Great Moments in the History of Paper Bags

If you are of my ethnic construct and age, you likely know the term “Paper Bag Test.”  Sports has a “paper bag test” all its own, and it is just as unflattering. In this case, the paper bag was used to hide being a fan of a dreadful organization. The following is a list of the great “paper bag” teams of all time.

11) New Orleans Saints

Granted, the Saints won the Super Bowl last year, but it’s impossible to create a list of “Paper Bag Franchises” without including the team whose fans invented the idea of using the  bag to show their disgust.  The rumor is that a Saints’ fan was inspired by The Gong Show’s Unknown Comic, and used the shtick to protest the Saints’ 1-15 season by adorning a bag.

10) Detroit Lions

Where do you start with the epic failure known as the Lions? Other than the Barry Sanders era (in which they were supremely mediocre), they have largely defined failure for a half-century. After going a decade without making a playoff appearance, the Lions sank to an 0-16 mark in 2008.  Frankly, the whole city ought to wear a bag.

9) New York Knicks

This another team that doesn’t stink right this minute (wait, let me check the standings…), but that’s largely because they don’t have Isiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury repeatedly captaining the HMS Knick-tanic into the iceberg.  Don’t forget it was just a few short years ago the Knicks were so bad often started booing before the end of the first quarter.  Boy they did boo…they booed players, coaches, referees, performers, the other team’s players…after the game they went to the closest hospital and booed surgeries.

8 ) New York Mets

The Mets are the rich guy who keeps marrying the “gold digger” woman as therefore keeps himself in a consistent state of Pathetic. Just look at the amount of money the Mets have spent on free agents in the past 20 years, and look the amount of success they’ve had in that time. The highlight:  September 2007, when the Mets held a seven-game division lead over the Philadelphia Phillies with just 17 games to play, which led to one of the most epic collapses in baseball history.  How did that happen? Because they are the Mets.

7) Cleveland Browns

How frustrating must it be as a Browns’ fan? Your original team gets spirited off to Baltimore only to become a top-flight NFL organization. Meanwhile, you get a replacement team that has spent the better part of the last decade looking like a fraternity touch football team deep into its third keg of beer.  Browns fans got so frustrated with their franchise they used an appearance on Monday Night Football to try and get the attention of team owner Randy Lerner. It worked and two fans got face time with him to discuss the future of the team. Let’s just hope they took their bags off when they did it.

6) Milwaukee Bucks

What can you say about a team that hasn’t won a playoff series in a decade in a league where even teams that aren’t in the damn league can get into the playoffs?  It can be summed nicely in the picture above, a fan was wearing a paper bag and a jersey of a player who had departed the team a season earlier. Fear the Deer, my ass.

5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Here’s a team that looks like it may have a non-suck future, and has won a Super Bowl in the not-all-that-distant past. But since then, it has ejected its superstar players and its marquee head coach since that championship in 2003. Before that win, this team was best known for its “creamsicle” colored uniforms, its 0-26 start as an NFL franchise, and some of the best sports quotes ever.

4) Atlanta Falcons

Much like the Buccaneers, this team has a possible non-suck future, but definitely has a suck past. You likely remember their lone Super Bowl appearance in 1999 more for Eugene Robinson turning it into his own personal Hooker-palooza. More recently, this teams failure bona fides include head coach Bobby Petrino skipping out on the team halfway through the season in 2007, followed by Michael Vick going to jail in 2008.

3) Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are like a woman that was hot thirty years ago, but still thinks she’s “got it” despite the fact her breasts are now in asynchronous orbit around her knees. Len Dawson and Hank Stram was a long time ago; there’s a reason the Chiefs are now the proud owner of the NFL’s longest playoff losing streak.  If that weren’t enough, note the securing system this fan has rigged, likely figuring that bag may need to be in place for a while.

2) Cincinnati Bengals

The only thing more frustrating than being a Detroit Lions’ fan is being a Cincinnati Bengals fan. Why? Because the Bengals every once in a while look like a real football team, but then give you the “Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown” treatment. And just like Charlie Brown, those suckers that fill Paul Brown Stadium fall for it every fucking time. But these guys know who the Bungles really are.

1) Washington Nationals

The poor Nationals…they really are the team nobody wanted. Born as the Montreal Expos in1969, they consistently drew about 9 fans per game despite the fact many of those Expos teams sported several top-notch players (Hall of Famers Gary Carter and Andre Dawson for openers). Since moving to D.C. in 2005, the Gnats have finished higher than last place just once.

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6 responses

  1. Man, tough to do a historical piece like this without keeping modern day events in perspective.

    When I saw the title of this piece, I immediately thought Lions since Saints, Falcons, Chiefs, Bucs and heck, even the Knicks had, or are having, respectable seasons.

    And what, no Clippers? Or are they just using plastic these days?

  2. Clippers fans are collectively not slitting their wrists…yet. But when the Clips find a way to screw up this Blake Griffin thing they’ve got going, that will likely change.

  3. Can’t argue with your #1 choice there. Maybe the Wizards aren’t quite old enough yet, but I’d throw them on the list as well as the Clippers like Chris said. Good stuff though JW!

    1. Perhaps the Clippers, Wizards, etc…, have a fan base that simply do not want to be photographed. Maybe there is a photo out there with an empty seat with a bag on it…

  4. [...] James Dolan’s reign as the owner of the New York Knicks and Rangers has been an exercise in following the Steinbrenner model with the Yankees of the 80s; money does not cure bad decisions.  Since 1999 when Dolan took control of both franchises, fans of both teams would be well within their rights to join the paper bag squad. [...]

  5. Hey guys, you have forgotteen the team with the longest streak of losing seasons in the history of professional sports! And they are still at it! I went to a Pittsburgh Pirates game just last night. They lost.

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