The two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl are some of the best moments in a fan’s life.
Article after article after sports show after newspaper talking about your team.
Your team is set to take center stage and play in, potentially, the biggest game of your fandom.
Nothing else seems to matter.
Parking ticket? Whatever.
Your favorite basketball team is on a 12-game losing streak? So what, your football team is in the Super Bowl.
Your wife is packing her bags and leaving with the kids? You’ll have another ring in less than two weeks, you don’t need hers.
It is paradise on earth until that fateful Sunday.
And before you know it, while in an unbelievable dream-like state, the clock ticks to double zero and you’re watching the other team raise the trophy.
You have now joined the ranks of fans across the country that are, just minutes after the game ended and seemingly all at once, chugging $20 vodka straight from the bottle.
At that moment, you have hit rock bottom.
Seemingly in an instant, darkness transitions into excruciating light as your alarm defibrillates you awake, and you know you will call into work “sick” today, and maybe tomorrow, too.
This is the sad reality of Super Bowl losing fans across the nation.
And if you think that is bad, think about the players.
The biggest moment of their lives and professional career is now potentially the worst memory they will carry until the end of time.
They saw the Lombardi trophy. They were close enough to run up and grasp it. And instead, they walk into the tunnel for the final time that season covered in confetti baring the opposing teams’ colors.
When it’s time to gather and prepare for next season, their minds are still in a state of fog and heartbreak.
Film study and preparation doesn’t have the same gravity in their collective consciousness as last year. Preparation used to be the “A” topic in their minds, and now it isn’t even topic “B”, “C”, or even “H”.
And this is where their hangover starts.
The term “Super Bowl Hangover” is lovingly given to the team who lost the Super Bowl the previous year, and comes out to shit the bed the following season.
A “normal” Super Bowl hangover for teams would be simply underperforming the next year: Starting out slow, playing sluggish, and in many cases missing the playoffs.
Think: blacking out on Jose Cuervo the night before and waking up without your phone or wallet.
But Super Bowl hangovers can be extreme, and this article details some of the worst of the past 20 years.
These Super Bowl hangovers are the: having a drink first thing in the morning, liquor store employees knowing your name, friends and family’s search history is variations of “How expensive is Passages Malibu?” type of hangovers.
These are the worst of it.
One final important note: I am basing this list on the hangovers of Super Bowl losers.
If a team wins the Super Bowl and goes 5-11 the next year, does it really matter? Just dry your tears with your ‘Super Bowl Champions’ banner.
5. 2005 Philadelphia Eagles
Super Bowl 39 was no doubt a major pain point for Eagles fans before finally having vengeance on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52.
But Super Bowl 39 went the Patriots’ way, and a dejected Eagles team saw their way off of the field having lost 24-21.
The 2005 pre-season began with Andy Reid, Donovan McNabb, Brian Dawkins, and many others, with one goal in mind: returning to the big game. But there was one problem.
Terrell Owens was doing sit-ups in his driveway.
The infamous offseason distractions hosted by Owens caused a huge rift in the locker room, and the Eagles were totally mentally unprepared for the 2005 season.
After going 13-3 and making the Super Bowl in 2004, the Eagles dropped to 6-10 in 2005, finishing last in the NFC East and missing the playoffs entirely.
4. 2007 Chicago Bears
Despite a heartbreaking loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl 41, the Bears seemed like they were back.
A 13-3 record and their first Super Bowl appearance in over 20 years was carried by a historic defense from Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera, Head Coach Lovie Smith, and defensive superstars Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Tommie Harris, among others.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, for Vikings fans), the wheels seemed to come off in the offseason.
Lance Briggs vocally expressed his disdain at being forced to sign a franchise tag, garnering support from fellow standout Brian Ulacher before finally signing his franchise tender after a lengthy, distraction filled, contract negotiation process.
Defensive lineman Terry Johnson was accumulating weapons charges, parole violations, DUIs, and anything else he could muster before finally being released from the team in the preseason.
The team inexplicably traded away their leading rusher, giving the reins to Cedric Benson who went on to rush for only 674 yards in 11 games.
And finally, their lack of reliable quarterback play reared its’ ugly head for the Bears as a quarterback round robin of Brian Griese, Rex Grossman, and Kyle Orton combined for 3700 yards and 18 touchdowns.
It seemed like the Bears had a bright future, but expectations and hope came crashing down following a Super Bowl appearance, and Chicago finished last in the NFC North in 2007 at 7-9.
3. 2002 St. Louis Rams
Despite being heavy favorites going into the game, the St. Louis Rams lost Super Bowl 36 to the New England Patriots 20-17, marking both the decline of the Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” and the beginning of the Patriots’ empire.
Come 2002, the Rams had begun to fully unravel.
Was it bad luck? An atypical season? Did Bill Belichick and Tom Brady literally and figuratively suck the life force from the Rams’ organization?
Whatever the case may be, the Rams started the year with five straight losses.
Kurt Warner went from “Dan Marino” to “Christian Ponder”, throwing one touchdown and seven interceptions in the first three games of the season, eventually only playing seven games due to lingering injuries.
Backup quarterback Marc Bulger performed admirably, but ultimately, the Rams just simply could not replicate the magic from previous years in 2002.
The team bounced back from their 0-5 start and rattled off five straight wins, but ultimately finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs.
2. 2016 Carolina Panthers
The 2015 Carolina Panthers were so close to football immortality.
After a stunning 15-1 campaign, eventual MVP Cam Newton led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50 against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, sputtering to a 24-10 loss.
If 2015 was the best of times for the Panthers, then 2016 was truly the worst of times.
With so much hope and optimism going into the 2016 season, the team finished last in the NFC South at 6-10.
What caused such a monumental collapse?
Driving your best cornerback (Josh Norman) off the team due to refusing to pay his asking price for a new contract could do it.
Injuries to star players Michael Oher, Luke Kuechly, and Cam Newton (after being sacked eight times by the Vikings in week 3) could do it.
Or, a heartbreaking loss to the Broncos in the season opener, thereby undoubtedly completely demoralizing the team could do it as well.
Whatever the case may be, after being so close to immortality in 2015, the Panthers completely fell apart in 2016.
1. 2003 Oakland Raiders
The information acquired from comparing the 2002 Raiders season and the 2003 Raiders season falls into the category of “things you need to rub your eyes after reading because you can’t believe what you just saw”.
After an 11-5 record and a trip to the Super Bowl in 2002, the 2003 Raiders managed just four wins, finishing 4-12.
At the end of the day, what you can define the 2003 Raiders on was their age.
A number of key players in 2002 were old, including quarterback (and MVP) Rich Gannon, Jerry Rice, and Tim Brown, among others.
But going into the 2003 season, they were really old.
In fact, five starters on the roster were 37 or older. Yes, I said starters.
Rich Gannon had lingering injury issues, playing in only seven games that year, Jerry Rice finally started to sputter out at 41 years old, and their head coach Bill Callahan lovingly referred to them as the “dumbest team in America” after a week 13 loss against the Broncos.
Maybe they just got too old to compete?
Or maybe, their infamous “Black Hole” quite literally sucked the talent and optimism from the organization like the aliens did in “Space Jam”.
Be it their age, lack of commitment and dedication, or extraterrestrial beings from Moron Mountain, the 2003 Oakland Raiders had the biggest Super Bowl hangover of the last 20 years.