Can nobody qualify as being "America's Team?"
This holiday weekend, ESPN polled 1,500 fans to identify their favorite team. Far from an official scientific poll, the telephone question included anyone age 12 or older to respond to who is their favorite team. And the winner?
The Dallas Cowboys "won" the poll with 8.8 percent on respondents claiming Dallas to be their favorite team. However, 10.3 percent of the poll questionees voted the proverbial "none of the above" – failing to identify a favorite team.
The Cowboys being voted the favorite NFL team shouldn't really have come as any surprise. If there was a vote asking who is your least favorite team, Dallas might win that distinction as well.
The Vikings finished a distant 14th with 2.2 percent of the vote and finished in a virtual tie with the Detroit Lions. Of the top 15 teams in terms of popularity in the ESPN poll, all four teams from NFC North and NFC East were included, apparently showing that the NFC holds sway in terms of fan popularity, holding down the top three spots and seven of the top nine.
The top 10 teams of fan favoritism were Dallas, Green Bay (7.2 percent), the New York Giants (7.1), Pittsburgh (7.1), New England (6.8), Chicago (4.2), New Orleans (4.1), San Francisco (4.0), Philadelphia (3.9) and Denver (3.8).
None of those results seem out of line, since they include several recent championship teams and large-market teams like the Bears and Eagles. Once you get out of the top 10, things get pretty close.
From Denver at No. 10, the dropoff in national popularity gets pretty pronounced. No. 11 Indianapolis (2.8 percent) is a full percentage point behind No. 10 and the slide continued quickly thereafter with Oakland (2.5 percent) at No. 12, followed by the Redskins (2.4), Vikings (2.2), Detroit (2.2), Miami (1.9), Kansas City (1.6), Seattle (1.6), the Jets (1.5), San Diego (1.5), Cleveland (1.5), Buffalo (1.4) and Baltimore (1.3).
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the meaty fat middle of the curve was how low the Jets (No. 19) and the Ravens (No. 23) are. The Jets come from the largest media/fan market in the country and both the Jets and Ravens have enjoyed considerable success in recent years. How they could end up behind the Raiders is hard to fathom, much less the Ravens, who are at the end of the bottom 10 teams in popularity.
Nobody wants to be in the bottom 10 because it tells you that, if you are a fan of that team, you pretty much stand alone. So who are the teams that should be handing out bags at the door for their fans to wear as official team gear? Just like the top 10, there aren't a lot of surprises here, either.
At the bottom is Jacksonville, which pulled in a microscopic 0.4 percent of the fan vote. The Jags, who have put tarps over upper-deck seats so as not to appear to be a WNBA franchise, are followed by St. Louis (0.7), Cincinnati (0.8), Arizona (0.8), Carolina (1.0), Tennessee (1.1), Atlanta (1.2), Tampa Bay (1.2), Houston (1.2) and Baltimore (1.3).
It may not be a coincidence that, of the bottom 10 teams, all but Atlanta and Cincinnati are teams that either were part of the expansion era or teams that have relocated. Of the bottom 10 teams in terms of popularity, four of them were teams that relocated from another city and another fan base.
Does the poll mean anything? While far from being scientific in nature – 12-year olds aren't a reliable polling source – it does speak to the NFL as to who fans want to see play. The Vikings have a loyal fan base that has kept them in the middle of the pack and could serve as a reason why they shouldn't have been candidates for relocation to Los Angeles … and why the Jaguars and Rams should be on the top of the list.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Who is winning the NFL popularity contest?
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