If you’re a bandwagon fan (you know who you are), now’s your last chance to make a choice. But choose wisely. You don’t want to choose to suddenly become a “longtime supporter” of one of the four remaining NFL teams only to see them stumble one game short of the Super Bowl.
If you wait until the Super Bowl, you miss out on the two-week hype-fest. If you wait until after the Super Bowl, well, that’s just pathetic. To be a bandwagon fan, you’re OK with sacrificing a lot of your loyalty and self-respect, but if you care to salvage whatever bit you have left, you have to make a choice now. So, which bandwagon should you latch on to? Here’s my guide for you, the lowly bandwagon fan. (2007 Patriots AFC Championship shirts sold separately.)
I live in Pennsylvania, so I know all about the Keystone state’s bandwagon fans. And boy do they love the Steelers, especially when they’re winning. Just let them tell you about their love of the Steelers. Or don’t ask. They’ll probably tell you anyway.
Does the prospect of cheering for someone named Big Ben excite you? If you can’t spell his last name, that’s OK. If you don’t know what college he played at, hear someone say “Miami,” and think it’d be cool to cheer for someone from The U, then Big Ben and the Steelers are a perfect bandwagon pick.
Want to cheer for someone because of their long-flowing mane? You’ve got Troy Poly-pola…oh well, you can just call all your players by their first names! Ben, Troy, Willie. Yeah, it’s like you’re all buddies hanging out together.
Plus, you play in a field named after a ketchup company. That has to whet your appetite as a bandwagon fan. And guess what? You have a receiver named Hines, too! OK, so it’s spelled differently and there’s really no correlation whatsoever, but Hines at Heinz sounds cool! Maybe you should buy his jersey at Wal-Mart!
The team from the eastern part of the state is not quite as popular where I live, but do they ever have a bandwagon buy-in for you?! Beards. Playoff beards are the craze in Philadelphia. So join in the fun and stop shaving. Or, if you’re like me and unable to grow a beard on command, buy a fake beard.
Get a Santa Claus beard while you’re at it. Wait, scratch that idea. The Eagles fans once booed Santa Claus—even though their current coach is resembling him more and more by the day. But a regular beard will make you as much a part of the team as caveman Kevin Curtis. If you’ve never heard of Kevin Curtis, you’re a perfect candidate to hop aboard the Eagles bandwagon.
For what it’s worth, they’re being labeled as “this year’s Giants,” the team that won the Super Bowl last year. Of course, they could also face the fate of this year’s Giants and lose an upset to an unsuspecting bird of prey.
Well, I actually don’t know if the Cardinals are birds of prey. But they’re birds of pray(er) led by the religious and revived ageless Kurt Warner. You may even have hopped on his bandwagon before with the 1999 St. Louis Rams.
I’ve maintained for years now that the Cardinals have the smallest national following. As recently as a few months ago, I was asking my brother if he knew a single Cardinals fan. Neither one of us could do so. It may be the only team that I don’t know a single fan of.
Be a part of history and join the Cardinals bandwagon. Plenty of good seats are still available. As an added bonus, they’re the only team left playing in a warm-weather city. So, if you really want to go all-out as a bandwagon and move to follow them, at least you’ll be living in the warmth of Phoenix when they sink back into NFL obscurity.
If you have any Cleveland Browns fans as friends, I advise you to stay away from this bandwagon choice. The prospect of the Ravens winning a second Super Bowl before the Browns ever play in one is painful even for me, a diehard Raiders fan.
But if you don’t have any Cleveland tie-ins, you may want to invest in becoming a Ravens fan. Whether you’re a fan of Edgar Allen Poe, the color purple or uninventive offense, the Ravens have you covered.
The Ravens are great for bandwagon fans because you’re not supposed to know the names of their offensive players. They’re just there to keep the field warm for the defense. And since bandwagon fans are already a demographic that is not looked upon fondly by diehards around the league, you’ll have no problem becoming the instant rival of two fanbases—Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
Bandwagon fans of the NFL, the options are there for the taking. As for me, you may have already heard my picks on the podcast earlier this week. If not, here’s who I’m taking in the championship games
Pittsburgh over Baltimore
Philadelphia over Arizona
Yes, I’m forecasting an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl. But don’t worry, you won’t find me riding either one of those bandwagons. Nope, I’m staying out of it and just hoping for close, competitive games the rest of the way.
(OK, and maybe nudging the Cardinals bandwagon just a bit to keep it’s unlikely wheels a-turnin’.
Matt’s 2009 NFL Playoff Predictions Tally
LAST WEEK: 2-2