Let’s start by clarifying two words that get incorrectly used as often as writers screw up “their/there/they’re”. The word fandom means you are cheering for a team for the very basic reason that you want to. The word bandwagon means you are cheering for a team simply because they are doing well. Living outside of a NFL market, one has to create an interest in a team and then grow into a being a longtime fan by following them year after year.
This is not a cute story about a young man or woman with a cool back story searching for an NFL Team to attach their fandom to. The author of this story is 40 years old and has had season tickets to his local CFL team (on and off) for 12 years.
The last time there was any vested interest in any specific team it was the Jim McMahon led Chicago Bears. William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry taking offensive snaps at the goal line was the peak. By the time Steve McMichael got into wrestling, my interest had waned. New York Giant Lawrence Taylor fighting the late Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania XI did nothing to create a Giants fan. Wowsers, that’s over 20 years ago now!
Guilty as charged for being one of those people who has a little Super Bowl party despite not knowing more than a handful of players. The “Roger that” joke in the Tom Brady commercial immediately following the game was understood though!
To avoid the treacherous word “bandwagon”, starting off a fresh new fandom inevitably means starting with a non-playoff team. Out of respect for all the San Diego Chargers and St. Louis Rams fans who saw their teams leave town recently, those two Los Angeles teams are immediately scratched off the list.
Whittling down the options even more, let’s eliminate the participants of the 2016 Super Bowl because choosing the Denver Broncos or Carolina Panthers seems too easy. Let’s go as far as eliminating any team who made the 2016 playoffs but failed to qualify in 2017. Godspeed to the Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings, and Arizona Cardinals.
Selecting a team that finished in last place seems to be the noble thing to do…I’m not that noble. Cheerio to the Cleveland Browns, New York Jets (next to the Dallas Cowboys the most over-publicized team in the league), Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles (although former great Edmonton Eskimo Henry “Gizmo” Williams had a run there and more recently Aaron Grymes has made his presence known there), San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears (tried watching during the recently ended Jay Cutler saga, big no).
Who’s left on the board?
- Baltimore Ravens
- Indianapolis Colts
- Tennessee Titans
- Buffalo Bills
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- New Orleans Saints
Where do I go from here?
Our staff NFL guru Kail Schofield is a Bucs fan so that’s no fun. Part of the lore behind being a sports fan is arguing with your friends about which team is better.
The Bills fired their coach Rex Ryan before the final game of 2016-17 and then fired GM Doug Whaley the day after the draft. So that’s no fun, but for an entirely different reason.
The Colts have the oft-injured Andrew Luck who, if healthy, could lead the Colts as one of the NFL’s top 5 offenses. Sadly, the Colts defense tends to finds ways to allow more points than Luck can put up on the board. The Colts D allowed the 3rd most yards per game and 11th most points overall last season. The Saints fortunes, now with a 38-year-old Drew Brees at the helm, are on a path of destiny that awaits the Colts if defensive schemes and results cannot be successfully implemented. The Saints finished last season 2nd in the league in points scored and points allowed.
For the success Ray Lewis had after his murder trail, the dark shadow of Ray Rice‘s domestic violence case still hangs over the Ravens. Lewis’ case was circumstantial and he became the lynch pin of one of the best defenses this young 21st century. Rice has irrefutable footage of breaking one of the golden rules (never hit a woman) and has rightfully been blackballed out of the NFL. Hand me a Colin Kapernick jersey before you hand me a Rice jersey. Best of luck to the Ravens as they continue to move past these incidents.
THE WINNER IS…
— Thomas (@lvingl1f3) May 14, 2020
Admittedly the team I know the least about, the Tennessee Titans, will be the team I attach my fandom (not bandwagon) too. Being a CFL guy, there are faint memories of Warren Moon playing for the Houston Oilers. The Oilers moved out of Houston in 1997 and changed their name to Titans in 1999. These years were the beginning of the late Steve “Air” McNair’s career. Fast forward to today, the Titans starting QB is Marcus Mariota.
So while I attempt to watch 16 football games in the upcoming weeks/months, here’s hoping Mariota is ready for Game 1 of the 2017 season.
Mularkey said Marcus Mariota still not running full speed. Said there is no rush @Titans
— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) May 12, 2020