It’s July, that means it’s a little under a month until football pre-season starts. The excitement of the draft is over, final contract negotiations are in place, and the players are starting to go to training camps. That’s right – the official season is damn near underway. This year promises to be an interesting year for football in general. For instance, they are ranking the Giant’s as the number 1 preseason team – but when was the last time the number 1 preseason team actually went to the Superbowl? Also, since when does a team that went 8 – 8 the season before get ranked as number 1? (Regardless of winning the Superbowl?) There are tons of new talents on all the teams – including the Colt’s brand spankin new number 1 draft pick Andrew Luck at Quarterback – or the well-spoken and athletic number 2 pick RG3 here in Washington. How will Cam Newton do in Carolina after his stellar freshman season? Were the 49er’s just a fluke? Can teams like Green Bay and the Ravens remain at the top of the sport although they remain largely unchanged – or will they falter based on injuries and the crushing weight of everyone’s expectations?
The problem I run into in my life is that there are very few females who follow the sport like I do – so I’ve decided to create an introductory guide to the NFL for all females that may be there. This will be a reference guide you can report back to throughout the season. In addition, every Monday once the season starts, I will be doing a post recapping the talking points of every Sunday’s games. In short, this blog will become, during football season, your one stop shop for everything NFL. Hopefully you can use this to impress some guy – or maybe it will make you a fan yourself.
Let’s start with the basics:
Picking Your Team
There are currently 32 teams in the National Football League. Chances are if you live in a major metropolitan area, you have a team that is local to you. If you live in New York – you actually have three teams to choose from. But how does one go about picking a team to root for? Can you root for multiple teams? If you pick one team, does that mean you have to root against another team at all costs? These are all questions that must be considered before choosing your team.
Above, you can see a map to where every NFL team resides. The most popular method of picking your team obviously is based on your location at the time that you become a fan of football. For instance, based on that, my number one team should be the Washington Redskins.
However, you should all know by now, that is not the case – my number one team is actually the Green Bay Packers. How did I come to that conclusion? Because I love everything Wisconsin – and I fell in love with the team, and their culture, when I lived there. This switched my allegience from the Washington Redskins to the Green Bay Packers when I was in my early twenties.
It is possible to have multiple teams that you root for in three different ways:
1. You are a transplant. For instance, I picked up Green Bay when I was living in Wisconsin. While I was there – my allegiance was torn between the Redskins and Green Bay. Now that I live back in DC, I root for Green Bay above all else, but typically also root for the Redskins (as long as their winning does not have an adverse effect on the Green Bay Packers.)
2. Fantasy Football. We will get into this more later on in the week – but fantasy football has created some unique rooting structures in the NFL. For instance, years ago, when I was a Redskins fan, I often found myself rooting for the Eagles as well because Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrooke were on my fantasy team. Fantasy Football has created a unique situation where people can be fans of the players, and by proxy root for the teams.
3. The NFL is broken out into two major divisions, the NFC and the AFC. Since the NFC and the AFC champions are who face off in the Superbowl every year, it is possible to have a favorite team that you are rooting for in both divisions. For instance, my AFC team that I root for the most, and try to watch most of the games is the Baltimore Ravens – as they are the closest AFC team to my location-wise.
When picking your team, it is important to keep in mind specific rivalries around the league. It is unwise to say, root for the Redskins and Dallas, as they are bitter enemies. Wikipedia actually has a fabulous article on all the NFL rivalries which provides information on how the rivalries occurred, and what the status of them is – and I suggest you check out that out once you pick your team. However, there are a couple of them which I feel are worth mentioning here:
EVERYONE vs. The Dallas Cowboys
The only people who like the Dallas Cowboys are Dallas Cowboys fans. The Dallas Cowboys rose to prominence by basically being a bunch of arrogant pricks and calling themselves “America’s Team”. The oldest and most storied rivalry with the Cowboy’s may be the Redskin’s – however, pretty much every team in the NFL has a reason to the hate the Cowboys. It also doesn’t help that easily 50% of their fan base today has actually never been to Texas, nor has any ties to Texas – and just picked them because OMG Troy Aikmen was SO CUTE in his heyday. (Also people loved Emmit Smith, who is just an awesome human being.)
EVERYONE vs. The New England Patriots
The New England Patriots – Football’s most obnoxious team. They have it all, Tom Brady – the most obnoxious quarterback in recent history and the coach that everyone loves to hate Bill Belichick - who created a scandal when he was caught cheating in 2007. (Hilarious side note: The New York Times, when reporting that year on scores would have an * next to every Patriot’s win that said under the score box “caught cheating”.) The Patriots have also compiled the longest winning streak consisting of regular season and playoff games in NFL history, a 21-game streak from October 2003 – October 2004 and from 2000 – 2010 they had the most wins of the decade, at 126. How can you not hate a team that is just so damn good? Their fans are often quite obnoxious too – as they are from Boston and therefore think they are better than everyone else.
EVERYONE vs. Fans of Pennsylvania Teams
There are two teams from Pennsylvania – the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles. It’s not that everyone in football universally hates these teams, as their players have often brought fantasy greatness to those of us who play fantasy football – but everyone in football can pretty much agree that the fans of both teams generally suck. In fact, they suck so bad that GQ magazine rated any fans from Philadelphia as the worst fans in history saying, ”Over the years, Philadelphia fans have booed Santa Claus as well as their own star players. They’ve even booed a guy who just helped the city win a friggin’ World Series title—while he was getting his ring. Boooo! Admittedly, there are some things fans have cheered. Like Michael Irvin’s career-ending neck injury and a fan being tased on the outfield grass. Things reached their nadir last season, when Citizens Bank Park played host to arguably the most heinous incident in the history of sports: A drunken fan intentionally vomited on an 11-year-old girl. The truth is this: All told, Philadelphia stadiums house the most monstrous collection of humanity outside of the federal penal system. “Some of these people would boo the crack in the Liberty Bell,” baseball legend Pete Rose once said. More likely, these savages would have thrown the battery that cracked it.”