Most Agonizing Ways Athletes Lost A Championship

Every game has winners and losers, and when it's your team on the losing end ... well, it stinks. But while every championship win is equally awesome, championship losses come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it's just a bummer, but other times it feels like someone ripped your heart out and then stomped on it repeatedly with steel cleats. So what are the most absolutely agonizing ways players and teams have lost championships? Once you relive some of these miserable moments, you may be sorry you asked.

The 1986 Boston Red Sox

The story of the 1986 World Series has been told and retold so many times, it's pretty much blurred into background noise at this point. Unless you're a Red Sox fan, of course, in which case that background noise is the screaming of ten million tortured souls. The scene: two outs, two strikes, nobody on base in the bottom of the 11th inning, with the Red Sox up 5-3 and leading the series three games to two. Even the Mets were so sure they were about to lose, that they congratulated the Sox for the Series win on the jumbotron. Instead, the Sox relief pitchers suffered a complete meltdown, punctuated by the infamous fielding error at first base by Bill Buckner. Red Sox fans would have to wait another 18 years for their seemingly-endless championship drought to finally end.

The 2014 Seattle Seahawks

Coming off their first ever championship in Super Bowl XLVIII, the Seattle Seahawks looked poised to repeat in the final seconds of Super Bowl XLIX. Trailing by four with just half a minute left to play, Seattle lined up for a second-and-goal from the one-yard line. Everyone knows what happened next: instead of handing the ball off to superstar running back Marshawn Lynch, quarterback Russell Wilson dropped back to pass and threw the ball right into the waiting arms of New England Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler. Just like that, ecstasy turned to agony and hundreds of millions of fans around the world were left shaking their heads in disbelief.

The 1992-93 Michigan Wolverines basketball team

Michigan's Fab Five was widely considered to be one of the most talented teams in college basketball history, with future NBA stars Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, and Juwan Howard all in the starting lineup. In the NCAA Finals against North Carolina in 1993, it seemed as though the Fab Five were finally going to deliver on their promise. But that dream ended in spectacular fashion. Trailing by two with eleven seconds left and the ball in Michigan's hands, Webber attempted to call a timeout to set up a final, game-winning play. Just one problem: Michigan didn't have any timeouts. Michigan was slapped with a technical foul, North Carolina made its free throws, and the game was over.

The 1972 U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball Team

The United States Men's Olympic Basketball Team had every reason to expect they would win the gold medal at the 1972 Munich Games. After all, they steamrolled their way into the finals against the Soviet Union, and they had never once lost a game at the Olympics. That all changed thanks to arguably the most controversial sequence of events in Olympics history. Trailing 50-49 with three seconds left, the Soviets were given not one, not two, but three separate attempts to inbound the ball—after the Americans appeared to have won the game after each of the first two attempts, the refs reset the play. The third time was the charm and the U.S.S.R. scored at the buzzer to "win" 51-50.

The 1985 St. Louis Cardinals

It's bad enough when you blow a championship you should have won. It's even worse when that title is taken away from you by forces outside your control. That was the case with the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals—ahead three games to two over cross-state rival Kansas City Royals, the Cards took a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning of Game 6. The first batter, Jorge Orta, grounded out to first, or so everyone in the world thought. Unfortunately, first base umpire Don Denkinger disagreed, and he inexplicably ruled Orta safe. The blown call started a Royals rally, with Orta scoring the tying run that denied the Cardinals a World Series title. Ouch.

The 2007 New England Patriots

Going into the Super Bowl, the 2007 New England Patriots were arguably the best team to ever play the game, on the strength of an unprecedented perfect 18-0 record. Their perfect season seemed destined to end with a 19-0 record and a championship, until fate intervened in the unlikely form of journeyman receiver David Tyree. With the New York Giants trailing 14-10 and facing a third-and-five from their own 44-yard line with barely over a minute left to play, Eli Manning was chased from the pocket. Barely avoiding what seemed like a sure sack, he flung the ball downfield on an absolute prayer, which was answered when Tyree somehow pinned the ball to his helmet as he fell to the ground on the Patriots' 25-yard line. It was maybe the most absurd play in Super Bowl history, and it resulted in an easy Giants touchdown, Manning's first championship, and the agonizing death of the Patriots' perfect season.

Roberto DeVicenzo

It's hard to imagine a more agonizing way to lose a championship than what happened to golfer Roberto DeVicenzo. After the final round of the 1968 Masters, DeVicenzo was in a dead tie for first place with Bob Goalby. That should have resulted in a playoff between the two to determine the champion. But it didn't, for one crazy reason: DeVicenzo turned in a scorecard that incorrectly showed him losing by one stroke. Even crazier, the mistake was actually made by his playing partner Tommy Aaron, and not DeVicenzo at all. But DeVicenzo didn't notice it and signed off on the losing number. Even though the entire world knew he had tied, the green jacket was given to Goalby, leading DeVicenzo to utter the immortal words, "what a stupid I am!"

The 1999 Tennessee Titans

Finally, there's the infamous case of the Tennessee Titans, who literally came as close as you can get to not losing a championship, but still losing it. On the final play of the game, the Titans lined up on the St. Louis Rams' ten-yard line, needing a touchdown to send the game into overtime. Quarterback Steve McNair hit receiver Kevin Dyson on a slant across the middle. Dyson sprinted for the end zone, but linebacker Mike Jones came out of nowhere and wrapped him up in a tackle. Dyson lunged forward, stretching the ball as close to the goal line as he possibly could ... and came up a single yard short as time expired. What a rough way to lose.