The Evolution of the Carolina Panthers Jersey

The Evolution of the Carolina Panthers Jersey

Among Carolina Panthers fans, controversy is afoot over the uniforms the Panthers will wear to meet the Denver Broncos at Super Bowl 50. Despite being the home team, the Broncos made the highly publicized decision to wear white, as their record in previous Super Bowls while wearing orange uniforms is 0-4. In contrast, the Panthers have decided to wear black; the team is 0-2 in playoff action in that uniform. While the team’s choice of game colors may be suspect, it’s interesting that there is so much public debate about a team that – before this season – received little notice in recent years from the football community.

Established in 1993, with its first NFL game in 1995, the Carolina Panthers are a relatively young team. However, despite its age, the team has amassed an impressive record that includes two conference titles, six division championships, and seven playoff appearances. On the weight of a nearly perfect season and a Super Bowl appearance, this history of success is helping to create a new following of the blue and black. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has the 22nd-best player merchandise sales from March 1 to November 15, 2015, despite not appearing on the NFLPA’s Top 50 NFL Player Sales List for March 1, 2015 to November 30, 2015. The Panthers have surpassed the Patriots in jersey sales this year among playoff teams.

Aside from receiving minor changes, the Panthers uniform is the same as it was when the team first played more than 20 years ago. However, even these small changes encompass enough history to fill several books. In celebration of the 2015-2016 NFC Champions, Fanatics compiled a retrospective of the changes to the Panthers jersey, from its beginnings to its current form.

A Short but Cherished History

The Evolution of the Carolina Panthers Jersey

1993: In 1987, Jerry Richardson – co-founder of Hardee’s Restaurants and a former wide receiver for the Baltimore Colts – decides to bring an NFL expansion franchise to the Carolinas. With the arrival of the Charlotte Hornets NBA franchise in 1988, North Carolina is slowly growing as a pro sports market. After successful preseason games in the Carolinas market in 1989, 1990, and 1991, the NFL owners unanimously grant a franchise to Richardson in 1993. The new team takes the field for the first time at the Hall of Fame Game in 1995.

The intended debut home uniform is a jersey in a light electric blue hue with a silver number, black pants with a silver stripe, and a silver helmet. The road uniform is a white jersey with black television numbers with a double outline and black-and-blue shoulder stripes – similar to the road uniform worn today.

1995: Despite the unique look of the “prototype” uniform, the uniform the Panthers wear during their first game is different. The debut home uniform is a black jersey with white numbers outlined in Panthers Blue (Process Blue C Pantone), wide Panthers Blue shoulder stripes trimmed in white, and the Panthers logo on the sleeves. Paired with the jersey are silver pants with black-outlined blue stripes and a silver helmet with the Panthers logo on the side and a curved blue-outlined black stripe running down the center. The road uniform features a white jersey with the same shoulder stripes as the home jersey, black numbers outlined in Panthers Blue, and white pants with the same stripe as the home uniform’s pants. Both uniforms bear an “Inaugural Season” patch on the right chest of the jersey.

These become the Panthers’ uniforms for every game until 2002, with one exception: For the last game of their 4-12 1998 season, the Panthers take the field – for reasons unknown to this day – wearing their road jersey and home pants. That game marks the only time that combination is seen on the field.

This uniform set sees best inaugural season performance of any expansion team in the league’s history and the quickest ascent into playoff contention of any team in recent memory. The Panthers play in the 1996 NFC Championship Game – only their second year of play. The Panthers slide into a period of mediocrity from 1998 to 2002, highlighted by the team’s 1-15 performance during the 2001-2002 season.

2002: Reebok becomes the NFL’s jersey provider in 2002, and alternative jerseys enter many teams’ rotations. The Panthers’ alternative is a throwback to the never used prototype debut uniform: a Panthers Blue jersey with white numbers outlined in black, a black shoulder stripe trimmed in white, a black collar, the Panthers logo on both sleeves, and a mini-NFL Shield at the chest.

The original away jersey sees the Panthers make their first Super Bowl appearance in 2003, where – despite a scoreless first and third quarters – both teams score a combined 61 points and 868 yards. The game is decided on a New England field goal with four seconds of regulation left. A Super Bowl XXXVIII patch appears on the game jersey on the upper-right chest.

Only two other patches – short of the expected Super Bowl 50 patch – have ever appeared on the Panthers’ jerseys. A “GU 63” patch was worn on September 7, 2008, in remembrance of Oakland Raiders left guard “Uptown Gene” Upshaw – which every team in the league wore that day. A 50th Anniversary of the Pro Football Hall of Fame patch was worn on December 9 and 14, 2012.

2012: When Nike wins back the NFL uniform contract, the Panthers are one of the few teams not to adapt their uniforms to the new template. Though they don’t opt for a full uniform redesign, the Panthers revamp their Panthers logo and add their motto “Keep Pounding” to the inside of their jersey collars.

Black pants with blue “scratch marks” and blue socks are added to the home uniform as an alternative uniform. This particular uniform is called the best in NFL history by NFL.com. It is last seen in the 2013 season.

2015: This year brings one of the most divisive uniforms in NFL history. The Panthers are one of eight teams this season to introduce a “color rush” uniform: the 2002 alternative Panthers Blue jersey with matching Panthers Blue pants, socks, and cleats. While the players and some of the fans like the look, others are turned off by the overwhelming amount of blue.

Looking Forward

As the Panthers prepare for what many predict will be the most competitive Super Bowl in current memory, the way the world views this upstart team will surely change. Cam Newton – one of the league’s best playmakers and dual-threat quarterbacks – is only 26, so the Panthers will likely be Super Bowl contenders for years to come. As fans debate a major uniform redesign – the first in franchise history – the perceptions of this just-legal age club will likely mature as the team continues to pound on.

Fanatics carries a full line of Panthers jerseys for the discriminating fan:

Sources

 

The Evolution of the Denver Broncos Jersey

The Evolution of the Denver Broncos Jersey

The Denver Broncos have one of the most unique home uniforms in the NFL. With hues of bright orange and navy blue, the team’s complementary colors create a memorable combination that is as much a part of Broncos mythology as Mile High Stadium, the “Orange Crush,” and former quarterback and current General Manager John Elway. This is why the decision to wear white – despite being the home team – at Super Bowl 50 has created fervent debate among the football community.

The team chose to wear their away uniform for superstitious reasons – and, perhaps, to unnerve the Panthers, as it was the Panthers’ right as the away team to wear white. Still, it created some condemnation among those who see the orange and blue as a link to a 56-year history. For many, the color combo represents a team that has only suffered six losing seasons in the last 40 seasons. They have won two Super Bowls, eight AFC Championships, and 15 division championships. Not to mention: They appeared in the playoffs 22 times and have seen four former players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In recognition of their 2015-2016 AFC Championship win and their berth into Super Bowl 50, Fanatics has decided to take a look at the Broncos uniform and how it has developed to the standard of today.

In the Beginning

Broncos2 (1)

1960: The Denver Broncos start in 1960 as a charter member of the AFL, along with the New York Titans (now the New York Jets), the Dallas Texans (now the Kansas City Chiefs), the Los Angeles Chargers (currently, the San Diego Chargers), the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans), the Boston Patriots (now the New England Patriots), the Buffalo Bills, and the Oakland Raiders. In a similar manner to older NFL teams, the Broncos take their name from a former Denver professional baseball team.

In the same vein, the founding owners of the new team opt to suit their players in second-hand uniforms to save money. The home uniform – a mustard-yellow jersey with brown numbers and no name block, brown pants with mustard-yellow double stripes, and brown and yellow vertically striped socks – is so hated that at a public bonfire held by the team to burn the uniforms, the crowd cheers. The away uniform is similar to the home uniform, but with a white jersey instead of yellow.

In 1961, the name block, with brown lettering, is added. The TV numbers, which were on the sleeves of both jerseys, are removed from the home jersey.

1962: After the 1960 uniforms met the flames, new coach Jack Faulkner purchases a different home jersey he assumed would be burnt orange, like the Cleveland Browns jersey. What he gets instead is a bright orange jersey with white chest and television numbers as well as three white sleeve cuff stripes. This is matched with white pants with a orange stripe trimmed in blue, a bright orange helmet with a white stripe and a bucking bronco logo, and bright orange socks. The bucking broncos logo switches from navy blue to white on October 14, 1962.

1965: In 1965, the AFL is arguably the dominant professional football league in the United States, despite being only 6 years old. Buoyed by very generous television contracts, the AFL is able to steal top talent from the NFL and draft the best college talent. To save face and to stop the “player raids” – where one league’s team seeks to top the contracts of another league’s team – the NFL convinces the AFL in 1966 to merge into a new organization: the modern NFL.  

This year also brings about changes to the Broncos’ jerseys: The home jersey sees a white collar added to the bright orange base, blue trim on the white chest and back numbers, a wide blue stripe that is trimmed with white on the sleeves, and white television numbers nested in the stripe. The away jersey features a blue collar with a white base, an orange outline on the blue chest and back numbers, an orange stripe trimmed in blue – mirroring that of the home jersey – and white television numbers trimmed with blue in the stripe. The bright orange is also reformulated to make it redder, and the socks go from orange to blue.

1967: The Broncos’ helmet loses its logo and changes from orange to blue with a white stripe flanked by orange pinstriping. The away jersey features black chest, back, and television numbers, trimmed in orange. The home jersey sees white numbers with a blue trim on an orange background, a white name on back, and a corresponding sleeve stripe pattern like the away jersey but with the orange stripe replaced with a white one. The stripes on the pants are the inverse of the jersey’s stripe pattern.

On August 5, 1967, the Broncos become the first AFL team to beat an NFL team, the Detroit Lions.

1968: Experimentation with the sleeve stripes continues. This time, the set of three stripes become just one thin stripe – white for the home jersey, blue for away – set below the television number. The capital-D/bronco helmet logo emerges on this iteration of the uniform.

1971: Now an NFL team in the newly formed AFC, the away jersey is also changed. The sleeve stripe patterns are inverted, so that there are now two blue stripes with a thin orange stripe between them. The jersey numbers are blue with an orange border and the collar white. In 1971, this is paired with orange pants, but by 1972, white pants are used with all Broncos uniforms.

1974: The reddish orange first introduced in 1965 is reverted back to the original formulation. In 1975, the Colorado Statehood Centennial patch is worn on the left shoulder of the home jersey for the last home game of the season.

1976 sees the introduction of the “Orange Crush,” a 3-4 defense that the Broncos use to dominate against the rush for the 13 years it is utilized. This defense helps the Broncos to make their first playoff appearance and – ultimately – their first Super Bowl in 1977.

1977: With the Broncos making it to the Super Bowl, the home jersey is changed once again. The jersey’s orange base is reformulated for a third time to create a darker orange, the sleeve stripes are changed again, and the collar is made white. The Broncos lose this Super Bowl to the Dallas Cowboys, 10-27.

Playing Mile High

1986: In 1983, John Elway is traded to the Broncos from the then Baltimore Colts. The Colts have been responsible for the Broncos receiving their two most popular quarterbacks to date: Elway and current starting quarterback Peyton Manning. Elway’s trade is engineered on the threat that Elway would play baseball instead of playing one game with the Colts – the worst team in the league at the time – or with Colts coach Frank Kush, which his father warns him about.

In 1987, Elway leads the Broncos to Super Bowl XXI, ultimately losing 20-39 to the New York Giants. He leads the Broncos to the Super Bowl in the succeeding year too, losing to the Washington Redskins 10-42, and again to the 1989-1990 Super Bowl, losing to the San Francisco 49ers 10-55. Despite these losses, Elway is instrumental in creating a culture of winning that has seen only six losing seasons in the last 40 years. 

There are two John Elway jerseys for sale from this period on SportsMemorabilia.com. Signed by Elway himself:

  1. John Elway Denver Broncos Autographed Navy Pro-Line Jersey With “SB XXXII-XXXIII CHAMPS” Inscription
  2. John Elway Denver Broncos Autographed Orange Throwback Pro-Line Jersey With “Captain Comeback” Inscription

Leading up to 1986, the Broncos wear two jersey patches: a memorial patch for assistant coach Rich McCabe for the first game of the 1983 season and an AFL 25th Season Patch in 1984.

1989: Once again, the sleeve stripes are changed on the jerseys. For the away jersey, an orange stripe with thin blue trim is substituted for the three separate stripes of the previous jersey. For the home jersey, a white stripe trimmed in blue is used.

1994: The sleeve stripes for both uniforms are changed again, and they become smaller. The name on the back receives an outline to match the number patches, the mini NFL Shield is added to the collar, and the NFL 75th-season patch is worn on the left collarbone. Additionally, the Broncos introduced a throwback uniform resembling their 1965-1966 reddish-orange uniform. The throwback is only worn once, despite there being both a home and away throwback uniform.

1997: In 1998, Elway finally gets his first Super Bowl win with the help of running back Terrell Davis. Beating the Green Bay Packers 31-24 in Super Bowl XXXII, the win brings an end to 11 years of frustration in Denver.

The 1997 season also sees a radical redesign of the Broncos’ uniforms. The away jersey features a navy collar on a white base; navy front, back, and shoulder numbers trimmed in orange; navy name on the back; and Broncos wordmark below the NFL Shield. The jersey also has navy side panels with a thin orange outline that comes to a point outside the collar. The home jersey is a navy base with an orange collar, white numbers trimmed in orange, and white name on the back. The Broncos wordmark is white on this jersey and the side panels are orange and shaped similarly to the away jersey. The Super Bowl XXXII patch is worn on the left collarbone of the home jersey for the Super Bowl win. The Broncos wear a Super Bowl XXXIII patch the following year on the away jersey as the Broncos win their second league championship.

2001: A throwback to the 1980-1988 jersey is introduced, with the television numbers moved to the shoulder. An orange alternative with a navy collar and white numbers is added in 2002. The orange alternative sees a return in 2004.

2009: The Broncos wears a 50th-season patch on the left collarbone. The team also introduces a throwback to the infamous first uniform from 1960. In 2010, the addition of the “International Series” patch commemorates the team’s game against the 49ers in London. In 2012, the orange alternative becomes the primary home jersey.

The Orange and Blue

With Peyton Manning likely to retire at the end of this season, the Broncos are facing another transition into the unknown. However, considering the unorthodox start of this storied franchise and its many ups and downs, it is very likely that the next chapter of the Broncos legacy is waiting to begin. When it does, the devoted Broncos fans – those who have professed their “Orange Fever” louder and with more pride than any fans of any other franchise – will be waiting, eager to cheer on their beloved Orange and Blue.

Fanatics carries a full line of Broncos gear for the discriminating fan:

 

Sources

 

Panthers Vs. Broncos Passing Touchdowns

NFL Touchdown Heatmap - Panthers vs Broncos Touchdown for the season

Two great NFL quarterbacks (Peyton Manning of the Broncos and Cam Newton, Panthers) will meet up for the Lombardi Trophy in Santa Clara. The league’s best offense will also face off against the league’s best defense. Carolina is an odds-favorite for a February 7 win – but with both teams being notable rush blockers, this match-up may be determined by passing alone.

To find out more, we examined the passing touchdowns of both the Broncos and the Panthers throughout their regular-season performance. We determined how Newton and Manning stack up to each other and what we can expect at the Super Bowl 50 based on the teams’ previous passing and receiving season performances.

Carolina Panthers – Passing

Carolina Panthers touchdowns 2015 season - Passing plays

The Curious Case of “Super Cam”

Cam Newton is known for favoring the rush; it’s a poorly kept secret that Newton prefers to run the ball into the end zone instead of throwing it in. One of the most notable touchdowns during the NFC Championship Game was his dive against the Arizona defensive line. At 6 feet 5 inches and 247 pounds, Newton is a difficult man to stop once he is in motion. However, his 28 pass attempts for 19 completions, 335 yards, and two touchdowns make “Super Cam” an all-purpose weapon.

For his season average, he made 495 attempts for 296 completions, 3,837 yards – including 1,007 yards of in-air action – and 35 touchdowns. The Panthers’ receptions averaged a mind-boggling 13 yards from the point of the catch to the end zone, compared to 21 yards for the Broncos. Only 4 percent of all of the Panthers’ regular season receptions were beyond 24 yards from the end zone, compared to 17 percent for the Broncos.

Newton’s two passing touchdowns in the conference championship matched his two rushing touchdowns, leaving an open question of how Denver can best contain him. Newton ran for 47 yards on 10 carries, with his longest run being 14 yards. He also rushed in the regular season for 636 yards in 132 attempts for 10 touchdowns.

To explore Newton’s passing touchdowns and more, check out our interactive map and build your own touchdown maps.

Denver Broncos – Passing

Denver Broncos touchdowns 2015 season - Passing plays

The Old School Strikes Back

While it hasn’t yet been confirmed, it is thought that this will likely be Peyton Manning’s last season as a Bronco. Manning was able to hold off Super Bowl perennial participant the New England Patriots and Tom Brady on the weight of 32 passing attempts, 17 completions, 176 yards thrown, and two touchdowns.

Compare this to his 198 completions in 331 attempts during the regular season for 2,249 yards, nine touchdowns, and 17 interceptions. This is his lowest annual production since joining the NFL.

Similar to Newton, Manning throws from the pocket between the hashes, buoyed by the strength of his offensive line. The majority of Manning’s passes were thrown in the red zone, which is similar to Newton as well. This translates to 11 yards averaged per throw, with Manning’s longest being 30 yards. However, unlike Newton, Manning only rushed for three carries in the conference championship, 11 total yards, and no scores. Compare this to a regular-season tally of six carries and negative-six rushing yards.

With Manning showing a clear preference toward the pass, the Super Bowl may be determined by Carolina’s ability to effectively counter Denver’s four-man pass rush, which is questionable considering Carolina’s tendency to go for maximum protection on their defensive lines.

Carolina Panthers – Receiving

Carolina Panthers touchdowns 2015 season - Receiving plays

An Explosive Offense

Leading the Panthers in receptions for the NFC Championship Game was tight end Greg Olsen, who made six completions for 113 yards with the longest being 54 yards. The Panthers’ two touchdown passes came from wide receiver Corey Brown, who had four receptions for 113 yards and one touchdown, and wide receiver Devin Funchess, who had two receptions, 21 yards, and one score.

Also making catches for the Panthers were Ted Ginn, Jr. (two for 52 yards), Jerricho Cotchery (two for 17 yards), Mike Tolbert (one for 14 yards), and Jonathan Stewart (two for 5 yards). Carolina was able to yield more productivity in its passing – 19 for 335 yards – than it was from its rushing; the team went for 37 carries and 152 yards.

Surprisingly, regular-season receiving yards leader Olsen did not make a catch during the championship game. Olsen led the regular season with 77 receptions, 1,104 yards, and seven touchdowns. Of note is the fact that almost all of the Panthers’ touchdown receptions were within the 25-yard line during the regular season. With the top six in the Panthers’ top receivers list for this season having receptions more than 35 yards and with Olsen having 20 receptions or passes thrown 20 yards or more for the regular season, it is likely that Newton will seek long-distance targets in Santa Clara.

Denver Broncos – Receiving

Denver Broncos touchdowns 2015 season - Receiving plays

Pushing Against a Wall

During the AFC title game, Denver faced one of the best pass-rush blocking teams in the league: New England. And the receiving stats show this. Leading the Broncos for receptions was wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who made five completions for 62 yards. Owen Daniels (two receptions, 33 yards, and two touchdowns), C.J. Anderson (three receptions for 18 yards), Jordan Norwood (two receptions for 16 yards), Andre Caldwell (one reception for 15 yards), Cody Latimer (one reception for 13 yards), Demaryius Thomas (two receptions for 12 yards), and Ronnie Hillman (one reception for seven yards) made catches as well.

Despite this muted performance, the Broncos receiving team has been efficient during the regular season. Out-catching their opponents – 368 receptions in 606 attempts compared with 344 receptions in 573 attempts and covering 4,216 yards to 3,544 opponent yards – the Broncos’ receiving performance actually slightly exceeds the Panthers, 60.73 percent to 59.88 percent. Leading the Broncos receiving team for the regular season is Greg Olsen, with 73 receptions, 1,104 yards, and seven touchdowns.

Manning’s short passing and a wide array of targets will make a successful defense against the Broncos’ pass rush difficult to pull off. While it is unclear if Manning can keep pace with Newton, who has been called this generation’s John Elway, Manning is likely to find a way around the Carolina’s defense, making the Super Bowl a probable high-scoring affair.

Conclusion

Super Bowl 50 will be a battle of two different types of quarterbacks. Manning, a student of the aerial game, is a pass-friendly classic quarterback who uses his arms more than his legs to make plays and get the ball downfield. Newton, a disciple of the ground game, is more at home running plays himself, but is not afraid to launch deep bombs.

However, with both teams having extremely effective blockers and tacklers, the question may not be how the quarterbacks will move the ball, but how will they avoid the sack.

So who will win the Super Bowl? Only time will tell. Until then, Fanatics has all you’ll need to not only watch the game but support your favorite team in style.

Sources

Warriors Fandom Outside The Bay Area

Golden State Warriors fandom outside the bay area - merchandise units sold for the #1 ranked team in the NBA, by Zip Code

Among NBA fans this season, there is a true possibility that a few have hopped on the Golden State Warriors’ bandwagon. With the defending champions now on pace to beat the 1995–1996 Chicago Bulls record of 72 wins in a single season, many fans have been quick to affirm their newfound allegiance to the current NBA champions.

The situation has become such a crucial facet of modern sports culture that the late-night comedians have begun to make fun of it. During an episode of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” during last year’s NBA Finals, a fan wearing a Warriors T-shirt and hat was asked, “Do you feel like Stevie Nicks will finally be able to take down Lindsey Buckingham?” Not realizing that Nicks and Buckingham are not NBA players but members of Fleetwood Mac, the fan replied, “It’s a possibility.”

Considering the Warriors’ exceptional play over the last two seasons, it’s easy to see how the team has won over so many converts. The three-point shooting duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson – the “Splash Brothers,” named for their ease in “making it rain” from the three-point line – coupled with the leadership of head coach Steve Kerr, a three-point specialist himself, have made the Warriors not only the best team currently, but also, most likely, the team to beat for years to come.

Similar as our earlier post on Warriors fandom in the Bay Area, Fanatics examined the merchandise sales of the Warriors nationwide by zip code to determine how Golden State fandom has spread outside of the Bay Area. The results of this investigation show that Warriors fans come from all corners of America.

The Most Popular Bandwagon Stops

Golden State Warriors merchandise units purchased per Zip Code

It is uncommon to see a team’s merchandise sell well in the hometown of a competing team. But, in Portland, OR, this is the case. Though it’s the home of the Trail Blazers, Portland has the highest number of Warriors merchandise units: 353.4 per 100,000 residents. This is despite the fact that the Trail Blazers clinched the NBA’s Northwest Division title in 2015.

However, the Trail Blazers haven’t had a marquee player since Scottie Pippen’s run with the team from 1999 to 2003, and Portland hasn’t appeared in the NBA Finals since 1992, so Trail Blazers fans have not had much to keep them happy. With the last Trail Blazers championship in 1977, it is easy to see how some in Portland may be excited about another “also-played” team suddenly becoming prominent.

Similarly, New York, which came in second in Warriors merchandise sales at 310.4 units per 100,000 residents, has had little to cheer for with its home teams, the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets. Given the Knicks’ struggle to regain the glory they had during the Patrick Ewing–led 1990s and the Nets’ failure to be a serious playoff threat since 2003, New York – similar to Portland – may have been caught up in the seemingly magical story of the Warriors’ success.

Coming in third on the merchandise list is Porcupine, SD, a community of 1,062 as of 2010 that is part of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and is 98.28 percent Lakota. Per capita, this community sits in the poorest county in the United States.

Understanding Warriors Nation

Golden State Warriors merchandize units purchased per 100K residents per zipcode

A look at the rest of the top 10 merchandising sales shows that the Warriors Nation is a diverse place. Coming in fifth place, for example, is zip code 38838, which corresponds with Dennis, MS. Dennis is a residential community with a population of 1,629 as of 2013 – specifically, with a renter population of 8 percent who have a median household income of $39,405. Dennis is followed by zip code 89832, which includes Owyhee, NV, which is the primary town in the Duck Valley Indian Reservation.

Seventh is zip code 98281, which consists of Point Roberts, WA. Point Roberts is located on the southernmost tip of British Columbia’s Tsawwassen Peninsula, which makes land travel to the community possible only by traveling through Canada. This isolated exclave (one of only 10 in the United States) had a population of 1,314 in 2010 and has a median household income of $75,724.

Finishing the top 10 is Minnesota’s 56569 zip code (Ogema), Kansas’ 67487 (Wakefield) and Washington’s 98605 (Bingen).

Conclusion

As Curry and Thompson both are relatively young, it is likely that the Warriors will be competitive for the foreseeable future, giving fans a chance to jump on the Golden State bandwagon for years to come. It has been argued that jumping on the bandwagon is not necessarily a bad thing; people tend to be drawn to winners, to the biggest stars, and to those demanding the most attention. It is the one-time bandwagon fan who decides to stick with a team when things turn bad that creates a lifelong fanatic. While some of those rooting for the Warriors now will move on to the next big team later, many may just become permanent citizens of Warriors Nation – proudly wearing the yellow and blue for years to come.

For those looking to stock up on Warriors gear, Fanatics is your one-stop place for the best jerseys, team merchandise, and everything essential for the well-equipped fan. Shop now for Golden State Warrior gear on Fanatics.

Sources

Methodology

We looked at Fanatics merchandise sales data for zip codes outside of the Bay Area, and using the latest U.S. Census population numbers, we determined the number of units shipped to each zip code per 100,000 residents. We filtered this by looking only at zip codes that had at least 1,000 residents in the 2010 Census.

NFL Game-Day Traditions

NFL Game Day Traditions - over 3000 fans share the broadly adopted game-day traditions of their favorite teams

Going to an NFL game in the stadium, for many, is more than seeing their favorite team play live. The event often takes on mythical significance as fans and fanatics use the opportunity to indulge in special team rituals. These displays of love and community can actually mean more than the game itself. We explored NFL game-day traditions, here are the results. 

While game-day traditions are more common with high school and college football teams – with more homogeneous and closely knitted stadium-attending fan bases – some NFL traditions, like the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Terrible Towel, which has been the visible symbol of the team’s rallies and fans since 1975, have taken on a life of their own. (Steelers fans have carried the towel on patrols in Iraq, onto Mount Everest and the Great Wall of China, and even into space.)

Whether it’s engaging in fantasy football, tailgating, wearing a game jersey to the stadium, or something unique – such as playing Styx’s “Renegade” during a key Steelers defensive moment or the End Zone Militia firing a salute whenever the New England Patriots score – game-day traditions make the football-watching experience that much more rewarding.

Fanatics asked over 3,000 NFL fans about their beloved, broadly accepted game-day traditions for the favorite teams. The results show that while NFL Nation is a diverse community, there are some commonalities that create a great stadium experience.

Most popular NFL game-day traditions according to NFL fans

The Ways NFL Fans Celebrate

Americans celebrate with food – and game day is no exception. In the tradition of Fourth of July and Memorial Day barbecues and Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts, football fans treat game days like holidays, which means they love to eat. Americans consume more calories per capita on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day, with the exception of Thanksgiving. Still, this tradition (at 4.86 percent) alone falls far behind others, such as drinking (9.85) and cheering (9.44).

For many, game day at the stadium is just an excuse to use the parking lot to combine several team traditions. 55.54 percent of all respondents said that their favorite game-day tradition is the tailgating. The notion of tailgating has grown so large that many franchises have made special arrangements and accommodations for tailgaters and the league itself published a tailgating cookbook in 2008.

Which team fans say tailgating is their favorite game-day tradition

Tailgating Towns

Fifty-one years ago, the Anchor Bar of Buffalo, New York decided to fry chicken wings – which, at the time, was considered to be scraps only suitable for stocks – drench them in hot sauce, and serve them as bar food. This weird twist of fate turned Buffalo into a food mecca and gave birth to one of the most popular football snacks, the Buffalo wing.

So it’s of little surprise that the Buffalo Bills are king of tailgating fans. Aside from their traditional parking lot tailgates, the Buffalo Bills also host the largest indoor tailgating party in the league at the stadium’s ADPRO Sports Training Center. The party – known as Club Buffalo Bills – is family oriented with interactive games, face painting, a mascot meet and greet, and a rock-climbing wall. For those seeking more adult provisions, fans may often find people offering shots from a bowling ball, pizza cooked from an oven made from a filing cabinet, and meat cooked on a grill resting on the hood of a Ford Pinto.

Franchises with host towns that are typically thought to be foodie or cold-weather cities ranked highest on the list of top tailgating teams. These include the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Bears, the Dallas Cowboys, the New England Patriots, and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Which NFL team fans say wearing team colors or a jersey is their favorite tradition

Battle Colors

In American football, it’s rare to see a team’s fan base get so worked up that they commit hooliganism or even get into a battle of words, such as those during last year’s MLB pennant races. For the most part, American football fans are passionate about their game, but it’s not a passion typically shared or publicly expressed outside the stadium.

The exception to this is the game jersey. While jerseys were publicly available from selected retailers as early as the 1950s, the league’s decision to emphasize fan game attire as a revenue source in the 1980s changed the way diehard fans dressed for the stadium. While the idea of wearing a jersey to a game was once as off-putting as wearing the t-shirt of a band you are going to see in concert, now it is essential clothing for the serious fan. Wearing team colors has become such a big deal that some franchises have organizations centered around those hues and their fans, such as the Oakland Raiders’ Black Hole – which has chapters throughout California all the way to Philadelphia.

According to respondents, wearing team colors is a more important game-day tradition for the Oakland Raiders than it is for any other franchise. Donning team colors ranks high for the Seattle Seahawks, the Dallas Cowboys, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Minnesota Vikings.

Conclusion

There are many ways to enjoy the game in NFL Nation. Gridiron football is a game that many fans see as a celebration-worthy event, complete with its own traditions. And tradition is one of the things that makes football so great; it transcends the game itself and becomes an expression of community and American life.

Fanatics carry a complete line of jerseys, game memorabilia, and team colors to help you celebrate your own game-day traditions.

Methodology

We surveyed 100 fans of every NFL team and asked about their favorite team traditions. We then analyzed the responses to find which types of traditions were most popular as well as which teams consider tailgating and wearing their team colors and jerseys their biggest tradition.

Other posts from this survey:

  1. Every NFL Team’s Biggest Rival
  2. NFL’s Most Memorable Moments
  3. The Most Iconic Players in the NFL

Sources

 

NFL Drafts 1995–2015: Diamonds in the Rough

NFL Drafts 1995-2015: Diamonds in the Rough

In assessing the viability of a future NFL player, draft position has always been a critical indicator for career success. Early draft picks tend to have longer tenures in the league and have the best production; this is fueled in part by teams’ undertaking elaborate means to get the best college players and scout prospects before other teams can grab them. However, history is full of gems who eluded the scouting report.

Take Richard Sherman, for example. A key component of the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl win, he is currently third among active players for interceptions and defended passes. Despite this, Sherman was picked in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, based on a sub-par assessment of his athleticism during the scouting combine. Another example is Shannon Sharpe, the NFL Hall of Famer who helped lead the Denver Broncos to two Super Bowl wins and the Ravens to one. He was drafted in the seventh round in 1990.

We tallied the late-round draft picks from 1995 to 2015 in an attempt to show where the draft got it wrong. Looking at the most successful of the late picks paints a portrait of the randomness of the draft and reveals that some of the finest diamonds in the NFL truly were found in the rough.

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Judging Greatness in NFL’s Late-Round Quarterback Picks

Students of the draft know that Tom Brady bursts the illusion that a top quarterback must be drafted in the first round. Since taking over as starting quarterback for the New England Patriots in 2001 after then–starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was sidelined for internal bleeding, Brady has been the epitome of the top-tier league quarterback and the face of the NFL. Fifth on the all-time career passing yards list, third for career touchdown passes, and the postseason leader for passing yards and touchdowns, Brady is responsible for the longest winning streak in NFL history, the most consecutive playoff wins, and the only undefeated regular season under the NFL’s 16-games schedule. The 10-time Pro Bowler and four-time Super Bowl champion was also picked 199th in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, and he was only drafted because of intervention from the Patriots’ front office.

Brady, however, is not the only late-draft quarterback to break out, as illustrated in the above graphic. Three-time Pro Bowler Matt Hasselbeck has thrown 3,197 pass completions for 5,285 attempts as of Week 14 and led the Seattle Seahawks to six playoff appearances and a Super Bowl, where the Seahawks were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hasselbeck was drafted 187th in the sixth round of the 1998 draft.

Derek Anderson, a one-time Pro Bowler and current reserve quarterback to Cam Newton on the playoff-bound Carolina Panthers, was drafted 213th in the sixth round of the 2005 draft. In his Week 1 start in 2014, Anderson completed 25 of 40 passes for 277 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Another example is Matt Cassel. The only quarterback in NFL history to start a league game without ever starting in college, Cassel started for the Patriots in 2008 after Brady took a season-ending knee injury. Cassel went on to lead the Kansas City Chiefs to their first divisional championship and earned his Pro Bowl berth following this; he was drafted 230th in round seven of the 2005 draft.

Late-Round Defender Stat Profiles

Hidden Defense

When Adalius Thomas was drafted in 2000, no one knew if he was worth the sixth-round pick used to get him. Even though he was part of the 2000-2001 Baltimore Ravens team that won Super Bowl XXXV, he only played four games that year. Competing with Michael McCrary and Peter Boulware for play time at the outside linebacker position, Thomas found success – and a berth in the Pro Bowl – as a special teams player. In 2005, he led the NFL in non-offensive touchdowns. With a career 517 tackles, 53 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, and seven interceptions, Thomas was one of the most productive defensive players in the league. Later in his career, he was selected as both a 2006 Pro Bowler and All-Pro as a first-team outside linebacker.

Thomas’s success emphasizes the fact that quarterback is not the only position that can be successfully harvested from the late draft. Many successful defensive players were drafted in the late rounds, as evidenced in the graphic above. There are several examples of late-round success: The Miami Dolphins’ Yeremiah Bell – despite being drafted 213th in round six in the 2003 draft – amassed 726 career tackles and 13 sacks. Cato June, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Indianapolis Colts, made the 2005 Pro Bowl and amassed a career tally of 498 tackles. June was drafted 198th in round six of the 2003 draft.

Conclusion

One of the factors that make NFL drafts so exciting is its unpredictability. It is just as likely for a top pick to be a flop as a sixth-round pick to turn out to be the best quarterback in a generation. While scouting is a great resource for determining athleticism and raw skills, it cannot measure how a player will work with his teammates and coaches or how much heart the player will have in his career. As such, draft picks will always have a certain element of chance and blind luck associated with them, allowing hidden gems to be found in the late rounds.

Sources

Methodology

We looked at Pro Football Reference, analyzing all draft picks from 1995 to 2015 and their corresponding career stats. For all of these assets above, we looked at players drafted in rounds five through seven who played in at least one Pro Bowl. We filtered the results only to focus on players drafted by the following teams: Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, Philadelphia Eagles, and San Francisco 49ers. These teams were selected because they have each drafted at least three Pro Bowlers in rounds five through seven since 1995.

Fair Use Statement

We grant permission to use the images found on this page freely. When doing so, we ask that you kindly attribute the creators by linking to this page so your readers can learn more about the project and its methodology.

NFL Mascots Morph

NFL Mascots

Thinking about the NFL does not immediately bring to mind a cartoonish bull or an anthropomorphized eagle. After all, the league has come to epitomize toughness, sanctioned violence, and all things manly for the 93 years it has been in existence. Yet, since the very earliest days of American professional football, there have been field-side entertainers to amuse and occupy fans between plays and during game breaks. For example, did you know that 26 teams have cheerleading squads or dance teams within their franchises and two – the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Ravens – have full marching bands? What about all NFL mascots…

The cheapest and most interactive form of non-competitive fan entertainment, however, remains the mascot – which 29 of the 32 NFL teams have in either an unofficial or official capacity. (The New York Jets, the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers currently have no recognized mascots.) While some mascots are considered controversial, most are fan-friendly marketing tools that help promote a team’s identity and brand in a non-intimidating way.

We compiled a montage of 28 NFL mascots to demonstrate the variety among the league’s costumed performers.

Finding a Favorite

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According to Sports Illustrated (SI), Blitz – one of the Seattle Seahawks mascots – is the top-ranked mascot. What makes Blitz so appealing? His perceived cockiness. “This seahawk already knows he has you beat,” wrote SI.com. “He has that cocky grin and pushed-out chest of an older brother that constantly asks you why you keep hitting yourself.”

Who else makes Sports Illustrated’s top five? The Chicago Bears’ Staley Da Bear (a nod to the Bears’ original franchise name); the Cleveland Browns’ smirking dog mascot Chomps; the Arizona Cardinals’ Big Red; and the Buffalo Bills’ Billy Buffalo, who is easily confused for Beast from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Coming in last – at No. 28 – is the Oakland Raiders’ Raider Rusher, which SI described: “it’s like when the weird kid in class reaches into a backpack and asks if you want to see something really cool. But he happens to pull out just a toy – instead of a nameless stranger’s thumb.”

SI’s ranking of mascots is far from the only opinion – CBS Sports, for example, thought the Minnesota Vikings’ former motorcycle-riding Ragnar was the best. Nearly every fan site and sports magazine has its own list of favorite mascots, and people passionately debate what makes a mascot good or bad. For the franchises, this is a good thing: Mascot culture fuels merchandising sales, which ultimately improve the bottom line and increase the brand’s presence among consumers.

The Importance of a Good Mascot

A good mascot functions on several levels simultaneously. First, the mascot actively communicates with fans, riling them up and encouraging them to cheer louder, boo the opponents, and laugh at opportune times. This helps to turn the fans into the “12th man,” whose enthusiasm and energy fuels the team on the field.

Second, for a fan base that contains multiple age groups, a mascot offers a consistent point of reference. American football is a complicated sport with a steep learning curve; it is helpful to have a colorful figure who both entertains the kids and leads the cheer for the adults.

Finally, a good mascot serves as the face for the brand that is different from the padding-clad athlete. This creates opportunities for merchandising, advertising, and cross-promotions for the team that may not be available otherwise. For instance, parents may hesitate to buy a jersey for their son or daughter, but they may think differently about buying a mascot plush doll, a collectible drink container featuring a mascot’s face, or a mascot T-shirt. A good mascot offers opportunities to promote the franchise to future fans in ways both obvious and subtle; this may help to explain why only 20 teams across the NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB do not use a mascot in some way.

So who is your favorite mascot? Fanatics carries a full selection of mascot bobbleheads, T-shirts, and other must-haves for the die-hard fan.

Sources

The Most Iconic Players in the NFL

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If one were to ask who was the greatest player in baseball, the vast majority would say either Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, or Hank Aaron. With basketball, it’s Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, or Bill Russell. For hockey, it’s Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Gordie Howe, or Mario Lemieux. For most sporting associations, it’s clear who the standout players are – and fans tend to agree.

When it comes to the NFL, however, it’s a different situation. While names like Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, Johnny Unitas, and Joe Montana tend to pop up, none of these carries the weight of consensus as Michael Jordan does in the NBA. It may be because roles in football are so structured and inflexible, or it may be that success in the NFL is dependent on team dynamics – it is difficult to think of a successful quarterback, for example, without considering the exceptional running backs and receivers and strong blockers that make his job possible. So it’s almost impossible to crown a Greatest of All Times among league players. Typically, such discussions will lead to raised voices, hurt feelings, and – occasionally – a bar fight or two.

Fanatics asked over 3,000 fans who they think is the most iconic NFL player for their team. The results, shared below, reflect the fact that NFL Nation is not homogeneous, but a vibrant and dynamic mix of fanatics and casual fans who carry their own perceptions and philosophies to the sport. Every fan is drawn to something different, and the results of the fans’ polling helped to prove this.

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Neighborhood Heroes

Depending on which franchise a fan roots for, his or her opinion of what constitutes an icon will vary, as seen in the polling results. For example, New York Jets fans see Joe Namath as their greatest icon – 32 percent of all Jets fans voted for him.

“Broadway Joe” Namath is a New York City legend, once famously guaranteeing a win over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III (coached by Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history) and then delivering on that promise. Namath threw for 1,886 passes for 27,663 yards and 173 touchdowns. The Hall of Famer is the franchise all-time career leader in career wins, passing touchdowns, pass attempts, passing yards, pass completions, and interceptions; he is also the only Jets player to be included in most top 100 lists, including 1999 Sporting News’ 100 Greatest Football Players and 2010 NFL’s The Top 100.

Among San Francisco 49ers fans, Joe Montana (aka “Joe Cool” and “The Comeback Kid”) is the greatest – despite the fact Montana completed his career in a Kansas City Chiefs uniform. The eight-time Pro Bowler, three-time Super Bowl MVP, and four-time Super Bowl champion was named Sports Illustrated’s 1999 “Sportsman of the Year” and the No. 1 clutch quarterback of all-time in 2006. The Sporting News named Montana third on its 1999 list of 100 Greatest Players, and the originator of “The Catch” was named to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team and the NFL 1980’s All-Decade Team.

Seattle Seahawks fans go with running back Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch. A relatively young addition to the icon list, the five-time Pro Bowler has been included on every NFL’s Top 100 Players list since 2012. Lynch, 27th on the all-time rushing touchdown list, was essential to Seattle’s winning Super Bowl XLVIII. Lynch is also one of the rare non-quarterbacks to be chosen as a greatest icon.

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A Constellation of Greatness

When asked to identify the greatest St. Louis Rams player, people may name an absolute litany of players: 11-time Pro Bowl selectee offensive guard Tom Mack with his 184 consecutive game streak; running back Marshall Faulk with his seven Pro Bowl selections and distinction of being one of only two players to receive and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season; and quarterback Kurt Warner, who was the star of “the Greatest Show on Turf.” All emerge as likely contenders. This, however, does not dissuade those who would mention Norm Van Brocklin, Isaac Bruce, Jackie Slater, Merlin Olsen, David Jones, Jack Youngblood, or a very large number of exceptional individuals who could also meet the criteria of greatest icon.

In a sport that has as heterogeneous a fanbase as football, it is unsurprising that different fans gravitate to different aspects of the game in determining greatest. Fans of hard-nosed football would look at the rushers and the defensive line toward being the stars of the gridiron. Fans of the aerial games would look at the quarterbacks and the receivers. Fans of red zone play would favor tight ends and the offensive backs.

Some teams – such as the New England Patriots, which have had both a limited term of top-tier productivity and an exceptional high-profile player – will only produce a small number of icon candidates among their fans. Teams with more storied pasts and fewer standouts – such as the Rams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Oakland Raiders – appear to have many favorites, as seen in the poll. St. Louis fans had 58 candidates for their greatest iconic player, while New England only had three – quarterback Tom Brady was the heads-on favorite for 94 percent of New England fans, the most for any player named.

Conclusion

Getting NFL fans to agree upon anything is a stretch, even in the same franchise. The NFL inherits all of the diverseness and differences that can be found in the states and regions its teams represent. As such, getting a diehard Jets fan to agree with someone else who the greatest Jets player was is just as likely as getting the two to agree who has the best pizza in New York. It may be, ultimately, a good thing and a sign of the league’s strength that there is no consensus on who is the most iconic player; the NFL is a constellation of stars – all great and unique in their own ways, working together to create something more exceptional than any one player can create on their own.

This speaks to the fact that both the NFL is a game where there are no individuals and that there’s something in the league for every fan, regardless of how he or she looks at it.

Methodology

We surveyed 100 fans of every NFL team and asked who the most iconic player to ever play for that team was. We then analyzed the responses to identify the most iconic players and determine which teams have the most divided fans.

Other posts from this survey:

  1. Every NFL Team’s Biggest Rival
  2. NFL’s Most Memorable Moments
  3. NFL Game-Day Traditions

Sources

 

Every NFL Team’s Biggest Rival

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Rivalry is a key component of league play. In soccer or baseball, a strong rivalry helps to bring context and meaning to a contest – either for a key place in the post-season or just a pre-season match-up. Whether fueled by bad blood between the teams, players, coaches, and/or owners; marketing conflicts because of geographic proximity; or simply because of a twist of fate – such as being in the same division – a well-contested rivalry can transform an average game into essential viewing, worthy of all the heated arguments and physical scuffles that come with it.

Cross-town rivals almost exclusively belong to different conferences in the NFL, and the NFL’s schedule is set up so that a team plays every other team in the league at least once every four years. Because of that, it is difficult – but not impossible – for rivalries to form in the NFL. Take, for example, the AFC North rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. The Steelers have won three of the four playoff meetings between the two teams, so there are some heightened emotions during the two teams’ meetings. Proof of this occurred during a meeting in 2014, when Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin stood too close to the field and was accused of blocking Ravens’ punt returner Jacoby Jones. It is unclear whether the action was intentional.

The granddaddy of all NFL rivalries is between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers – it started in 1921, making it the longest continuous rivalry in all of professional football. This rivalry – started by a feud between the teams’ founders and fueled by market overlap – has produced 22 league or conference championships, five Super Bowl appearances, and 59 Hall of Famers.

Every fan, however, has an opinion of the greatest rivalry. Fanatics asked 3,000 fans which team they consider the biggest rival of their favorite team. Surprisingly, a few boogeymen emerged as perennial league “bad guys.” What makes a rival? For many, it’s a memorable opponent in the NFL that is likely to make fans root and boo for a team on the mere mention of its name.

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On Naming the Bad Guy

When looking at the teams that fans believe are their favorite teams’ greatest rivals, a few truths emerge. First, rivalry typically happens within a division. Take, for example, the AFC West; according to poll respondents, the Kansas City Chiefs’ and the San Diego Chargers’ biggest rival is division-mate the Oakland Raiders. However, fans believe that the Raiders’ biggest rival is the Denver Broncos, also in the AFC West. Similarly in the NFC West, the San Francisco 49ers is the fans’ choice as the bad guy to division-mates the St. Louis Rams, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Seattle Seahawks.

The reason rivalries tend to stay within divisions is simple: The NFL has 32 teams and a 16-game schedule, so it is unthinkable to imagine a team playing every other team in the league or even in its own conference. A team is likely to play against another team in their own division two or three times a season, so it’s easier for fans to get riled up over divisional matchups. Additionally, as placement in the post-season is dependent on a team coming in first or second in their own division, division match-ups – particularly toward the end of the regular season – carry additional weight.

Another truth revealed by the fans’ choices is that grudges die hard. The 49ers and the Rams have one of the most intense rivalries in the league today. While the Rams were still in Los Angeles, the two teams competed for market share, and that animosity occasionally seeped onto the field. However, the Rams’ move to Missouri didn’t defuse the rivalry, and may have even added to it – considering the culture clash between the West Coast and the Midwest.

The final truth is that some rivalries only make sense to a student of football history. In the AFC East, for example, the Buffalo Bills’ biggest perceived rival is the Miami Dolphins. Besides being division-mates, neither team has been in playoff contention in years – considering that the other two teams in this division are the New York Jets and the New England Patriots. So, a rivalry doesn’t seem to make sense.

A student of the game would remember that – not too long ago – the Bills were an AFC powerhouse, dominating the conference in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The Bills’ dominance was so absolute that the team had four consecutive conference championships from 1990 to 1993. Despite their post-season proficiency, though, the Dolphins are currently leading the Bills in wins in their matchups, 57-42-1.

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The Boogeymen of the Gridiron

Ani DiFranco once sang, “God forbid you be an ugly girl, ’course too pretty is also your doom, ’cause everyone harbors a secret hatred for the prettiest girl in the room.” The NFL is a classic example of this mentality. The teams that garnered the most votes for being the biggest rivals are the most successful teams in the league’s history. The top vote-getter, the Dallas Cowboys dominated not only the NFC East, but also the entire league in the ’70s and early ’80s. The most valuable team in the world, the Cowboys is the only team to have 20 consecutive winning seasons (1966–1985) – of which, the team made 18 playoff appearances. The Cowboys are currently second only to the Steelers in Super Bowl wins (five) and share the record for most Super Bowl appearances (eight). The team also holds the record for most consecutive sold-out games at home and away (190), making the Cowboys the definitive “pretty girl” of the league.

Tom Brady’s continuing dominance of the quarterback ratings propels the New England Patriots to No. 2 on the rival list. Prior to Brady’s emergence as the team’s starting quarterback, the Patriots did not rank high as a potential threat, which illustrates that a rivalry can be fueled by just one person. Other teams that rank high as perceived rivals are the Oakland Raiders, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Green Bay Packers, and the New York Jets.

Among the teams least perceived as rivals are the Detroit Lions, the Arizona Cardinals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Minnesota Vikings, and the St. Louis Rams. 

Conclusion

Of the major football systems, NFL rivalries are relatively weak. Despite the general lack of drama, rivalries between the NFL franchises – in their limited way – have driven teams to play harder through the history of the league. The rivalries have also made casual viewers into fanatics and have infused local pride into the Nation’s Game – while it is difficult to imagine anyone willingly driving from Chicago to Green Bay, Wisconsin, to see a game, it makes more sense when one realizes that Bears fans and Packers fans have hated each other since the 1920s, when Bears (then named the Staleys) guard John Taylor sucker-punched Packers tackle Howard Buck and broke his nose after the Staleys shut out the Packers 20-0.

The notion of having a boogeyman to root against fuels this game and drives those who put on the padding to run faster, hit harder, and to do more to win. Ultimately, rivalries are what power the league and without them, the game would be more boring for everyone involved.

Methodology

We surveyed 100 fans of every NFL team and asked who their favorite team’s largest rival is. We then analyzed the responses to find which teams are part of the biggest and most rivalries in the NFL.

Other posts from this survey:

  1. NFL game-day traditions
  2. NFL’s Most Memorable Moments
  3. The Most Iconic Players in the NFL

Sources