While places like Buffalo and Cleveland usually come to mind when discussing who holds the distinction of being the most tortured fans in sports, the people of Denver and Seattle can make a pretty good case for themselves.
The Seahawks might be playing in their second Super Bowl in nine seasons, yet the city of Seattle hasn’t won a championship, in any major sport, since 1979.
And the last team to bring a title home to Seattle, the NBA’s SuperSonics, moved to Oklahoma City just a few years ago.
Denver still has its NBA team, the Nuggets, but the team's one and only appearance in the finals came in 1976, when the team was still a member of the now-defunct American Basketball Association.
The Broncos have a proud football history, although that wasn’t always the case.
Having won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998, the Broncos’ seven total appearances in the Super Bowl are the second-most in the NFL.
However, Denver is also tied with the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings for the most losses in Super Bowl history with four.
The only original member of the old American Football League to never have a winning season in the league’s 10-year history, it wasn’t until their 18th year of existence that the Broncos finally made the playoffs in either the AFL or the NFL.
The Seahawks are participating in their second Super Bowl since joining the NFL in 1976, and hold the dubious honor of not winning a single playoff game from December 22, 1984 until January 14, 2006. Their drought was so long that their playoff win in 1984 came in the AFC, while their win to end the losing streak in 2006 took place in the NFC.
Seattle is the only team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to have switched conferences twice.
With the departure of the Sonics in 2008, the Seahawks currently enjoy the longest relationship with their fans of any team in the city.
Despite all the heartache the team has experienced on the field, Seattle is still home to one of the best fan bases in all of sports – the Seahawks’ “12th Man.”
But even the 12th Man moniker was almost taken away from the city.
Texas A&M University owns the 12th Man trademark and requested Seattle stop using the term in both 2004 and 2005. The two parties reached a settlement, and in addition to a $100,000 payment upfront, the Seahawks were forced to publicly acknowledge Texas A&M's ownership of the phrase, and make annual payments, believed to be $5,000 per year, to continue using it.
Unfortunately, fans in Seattle have a history of having things undeservedly taken from them.
Seattle was awarded an NHL franchise in 1974, however, the team never even played game as the ownership group was unable to put together enough funding.
Major League Baseball made its debut in Seattle in 1969 with the Pilots and originally only lasted for one season. Financial issues forced the team to be sold to Bud Selig, a former used car salesman and present-day Commissioner of Major League Baseball, who moved the team to his hometown of Milwaukee just five days before the 1970 season was scheduled to begin.
Baseball would return to Seattle in 1977 – although the Mariners have made the postseason just four times in their history, and are still searching for their first World Series appearance.
Denver residents also saw one of their teams leave town as the NHL’s Colorado Rockies, not to be confused with the baseball team, arrived in 1976, before moving to New Jersey in 1982.
The Avalanche moved to Denver from Quebec in 1995, replacing the old hockey team, and quickly rewarded the city with their first championship of any kind, in their first year, and added another Stanley Cup championship in 2001.
While the city embraced the Avalanche with open arms, it’s hard to compare the Avs’ two titles with the longtime suffering of fans who supported the Broncos and Nuggets for decades.
The Rockies, the baseball version, played their first game in 1993, and it looked as though they were building a perennial title contender after making the playoffs in 1995. They never could figure out how to pitch in the high altitude though and the team wouldn’t see the postseason again until getting swept in the 2007 World Series.
With two great fan bases starved for a championship, it’s hard not to root for either city to end their drought.
For Seattle, the chance to host their first major championship parade since Jimmy Carter was in office would be an incredible reward for a city that has experienced so much losing.
And a third Super Bowl trophy for Denver, their first in 15 years, would put them in an elite group and help to legitimize a franchise that has come a long way since being the doormat of the old AFL.