Relocation is a (usually unfortunate) part of the sports world. The NFL is no stranger to that with three teams — the Rams, Chargers, and Raiders — all picking new homes in the last few years. SB Nation NFL is looking at the fallout and ramifications of team displacements throughout NFL history, and what moves could be coming next in a relocation-themed week.
The NFL has undergone some pretty drastic changes over the past couple years and will continue to do so as yet another team — the Raiders, if you missed the news — moves cities. Fans of more dug-in franchise, like the Patriots, might overlook the sheer heartbreak felt by diehards of teams that have packed up and left. And that is simply because a Patriots fan doesn’t ever have to worry about losing their team.
It’s important to remember where the word “fan” comes from — fanatics. The entire premise is that you care deeply enough to be somewhat beyond reason. It’s not supposed to make sense that a team can play poorly and change the entire course of a fan’s day as a result, but that’s the reality. (The 49ers and Sharks have ruined so, so many of my days.)
Losing a team is that feeling, but with a ton of confusion and unanswered questions added in. There are still fans of the St. Louis Rams who can’t bring themselves to follow the team in Los Angeles. The six San Diego Chargers superfans are having a rough go of it and their team didn’t even move that far. Oakland is a city that is often the butt of jokes from those who don’t actually live there, but its fans are some of the most passionate you’ll come across. Many are still wondering how they’ll feel when the Raiders kick off in Las Vegas for the first time.
That got me thinking about what would happen if teams that would never relocate actually did. What if the Patriots up and moved out of New England? Or if the Packers left Green Bay? How would those fervent fanbases react? Let’s run through some of the scenarios.
New England Patriots fans would suffer a collective meltdown
Of course, the Patriots nearly did relocate, back in the early 90s. Then-owner James Orthwein was set on getting a team to St. Louis and he planned to turn the Patriots into the St. Louis Stallions. Robert Kraft eventually got ownership of team and that never happened, and since then the Patriots have established the most dominant dynasty in football history.
Yeah, they’re not going anywhere.
But if they did, there would be two types of Boston sports fan in this scenario: the fans who bleed Boston sports and who will never root for a team outside of the area, and the fans who are so spoiled by success that bad news just falls off of them.
It’s the first group I’m most concerned about, honestly. I’m picturing that scene from Community when the glee club gets reported for IP infringement and they are not equipped to process the news, suffering a collective meltdown in which one of the members stabs himself in the hand with a fork.
Needless to say, I don’t think they would handle it well.
Green Bay Packers fans would implode into nothingness
As one of the two oldest franchises in the NFL and the only one publicly owned, the Packers are not going anywhere. If they did, things wouldn’t be so bad — for a portion of their fans.
Here’s how I see the Packers: they have a small local market, but a very large and spread out fanbase, due to people latching onto the team in the late 90s when the NFL was making big gains in popularity.
Because they have so many supporters who aren’t from Green Bay, I feel like, of the four teams I’m talking about, Packers fans would probably deal with a move better than the others.
Even then, that’s not particularly well.
And it most certainly does not apply to the most diehard and the ones who are native to Green Bay.
No, fans in Green Bay would be much, much worse for wear. Each and every one of them would fold into themselves until nothing but an entire city full of discarded cheesehead hats remain.
Chicago Bears fans would cause deep dish pizza to be outlawed
The Bears are a team that has already relocated once, back in 1921. They went from being the Decatur Staleys to the Chicago Staleys, and then the Chicago Bears. And surprisingly, the Bears have threatened to move in recent history, in 2002 when Soldier Field was desperately in need of renovation. Soldier Field isn’t exactly an amazing stadium these days, so the Bears will probably need a new one in the near future.
But even with the massive hurdle of getting a new stadium built, I just cannot imagine Chicago without the Bears. So many Saturday Night Live sketches would be absolutely ruined!
What would happen if the team ever did the Super Bowl Shuffle all the way to a new city? My guess is that waves and waves of overlapping depression would hit Chicago.
Then Bears fans would turn to the only other thing they have: deep dish pizza and hot dogs (without ketchup on them, of course). The city would do nothing but eat those two things, and drink whatever drink is super popular in Chicago (like, a nice dark stout, perhaps?) until they are so unhealthy and so defeated that the entire city falls into chaos.
Worst of all, the FDA would outlaw hot dogs and deep dish pizza. We would all feel the repercussions. The Bears moving would indeed be the darkest timeline.
Dallas Cowboys fans would pretend to boycott the NFL
America’s Team, yessir. Despite the fact that this nickname has angered me for all of my 29 years, the Cowboys don’t belong anywhere else but Dallas (and yes, before you write that comment, I’m aware the Cowboys and other teams often have their stadiums just outside the city they represent).
Also, trying to predict how their fans would handle it is difficult. I almost feel like they would have to move VERY far for Cowboys fans to stick with the team, just on the basis of Texas rivalries. Would a Dallas Cowboys fan continue to support the team if they became the San Antonio Cowboys? Would they root for the Houston Texans instead?
Or would they simply cease to exist due to a clear abuse of the laws of probability?
As a 49ers fan [pause for boos], even though I was conditioned to hate the Cowboys, now it’s mostly just the nickname I don’t like. But I’d be lying if I said the Cowboys aren’t the team I’d be most curious to see in this situation. I’m thinking dozens of protests, marches, far too many American flags, a lot of Bud Light, and a stated full-on boycott of the NFL which nearly none of them actually honor.
What team do you think would cause the biggest shockwaves through its fanbase if it moved? What team would cause the least? These are the dumb things I think about, so now you have to.