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Top 5 Underdogs in Sports History

Who doesn't love a good underdog? Aside from my favorite team succeeding, there might not be a better feeling than watching some random ass team that nobody ever thought had a chance make a deep run. Whether it be some mid-major nobody had ever heard of making a deep run in March Madness (I'm looking at you, Oral Roberts), or some team barely scraping in to the playoffs and going on to win it all, it's always fun when a team unites the nation in cheering for their magical run to continue.

With that being said, here are my top 5 favorite underdogs in sports history.

*REMINDER*- this is just my opinion which means it's correct and that everybody should agree with me 100%.

5) 2018 UMBC Golden Retrievers

This one honestly feels like low-hanging fruit, but there is no way I couldn't include it in this list. They were the first and only 16 seed to ever win a tournament game, and as a guy who doesn't like UVA for reasons that I don't even know, it made it just a bit sweeter. At the time, I was working as a laser tag operator at a bowling alley, so this gave me some nice relief from the self-pity I pretty much felt at all times at that job.

I still don't really even understand how they won this game. I mean, they were 20.5 point underdogs.

They also get bonus points for various reasons:

  1. Virginia was the number 1 seed overall

  2. They had some sick ass names (Jarius Lyles, KJ Maura, etc.)

  3. They didn't just beat them, they 20 bombed them

Also they caused one of the greatest redemption stories in college basketball history the next season when UVA won the title.

4) Tom Brady

Is there even that much I can say? He was the 199th draft pick and proceeded to go on to become the greatest NFL player ever, and one of the greatest winners in the history of sports.

Thats pretty impressive for a guy who looked like this at his combine.

I'm sure there will be Brady haters that disagree with this pick, and to that I say this:

  • 3x NFL MVP

  • 7x Super Bowl Champion

  • 5x Super Bowl MVP

  • All time yards leader

  • All time touchdown leader

And so many more accolades.

That's pretty decent for a 6th rounder that probably expected to make a living sitting behind Drew Bledsoe.

3) 2007 New York Giants

I know I literally just praised Tom Brady, but how can I not mention that team that ruined what would have been not only his greatest season, but the greatest season in NFL history.

By all accounts, the New York Football Giants had zero business winning it all in 2007. They just had an all-pro caliber tailback in Tiki Barber retire, talking plenty of shit on his way out. They had a struggling quarterback in Eli Manning who had yet to live up to his lofty expectations to that point. They had a head coach that was on his way out if he had another rough season.

Yet somehow, some way, they won the damn Super Bowl.

They started the season scorching hot, sitting it 6-2 going in to their bye week. They then proceeded to limp through the rest of the season, finishing 10-6 and making the wildcard.

Wildcard game at Tampa Bay, 3 point dogs? Dub. Divisional at Dallas, in a game where Jerry Jones had already presented his team with tickets to the NFC championship game, and were 7 point dogs? Dub. 7.5 point dogs at Lambeau on a day where the wind chill made it feel like -23 degrees? Dub.

Here's Tom Coughlin looking like his face was going to fall off due to the weather:

But none of that mattered come Super Bowl week. I mean, there's just no way they could ever beat the 18-0 Patriots.

A few hours later, they were world champs. Sorry Tom.

2) 2015 Leicester City

Leicester City went in to the season with 5000-1 odds to win the Premier League.

Guess who ended up winning the Premier League?

Yeah, this shit actually happened. In a league of giants, such as Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and so many more, they won the title, edging out Arsenal by 10 points.

Since this title, they have not even come within 20 points of winning the title. This is not only one of the greatest underdog stories ever, but also one of the greatest one and done stories ever.

If I'm being completely honest, I really do not know much about soccer. But when I tried to put this in college basketball terms, I found that another team with 5000-1 odds to win a title is the 2016 Cal State Bakersfield Road Runners, who were a 15 seed in the tourney. So yeah, this is a pretty crazy underdog.

Another great part of an underdog story is the celebrations that come with it, and Leicester definitely checks that box.

1) 1980 United States Hockey

If I had to guess, maybe 90% of readers knew this was coming. And there is most certainly a reason for that.

The Soviet Union was coming off of 4 straight Olympic gold medals, and this year was supposed to be no different. Compiled of all professional players, this team was supposed to roll through the bracket on their way to gold.

On the other side, the United States were a bunch of 21 year old amateur players who had little to no experience playing at a professional level, much less an olympic level against the absolute wagon that was Soviet hockey.

With 12 minutes left in the 3rd period, it looked like public perception may have been right. Sure, the US had stuck around, but the Soviets were still in the drivers seat up 3-2, and were some good defense away from advancing on to play for gold.

Then, in the blink of an eye, the United States had scored two goals, leading to 4-3 win that will forever live on as the status quo for underdogs, shocking the world while doing it. Forever immortlized alongside this win is Al Michaels' famous "Do you believe in miracles?" call:

If that doesn't give you chills, then I don't know what will.

The United States then went on to defeat Finland 4-2, staging another improbably comeback, securing gold in the round robin tournament and etching them in to Olympic history forever.

Oh yeah, and it made for a pretty kick-ass movie as well.

Cover Image via Getty Images


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