Friday, March 5, 2010

The Selection - Arizona Cardinals vs Kansas City Chiefs

People keep asking me who I'm going to pick, and they really don't believe me when I say "I'm not sure, yet". They think either a) I've known all along b) it's a given I'm going to pick the Cardinals because of what they did for me or c) I'm picking the Chiefs just to have an "upset" (though really, when did Vegas start putting odds on this?) But to be completely honest, I've changed my mind approximately 8 times in the last 2 weeks on this.

In all honesty, I've known since the playoffs began that barring something unforeseen these were going to the be the final 2 (though the Broncos and Ravens did give me something to think about). It's just that I've always thought one would become the clear choice in the meantime, but they haven't. The Chiefs have a fan-base that I'd be proud to call myself a part of. The Cardinals are trying to shed their perception of an NFL bottom-feeder and have put people (and facilities) in place to get there. Their future is unknown and exciting, but so is the Chiefs'. It's not an easy decision.

Rather than rehash the Pros and Cons that we've seen for a month now, let's look at each category these teams were scored on and see which team has the advantage.

History - This isn't either team's strong suit really. The Cardinals have been historically bad since the Super Bowl era, other than a run of recent success. The Chiefs started off strong, but have faded since other than a good run during the early 90s and a little resurgence in the Priest Holmes era. Neither has been a consistent winner by any means, but the Chiefs have had a handful of good runs and do have a Super Bowl Title.

Advantage - Chiefs

Location - Neither team is exceptionally close to home, so I'm either looking at a plane ride or an extended road trip to get to either city, so distance isn't a strong suit. Still, where am I more likely to want to spend a weekend? Phoenix or Kansas City? With all due respect to Kansas City, it's a no brainer.

Advantage - Cardinals

Logo/Uniform - If you look at my original rankings, the Cardinals had a slight edge in this category. I like the Cardinals logo, colors, and unis, but I think I was wrong here. The Chiefs red and yellow are distinctive, traditional, and Hulk Hogan's favorite color scheme. I can admit when I was wrong.

Advantage - Chiefs

Fanbase - This one isn't really close. One team is the pride of its city, filling its stadium week in and week out regardless of the record. The other almost didn't sell out a home playoff game.

Advantage - Chiefs

Current Makeup - This one has gotten a little tougher since the end of the season. The Cardinals have some established stars like Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Darnell Dockett, (and I would have said Antrel Rolle until the other day but we'll have to see where that goes). The Chiefs have some good young talent like Jamal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, and Matt Cassell. The Cardinals had this by a good margin until it looked like Matt Leinart would be the starting QB next season. Then again, with current NFL free agency, how much stock can you have on ANY player being back with a team the next year. It's a lot closer now, but I still think the Cardinals have the edge. How can you not love Larry Fitzgerald?

Advantage - Cardinals

Intangibles - The Chiefs sent a great response and I even got a follow-up email from one of the guys who helped put it together. It was above and beyond what I expected to get from ANY team and I got some great feedback from Chiefs fans. But…the Cardinals obviously took this to a different level. They sent a long, personal, touching letter and then treated me like a king when I made it out to Phoenix. They didn't "buy" me or "bribe" me so much as they "wooed" me.

Advantage - Cardinals

That's 3 categories for the Chiefs and 3 for the Cardinals. Now, do you understand why this is difficult?
But, I can only pick one. I've gone back and forth, considered delaying, thought I had my mind made up, changed it again, saw a SportsCenter piece on one team that made me want to switch again, etc. etc. etc. These aren't the two teams I would have predicted would have made it this far, but they separate themselves from the pack along the way. The problem has been separating them from each other.

I think one thing is without question, I'm a better fit with the Kansas City Chiefs fans. Not to toot my own horn, but I'm that kind of loyal to my teams, I've got that kind of passion, and I love BBQ. I think they are the most underrated fan base in the NFL and it would be an honor to call myself part of it.

The Chiefs have good young talent and while the product on the field hasn't been pretty lately, They've got leadership in place (like Scott Pioli) who have shown they know how to win. I think things are really looking good for this team. Now is a great time to jump on board with the Chiefs because I think the best is yet to come.

It makes a lot of sense. A fan-base I love, a team on the way up, and an excuse to wear the colors of Hulkamania. It makes tons of sense.

But I can't get past this one thing…

I remember watching the Saints and Cardinals in the playoffs this year. I remember watching the Cardinals make mistake after mistake and seeing the game get away from them. More important than any of that, I remember a feeling in my gut while this was happening. I was disappointed. It hurt a little. Do you remember the scene in "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" when the Grinch starts to actually feel emotion for the first time and is a little confused by it and not exactly sure what was going on? That was me. I was getting attached.

The Cardinals have a rough history. Fair weather is a nice way to describe the current fan base. I need to emphasize that they are most likely going to be starting Matt Leinart at QB next year. These, on the surface are not good things. I like their city, I like their colors, and I love their stadium, but if history predicts the future, I'm in for some rough times if I pick this team.

There was a little more to my Cardinals trip that I didn't write about, and those were my hosts (who have asked to remain anonymous). I've told you about the royal treatment I got and how they went all out, and that was great, but that wasn't what impressed me the most. What impressed me was talking to them, and hearing them talk about their team. They were realistic, they knew their fans weren't the die-hards that you see in Green Bay or Philadelphia, they knew they didn't have the championships of a Dallas or a Pittsburgh, but they were going to do everything in THEIR power to change that. For one of them, that meant writing a letter that completely nailed what this whole search was about. Then meeting the author of this letter and seeing where he wanted this team to go, I almost got chills. No they don't have the number of passionate, die-hard believers that other teams have, but I know for a fact they have 2 that would rival the 2 best from any other team.

Well, I want to make that 3. I choose the Arizona Cardinals. I want to be a part of where this team is going. I want to hurt when they lose and be on cloud nine when they win. I'm not kidding myself. Typing this and hitting post does not make me a die-hard fan, but I'm going to work at it. I'm going to follow them year in and year out, watch every game I possibly can, and do my best to get to Phoenix for a game when I can. I'm going to wear the merchandise, read the local papers, and treat them just like I treat the other teams I love. Hopefully 20 years from now, they'll be on that same level and have the same control over my heart. Maybe those 20 years will be full of championships and great memories, or maybe it will be two torturous decades, but isn't that always a risk we take and isn't that what makes being a fan so great? 

Monday, March 1, 2010

Why Do I Care? A Question of Fandom...

This is actually a note I wrote last May long before the premise of SWF, but I thought this would be a good place to share it as I get ready to hitch my wagon onto another team that will break my heart too many times to count. The good news is I can update the final paragraph with details of being in Orlando for Game 5 and watching the Lakers win the NBA Title in person, as well as being in Pasadena as Alabama did the same.  Unfortunately, I could also update the other paragraphs for another moment of mental instability as I watched Jonathan Broxton pitch around MATT STAIRS en route to blowing a crucial save against the Phillies that ultimately ended the Dodgers' World Series hopes.  I hope this sheds a little light on how seriously I take this and I hope you can relate. If you can't, I hope you get there one day...


I've started this note probably 5 times in the last two years and each time I've ended up just erasing it and forgetting it. It's too painful to write. I'm usually either trying to write it too soon after one of these catastrophic events or too far removed from the emotion to really capture it. But I'm kind of at the perfect time now. The playoffs are in full swing, flooding me with the painful memories of years past, but these are softened by the hope I have for this year. I'm watching the Bulls/Celtics series and wondering if I'd be able to survive this if it was the Lakers. I really don't think I could have survived it and I can't even imagine how anxious I'd be about Game 7. Bill Simmons pretty much nailed it in his article about Game 6 of the Bulls/Celtics (

I've been right there…more times than I want to admit.

I was there in 2005 when I refused to let anyone come into my apartment for Game 5 of the Finals because I knew this game was the end of the Shaq/Kobe era. I wanted to face this alone. I screamed at Shaq. I screamed at Kobe. I pleaded with Phil to go with a Shaq/Kobe/Fox/George/Fishe
r lineup and at least end this thing with the guys who started it. I threw everything that wasn't nailed down in my apartment. When it was over, I sat there…like I always do. I watched the Pistons celebrate. Then I had the conversation with my Dad that I have after every one of these games. The one where he tells me not to get too down, that we'll be back next year, and that it's just a game. The last conversation either of us want to have, but at the same time the only conversation either of us want to have.

I was there last summer after Game 5 of the Finals. I sat there on the couch, stunned for over an hour after the game. I forced myself to watch the post-game interviews, the press conferences, the highlights on SportsCenter. I was completely numb. I went to Wal-Mart at midnight, by myself, and walked around for two hours (literally) thinking about nothing but that game. How do you blow a 24 point lead in the 2nd half of the most important game of the Finals?

I was there in Bryant-Denny stadium too many times to count. The Arkansas OT game in 03. 4th and 19 in OT against Tennessee. I think I was the last one to leave the stadium after the LSU game in 07. Then there was a long drive back from Auburn in 05, and a long drive back from Atlanta this year. Then there were the threats I made against a certain kicker from my friend's basement after the '99 Orange Bowl…

I've got hundreds of stories like this. In the words of Louie De Palma, "that's just the tip of the iceberg. I got stories that will rip your heart out".

And I'm yet to even mention the Dodgers…

This is probably why I have a hatred in my heart for bandwagon fans that is rivaled by few things. Because they haven't been there. They've never had their hearts shredded by a team they've spent entirely too much of their lives following. They don't have to deal with the bad years, they just look elsewhere. If "their team" loses on a buzzer beater, it's not the end of the world. At least they got to see a great game. They've never had the postgame phone calls with their Dad where he talks them off the ledge, promises better times are ahead and reminds them it's just a game, even though they know he is just as crushed as they are.

It's at these moments that I envy the bandwagon fans. I find myself wondering "why do I care so much?" Wouldn't my life be much easier if I could just detach from this, watch as a casual fan and just enjoy the good times? Why did I lose the genetic lottery and end up wired so that a loss by a bunch of guys who I will most likely never meet can emotionally wreck me worse than almost anything that anyone I actually know could do?

Then I think about the other side of the equation…the payoff.

I think about driving back home from Papa John's pizza in 2000 during Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, everyone insisting to leave against my protest because the game was "over" at the end of the 3rd quarter. I remember searching my radio dial feverously trying to find ANYTHING that might let me know what was going on and finally stumbling across a static-filled broadcast for which I could understand an occasional word. As I got closer to home, I started to make out a little more excitement in the commentator's voice, and heard phrases like "the lead is down to 8" and "Lakers are within 4." I remember speeding into my driveway, running inside and celebrating with my Dad as I came in just in time for the replay of the Kobe-Shaq oop that capped off the comeback that I completely missed…but at that moment I didn't care.

I think about Derek Fisher's "0.4" shot. How I wanted to turn the TV off when Tim Duncan banked in that 3. How I was biting my tongue from saying things I'd regret to everyone I was watching that game with that was celebrating just because they "hated the Lakers". Then when that shot went in, how I didn't even have to say a word.

I think about hugging complete strangers in a state of euphoria when Matt Caddell brought down a TD catch as time expired against Arkansas. I think about watching Neyland Stadium and Death Valley empty out long before the games ended in 2002, then celebrating in those stadiums as time expired with nothing but Alabama fans. I think about just sitting there after the Iron Bowl, staring at the scoreboard, almost expecting the 36¬-0 on it to just disappear because I didn't deserve anything that good.

The saddest part is that I have way too many of the "bad" memories and too few of the "good". But that's what makes the "good" so great. It's remembering how low you were and knowing for that one moment it was well worth it. It's gladly accepting having your heart ripped out hundreds of times for that one time that you're on the other side. It's calling your Dad and neither of you even knowing what to say, but not needing to say a thing.

It's at these moments that I truly feel sorry for the bandwagon fans.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Single White Fan Seeks NFL Team...

It started with a void, a 26 year old American male without a team to root for in America's biggest sport... 

That led to a letter, a plea for the 31 NFL teams to make their case as to why they were the team for me...

While the letters were in the mail, a system was developed, a blueprint scoring, ranking, and differentiating the contenders...

The ball began to roll.  Teams were scored and ranked on tradition, location, uniforms, fans, the current team, intangibles, and their weekly performances...

Meanwhile, I checked the mail, and checked the mail, and checked the mail...

Then it happened.  An envelope with a logo and the anticipation and mystery of what was inside...

Then another letter came...and another...and another...and they kept coming...

Somewhere along the way, people began to notice...

First it was Sports Illustrated, then it was ESPN, then Rick and Bubba,  then the WJOX Roundtable, then the Times Daily,  then The Birmingham News, and then the Alabama Alumni Magazine...

Then the teams' fans made their cases, some inviting me to join the mayhem, some advising me to run the other way,  and some passionately pleading for respect...

One team went above and beyond to make their case, writing their own letter that capture what this was all about (as well as throwing in some swag for good measure).  They invited me to their place, and I accepted...

Then came the hard part...the cuts.  The first 2 were eliminated, then 2 more,  and so on,  and so on...

Then came the playoffs, and we went from 8, to 4, and now to 2....

And here we are...Kansas City Chiefs vs. Arizona Cardinals.  Both have made their case, both have survived the cuts, and both have their pros and their cons.  They're alike in some ways, both often struggling more than succeeding, both transitioning toward the future, and both, well, wearing red.  In other ways, they're completely different.  One is the pride its city while the other works to get their city behind them.  One roster has its share of stars while the other is building from youth.  Either team would make a great choice and its a shame I can't just root for both.

Things have gotten a little behind schedule, and for that I apologize.  But, we're close...really close, and by this time next week, I will have an NFL fan to root for.  Can I really just become a die-hard fan overnight?  No, but I can work at it.  I can follow the team, I can cheer for them year in and year out, and eventually the losses are going to start to sting and the victories are going to get sweeter.  I'll get there.

So to anyone who has kept up with the search and visited the site once, occasionally, or regularly, Thank You.  I hope you've enjoyed reading along a fraction as much as I've enjoyed writing it.

To anyone who has commented or e-mailed, Thank You.  I have read every comment, every e-mail, every tweet, every facebook message and I've appreciated every one of them (even if I've failed to respond).  I'd like to think I could write as convincing of cases for my teams as you all have for yours.

This has been a lot of fun and been one of the more memorable experiences I will ever have.  I had no idea if a single team would even respond, and still cannot believe I somehow ended up getting noticed by Sports Illustrated and interviewed by ESPN.  To those of you who have asked "what happens to the blog after you pick your team?", well, I'm not sure yet.  Maybe I'll keep it up and running and share what it's like to be a first year fan of a team.  We'll see...

So now, it's on to the moment of truth.  I hope you'll check back next week as I make the final decision and commit for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to the team I will spend the rest of my life supporting.  It's time to tie the knot...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Semifinals: Arizona Cardinals vs. Denver Broncos

2. Arizona Cardinals vs. 6. Denver Broncos

The second of the semifinals matchups pits the Arizona Cardinals against the Denver Broncos. The teams have gotten this far for very different reasons, one because they rolled out the red carpet and made a personal appeal, the other because they 're a team with a good history and fanbase in a great city.

Arizona Cardinals


  • The city of Phoenix. Great weather...plenty to do...just a cool place to visit.
  • An incredible stadium. It's lost a lot of the attention in the wake of Jerry-Land, but it's an impressive facility
  • Some big and diverse personalities on the roster like Larry Fitzgerald, Antrel Rolle, and Darnell Dockett
  • Oh, and there was this...and then there was this.


  • Not your most passionate fan-base. They've had some trouble filling the seats in recent years.
  • Not a lot of winning in the modern era.
  • Let's just say the QB position post-Kurt Warner is a big question mark

Denver Broncos

  • The city of Denver. A much different climate than Phoenix, but one of the best winter destinations in the country.
  • A more passionate and established fanbase. Rarely an empty seat no matter the weather
  • With Elway and a couple Super Bowls, a good team history to fall back on.


  • So they've got a young hot coach, who apparently no one likes.
  • While it's not about who sent the best stuff, the Broncos chose to make no case for themselves at all with no response.
  • Orange Crush uniforms? Awesome Today's? Awful

The Verdict:
So we've got two cities I'd have no problems spending a winter weekend in. One team brings a little more of a history and an established fanbase, the other team is looking to swing its past fortunes and build on some young talent on its roster. Both appealing, but...

I just can't get past one factor on this, and that is the way the Cardinals responded. It's not just about who made the best response, but the Cardinals was convincing and personal. They got to me. The letter, the invite, the name on the scoreboard. When someone makes a case like that, it's a little easier to take a chance on them.

Cardinals Move On....

Semifinals: Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs

We continue to fly along at a brisk pace here (right...) but it's time for the semis. I know I'm going into broken record mode, but for anyone still reading this, I sincerely apologize for the lack of updates. Since no team decided to put me on the payroll for this, I'm forced to make a living off my day job, which unfortunately involve a thing known as tax season. In my attempt to keep the unemployment numbers down, something's had to give...

But what we've started, we will finish. Which brings us to where we are today, the semi-finals....and for our first match-up

4.  Baltimore Ravens vs. 9. Kansas City Chiefs

These 2 have been a little bit of a surprise to this point. Neither is traditional power, neither is particularly close by, and neither is necessarily one of the first teams that come to mind when thinking of an NFL team to root for. Still, they've made their respective case in various categories and made strong cases as to why they're deserving of fandom. But, one's got to go. Let's review what these guys are bringing to the table...

Baltimore Ravens

  • I'm not ashamed at all to wear purple. In fact I encourage it. Show your royalty.
  • I respect the fans who waited it out until Baltimore got a team again. I know it wasn't the prettiest situation in which a team was brought back, but you can't blame Baltimore for that.
  • A fellow Bama alum at GM, so you know things are well run
  • A better-late-than-never response.
  • OK, I've been hard on Baltimore, especially considering I've never been there. I'm partly joking considering my own experience with the city involved Stringer Bell and Omar, but these are facts: it's not nearby and it is cold
  • The Ray Lewis factor
  • Joe Flacco's unibrow

Kansas City Chiefs

  • A terrific fan-base that shows up even wen the team doesn't
  • Legendary tailgating and bbq
  • Some of the best and most convincing e-mails/comments of any fan-base
  • A good, early response with a little bit of a personal touch
  • Haven't exactly established themselves as a traditional power, or even contender
  • Kanas City isn't in my top 10 cities to spend a winter weekend
  • Some young talent? Sure. Are they going to be winning any time soon? We'll see...
The Verdict:

This one isn't easy. Both teams have fanbases I'd be proud to be a part of, both teams have some major strengths, and both are imperfect enough where a full commitment will have its challenges. But one team's fanbase has made a more compelling case.

Throughout the search, despite not having the best scores and multiple appearances in the Bottom 10, I've heard from the Chiefs fans consistently. You can tell what it means to them to be Chiefs fans when they extoll the virtues of a Sunday at Arrowhead and share their optimism for the years to come. You can tell there are years of loyalty behind these emails and they're not going to let a few years of losing change that. Consider me persuaded. I'm intrigued by the stadium's atmosphere, the pride of the small market franchise, and a loyal, passionate fanbase. Who knows, maybe I'll be sending those emails one day.

Kansas City Chiefs with a big assist from their 12th man.

Down to the Wire

Talk about a last minute effort, look who decided to make a last-minute pitch.  Conveniently, it was one of the Final 4 remaining.  The Ravens have made their official response.  Let's look at the contents:

  • Form letter addressed to "Ravens Fan" discussing the teams optimism for the 2009 season (yes, 2009 season).
  • Ravens Sticker
  • Ravens Temporary Tattoo
  • Ravens Pocket Schedule
Ok, so they send me a letter about their upcoming 2009 season in 2010.  It happens.  I guess they were a little too focused on football to deal with these types of distractions during the season.  Not a bad response, but not Earth-shattering, but it was definitely fashionably late.  Intentional?  Perhaps...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quarterfinals: Arizona Cardinals vs Tennessee Titans

2.  Arizona Cardinals vs. 7. Tennessee Titans

Let's be honest, the Cardinals have established themselves as the popular choice among the millions across the nation who debate which team I will pick every morning. They gave quite possibly the perfect answer to my letter, keeping it personal but plentiful. Still, as I've said since the beginning, this wasn't about getting free stuff or who would send the best package, but it certainly doesn't hurt…

Arizona Cardinals

  • By far the best and most personal response from any team to date.
  • Phoenix - a great city with guaranteed perfect weather.
  • Larry Fitzgerald. Not just one of the best receivers in the NFL, but one of the best guys. You have to cheer for this guy
  • Oh, and this
  • So Kurt Warner retired, which leaves Matt Leinart at the helm…anyone nervous?
  • Their history involves a whole lot of losing
  • A pretty fair-weather fanbase, except they don't always show up when the team is winning
Tennessee Titans

Pros -
  • Nashville - An awesome city only a couple of hours away.
  • Chris Johnson's uncanny resemblance to Lil Wayne
  • The appeal of finally cheering for the local favorite pro team
  • Again, - Bud Adams' middle finger
Cons -
  • Blue on blue uniforms? Is a little contrast so wrong?
  • Sometimes, it's more fun to be the one guy NOT cheering for the local guys
  • It's widely expected if the Titans underachieve this year, Fisher is out. He's been the only coach in Nashville, so who knows what things will look at if that were to happen 
The Verdict:

At the beginning of the contest, I would have put the Titans among the favorites in this search. The appeal of having a team in Nashville spoke to me as I thought about the $200 I have to fork up for NBA League Pass to follow the Lakers or XM Radio to listen to Vin Scully and the Dodgers. Location has always been the Titans trump card, but it's just not enough.

Like the Falcons, the Titans have been a local team for a while, but it just hasn't stuck with me. I even had the chance to get in on the ground floor when the team relocated from Houston, but I just wasn't interested. That hasn't changed. Convenience should never be the reason to give away your heart.

Arizona moves on…

Quarterfinals: Baltimore Ravens vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

4. Baltimore Ravens vs. 12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The teams with the First Round Byes were a little predictable, except for one. The Steelers had the tradition. The Packers had the uniqueness. The Cardinals had the persuasion. The Ravens had…purple? The most unpredictable of the byes, but one of the more consistent scorers week in and week out. The Ravens have shown they aren't a one trick pony, scoring toward the top end of almost every category. But, then again, the Bucs have consistently survived the Bottom 10 for some reason…

Baltimore Ravens

Pros -
  • A patient, but rowdy fan-base.
  • How can you not love a team with an Alabama grad as the GM
  • When you take into account the Colts bolting on the city, it makes you forget the Ravens did the same thing to Cleveland
  • Gives me another excuse to wear purple...
Cons -
  • I watched The Wire, which means I don't have exactly the finest impression of Baltimore
  • While Ray Lewis is a heck of a linebacker, he's not exactly a player I'd love to root for
  • The only remaining cold-weather team, and this isn't exactly Denver

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pros -
  • Possibly the sharpest uniforms in football
  • Great location. Not too far away, good beaches nearby, and plenty to do.
  • Again, their stadium has a Pirate Ship.
Cons -
  • More often than not, they've been the Yuckaneers
  • The current team is a long way from competing.
  • Not exactly the most passionate of fan-bases.
The Verdict:
    With all due respect to the Bucs, this one isn't a contest. One team has been consistently at the top while the other has hung closer to the bottom. The Ravens scored well in every single category outside of location, while the Bucs clung to their high scoring uniforms and beach-side location. The Ravens are a legitimate contender here. They've got a lot to offer a new fan, including a team that's ready to compete, a unique history, intimidating uniforms, and a fanbase that waited a long time for football. They're not going away easily.

    Ravens in a beat-down

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    Quarterfinals: Pittsburght Steelers vs. Denver Broncos

    2. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. 6. Denver Broncos

    The SWF Playoffs continue with the Steelers taking on AFC foe the Denver Broncos. Two teams with good histories, strong fanbases, and young coaches.

    Pittsburgh Steelers
    Pros -
    - 6 Super Bowl Titles. You can't really argue with that.
    - Coaching abilities aside, Mike Tomlin is the coolest coach in the NFL. Hands down.
    - Rabid, passionate fan-base
    - The epitome of a well-run sports team. The consistency starts with the Rooney family and works its way down.

    Cons -
    - True Steelers fans are among the NFL's best…but along with winning comes a lot of fringe fans. The Steelers bandwagon may be full.
    - Pittsburgh is a great American city full of good, hardworking people. But I'm not aware of any ski slopes or snow lodges in Pittsburgh
    - No response to my letter…heartbreaking.

    Denver Broncos -

    Pros -
    • Great winter vacation spot. A city I'd love to go to even if there was no football involved.
    • Not as many Super Bowl Titles as the Steelers, but a solid team history thanks to Mr. Elway.
    • An underrated, loyal fan-base.
    • Knowshon Moreno. The guy is fun to watch.

    Cons -
    • Josh McDaniels may turn out to be a good coach, but do you really want to cheer for him over Tomlin?
    • Those colors...still bad.
    • Also failed to respond to my letter.

    The Verdict:
    There are a million good things you can say about the Steelers organization. It's class from the top down, and has set the precedent in how an organization should be run. It's got a unrivaled tradition, an incredible fanbase, and is one of those teams that can be having a .500 season, but if you beat them it's still a big deal. There's a reason they battled the Packers for the #1 score in the rankings all year.

    But I don't think I can pick the Steelers. It's too easy of a choice. Of course if you're rating teams the Steelers are going to come out on top. The most Super Bowls, legendary players and coaches, one of the 2 largest fan-bases, it's just too easy. The true fans of Pittsburgh define what passionate, loyal fandom is all about and few cities intertwine the personality of their city with that of their team. That's bigger than picking a team based off a scoring system (and I'll be honest, my gut's just not with them).

    I've extolled the virtues of Denver previously, and those still hold true.

    The Broncos in the upset...

    Quarterfinals: Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

    1.  Green Bay Packers vs. 9.  Kansas City Chiefs

    This side of the bracket continues to be a matchup of the small market powerhouses. After knocking off Buffalo,the Chiefs face the most notorious of the small-town phenomenons in the Green Bay Packers. The difference this time is that with the small town comes a lot of history and big-time national exposure, not to mention a #1 seed. But, being a true Packers fan isn't an easy task. Am I up for the challenge?

    Green Bay Packers 

    Pros -
    • You won't find a better team history in the NFL (but you might find on just as good in Pittsburgh).
    • The uniforms. I'm a sucker for the green/yellow combo.
    • Incredible fan-base. I won't live long enough to see a non-sellout at Lambeau.
    • The only team actually owned by its fans.
    Cons -
    • I will absolutely freeze in Lambeau field. I'm border-line convinced that my blood would turn to slush.
    • If Southwest doesn't fly to a City, that's gonna be a problem.
    • I'm always one of the "non-stock-owning" fans. I'll never have an answer for that trump card in a discussion with another fan.
    Kansas City Chiefs

    Pros -
    • Also a great fan base that has had less to root for that the Packers.
    • Persuasive responses via e-mails/comments from the fans and
    • Any team that shares its colors with Hulk Hogan is o.k. by me.
    • Kansas City's location isn't normally a strength, but compared to Green Bay? It's like Vegas.
    Cons -
    • Comparatively speaking, the team's history doesn't look too great.
    • They traded away Jared Allen…
    • I'm still not sure if it's in Kansas or Missouri…

    What's the cost of cheering for a winner? Would you give up your time to watch them week in and week out? Absolutely? Will you give your emotion well-being to ride the rollercoaster of fandom? Sure. Will you give your money to travel to distant parts of the county just to \catch them live once a year or so? No question. Would you sit in sub-zero temperatures, knowing that your toes may never have their full flexibility that they enjoyed pre-frostbite, wondering at what temperature blood actually freezes? Umm…

    I'm sure Green Bay's a lovely town. Here's the problem, I can't get there. OK, I can get there, but it's going to require a flight, a car rental with unlimited mileage, and then I'm going to have to pay a ridiculous amount for a ticket to sit in single digit temps and snow. I'm just going to say it…I'm not man enough to be a true Green Bay Packer fan.

    Kansas City Chiefs Stays Hot

    Friday, February 5, 2010

    Update and Apology

    For anyone still reading who hasn't given up on this yet, thanks. I do apologize for the lack of updates lately. It's just been a hectic few weeks lately.

    As you may or may not know, today was supposed to be the day that I picked my team. Well, as you can see, we're still only in the 2nd round of the playoffs (and I'm currently working out of town). I've put too much time into this to rush through and just get to an ending, so I'm going to push it back. I'll set a definite time, but in the next week or two we will wrap this up and I will have my team.

    For those of you who think it's moot because I'm going to pick the Cardinals, well, that's not really true. Have they made a strong case? Absolutely. Are they the leader? Probably. But there are a couple other teams that still have my eye as well. We'll just see how it goes.

    Thanks again for reading and I hope to get back on track with the playoffs this weekend.

    Saturday, January 30, 2010

    Round 1: Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers - No Introductions Necessary

    6. Denver Broncos vs. 11. San Diego Chargers

    The final matchup of Round 1 is a familiar one, and one not too friendly. The old AFC West rivals find themselves squared off in Round 1. This one may be a battle of the two best vacation spots in the winter, whether it be embracing the snow in a ski lodge in Denver or hitting the beach in November in San Diego. In addition, they're two teams with pretty good histories and interesting casts of characters currently. Let's see what they offer...

    Denver Broncos

    Pros -
    •  Perhaps the cold-weather city with the biggest upside. Sure, there's snow and it's bitter cold, but it's easier to deal with in a ski lodge.
    • A solid team history (thought most of it is due to Elway)
    • -Some of the best fans out west. Normally loyal and passionate (though they did let the Steeler fans infiltrate earlier this year
    Cons -
    • While a weekend of skiing/football sounds like a good idea, going into debt doesn't.
    • The talking heads have gone from doubting to praising and back to doubting Josh McDaniel. I don't have a strong opinion either way, but he's not exactly making friends, so he better back it up with some wins.
    • Not a big fan of the orange and blue.
    San Diego Chargers

    • Southern California and all that comes with it. Perfect weather, beaches, In-N-Out Burger...
    •  They don't wear it enough, but you can't beat the powder-blue.
    •  Philip Rivers. I know he's not everyone's favorite QB, but I like the guy.
    • Shawne Merriman. Where do I begin on this one...
    •  They've had a couple decent stretches in their history (including the current one), but no Super Bowl titles.
    •  Like Denver, great place to visit, but an expensive one
    The Verdict 

    An intense rivalry on the field in recent years, and it's just as intense here. 2 teams in 2 great winter vacation destinations (for completely different reasons). The Broncos have the better fans, the Chargers the better unis. The biggest difference here may a couple of Super Bowl titles that reside in Denver while none have made it to Southern Cali as of yet.

    The San Diego/Southern Cal connections seems to put them closer to my other 2 loves out west (the Dodgers and Lakers), even though the Padres/Chargers fans might not welcome a Dodgers fan to their ranks (then again, maybe a Broncos/Rockies fan wouldn't either). Still, Denver is a team that's a little more appealing. Their fans are great and I've always needed an excuse to go skiing. While they haven't been a powerhouse in recent years, they've also shown they're willing to make changes to try to improve (though the result have varied). And honestly, I'm just not sure I could ever cheer for Shane Merriman in anything...

    Denver on top...

    Monday, January 25, 2010

    Round 1: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Miami Dolphins - The Battle for Florida

    12. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. 5. Miami Dolphins

    Who doesn't love Florida? The beach? The sun? The food? It makes perfect sense that the two of the three Sunshine State residents have hung around for the playoffs. Unfortunately, as fate would have it, only one can advance to Round 2 as the state champ.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

    Pros -
    • Raymond James Stadium has a Pirate Ship that fires footballs from a cannon when the team scores. You just can't beat that.
    • Great uniforms and colors. You can't go wrong with pewter.
    • Who doesn’t love a city with a Busch Gardens?
    • A quick Southwest flight (or 8 hour drive) away...
    • Plenty of room on the bandwagon

    Cons -
    • Pirates are so 2008…
    • Outside of late Dungy/early Gruden years, a pretty rough history
    • Not exactly a modern day powerhouse, either
    • The Glazers' purse-strings seemed to have tightened since buying Manchester U. Are they still committed to building a winner?

    Miami Dolphins

    • Lone residents of Perfectville
    • South Beach…
    • "Snowflake" stole the show in Ace Ventura
    • Coach Sporano. I just like the guy. The mustache. Refusing to take ever take off his sunglasses. How his name is almost Tony Soprano.
    • Bob Baumhower, not because he also played for the Tide, but more-so because of the Honey BBQ Wings at his restaurants.

    • Aqua and Coral. I think I've worn bad Easter outfits with these colors in my younger days.
    • Mercury Morris and the Champagne Sippers. They're just obnoxious…
    • It's debatable if the Dolphins are the most popular football team in their own city (see The U).
    • They will never have another year better than 1972. Kind of makes it awkward to jump on board 27 years later.

    The Verdict
    For two teams from the same state, these two couldn't be much more different, from their histories down to their uniform colors, one's strength is typically the other's weakness. Tampa Bay is a team that reversed its fortune somewhat from switching from one of the worst uniforms in the league to one of the best, following up a few years later with its first Super Bowl title. Since then, things have been a little rocky, however. Miami is a team with a big personality, flaunting it's Perfectville residency card to the edge of obnoxiousness, but with a coaching staff and roster with a new look, feel and personality of their own.

    Everyone knows that if you're looking for the upset in March, look at the 12 vs. 5 matchups. The same holds true in January. The 1972 Dolphins were a great team, possibly the greatest ever.  The problem is if I cheer for the Dolphins now, the best I'll ever see will probably be the 2nd best team in franchise history.  There's just something to be said for getting to the very top of the pyramid for the first time. I'll pass on sipping champagne with Mercury and the boys…

    Tampa Bay's Turn to Pop the Bottles...

    Friday, January 22, 2010

    Round 1: Tennessee Titans vs. Washington Redskins (a.k.a. Snyder vs. Adams)

    7. Tennessee Titans vs. 10. Washington Redskins

    This is probably the one matchup in the first round where the teams have little in common (i.e. the battle of small markets, the battle for Florida, and the AFC West matchup). Perhaps the only thing they share are big-name owners, one known for his meddling and the other more recently famous for his "flipping".

    Tennessee Titans

    Pros -
    -  Location, Location, Location
    - Bud Adams' middle finger
    - Chris Johnson...e-lec-tric
    - Only a 3 hour drive away, about 6 hours closer than any other remaining team

    Cons -
    - Those uniforms could use some work
    - They've been 3 hours away for years, so why haven't they hooked me yet?
    - Jeff Fisher's seat is a little toasty right now
    - Sure V.Y. is fun to watch, but his first few years haven't been exactly consistent.

    Washington Redskins

    Pros -
    - Brought in a proven coach for some stability (if the front office will let him)
    - D.C. is a great city to visit any time of year
    - Solid team history and tradition
    - A loyal/passionate fan-base intact

    Cons -
    - Daniel Snyder. As long as he's in charge, you just expect turmoil
    - The current roster isn't exactly inspiring
    - Traveling to D.C. can put a dent in the budget
    - What is up with the pig noses?

    The Verdict
    These two teams strengths are very different. The Titans offer a young team only a short drive away while the Redskins offer a franchise with a strong tradition and an established fan-base. Likewise, they've both got a lot of uncertainties. The Redskins leadership has been anything but stable over the last ten years while the Titans have their own coach with a seat warming up and a young, talented QB with leadership questions. While both teams offer a lot of good, they also bring a lot of risk.

    At the end of the day, the decision comes down to 2 things. First, why should I believe that the Daniel Snyder reign will improve? He's plowed through coaches (some big names as well so let's not assume Shanahan is immmune to this) and led an all-together dysfunctional franchise of the last 10 years. Secondly, the appeal of a pro team just a short drive away is hard to overlook (considering my other 2 pro teams are across the country).

    Titans with a Music City Miracle

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Round 1: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills (a.k.a. the Battle of the Little Guys)

    8. Kansas City Chiefs vs. 9. Buffalo Bills

    These two teams have a lot in common. They both represent smaller markets, they both have extremely passionate fan-bases, and they're two of the best destinations for tailgating in the league. The similarities don't end there. Right now, neither team is very good at football. They've both recognized this fact and have started to make strides to correct that problem. The Chiefs by cleaning house last year and bringing in some good young talent. The Bills in the last few weeks, culminating today with the hiring of (drumroll please...) Chan Gailey.

    If you asked me at the beginning of this search, these weren't two teams I would have predicted to find itself in the final 12. What I wasn't expecting was the passionate and persuasive e-mails and comments from both fan-bases. No teams' fans have stated their teams' cases as effectively as these two, which makes it a little tough to see them matched up in the 1st round. But neither of these teams are strangers to tough luck, so maybe it shouldn't be a surprise.

    Kansas City Chiefs

    Pros -
    - Incredibly loyal/passionate fan-base with some persuasive e-mails
    - Kansas City BBQ (ok, I've never had it (I mean, I've had BBQ, just not KC), but I've heard good things.
    - Somewhat personalized team response
    - Sharp uniforms
    - Good young talent with a bright future

    Cons -
    - Kansas City isn't exactly a hot tourist destination
    - Outside of a run in the 90's, the team has struggled since 1969
    - A surprisingly long drive from Birmingham
    - Constant confusion over whether the team is located in Kansas or Missouri

    Buffalo Bills

    Pros -
    - The first team to send a response to the letter
    - The most emails/comments/bribes of any fan-base
    - I love buffalo wings. I'm kind of a soft and don't go for the really hot ones, but I enjoy a solid medium or the occasional honey bbq.
    - No threat of being accused of "jumping on the bandwagon"
    - Leading vote-getter in the fan vote

    Cons -
    - Buffalo. Not the easiest city to get to and not exactly a tourist attraction.
    - The weather.
    - They're bad. And while Chan Gailey is an underrated coach, the hire doesn't exactly have anyone dancing in the streets.
    - A reputation for breaking hearts

    The Verdict
    This may be the toughest choice of the first round. There are good reasons for both teams (very few of which relate to their actual on the field product). I want to keep the Bills around. They were the first team to respond. Their fans made the most noise. They're winning the poll. On the other hand, the Chiefs fans have been just as vocal and passionate. Their response, while not as swift as the Bills, was a little more personal. They're struggling in the fan vote, but the majority of those votes were cast very early when the Bills were one of only 2 teams that had responded (the Lions were the other, which explains why they actually got 225 votes).

    So with that said, what does this come down to? Well, it's a case of which fanbase I could see myself a part of on Sundays. Both groups tailgate early and have filled the stadium for some bad teams, but there's just something about the sea of red at Arrowhead on Sundays. Bills fans, you've been absolutely great and you got me excited about this search from the get-go with your numerous emails and comments. For a team that gets no national love and ignored all too often, I was blown away by your passion. But, at the end of the day, I just don't think I'm cut out for those Buffalo winters.

    Kansas City in a nail-biter...

    Let Me Upgrade You - THE Playoff Bracket

    Huge thanks to reader/college friend Kyle for the upgrade on the bracket. He rightfully informed me that my bracket caused cornea burns. This is much better.

    Friday, January 15, 2010


    Yes Jim, Playoffs. And below is a link to the official Single White Fan Playoffs. The winner's prize? My allegiance.

    Single White Fan Playoff Bracket

    Setting the Brackets - The Final 12

    The plan all along here has been to get to a playoff style format, set up the same as the NFL's with the top 12 teams, eventually getting down to just 1. Here's the problem - we've got 14 teams left (easily fixable by cutting 2) but only 5 are NFC. Since the plan has to been to set this up similar to the NFL (i.e. NFC and AFC brackets), this leaves me with a decision: a) Cut 3 AFC teams to get to 6 and bring one NFC team back from the dead b) Cut 2 AFC teams and move the lowest-ranked over to the NFC bracket or c) cut the AFC/NFC idea altogether and just seed the top 12.

    After much consideration, I think option C is the way to go. After all, it's not about figuring out my favorite team in a division or my favorite team in a conference, but which single team will capture my heart from here til eternity. If I restrict this by conference or division, maybe I'm forced to pit 2 teams tugging at my heart-strings against each other too early, leading to a decision I end up regretting a couple of weeks later. Sure, it's going to be a hard decision either way, but at least this way the toughest decisions can (theoretically) be saved for last.

    So with that said, we've got to get down to 12 teams, which means 2 have to go. With that said, the Packers, the Steelers, the Cardinals, and the Ravens are the current top 4, thereby escaping the dreaded Bottom 10:

    Bottom 10

    Miami Dolphins - 71
    Denver Broncos - 69
    San Francisco 49ers - 68
    Tennessee Titans - 66
    Kansas City Chiefs - 66
    Buffalo Bills - 63
    Washington Redskins - 60
    San Diego Chargers - 60
    Indianapolis Colts - 59
    Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 57

    So which 2 are missing the playoffs?

    Indianapolis Colts - I like the tradition.  I like the jerseys.  I even like the new stadium.  Still, the Colts have a couple of problems here.  First, The Band That Wouldn't Die documentary on ESPN wounded me.  I know it was a long time ago and all of those guys are long gone, but that thing was powerful.  Second, "Colts fans" have popped up a little too often here in recent years, and why not?  They're in one of the best runs of franchise history and have been one of the best teams in the last decade.  They're mind-blowingly consistent, and they've got one of the greatest QBs of all time.  Oh, but about him...that's  number 3.  I don't have anything against Peyton Manning as a person.  He seems to be a good enough guy.  His commercials make me laugh.  But, when I look at him, all I see is ugly, pale, Tennessee orange...

    San Francisco 49ers - An e-mail I received from a lad named Andrew puts this into words better than I can:

    As a SF Giants and 49er fan since birth, I am writing to you in regards to a team that you should NOT choose. Please, with all due respect, do not choose the 49ers. Although, the fan base would welcome you as a fan, once they find out that you are a “fanatical relationship” with the Dodgers and Lakers, they will turn on you like an Eagles fan. The fact that I even typed “Dodgers” and “Lakers” makes me want to chop my hands off.

    Being a fan of So Cal teams is pretty much blasphemy to those fans of Bay Area teams and vice versa in So Cal. It also looks (due to the lack of posts about the 49ers—other than the NFC west breakdowns) that you would be fighting yourself if you were to choose the 49ers. So why be a fan of a team that, internally, you secretly despise? Plus, the 49ers have something good going now. They look like they have turned the corner and are not a bottom barrel team anymore. The one thing they do not need is someone brining that negative Dodger / Laker loyalty to the team.

    You are still welcome to visit the city, eat the cuisines, and cheer for your teams against the Giants, 49ers, Warriors, Kings, etc. But please, please, please don’t ever don the red and gold. Do us all a favor and eliminate them from your list ASAP.

    Thanks for your time,

    Andrew, you're absolutely right. It'd never work. See ya San Fran...

    Next up:  The playoff bracket itself....

    Thursday, January 14, 2010

    At the End of the Day... - Intangibles

    So we're almost done. I've ranked the teams on a number of categories, attempting to be as unbiased and objective as possible. Still, I needed to leave myself a little wiggle-room for the gut feelings and the "just because". That's what this category is. The intangibles. I don't have to justify, defend, or give a reason for any of these. They are what they are. This wraps up the scoring, which means the next step is to set the playoff brackets, which means a couple of teams are getting the boot. Check back later for the next steps.


    Baltimore Ravens - I've never liked the Ravens. Don't ask why, I just didn't. But they're a team I've found myself liking more and more as I've "gotten to know them" throughout this process. Plus, how can an Alabama grad not love Ozzie Newsome at GM? I still think the 30 for 30 documentary was the best thing that happened to the Ravens chances in this.


    Buffalo Bills - They were the first team to respond, and so far the most vocal of the fanbases. They appear to be the winner of the poll as well. They're not the easiest team to follow afar, but they've done their part to pitch their case.


    Denver Broncos - They're the only cold-weather team that might be able to use the snow as an advantage. A great excuse to get to the mountains of Colorado in the wintertime, but I may need a loan.


    Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers seem so logical that they're almost too logical. That might be the biggest problem with them is that they've been the easy pick for lots of casual NFL fans. Still, there's a lot to like with this franchise.


    Indianapolis Colts - They're a fairly safe pick here. Not a polarizing city, consistent over the last decade, nice new stadium, and sharp colors. Still, what happens post-Peyton? And he's still a Tennessee grad isn't he?


    Miami Dolphins - I know they're the only residents of Perfectville, but they're a little obnoxious about it aren't they. Hard to align with Mercury Morris at this point. The current team is exciting and fun to watch, however.


    Kansas City Chiefs - The Chiefs have been in the Bottom 10 basically every week, but I can't pull the trigger on them. They've got a small town, close-knit feel and a great fan-base. I just can't quit them (yet).


    San Diego Chargers - There's no L.A. team to choose, but there is a So-Cal one, and I was reminded this weekend how great So-Cal is. The Bolts would be an excuse to get to an In-N-Out Burger.


    Tennessee Titans - I'm getting a lot of sentiment locally to go with the nearby Titans. I must admit, it'd be nice to finally root for a pro team that's only a short drive away, and the future looks bright with Young and Johnson. But, like the Falcons, shouldn't they have hooked me a long time ago?



    Green Bay Packers - Love everything about the team, except the cold. Don't get me wrong, Lambeau is on the bucket list, but can I in good conscience cheer for a team from the comfort of a mild Alabama winter while the rest of the fans sit in single-digit temps?


    Tampa Bay Buccaneers - The Bucs haven't been much to write home about outside of the Dungy/Gruden eras, so taking them on is a risk. Still, great uniforms in a great city to visit that isn't too far is appealing.


    Washington Redskins - So some things have changed since the last rankings, with the future slightly more certain with Shanahan. Still, it's the same owner...


    San Francisco 49ers - Love the coach, love the tradition, but as I was reminded in an email from a lovely 49ers fans, once the other 49er fans find out I am a Dodgers/Lakers fan, they're gonna hate me.


    Arizona Cardinals - Honestly, at this point, what more can these guys do?


    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    Head West Young Man

    About to head to Pasadena for the next few days for the BCS Championship and hopefully an Alabama National Title. When I return, we'll set up the brackets for the "Single White Fan Playoffs" and move forward towards choosing my NFL team.

    Roll Tide