Publish Date: 01/17/2022
Fact checked by: Simon Briffa
I was researching an article I was going to write (The 10 Worst Teams in NFL History), and to my surprise, I think I found the worst team in FOOTBALL history. Let me preface this by saying that I am an expert on bad football teams as a Cincinnati Bengals fan. (If you feel sorry for me, that’s OK, I deserve it). Now wouldn’t you know that the worst team I could find was ironically from Cincinnati, Ohio, and it wasn’t the Bengals! Being a Cincinnati Bengals fan does qualify me to write this article. I have seen some (not so) legendary coaches up close and in person (David Shula, Homer Rice and Bruce Coslet, to name a few). I went 31 years without seeing my team when a playoff team and have watched my team draft David Klingler and Akili Smith in the first NFL draft. So, (sadly) I am qualified to judge lousy football. And the 1934 Cincinnati Reds epitomized a BAD football team.
I know most of you know the Reds as a baseball team, but for almost two complete seasons in 1933 and 1934, there was an NFL team named the Cincinnati Reds, and they were the worst team in NFL history. This team was so bad that there is very little evidence that they existed, but they did. The Cincinnati Reds of the NFL folded before their second season. They played 18 games and miraculously won 2 of them, with both wins coming in their first year of existence. In those 18 games, they completed 26 passes for 248 yards with no touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. The only touchdown they scored in 18 games was a rushing touchdown against the Chicago Bears – which probably made George Halas very happy, I am sure.
The Reds were shut out in 6 of their eight games that season to add insult to injury. Their defense gave up 30 touchdowns in their eight games 1934 season and gave up over 1,600 yards on the ground, which averages 6.4 yards per attempt, still the all-time NFL record. They also hold the NFL record for the fewest points scored in a season scoring 10 points in their 1934 season.
For Bengals fans that want to complain about Akili Smith and David Klingler, I give you the top quarterback for the Cincinnati Reds: Lew Pope. Pope completed 23.8% of his passes for 115 yards, 0 TDs and ten interceptions. His quarterback rating for his entire career with the Reds was 0.0! The Reds’ leading receiver in their 18 game history was a man named Cookie Tackwell (his real name). Cookie caught five passes for 58 yards and, not surprisingly, zero TDs.
The Reds played the majority of their games at old Crosley Field, then the home of the Cincinnati Reds Professional Baseball team. The last game in the history of the Cincinnati Reds NFL team was a 64-0 beating at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles. Almost immediately after this debacle, the team was purchased by the St. Louis Gunners, who finished out the remainder of the Reds season.
Discovering the 1933-34 Cincinnati Reds NFL team makes me feel better about my Bengals if only a little bit.