My wife and I are suckers for a good “Ghost Tour” when visiting a new city. We’ve heard about curses placed on places, people, and things throughout the years. It’s either an odd source of amusement or a nice evening walk. Nevertheless, recently I revised my top five favorite sports curses … and Number 5 makes me smile:
- The Madden Curse: Football players who appear on the cover of the Madden NFL game box will be seriously injured or lose their fame that same year. Daunte Culpepper (knee injury), Michael Vick (broken leg), and Donovan McNabb (sports related hernia) are just some of the victims of this curse.
- The Par 3 Curse. The Masters Tournament held annually at the Augusta National Golf Club begins with an informal par 3 competition. No winner of this has ever gone on to win the main tournament the same year.
- The Curse of the Billie Goat. The infamous Billie goat has cursed the Chicago Cubs since game 4 of the 1945 World Series. Apparently, as the story goes, William Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Bar, brought his pet goat to Wrigley Field to watch that game 4. During the 7th inning, Chicago Cubs owner Philip Wrigley personally had Mr. Sianis and his goat ejected because of complaints from other fans about the smell. This action enraged Mr. Sianis and he declared the following; “Them Cubs, they aren’t gonna win no more.” The Cubs went on to lose the final 3 games of that series and have yet to win one since. They have even gone so far as to try repeated attempts to lift the curse, but to no avail.
- The Curse of Bobby Lane. Quarterback Bobby Layne led the Detroit Lions to three NFL Championships (1952,1953,1957). Despite this, the Lions, thinking he was past his prime, traded him to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1958. As Layne left, he reportedly declared that Detroit would not win for 50 years. Over those 50 years, the Lions had the worst winning percentage of any NFL team and had a single post-season victory (1991). On the 50th anniversary of the trade, the Lions became the first NFL team to go 0-16.
- The Ivy League Curse: The Lafayette Leopards have a strong football tradition and history. But not against the Ivy League! Of their performance against 7 of the 8 Ivy League teams, Lafayette’s record seems a bit snake bitten:
- Cornell: 8-14-0 (33% winning record)
- Brown: 3-8-0 (27%)
- Dartmouth: 2-6-0 (25%)
- Penn: 21-62-4 (24%)
- Harvard: 3-11-0 (20%)
- Yale: 1-7-0 (13%)
- … and Princeton: 4-38-3 (8%)
So, at least for # 5, let’s raise a toast to the continuation of curses with a Princeton Tiger win over Lafayette this Saturday!