFL teams do every single season, but also for coming in at No. 1 on this most prestigious list. Everything seems to be going the Colts’ way these days — time for another banner!
This story has largely been full of negativity and mockery, so it’s important to end with some advice to franchises in the future. This is what rafters should look like: