So, I decided that 60 years was enough time to give a team to get its crap together. Since everyone else aside from the Texans, Jaguars, and Browns have been to the Super Bowl at least once (mind you, the other 3 franchises are all right around 20 years old at this point)... being a Lions fan rarely pays dividends, unless of course you enjoy the pain and suffering that comes with it. In that case, good on ya. But that got me wondering, what if I actually had fun rooting for an NFL team?
I used the same process as the aforementioned Blythe Terrell for this. You want to start with measurable statistics that you can rank teams by. I came up with 25 because I have a flair for overdoing it. They were:
2016 Finish - How the team finished this year
Bandwagon Factor - Are the team's next 5 years likely to be better than their previous 5?
Bang for the Buck - Wins per fan dollars spent
Behavior - Suspensions by players on team since 2007, with extra weight to transgressions vs. women
Branding & Design - Branding & design efforts by the team, based on Instagram posts
Coaching - Strength of on-field leadership
Consistency - How steady the team's past 5 years have been (Ultimate Standings on ESPN)
Fan Equity - how likely fans are to support the team based on performance
Fan Relations - Courtesy by players, coaches and front offices toward fans, and how well a team uses technology to reach them
Future Wins - Projected wins over next 5 seasons
Loyalty Factor - how attendance is affected by winning
Me Factor - the X-factor: do I just like the team or not?
Ownership - Honesty; loyalty to core players and the community
Past Decade - The team's overall performance over the past 10 years
Player Futures - Future power rankings from ESPN
Players - Effort on the field, likability off it
Playoff Appearances Last 10 Years - Postseason appearances in the past decade
Playoff WIns All Time - All time success in the postseason
Road Equity - how well the team travels/has a nationwide preference
Social Equity - social media presence of the team
Stadium Experience - Quality of venue; fan-friendliness of environment; frequency of game-day promotions
Tradition - Championships/division titles/wins in team's entire history
Ultimate Standings - ESPN's annual franchise rankings
Uniform - According to my own opinions
Visitability - rank of the city the team plays in
Then, it was time to determine what was most important. There’s a great social survey site that will help you determine weight of importance called All Our Ideas (allourideas.org). I put all 25 factors into the database, then started answering questions. This process asks you two questions and requires you to pick the more important option to you. Each time you answer, it determines a score for each option (based on the number of times you have chosen that option vs. over other options).
My top 10 criteria and their associated scores were:
95 - Consistency
90 - Coaching
89 - Player Futures
88 - Players
76 - Fan Relations
76 - Ultimate Standings
74 - Playoff Appearances Last 10 Years
67 - Me Factor
67 - Branding & Design
65 - Past Decade Performance
I laughed, because the Lions rank pretty low in most of these categories.
Which brings me to an important point: I know I will get crap for this. But remove the emotion from fandom, and it’s essentially no different than a business transaction. You align yourself with and spend your time/money on brands that match your needs and wants. If you value size and utility over fuel economy, you’ll probably hate your Toyota Prius. If I were to draw a parallel to typical fandom here, you’d keep driving that Prius and complain about all the things that are wrong with it for the rest of your life. And if you ever switched to that truck that matches your wants and needs, you’re not a “true fan.” Meh. We shouldn’t put so much pressure on ourselves to endure the frustration year over year. I’m not saying you should switch teams every year, but 27 years of futility and disappointment is long enough to make an informed decision, in my opinion.
My time and money is valuable, so if I’m going to continue to be an NFL fan, I’m going to at least entertain the idea of enjoying football on Sundays while occasionally getting the joy of postseason wins and pride in coaching/ownership that cares.
So, with that in mind, I pulled ranks of every NFL team in each category, from a bevy of different sources (links below). I then assigned a 0-100 score based on the team’s ranks. 100 to the highest, 0 to the lowest.
For the total team scores, I weighted each rank by the scores we derived earlier, then added them together. To make things a little cleaner, I divided all totals by the max, so our clear winner would be 1.00.
When the dust settled, here’s my top 5:
Pittsburgh Steelers - 1.00
New England Patriots - 0.97
Green Bay Packers - 0.96
Seattle Seahawks - 0.88
Indianapolis Colts - 0.79
The Lions finished 22nd.