8 Most Legendary Curses in Sports History

Players and coaches on the field decide sports the outcomes of games. However, sports curses make you think superstition has something to do with it. Regardless of the sport, you can see how curses have affected players and entire franchises. Which ones are the worst? Here are the eight most legendary curses in sports history. 

1. The Curse of Bobby Lane

The 2024 Detroit Lions nearly made Super Bowl LVIII but came up short. You can blame Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel, but the real reason could be the curse of Bobby Lane. 

Before the Super Bowl era, the Lions were a great team with multiple NFL championships. However, that changed when Detroit traded star Bobby Layne to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Layne remained a solid player for the Steelers, but the Lions quickly fell apart. While there’s no record of Layne cursing the team, Detroit football has hardly recovered since the trade. 

2. The Madden Curse

A 2023 study found the NFL had 34.42 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures from 2017 to 2022. While American football is violent, the Madden NFL curse makes you think the cover athletes have the worst luck.

Curses causing injuries make them among the worst in sports. Past players who graced the Madden NFL cover had bad luck after the game’s release. Vince Young, Peyton Hillis and Shaun Alexander are a few players who fell off after making the cover. You could attribute their problems to age, but injuries seem to have a role in the careers of cover athletes.

3. The Curse of the Bambino

Boston has one of baseball’s most storied franchises, with the Red Sox boasting nine World Series titles. However, the Curse of the Bambino prevented them from further success.

Harry Frazee bought the Red Sox in 1916. After a disappointing 1919 season, Frazee began selling players to rival teams, including the squad in the Bronx. Babe Ruth emerged as a terrific pitcher and home run hitter, but the Red Sox owner traded him to the New York Yankees for $100,000 cash. The trade led to an eight-decade World Series drought for the Red Sox.

4. The Curse of Rocky Colavito

While the Red Sox broke their jinx, other baseball franchises are still reeling from the worst curses in sports. You may think Cleveland is cursed, and Rocky Colavito has proved it.

Colavito had back-to-back seasons with 40 home runs in 1958 and 1959. He thought his performance demanded a higher salary, but Cleveland Guardians general manager Frank Lane disagreed. Lane traded Colavito to the Detroit, and Cleveland was never the same. The Guardians have had limited playoff success, with a lone World Series appearance in 2016.

5. The Paris Saint-Germain Curse

Paris Saint-German (PSG) has everything a French soccer club wants in domestic play. The squad has a record 12 Ligue 1 titles, but they can’t seem to win outside of France. 

European countries send their championship club to the UEFA Champions League (UCL) to see who’s the best on the continent. PSG boasts a $300 million payroll, so they should have at least one UCL title. However, they suffer from sports curses in Europe because they’ve never gotten to the mountaintop. PSG made the final round in 2020 before losing to Bayern Munich. 

6. The Benfica Curse

Like PSG, Benfica is the premier soccer club in its country. The club has won numerous Primeira Liga championships but struggles to win European titles. Are they cursed? 

Béla Guttmann brought success to Benfica in the 1960s. A couple of European Cups had fans of the Portugal club feeling on top of the world. However, Guttman left after not receiving the pay raise he demanded. The Hungarian coach allegedly cursed Benfica for 100 years, saying they wouldn’t win another European title. The club has yet to win since the 1962 championship.

7. The Andretti Curse

It’s hard to tell the history of motorsports without mentioning the Andrettis. Despite their accolades, the family has been on the wrong side of the terrible curses in sports. 

Mario Andretti is a decorated racecar driver, winning the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 in the 1960s. The lone Indy 500 win in 1969 would be the family’s last, as the Andrettis would struggle mightily in future events. Since 1969, all the Andrettis have faced lousy luck due to crashes, mechanical breakdowns and last-minute heartbreak in the Indianapolis 500.    

8. The Talladega Superspeedway Curse

Talladega Superspeedway is NASCAR’s largest track at 2.66 miles, bringing consistently fast speeds. While racing has inherent dangers, you could blame the bad luck on the track’s history.

Bill France, Sr. —  NASCAR’s founder — wanted to build on the success of the Daytona International Speedway by creating a bigger track. His Talladega landing spot may have brought sports curses in the sport. Some say the track sits on Native American land, and past incidents fuel the rumors. Injuries, deaths and odd instances make you believe the track has a jinx. 

Overcoming the Worst Curses in Sports

There’s not much you can do about sports jinxes. Teams have fired coaches, traded players, and changed their nicknames, but they still lack their desired success. Some players and squads have broken their curses, though plenty of heartbreak was necessary before hoisting the trophy.

Beth Rush
Author: Beth Rush

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