The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The ‘Monday Night’ Football cat cursed the NFL’s feline teams

A black cat ran onto the field during a football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants on Nov. 4 at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. (Video: ljthelegend via Storyful)

The NFL is a peculiar league with peculiar trends. Consider, apropos of nothing in particular, that the league’s four teams named for cats — the Bengals, Jaguars, Lions and Panthers — are 1-18 since Nov. 4.


Or rather, meow.

That’s the date a feline changed this NFL season as we know it. A stray wandered onto the field at MetLife Stadium during “Monday Night Football” and delayed the Cowboys-Giants game for several minutes.

NFL Week 15 playoff picture, scenarios, key games and projected playoff bracket

After evading event staff, it scurried down a tunnel and has yet to be found. Apparently, according to Sports Illustrated’s Madelyn Burke and others, MetLife Stadium is home to a number of stray cats, which live in the bleachers and are often fed by fans and find food left over after games. The stadium said on Twitter that it was attempting to humanely trap the cat and denied reports that the stadium houses and feeds up to 300 strays. So this cat, ostensibly, is doing just fine.

The same can’t be said for the rest of the NFL’s feline friends. At the time of the cat sighting, three of the four cat-nicknamed teams were in playoff contention: the 5-3 Panthers, the 3-4-1 Lions and the 4-5 Jaguars. As a group, the four cat-nicknamed teams were 12-20-1. And since?

The Panthers have lost all five of their games since the cat incident and fired their longtime coach, Ron Rivera. Starting quarterback Cam Newton was placed on injured reserve the day after the cat sighting.

The Lions are missing their starting quarterback, too; the injured Matthew Stafford last played the day before the cat appeared. Like the Panthers, the Lions found a way to lose to the Redskins during this catastrophic (get it, cat-astrophic?) end-of-season swoon. Like the Panthers, the Lions are a woeful 0-5 since Nov. 4; together, the two teams were above .500 before November arrived.

The Jaguars can’t decide on a quarterback, or whether they’re tanking this season. They gave quarterback Nick Foles a four-year, $88 million contract with $50 million guaranteed in the offseason, only to rally around whiskered wonder Gardner Minshew II when Foles was hurt. Then they went back to Foles. Now they’re back to Minshew. Jacksonville has lost all four of its games since the cat moment, averaging 13.5 points.

And then there’s the Bengals, who ditched starting quarterback Andy Dalton for a dalliance with rookie Ryan Finley, only to find that Finley probably isn’t NFL material, at least not yet. Similarly, neither are the Bengals, whose lone win came against the Jets, the team that shares MetLife Stadium with the Giants.

Spooky, right?

Oh, it’s not? Whatever.

Anyhow, that Bengals win Dec. 1 is the only since Nov. 4 for the quartet of cat-inspired teams.

This season, it’s much better to be some sort of humanoid mascot than a feline. The people-themed teams (the 49ers, Saints, Buccaneers, Packers, Vikings, Cowboys, Chiefs, Raiders, Texans, Titans, Steelers and Patriots) are a combined 101-55.

That figure does leave out the Redskins, who aren’t so much a team as a flaming garbage meteor, and the Giants, who are to blame for this whole cat mess.

Read more NFL coverage:

Admit it: You’d watch Tom Brady race Lamar Jackson if Jackson had to wear rollerblades

Clinton Portis among 10 former NFL players charged with defrauding health care program

Ryan Tannehill rescued the Titans by playing like one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks

The big question for Dwayne Haskins: What can a QB learn from a tough rookie year?