Nathan Hards is The Rookie Fan, a newbie to the NFL. RealSport will be following Nathan as he makes the most difficult decision any rookie NFL fan has to make – which team to support!
Third article in, and we’re focusing on the AFC West, with two teams from the Sunshine state vying for the top spot in this review. Keep in mind that this is all personal perspective, so try not to get too upset if I don’t pick your team. If I pick the wrong one, in the end, I’m stuck with them forever. I digress, onwards!
Peyton Manning and the Broncos hail from the rocky scenery of Colorado, with one of the most impressive stadiums in the NFL, Mile High. Manning is a legendary QB in the game, with his face all over products, but this season there has been major doubts as to whether he can still deliver the goods. Could this be the last season for Manning, and could that leave the Broncos flailing? A solid start to the season, but with the undefeated Bengals, and the Patriots coming up, can the Broncos hold onto the top spot? With Manning being benched after achieving the highest passing yards of any player in the NFL, it really is summing up where the Broncos are going on offense this season. They’re looking weaker in the passing game, as a lot of teams are targeting the long balls for interceptions, and I’m not convinced that they’ve got the ability to switch it up, and maintain that top spot.
Let’s just get this out of the way. Oakland Raiders are big this side of the pond. Their brand is strong, and the colours work well for merch. That coupled with the association with LA from the 1980’s, and the strong branding LA has in the UK, and we’re looking at a lot of brand recognition. If you’re rocking Raiders gear, no-one is going to ask questions, they know what it is, and they know what it means. Raiders is an easy fit for someone on this side of the pond, and there’s a lot of support already here. The Raiders fans are lunatics. Not like the Bills fans, they’re a special kind of crazy, but the Raiders fans are often held up as an example of fanatical support despite the results. You cannot be a casual Raiders fan, and let’s get this straight, they don’t win very often. They had a great run in the 80s and 90’s. They got some real silverware back then – and pulled some upsets – but in the last 15 years, they’ve pulled out one loss at the Super Bowl. When Raiders win, their fans don’t even know how to celebrate, they’re really not certain what to do. So if you’re going to follow the Raiders, get used to some ribbing from the more successful teams, but you won’t care, ‘cos your swag game is tight!
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have had a bad start to the season a straight set of five losses is enough to dent most teams confidence, but they’re turning it around with a streak of three straight wins. With a pretty clear field ahead, it’s possible that they could finish with a shot at the division. If you go with the Chiefs, you’re not jumping on any bandwagons, as they don’t have a very full trophy shelf. What they do have is an active fanbase, proudly known as the loudest crowd in the league. If you’re loud and proud, you may want to consider backing the Chiefs. The only problem with backing the Chiefs, is that although you’re loud and proud, you won’t have a lot to shout about. These guys have brought nothing home in the last 15 years, and although they can put in a decent enough season, aren’t setting the boards on fire with high scoring games (except against the Lions). So you may find yourself lamenting another wasted season, and watching someone else at the Super Bowl. Loudly.
San Diego Chargers
San Diego, California. The Chargers fanbase could not be more contrasted to the Raiders, the other California team in the AFC West. This particular fanbase – aside from a few – are quiet and reserved. You don’t get silly behaviour, or rowdiness, or shouting. Most of the time, you’re lucky if you get a crowd. For some reason, the Chargers seem to attract the “let’s enjoy the game – quietly” fans. Their record this season backs this up, with five losses in a row, and only one win under their belt. It’s not looking good for San Diego. This could be a boon for certain fans, though. No-one is really going to give you much stick. You just say you’re a Chargers fan, and they’ll pretty much leave you alone, assuming that you’re not going to be that passionate anyway. So if you’re looking for a quiet ride, back the lightning bolts, and get those shushing fingers out. So who goes through? They’re all 60’s teams, and all of them have pretty poor results since 2002. If you’re just going on results, then the Broncos and the Raiders lead the field. If you’re looking for underdogs, then the Chiefs and Chargers could be the right fit. The Broncos are looking like a sinking ship right now, with Manning getting a lot of stick, and clinging onto a lead that is looking more tenuous with each game. The Chiefs just don’t get me excited, even though I’m as loud as they come. I hold out hope for the rest of their season, though. The Chargers, that’s not for me. I don’t like sitting down. I’m going to have to go with the Raiders. They’re fun, and everyone knows who they are. Plus, it’ll be interesting to see how that fares in the next round.