The Worst Teams of All Time, Part 5: The 2003 Hamilton Tiger-Cats

This is a post in an ongoing series, where we examine and poke fun at some of the most ghastly teams ever to take the field.

Ah, the CFL. So many ways to score, so little time. You’re like the Arena Football League, except not crap.

One of the worst (if not the absolute worst) CFL team to ever take the field did so in 2003, as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats bumbled and stumbled their way through a 1-17 disaster. Hamilton in 2003 finished last in both offense and defense, giving up twice as many points as they scored. Their only victory was a Week 13 Overtime win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Ti-Cats stumbled out of the gate early, and never fully recovered. In Week 2, they were roped by Toronto 49-8, then were manhandled two weeks later (twice) to the tunes of 52-15 and 42-9 scores (against Edmonton and Saskatchewan, respectively).

Lancaster 6.tif

Ron Lancaster often stood alone in 2003. I assume the players’ reasoning was “the guy might not be a good shot”.

Ron Lancaster might have been a legendary CFL player, but he was awful as a head coach. At the end of 2003, he was fired.

Danny McManus

Danny McManus is a Hall of Fame player, but he had an off year in 2003.

The offense grabs particular attention, as the CFL is an offensive league. The only other team to score less than 400 points was Calgary, and they finished with 5 wins. Hamilton averaged a terrible 16.3 points a game, which is doubly confusing considering they had Danny McManus taking snaps from under center. McManus won the Gray Cup for the Tiger-Cats in 1999, but 2003 was not a shining example of his greatness.

McManus ended the year with a 9 TD – 14 INT ratio, while completing 53.13% of his passes.for 2,869 yards. His 67.3 quarterback rating was the worst amongst starting quarterbacks in the league that year. Three other small-name quarterbacks took snaps under center, but none of them had any success.

However, the offensive deficiencies were not all McManus’ fault. Although he had Archie Amerson, the rest of the receivers didn’t do anything for the team. Once Amerson was double teamed, McManus all too often had nowhere to throw.

Archie Amerson

This picture is emblematic of Hamilton’s entire season.

Amerson had a good year, catching 75 passes for 960 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Troy Davis Hamilton Tiger Cats 2004. Photo F. Scott Grant

Running back Troy Davis also had a good year, but he was held back by poor offensive line play.

Davis was the only other competent player on offense, and he finished 2003 with 1,206 yards and 5 touchdowns.

Anonymous back Julian Radlein (Hamilton’s first round pick that year) finished the year in extremely disappointing fashion; he only rushed for 167 yards the entire season.

But enough about the offense. The Ti-Cat’s defense would have had trouble against a high school team. They surrendered 32.4 points per game, and were manhandled by the opposition.

TIGER CATS CHEATWOOD HURRIES ALOUETTES QUARTERBACK CALVILLO

Defensive End Tim Cheatwood was the only life Hamilton had on defense.

Cheatwood was the only good player on defense the Tiger-Cats had in 2003, as he recorded 10 sacks. The trouble began when the opposition started double-teaming him, leaving the rest of the inept defense a target.

At the end of the season, changes were made. The next year, Hamilton made a miraculous turnaround, going 9-8-1. However, in 2005, they slammed back to earth with a 5-13 campaign.

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