When the Buffalo Bills secured a playoff berth Sunday, they didn't just conquer the odds of an improbable postseason appearance.
They also snapped the longest playoff drought in professional American sports, passing the most dismal of torches to the Cleveland Browns -- and Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners -- now that a 17-year run of spending January at home has come to a close.
It was 1999 when the Bills last clinched a playoff appearance -- an era in which Bill Clinton was United States president and Wade Phillips was Buffalo's head coach. But the perpetually underwhelming AFC East contenders weren't -- and still aren't -- alone in trying to end one of sports' worst streaks.
Here's a look at some of the longest active postseason droughts across all major sports (Bills fans, note Buffalo's absence after almost two decades of disappointment):
- Seattle Mariners, MLB: 16 seasons
- Cleveland Browns, NFL: 15 seasons
- Miami Marlins, MLB: 14 seasons
- Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA: 13 seasons
- Sacramento Kings, NBA: 11 seasons
- San Diego Padres, MLB: 11 seasons
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFL: 10 seasons
- Chicago White Sox, MLB: 9 seasons
- Carolina Hurricanes, NHL: 8 seasons
- New York Jets, NFL: 7 seasons
- Chicago Bears, NFL: 7 seasons
- Phoenix Suns, NBA: 7 seasons
- Buffalo Sabres, NHL: 6 seasons
- Philadelphia Phillies, MLB: 6 seasons
- Arizona Coyotes, NHL: 5 seasons
If and when other longtime losers join the Bills in celebration of a playoff berth, only time will tell whether they'll be as grateful as Buffalo was on Sunday, when the team literally thanked the Cincinnati Bengals for helping their postseason chances:
Thank you, @Bengals. pic.twitter.com/HrJjuV5zWO— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) January 1, 2018
In the Bills locker room, it was virtually Super Bowl Sunday.
The moment. #GoBills pic.twitter.com/0Ip76NCPF8— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) January 1, 2018
The collective awe of Buffalo faithful was something to be had, too.
Bengals touchdown to send the Bills to the playoffs + Titanic.— Matt Allaire (@AllaireMatt) January 1, 2018
You’re welcome #BillsMafia.
cc: @DelReid pic.twitter.com/FxqcksXKXd
Omg. pic.twitter.com/LDm7mkSNrT— Steve Whipple (@S_Whipple) January 1, 2018
Bills Mafia in the playoffs gonna be like pic.twitter.com/VrVnJl6kU0— Ben Coil (@CometCoil) January 1, 2018
The last time the @buffalobills were in the playoffs, I was a freshman senator at the end of my first year in office. I may have lost some hair, but the fans in WNY have never lost faith. #GoBills— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 1, 2018