You may have seen this Harris Poll about how the Denver Broncos are the most popular NFL team in America, and the Dallas Cowboys — often called “America’s Team” in an offensive way — are actually fourth. (2) is the Green Bay Packers — not surprising, if you’ve ever been to the upper Midwest — and (3) is the New York Giants, which makes sense because NYC has a ton of people, and a lot of those people leave NYC and remain fans, etc, etc. “The cycle of fandom” and so on and so forth.
The Denver Broncos thing shouldn’t surprise you. They’re almost always in a major 4:25pm ET game, and there are a ton of states around Colorado without much going on in the way of pro/college sports. If you look at Facebook maps like the one below, the Broncos’ fandom dominates about (literally) 1/4 of the country:
Where it gets interesting, though, is the bottom rung.
The five least popular teams in America, via the Harris Poll, are:
That list moves upward, although the Titans and Jaguars are tied for last.
I’ve written a little about the Bucs before — no one wants to attend their games — but the Titans and Jaguars situations are interesting, if not other-worldly. Consider:
Jaguars: While they have been dodging TV blackouts, this is not a good team — they’re 0-6 — and hasn’t been a good team for a long time. That informs some of the popularity issue. Part of it is also Florida — there’s more to do and more sun out generally, so people don’t necessarily want to go sit around in a stadium for four-five hours (the Dolphins and Bucs don’t have great attendance either). Part of it is just bone-headed decisions and marketing. Consider: why do we keep talking about moving the Jaguars? How would that inspire people to come out and see the brand? Also: I know there’s all this stuff about how Tim Tebow isn’t a pro QB, and for the most part, I do agree with that. However, he did throw this pass and win this game:
He’s from Jacksonville. They could have done worse than to draft him, or get him in free agency.
Good news for the Jaguars is that, while they have a lot of issues to deal with, they do have a young stud-type QB in Blake Bortles and he has an attractive girlfriend who likes to pose in bikinis, which might help the brand for some:
Titans: Seems like the wheels fell off here when Jeff Fisher was canned a few years back — or perhaps even a couple of years before that. Apparently they just made some questionable warm-up music decisions, but the real issue seems to be the age of the stadium (old) and these bullets:
- Small market
- No major star
- Three coaches in five years
- Not a lot of major TV games
If you think “a big name” is important to branding — as important or even more than winning, in fact, because the Cowboys haven’t been winning the past few years (until now) and they’re still popular — than the Jaguars are probably closer to leaving the cellar of these surveys (because of Bortles) than the Titans are. That said, one of these two teams may well be sitting at 1, 2, or 3 in the 2015 NFL draft, and guys like Marcus Mariota may be sitting there, and then … maybe the whole Bortles thing gets scrapped? That might be a terrible move for Jacksonville, or might be a great one. We don’t know right now.
What we do know is that last weekend’s game between JAX and TEN was between the two least popular teams in the NFL, and yet a bunch of people still watched it. The NFL is teflon, yo.