Rob reviews all of the franchises and their Super Bowl era records to help you to choose which NFL team you should support. You can see who the FFL lads support in “Show Your Support”.
It’s one of the most exciting times in anyone’s sporting adolescent life. The butterflies have kicked in, there’s a sense of shame it hasn’t happened before; dread can be felt with every breath just knowing it’s imminent. You’re not sure when, or with whom, but you know it will come soon.
You’re about to pick a team to follow, in a sport you’ve just fallen in love with.
Well, I’m here to help! We can do this together. The first advice I can give you is STOP! Slow down, don’t be too quick to rush into everything. This will be one of the biggest moments in the timeline of your fanship and it’s not a moment you want to look back on regretfully. Forcing the issue with just about any team that catches your eye is something you’ll look back on and wince at. If that sounds like you, don’t worry, we’ve all been there. I once declared an admiration for the Patriots and Tom Brady. Eurgh! Just the thought of that statement ever passing my lips fills me with a sense of cringe that’s only matched by the memory of being 13 and being fondled by the side of a canal with just a Slazenger jacket from TJ Hughes to hide my modesty, meanwhile innocent dog walkers passed by oblivious to the lewd scene going on a stone’s throw from their feet.
As you can imagine it’s not a time in my life I’m proud of and just like the canal days, I’ve moved on, matured, and fell in love properly. Truly, madly, deeply with the Kansas City Chiefs. I suppose what I’m trying to say with this long, tedious metaphor is that you don’t need to be ready to pick a team right away, even if your friends have. Let a team pick you. Watch the game simply as a spectator who appreciates each play while you can because it will happen. A franchise will inevitably woo you and it will be special.
For now though, to help with your chosen act of supporting celibacy, I’ve given you an overview of each franchise and their personality, something to help you get to know them before a single snap has occurred.
Arizona Cardinals [Super Bowl Champions: 0]
The Cards: the Granddaddy of professional football teams in America. This franchise is the oldest continually run professional team in the USA. Unfortunately, it’s also (quite possibly) the least successful. Don’t let that put you off, because if anything they’re a fun team: a team not scared to take risks. Take their 2019 decision to move on from a first-round quarterback (after one okay rookie season) just because of their dogged belief that their next first overall QB is a game-changer. They’ve always been a great team to watch, and after all, isn’t the first rule of a new sport to be entertained?
Atlanta Falcons [Super Bowl Champions: 0]
The Dirty Birds… that nickname alone should be enough to entice most UK sports fans. A team that fell victim to the greatest comeback in NFL history. When 28-3 up in a Super Bowl they “threw” it away. Will they rise again? Until they do, they’ll forever be a meme, but who doesn’t love a meme, and who doesn’t want to be a part of their own comeback story?
Baltimore Ravens [Super Bowl Champions: 2000, 2012]
A solid franchise from a solid city… they share their home with one of the greatest TV shows ever made in The Wire and just like the show, this franchise is built on hard work and a tough, unforgiving style. They’re not scared to go against the grain either. In 2018 they flipped their whole franchise on its head and committed to a whole new style of offence. It’s exciting, fast, and powerful and after showing early signs of success, now is the time to jump on this juggernaut while you still can.
Buffalo Bills [Super Bowl Champions: 0]
Now, this is a franchise to support if, like me, you’re a degenerate. I say none of this because of the franchise itself but more its fans, they’re the real heroes of this story. Whether it’s excessive drinking, setting things on fire, or the greatest of all Bills’ pastimes: throwing your friends through tables. As former Bills’ player Jordan Matthews says: “There’s nothing else to do in Buffalo but each other” well, while it may not be everyone’s preferred destination, one thing their fans do is make the best of it.
Carolina Panthers [Super Bowl Champions: 0]
Founded in 1995, the Panthers are one of the youngest franchises in the NFL. It’s hard to determine just what their personality is… they’ve had some truly great stars of the NFL in Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly, but both have since moved on. Based in a hardworking, but at times struggling town, they’ve had relatively decent success for their short space of time by reaching the big game twice, but just not getting over that finish line. If you choose to follow The Panthers, no one could question your integrity. It feels like following them now is still jumping on them early on in their lifetime, rather than jumping on one of the more established franchises.
Chicago Bears [Super Bowl Champions: 1985]
Alongside the Cardinals, the Bears are one of the founding fathers of the NFL, a historic and respected franchise. Along with the Dolphins, they dominated the UK TV screens in the 80s, they are everybody’s dad’s team! Famously built on their defence, not just now but forever, and with more players in the NFL Hall of Fame than any other, there’s never a bad time to be a Bear. Respected and admired. Bear Down!
Cincinnati Bengals [Super Bowl Champions: 0]
A family franchise, literally. It’s family run and that comes with everything you can imagine: ups and downs, fallouts, loyalty… sometimes too much. A fear of change but also a camaraderie and togetherness that sometimes you can’t get elsewhere. When they’re on a high, everyone loves the Bengals, they want to be a part of it, but when it goes wrong it borders on dysfunctional. Nothing means more than family though, does it?
Cleveland Browns [Super Bowl Champions: 0]
“Taking the Browns the Superbowl”: an idiom for going to the toilet. Although their performance from 2000 onwards makes that idiom more an expression of irony than anything. In the last ten years, it feels like the ownership/head office has been doing just that with this franchise… flushing it down the toilet. However, things could be on the up. At the time of writing, The Browns’ franchise has one of the best rosters in the NFL. Could this be a turnaround for them or just another false dawn? If it is a turnaround, it could be fantastic for a wonderful sporting city, something anyone would want to be a part of.
Dallas Cowboys [Super Bowl Champions: 1971, 1977, 1992, 1993, 1995]
America’s Team – there’s a reason why Conor McGregor visited the franchise. Frankly, they are the same: bold, brass, self-congratulating, but undeniably successful. The most valuable sports team in the world. It’s easy to dislike the Cowboys but I bet it’s easy to be one of them too. There’s a sense of superiority I imagine comes with being a Cowboy. Even if success isn’t as recent as they’d like, it feels it could be just around the corner anytime for the franchise who declares themselves, “WE DEM BOYS.”
Denver Broncos [Super Bowl Champions: 1997, 1998, 2015]
From John Elway to Peyton Manning, the Broncos have had their fair share of stars. A team that plays at altitude; a respected franchise known for its success and stability. You can never go wrong with the franchise from Denver: isn’t it everyone’s fantasy to be a member of the Mile High club?
Detroit Lions [Super Bowl Champions: 0]
Owned by The Ford family – famous for car manufacturing. And just like a Ford they’re middle of the road: reliable, affordable. Little surprises you with the Lions whether it’s good or bad. They can produce something that gets your blood going… watching Matthew Stafford is certainly like driving a Mustang. Unfortunately, the franchise (like the company) is built around the less exhilarating Mondeo. Still though, the Mustang is a cultural icon that gives you the hope that maybe they’ll reign supreme one day?
Green Bay Packers [Super Bowl Champions: 1966, 1967, 1996, 2010]
In football outside of America, there is one team that this franchise seems to immediately relate to: Barcelona. Mas Que Un Club is the spirit of Catalan and more than a club is what Green Bay try to portray. The only non-profit, community-owned, sports team in any of America’s Major Leagues. The last of the small-town teams. Everything about the club fills you with nostalgia for simpler times where things meant more than money. The Packers are steeped in history – the Super Bowl trophy itself is named after their most famous head coach, pioneer of the sport, and the first man to win it: Vince Lombardi. It’s hard to dislike the Packers… except for their own smugness.
Houston Texans [Super Bowl Champions: 0]
The baby of the NFL: the youngest franchise in the NFL, established this side of the millennia. Though still very much in its infancy the franchise has made some noise in the NFL, not for its successes, but for some of its roster moves, trades, and transactions that no one can ever really understand. The term taking candy from a baby seems to literally describe every interaction this team has with another. Unfortunately, like their age in the NFL, they are always the baby. BUT don’t let that put you off, Texans are everything you imagine them to be fan-wise: passionate, wild, and head-scratching to most of the league. Any fan of these would be welcomed with that famous southern hospitality.
Indianapolis Colts [Super Bowl Champions: 1970, 2006]
Two Super Bowls and a host of stars have played in the Colts colours, yet they’ll probably always be most famous, or should we say infamous, for doing a runner from Baltimore. The team despatched moving trucks in the dead of night to take all equipment out of their former home to their current one in Indianapolis before they could be seized by the Baltimore Government and the franchise given to the “people”. Definitely, the team for you if you’re against any form of public ownership.
Jacksonville Jaguars [Super Bowl Champions: 0]
This one’s easy… do you want to be a part of the first UK franchise? If so, then this team is for you. Having already established themselves as the UK’s team by playing two home matches a year in Blighty, it won’t be long before Jacksonville Jags become the Union Jags.
Kansas City Chiefs [Super Bowl Champions: 1969, 2019]
There’s no place like Kansas according to Dorothy and there’s no stadium like Arrowhead. Whether it’s the famous Kansas BBQ in the pregame tailgate, the tomahawk chop on opponents third down, or the fact that it’s the loudest stadium in football, there’s a lot to want to be a part of at the Chiefs, and that’s before we even get to the team on the field.
Los Angeles Chargers [Super Bowl Champions: 0]
Quite simply, at the time of writing this (2020), this franchise needs you more than you need them. Due to a recent relocation (2018), home games, unfortunately, don’t feel like that with many of them overrun with rival fans. They do seem a solid franchise despite this move and it’s always nice to feel wanted.
Los Angeles Rams [Super Bowl Champions: 1999]
They’ve been in Cleveland, Los Angeles, St Louis, and now back in LA, so very much the wanderers of the NFL. They seem to have been popular wherever they’ve found a home though, and back in LA is no different. Just like LA, they are filled with glamour, hope, and showmanship. Ever wanted to make it in Hollywood? start by making Rams your team.
Miami Dolphins [Super Bowl Champions: 1972, 1973]
Possibly the most famous franchise in the NFL thanks in no small part to Ace Ventura. It also helps that they’re the only team to go through a season undefeated, or that the great Dan Marino was everyone’s hero in the 80s: the greatest player to never win a Super bowl. They’ve never really replaced Marino, so I certainly wouldn’t be jumping on the Miami train now.
Minnesota Vikings [Super Bowl Champions: 0]
Quietly one of the most stable franchises in the NFL, they’ve had some great stars in Randy Moss and “All Day” Adrian Peterson to name a couple. They’re a hardworking franchise built on a solid defence who are always competitive. They might be more successful if they didn’t find themselves in the NFC North alongside the grandfathers of the NFL.
New England Patriots [Super Bowl Champions: 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2016, 2018]
Boston truly is “Title Town” with the greatest coach ever in the NFL, Bill Belichick, and long time home of the greatest QB ever: Tom Brady. At the time of writing, Brady has just left, so everything is up in the air in New England. It’s hard to justify becoming a Patriot right now with the dynasty being so recent, or possibly still in full flow, but then Boston is such a special place that I couldn’t argue anyone wanting an affinity with there.
New Orleans Saints [Super Bowl Champions: 2009]
New Orleans – the home of Mardi Gras. The Saints epitomise everything the state does: they’re fun, exciting, and a marching band is almost always at the ready. It’s worth becoming a saints fan if only to visit Bourbon Street while you’re there.
New York Giants [Super Bowl Champions: 1986, 1990, 2007, 2011]
The bigger brother of the “New York” Two, they have all the success, the glamour, and the attention of the New York media and they know it. A certain arrogance comes from The Giants knowing they’re the biggest team in New York. They’re a historic franchise with some great success, most recently two underdog stories in the Super Bowl. A sense of irony and a softening of heart comes when you realise that despite being the better brother of the New York teams, their hero QB is the exact opposite with recently retired Eli Manning.
New York Jets [Super Bowl Champions: 1968]
And now the runt of the litter, at least in The Giants’ eyes – in everyone else’s they are the working man’s team. The real New Yorker’s Franchise. They stand for everyone who built New York before all the glamour, Wall Street, aristocrat types came and took over the city. An honest man’s team. Unfortunately, that seems to have come with only rare successes, but when they get them it’s even sweeter.
Las Vegas Raiders [Super Bowl Champions: 1976, 1980]
Until 2020, the Oakland Raiders: NFL’s cool franchise. There’s a dangerous vibe that comes with the Raiders, whether that’s just down to merch, or down to being associated with such a rough part of America. Their fans are loud, passionate, and a bit crazy: if you’re getting into NFL just for the threads, it’s hard to look past the Raiders.
Philadelphia Eagles [Super Bowl Champions: 2017]
The Philly Special: not just the name of their most famous play, but also a description of the franchise rooted in Philadelphia. Its whole existence is loved by its patrons, however, until 2017 that love wasn’t really rewarded, which led to The Eagles fans becoming infamous for how quickly they’ll not just turn on the opposing team, but on their own too. If they don’t think you’re giving your all, they’ll certainly let you know, but no one can question their loyalty or love of the franchise.
Pittsburgh Steelers [Super Bowl Champions: 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2005, 2008]
For a long time, they were the most successful franchise in the NFL: the original dynasty and the first team to win 3 Super Bowl titles in the same decade. Built to represent the steel city, the franchise worked hard and played hard. They’re known for loyalty too: they’ve only had 16 coaches in their whole existence, the smallest amount in the league.
San Francisco 49ers [Super Bowl Champions: 1981, 1984, 1988, 1989, 1994]
Named after the 1849 gold rush in California, the team’s success in the 13 years from 81-94 could be considered the Lombardi rush, though they haven’t won the big one since then, their success hasn’t stopped. They hold a record number of championship games and division titles. A state renowned for its innovation, whether that’s from precious metals to most recently tech, the franchise is no different in consistently leading the league in new ways to excite on offence.
Seattle Seahawks [Super Bowl Champions: 2013]
Their fans are collectively known as the 12th man having twice held the Guinness world record for loudest fans in a stadium. Just like the Steelers and the Jets, they’re known for representing a working-class fan base, a fan base that is officially recognised as giving everything to help their team win.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers [Super Bowl Champions: 2002]
A holder of some less than impressive records: one of them being losing their first 26 games. They’ve turned it around at times and had a ten year period of competing in the playoffs every year, winning one Super Bowl in that time. It becomes evident that they are the closest franchise to the tourist attractions Florida is famous for when you find out there is a pirate ship in the stadium with working cannons. Not a bad team to follow if you have a flair for dramatics and enjoy spending time in theme parks while catching a game.
Tennessee Titans [Super Bowl Champions: 0]
The Titans live in “The home of Rock ‘n’ Roll” and the birthplace of country music. Their history so far can be very much described as a country song full of woe and misfortune, and when given the chance of glory it faded away. However, like any good Rock ‘n’ Roll band the big hit could be their next single, so they never stop going… one day they’ll make it. Ever wanted to be in a band?
Washington Redskins [Super Bowl Champions: 1982, 1987, 1991]
Not particularly politically correct in their name and certainly not in their history, the Redskins are the Capital’s franchise, and just like the leaders that have resided in the capital, the Redskins have been up and down. Their highs certainly are high though, winning the Super Bowl 3 times amongst many other championships. Though they aren’t known for their big fan base, they do hold a number of records for fan attendance, including the NFL record for single-season attendance in 2007.