I have a 10-year-old son who spends every other weekend with me. On Saturdays during football season we will usually tune in and out of whatever college games are being shown on ESPN America. And although my son doesn’t speak any English and certainly doesn’t know a single college team, as soon as we switch on the game his question will invariably be, "Daddy, which one is your favorite team?". Most of the time I don’t have a particular preference and tell him so. This baffles him to no end.
He will always quickly pick out which team to root for. Sometimes it’s based on the color of the uniforms, sometimes on the team mascot, sometimes on the marching band, sometimes on a story I tell him about the team. When he has picked his team, I will pick the other team as my favorite. This pleases him to no end – at least until my team takes the lead. Then he switches his allegiance. Naturally, he insists that I have to switch mine as well. That way, he always comes out on top. Clever little bastard.
Luckily for me, I'm not terribly invested in college football, so I can appreciate the game being played without my enjoyment of the game being clouded by a particular dislike of a team, coach or player. But in the NFL, it's entirely different. There are teams in the league that I automatically root against - and not just in the NFC East.
As much as I like to rationalize away my emotions about the game and its players, there are teams that just rub me the wrong way. This holds especially true for our NFC East division rivals of course.
During the summer ESPN rebroadcast the Villanova @ Eastern Washington game from December 17 last year. Again, I'm not that familiar with college football so I sat down to watch the game, happy to have some football during the lockout. When the game started, I noticed that the Eastern Washington team are called the Eagles. Duh! So I naturally started rooting for Villanova to beat up on the Eagles. After about five minutes I started thinking, "Villanova? Aren't they from ... let me see ... hmmm ... PHILADELPHIA!"
I shut off the TV right away.
Everybody has a story like that about a divisional rival, but what about teams outside of the division? Which ones do you feel particularly strongly about?
Would it be teams like the 49ers or Steelers, with whom the Cowboys have long had rivalries? Or would it be the Saints or Packers because they've been more successful recently? Perhaps your dislike for a particular team is based on a single player like Jay Cutler, Tim Tebow or Tom Brady. Maybe it's the fan base of a team that you find particularly insufferable. You may even dislike a team for no obvious or rational reason at all.
For me, anytime a team gets too full of itself, and starts proclaiming itself as the "dream team" or "the Miami Heat of the NFL" that's the team I root against, because I love nothing more than some good Schadenfreude - a malicious delight in other peoples' misfortunes. But wait, wasn't this supposed to be about non-division teams?
Correct, and here are two prominent Jets from last year:
- We're building a dream team.' Which makes me wonder when the Jets will get a dream quarterback instead of a guy impersonating an NFL-quality quarterback. : '
- We're the Miami Heat of football.' Funny though how the Miami Heat didn't collect a bunch of veteran players on the downside of their careers. : '
The Jets are the team I root against. It obviously helps that they also wear green. They even sound like that other team in green. Boy, am I pumped for the first game of the season!
So which non-division team do you like the least?