Once your favorite team has been knocked out of contention (and this happens often to Cubs fans), sporting events continue to occur and sports fans continue to watch them. How do you choose which team to root for, particularly when you have no connection to either team?
So, I present to you my rooting hierarchy for NFL football, but be warned that it is still full of caveats and loopholes.
- My team (in this case, the Bears, still, although I accept that one can adopt a new home team after a three-year waiting period, shortened to two years if the team is cosmically bad).
- Teams with some regional connection or personal link (e.g. the Colts, as a result of my attendance of Indiana University).
- Teams that play interesting or creative football (e.g. the Saints or the 49ers)
- Big underdogs (e.g. the Rams)
- Teams that I basically don’t care about at all but respect for their general competence (e.g. the Falcons)
- Historical rival teams (e.g. the Packers)
- Teams with obnoxious fans (e.g. the Patriots, the Giants)
- Teams I dislike on principle (e.g. the Jets)
- Teams I hate profoundly for a specific usually time-sensitive reason (e.g. Tebowmania and/or the Steelers for Ben Roethlisberger)
Although this generally holds true, multiple attributes apply to identical teams. In that case, the lower rung wins out; i.e. the Broncos were big underdogs (#4), but unfortunately they had Tebowmania, which means that #9 applied and I actually rooted for the Patriots yesterday. Similarly, although the Giants would normally be in the competent teams category (#5), the obnoxiousness of their fans that I have observed in Connecticut puts them into category #7, meaning I have to root for the Packers (a strange outcome).
In some other sports, there’s a category between #2 and #3 for players I really like, but in football, there are just too many players.
So, in case you were wondering, that meant my rooting for the divisional series was Pats over Broncos, Saints over 49ers (but just… for being more creative), Packers over Giants, and Texans over Ravens.