Last week, I wrote about some special posts/series we’d be rolling out during the dead zone period.
This particular post, while not part of any series, is really the first of those special posts. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time now.
Question: IF the Green Bay Packers never existed – and everything else was the same in my life, meaning I’m still a huge, sick NFL fan from Marquette, Michigan currently living in Minneapolis, Minnesota - who would I root for?
First, let me just say that being an NFL fan would suck if the Packers never existed. I mean, seriously.
Again, though, I have to pick some team.
The most obvious route would be to pick a team from the NFC North. I’m a midwestern boy, after all, and regional pride should count for something, shouldn’t it? Well, that doesn’t work for the following reasons.
- As I wrote back in November, I could never root for the Detroit Lions.
- I’ve crossed off the Minnesota Vikings because they wear purple and have had far too many despicable characters. Plus, they have this guy as their announcer.
- I could never root for a team from Chicago (i.e., the most overrated city in the United States). That’s right. I said it.
So, that left me with roughly 28 options. I have to assume, for the purposes of this discussion, that I’ve been rooting for said team my entire life. Since I became a football fan in the early 1990s, that eliminates the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns (part two) and the team they became, the Baltimore Ravens.
Down to 23. I also have to assume the team was, at the very least, decent when I began watching football. Otherwise, why would I root for them in the first place? Not saying I’d be a front-runner – that eliminates you, Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers – but there’d have to be more wins than losses.
There couldn’t be any sort of geographic movement involved, either, as I hate, hate, hate it when teams move. Goodbye St. Louis Rams, Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals and Oakland Raiders. For good measure, let’s throw the Indianapolis Colts in there, too, as they used to be in Baltimore. My father looked at the Colts as his second team of sorts in his younger days – he was a huge Johnny Unitas fan – and it has always bothered him that they left.
The list now stands at 16 (I’m updating the numbers for myself as much as you; I went to a Big Ten school so my math obviously sucks). Here’s a stipulation that should whittle that number considerably: The team’s history. Namely, do they have one?
The team I’d pick would have to be a team with a great tradition. Again, that doesn’t mean they’d be in the Super Bowl or even the playoffs every year, but there’d have to be a solid past. Even when I was a kid, that sort of stuff mattered to me. San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots – please make your way to the exits.
We’ve reached the final eight. Those teams are: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins, New York Giants, New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers.
You know what? Take the Dolphins off of there. They fit the criteria, up ’til now, but they play in Florida. I grew up in the U.P. No warm weather teams for me. Plus, we always laughed at the Dolphins when they struggled in cold weather, which was, well, always.
We now stand at seven. Here’s where it gets tricky.
When trimming the final seven, I decided to factor in marketability, meaning they’d have to be a team that was shown on television where I lived. Pittsburgh wasn’t on much, from what I remember, so it’s gone. Down to six. The other teams all got their share of time where I was at, but four teams really stand out: the Giants, Redskins, Eagles and Broncos.
And those teams indeed are the final four on my list.
Denver is the first team to fall from that group. Even then, the AFC always felt foreign to me. It was like the NFC, but just a little off. Sort of like Canada.
Three is now the magic number and if you followed football back then, it makes sense that the Giants, Eagles and Redskins would be the last teams standing. The NFC East was very much the power division back when I started watching football and many of those divisional games were the late, national games, broadcast on CBS (for our younger readers, CBS was the NFC Network back then; NBC had the AFC games). Even as a kid, I loved those games, especially later in the year as the weather got nastier. And, boy, did those teams get jacked up for those games. The Packers stunk back then, so it was nice to see two teams that actually, you know, had something to play for.
Philadelphia had Randall Cunningham and, man, he was impressive to watch, especially if you were a young kid back then. But there was something about that defense – and head coach Buddy Ryan in particular – that always bothered me. They seemed mean, dirty, illegal. I hope no one pelts me with snowballs for saying this, but sorry Philly, you’re gone.
And then there were two: Washington and the New York Giants.
The ‘Skins have a lot going for them – Joe Gibbs was an honorable man, the offense was fun to watch, they had the fastest man in football (corner Darrell Green), they played in the nation’s capital and had a great, great history.
Ditto for the Giants – Bill Parcells was a great coach (and even better quote), the defense was tough, yet clean, they had marquee players (Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor), they played in a cool stadium (come on, Giants Stadium? Forget about it) and had an epic history.
I had one more factor to consider: The “buzz” factor. Which team consistently carries more buzz? It’s there with the ‘Skins, sure, but not always. Lately the “buzz” surrounding them has been about what a trainwreck they are, for example.
With the Giants, though, it’s always there. No matter what, the Giants just have this thing, this appeal, to them. Part of it stems from playing in New York, no doubt, but it’s more than that. I can’t explain it, but for whatever reason, that team just matters, whether you live in New York, Cleveland, Kansas City, San Diego or Marquette, Michigan. When they’re on, you’re wondering how they’re doing, whether you want them to win or lose. Even if you don’t care about the result, you’re interested in the score.
They’ve got it – and that’s why they are my choice.
What say you, OBOD readers? Who would you choose? We’d love to hear from you on this one. Comment, baby, comment!!