Rochester is not a bad place to be a sports fan. You're not altogether that far from Buffalo and the NHL's Sabres and NFL's Bills, you're not too far removed from Division 1 college sports in Syracuse and your minor-league teams -- the Minnesota Twins' Triple-A Red Wings and the Sabres' AHL Amerks -- are pretty decent. Even their women's soccer team, the Western New York Flash, has a title under its belt and national team standouts in Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd.
But this town used to have so much more. From 1920 to 1925, it was home to the Rochester Jeffersons of the National Football League. They looked more like a glorified pickup game than a professional team and, thus, were fairly terrible. They won exactly two games against NFL opponents and were winless from 1922 to 1925. When they failed to sign superstar Red Grange, who went to the Chicago Bears instead, they folded.
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Rochester fared slightly better as a basketball town when it was home to the NBA's Rochester Royals. From 1948 to 1957, the NBA made a home in Rochester and spent much of its time there running up debt and watching the Royals get batted around by the Minneapolis Lakers and dominant center George Mikan. In 1951, however, the Royals broke through by beating the Lakers in the division finals and defeating the New York Knicks in a hard-fought seven-game series. That was the last championship the franchise would win. Even after moving to Cincinnati in 1957, then to Kansas City in 1972 and finally to Sacramento in 1985 (though they almost went to Seattle last year), the Royals/Kings never found the success they had in Rochester.
Even soccer hasn't treated the city all that kindly. The Rochester Lancers of the American Soccer League joined the huge North American Soccer League in 1970 and won the league championship in their first year. Granted, it was with about 4,500 fans in the stands and without Pele, George Best and Franz Beckenbauer on opposing teams, but it helped build the city's rich soccer heritage.
Their run only lasted until 1980, but the Lancers brought international talent such as Brazilian striker Carlos Metidieri and English defender Peter Short into town and gave the NASL its only international competitor when the Lancers played in the 1971 CONCACAF Club Cup. Rochester has had great soccer moments since -- the Flash won a title and the USL Pro Raging Rhinos were the only non-MLS team to win the U.S. Open Cup tournament since 1995 -- but it never again reached the level of excellence the Lancers established.