I feel that there’s something slightly slutty about shifting the weight of one’s team affiliation, or rooting for more than one team, so I have come here today to attempt to explain my NFL team preferences and hope that I emerge with some shred of integrity generated by the rationality and/or sheer passion of my arguments.
I’ve watched football since I was a tiny kid by virtue of it being on in my father’s living room, but I soon got old enough to turn it on myself. Just the sound of it in the background reminds me of Thanksgiving and lazy Sunday afternoons, my Dad slowly raising two fists while uttering a subdued “yes…,” the opportunity to ask him endless questions about why there was a flag when the guys were just running and smashing the way they always do.
In order to feel less sleezy, I want to explain to anyone who will listen why in heaven’s name I appear to root for all manner of teams, and why there are teams I never cared about who are suddenly making their way onto my roster of approval.
# 1 Oakland Raiders (This is most likely the only time you will ever see them associated with the number one, unless it is a list of the all-time most crappy teams…) As long as they stay in Oakland, they will always be my number one team, since they are only a two-minute BART ride from the place I was born. My Dad won’t root for them until Al Davis is run out of town tarred and feathered, but I was just so happy when they left LA and came home that I can ignore the fact that they are run by a lunatic. (For further thoughts on this particular neurosis of mine, please see one of my previous blogs: The Ten Best Things About Being a Raider’s Fan )
#2 Miami Dolphins A recent addition to my list of favorites, this has always been my husband’s favorite team. If we invite you over to dinner, feel free to insult any politician, deliver a raging diatribe against any basketball organization, even make snide comments about the Pope, but if you so much as sneeze at my husband’s mother or Dan Marino, you’d better make for the nearest exit right quick.
#3 Detroit Lions My father’s favorite team, being his hometown. When I was a kid I secretly hated the Lions, just to be contrary, so the fact that they are third now is a big step up. But, to make up for it, the Detroit Tigers always were and always will be my favorite baseball team, even over and above the Oakland A’s. (Plus “Athletics” is a moronic name and they have lame colors.)
#4 Carolina Panthers This is the most recent addition and in fact the inspiration for this post. I never cared a whit about these guys, until:
- My youngest son was born in North Carolina
- We are entering our second year of being residents of North Carolina
- And finally, and really the most valid reason of all, Panther games are the only damn thing they will consistently show on the channels we get.
#5 Seattle Seahawks A leftover affiliation from my 15 years of living in Oregon, where they somehow manage to carry on living without a professional football team. (It’s shocking, really, it must be the oxygen deprivation caused by all the burning patchouli.) Most residents who are savvy enough to hug trees AND watch football at the same time root for the Seahawks, just to try to elevate awareness of Seattle as the birthplace of grunge, I suppose.
#6 Chicago Bears This is a demented kind of loyalty to my other son, who was not born in Chicago and indeed has never set foot in the state of Illinois but somewhere along the way decided that he liked the Cubs and the Bears. I’ll root for them against most everyone who isn’t above them on my list, just to give my son the illusion that Mama supports his interests.
#7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Another team similar to the two directly above. My husband doesn’t wish they were dead, so if they happen to be playing another team that we care even less about, we will root for them just to make the game exciting. They don’t even really deserve to be on the list. The fact that I extend the list this far just dilutes my fanhood to an embarrassing degree.
So let’s end that list now and move on to the opposite group, not intending to insult or offend anyone, bearing in mind that this list is even less well-thought-out and its illegitimate status should not be questioned but just assumed:
Teams, in no particular order, that I will always root against:
San Francisco 49ers Okay, this is the only even vaguely legit one. My father and grandfather used to cross the bay to go to 49ers games many decades ago, until the fans became so obnoxious and violent that it wasn’t fun anymore. At one point some drunk maniac threatened my grandfather, I think the story goes, and they decided from that moment on to be done with the team forever. I am carrying out the tradition in the style of genuine, bigoted, mindless hate.
Dallas Cowboys This is kind of like hating the most popular girl in school, even if she’s nice. Stemming from a severe lack of self-esteem and jealousy, I have decided that the Cowboys suck and I despise them. My husband likes them okay, so it kind of relieves any tension I might feel in our relationship to be able to declare “Well I think they stink!” and know that no permanent damage is done.
Any team in the New England area/NY I’m not entirely sure of the origin of this, if it is a carry-over from my learned abhorrence of the Yankees (having been raised by a Tigers fan, you understand) or being a Californian who thought that NY was our main cultural rival, or if in a past life I was killed by a murderer wearing a Jets windbreaker. In any event, this organic displeasure is reinforced by my husband who has the whole “South vs. Damn Yankees” issue going on.
And that’s pretty much it. All the other teams will get my cheers if they play a team on the hated list, will get my boos if they play someone on my sweet darlings list, and will get the game turned off if they are playing each other.
Unless I am super desperate for a game, which happens with alarming frequency. I think this addiction is the origin of my unfocussed loyalty, and I think a true aficionado of the sport would understand; I NEED to watch FOOTBALL right this MINUTE and the only game on is a rerun of West Virginia playing Arkansas in 1976. Go Razorbacks, whoever you are!!!
Thank you for listening, and judge kindly, remembering that I am battling a serious football addiction. It’s not me, it’s the disease.