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12 longest active playoff droughts in NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL

The Seattle Mariners have ended a streak that no team should ever want to hold.

Following their win on Friday, the Mariners are going to the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. It ends the longest active streak for most seasons without making the playoffs across the four major North American sports leagues.

The Mariners punched their ticket to the 2022 playoffs by earning one of the three wild-card spots in the American League a year after they missed the playoffs by two games.

With the Mariners getting the monkey off their back, here are the 12 active longest postseason droughts between the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL

1. Sacramento Kings — 16 seasons (last playoff appearance in 2005-06)

The Kings not only hold the longest active playoff drought among all teams in the four major North American professional leagues, they also hold the longest playoff drought in NBA history. They haven’t appeared in the playoffs since Mike Bibby was their starting point guard. Sacramento went 30-52 in 2021-22, missing the final play-in spot by four games.

T-2. New York Jets — 11 seasons (last appearance in 2010)

A pair of New York fan bases have experienced misery over the last decade. The Jets haven’t made the playoffs since Mark Sanchez was playing quarterback and Rex Ryan was at the helm in 2010, when they upset the Patriots in the divisional round and appeared in a second straight AFC title game. The Jets slowly eroded from there, seemingly bottoming out in 2020 with a 2-14 mark. Unfortunately for Jets fans, this is only tied with the longest playoff drought in franchise history, as they missed the playoffs in every season between 1970-80.

T-2. Buffalo Sabres — 11 seasons (last appearance in 2010-11)

The Sabres have mostly finished in last place or close to last in their respective division since 2011. Buffalo drafted Jack Eichel with the No. 2 overall pick four seasons into its drought and traded the young star last season. The Sabres’ playoff drought is the longest in NHL history.

4. Philadelphia Phillies — 10 seasons (last appearance in 2011 season)

The Phillies were one of the top teams in baseball in the late 2000s, winning the World Series in 2008 and making it back there in 2009. They made the NLCS in 2010, too. 

Luckily for the Phillies and their fans, they could be off this list very soon. They’re a half-game ahead of the Brewers for the final wild-card spot in the National League.

T-5. Detroit Tigers — eight seasons (last appearance in 2014) 

The Tigers haven’t made the playoffs since featuring Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in their starting rotation. 

T-5. Los Angeles Angels — eight seasons (last appearance in 2014)

The Angels might boast the two best players in baseball — three-time MVP Mike Trout and reigning MVP Shohei Ohtani — but they’ve fallen short of the postseason three times when one of them took home the individual hardware.

T-7. Kansas City Royals — seven seasons (last appearance in 2015) 

The Royals reached baseball’s mountaintop in 2015, winning the World Series a year after they lost in seven games on baseball’s grandest stage. Kansas City holds one of the worst records in baseball this season.

T-7. Pittsburgh Pirates — seven seasons (last appearance in 2015)

The Pirates earned three playoff appearances in a row (2013-15), but they haven’t recovered since the Cubs beat them in the 2015 NL wild-card round. 

T-9. Texas Rangers — six seasons (last appearance in 2016)

The Rangers were a postseason mainstay last decade, clinching a berth five times in seven seasons between 2010-16. Even after signing Corey Seager and Marcus Semien to big contracts this past season, Texas will finish toward the bottom of the league. 

T-9. Charlotte Hornets — six seasons (last appearance in 2015-16)

The Hornets nearly squeaked into the playoffs this past spring. They made the play-in tournament but were blown out in the opening game. LaMelo Ball‘s emergence could lift them over the hump in 2022-23.

T-9. Detroit Red Wings — six seasons (last appearance in 2015-16)

Longtime fans of the Red Wings haven’t been too accustomed to the team’s recent stretch. The franchise had a 25-year playoff streak prior to its current drought. Detroit still seems far from making it back to the postseason, after finishing 26 points out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference in 2021-22.

T-9. Denver Broncos — six seasons (last appearance in 2015)

The Broncos haven’t made the playoffs since their triumphant Super Bowl win to cap off the 2015 campaign. That, of course, was Peyton Manning’s final game. Denver recently traded for quarterback Russell Wilson to solve its chronic quarterback problem, which could also solve its postseason problem. 


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