In recent days, soccer fans have been coming out of the woodwork, showing their allegiance to “the world’s game” as World Cup fever starts to reach a fever pitch. Jumping on the bandwagon of Team USA makes sense; national pride will get sports fans to tune into almost anything. But the conversations have also revealed that plenty of people in the United States have become fans of overseas teams as well.
Real Madrid. Barcelona. Manchester United. Bayern Munich. Arsenal. Name a prominent European team and someone in America is suddenly on their bandwagon.
It becomes an obvious question: Why do people with no built-in allegiance to a team wind up becoming a fan?
Which leads to an interesting hypothetical. If roles were reversed and people from other countries were forming a bond with a National Football League team, which ones would they gravitate toward?
It led the editorial staff at cover32 to rate each NFL franchise based on their likability. The idea is simple: If a fan was neutral, what teams would they be most attracted to.
Here’s how things shook out:
1. Pittsburgh Steelers – They win consistently, which is nice. But they don’t take shortcuts to success, as the Steelers don’t buy their championship rosters. There’s something honorable about rooting for a team that is loyal and has work ethic.
2. Green Bay Packers – Being able to own a piece of the team would be cool. So too would the fact that the league’s championship trophy is named after the franchise’s former coach. Green Bay is the closest thing to a college atmosphere in the NFL.
3. Buffalo Bills – There’s a Chicago Cubs quality about the Bills; there’s a lovable loser element that dates to date to their four-consecutive Super Bowl losses in the 1990s. But they also possess a fiercely loyal fan base and have an underdog quality.
4. Cleveland Browns – One certainly wouldn’t jump on the Browns bandwagon because they wanted enjoy easy victory; instead, it’d be about being a part of a group that has endured a lot of pain in search of eventual victory.
5. Kansas City Chiefs – There’s a classic Midwestern charm to the Chiefs, as their diehard fans have avoided the corporate pitfalls that plague so many teams. It’s good people in search of another title, something 40 years in the making.
6. New York Jets – While the Giants fans are bluebloods, the Jets backers are the working class folks who give the Big Apple its swagger. Hanging out with a hard-working guy beats a Wall Street tycoon any day of the week, especially on Sundays.
7. Dallas Cowboys – As annoying as it may be to many NFL fans, the allure of “America’s Team” still remains; that’s something that people want to be a part of, as there’s a certain mystique that comes with the rich guy everyone roots against.
8. Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons are interesting to people who want to get on board with a promising team – Matt Ryan and Julio Jones make them that – but aren’t the obvious choice. Given their meager track record, Atlanta is an obscure choice.
9. Detroit Lions – A high-powered offense would make rooting for the Lions a fun experience; every Sunday is sure to at least produce some excitement. Being a part of the excitement that comes to Detroit when they win a title would be special.
10. Oakland Raiders – It may be a difficult group to understand, but it’s hard not to be envious of those who root for the Silver and Black. Everyone wants to belong to a group that is so passionate and loyal; Raiders fans have each other’s backs.
11. Indianapolis Colts – For those who don’t like to be a long-suffering fan, the Colts would be a great choice; they’re the fortunate franchise that transitioned from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck after just one dismal season. That’s living right.
12. Denver Broncos – While it would be nice to root for Peyton Manning every Sunday, it’d feel a little dirty, knowing that he was a mercenary brought in for one purpose. Plus, knowing what’s to come after his retirement would loom large.
13. New York Giants – Yes, rooting for the Giants is sort of like pulling for Microsoft, the IRS or Bank of America; but organizations with deep pockets, lots of connections and tons of resources tend to not disappoint their supporters.
14. Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings have a unique look with the purple and the whole Scandinavian thing. Plus, they too evoke some compassion, given that they came up short during all four of their trips to the Super Bowl.
15. Chicago Bears – There’s a history associated with the Bears, dating back to George Halas, that would be cool to tap into. But having to constantly harken back to the 1985 team would get annoying after a while; so too would Jay Cutler.
16. Cincinnati Bengals – Someone would have to be searching for punishment if they willingly chose to be a Bengals fan, as the franchise has been mired in mediocrity (at best) for two decades. But there have been sparks of hope the past three seasons.