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!
“So, who do you support?” If you live in the US, that is one of the easiest questions in the world to answer. Most states have team in the NFL, or their neighbouring state does. Most people stick to their ‘local’ teams, or the team from their home state, or the team that their family has always supported. Try that in the UK, and it’s harder, because there are no local teams in the NFL. Most families don’t have a dynasty, and most people don’t even have a clue where these teams come from. Learning the game is simple enough, learning the plays is harder, learning the intricacies of the team on team relationships is like reading Game of Thrones. You could go for the guys that are winning.
The New England Patriots are looking strong this season, and could well go for another shot at the Super Bowl if they keep it up. How long will this run last? Brady and Gronkowski are good, but players can’t be at their best forever. Has the rest of the team got the ability to back it up when things go south? You could pick the underdogs, but then you run the risk of suffering the fate of your average Raiders or Vikings fan, and getting mocked by your buddies – even when you win! If you’re thick skinned, then this could be the route for you, but a little glory would be nice.
You could go for some of the more entertaining teams, from a headlines perspective, and select teams like the Bills, or the Steelers. The only risk with this is that as well as the good headlines about those fans, and how funny they can be, there are also the negatives. Are you sure you want to be grouped in with these kinds of fans when the press coverage goes sour? You could select whichever franchise your friends support, but that would make for rather boring bar conversation. “Looks like Manning might be losing his arm a little bit.” “I agree.” See? Boring.
You could throw a pin in the board, and hope for the best, but then the follow up question will nail you to the wall. “Why?” If you’re supporting a team from all the way across the Atlantic, you had better have a damned good reason for picking that team, and it had better not be “I threw a dart at a board.” This does not go down well with committed fans. Neutrality seems like a good idea, but that’s even worse than randomly selecting a team.
Not being able to commit to a team will mean you either get left out of the conversation altogether, or people will assume that you’re a fair weather fan that only cheers on winners.
This is the agony of the fresh-faced, UK based NFL fan – it’s the most loaded question in the game – and it’s one we all have to answer. I’ll be going through each division, weight up the pros and cons of all 32 teams before deciding which team to pledge allegiance to!