Every NFL Fanbase's Favorite Player

Scott PolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2012

Every NFL Fanbase's Favorite Player

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    Every football fan has their favorite player growing up. He’s the one that you imitated in the backyard for hours or pleaded to for autographs during training camp.

    Every fanbase also has its favorite son. His replica jerseys litter the crowd on Sunday afternoons, and he inspires zealous responses from the loyalists anytime another team’s followers even dare to criticize or question him.

    Read on to see the favorite player of each NFL fanbase. Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments section.

Giants: Eli Manning

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    Debate where Eli Manning ranks among the quarterbacks in the NFL all you want, but two Super Bowl titles over Boston’s team is all New York Giants fans have to know.

    Manning never exudes the type of greatness that Tom Brady or even his brother does during the regular season, but there are few quarterbacks in the NFL that are better in the clutch.

    The Giants seemingly use the first three months of the season as a warm-up every year before turning on the switch in December and January.

    Manning is the key player powering that switch.

Redskins: Robert Griffin III

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    This pick is a no-brainer.

    Yes, there are longer-tenured Redskins, but nobody arouses hope and enthusiasm in the nation’s capital more than Robert Griffin III.

    The Heisman Trophy winner has made Washington appointment viewing every week, and he showed the entire country what type of talent he has on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys.

    The Redskins may not make the playoffs this season (although there is a chance if they defeat the Giants Monday), but they will be a threat for the next 10 to 12 years with RGIII under center.

Cowboys: Jason Witten

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    It’s almost weird to slot a tight end in the position of favorite Cowboys player when you consider the great quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers that have donned the star in recent years.

    However, Jason Witten is one thing that Tony Romo is not—consistent and reliable.

    Sure, Romo has plenty of supporters, but you will never get the type of backlash the signal caller inspires when discussing the underrated Witten. He is a security blanket for Dallas’ offense and is always overlooked when discussing the best tight ends in the league.

    The unassuming Witten will continue to put up great numbers in a Cowboys uniform until he decides to call it quits.

Eagles: LeSean McCoy

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    It would probably be easier to make a list of players that Eagles fans hate rather than love right now, but LeSean McCoy has mostly escaped Philadelphia’s wrath.

    This is probably much too simplistic, but if the Eagles had given McCoy the ball more this season perhaps they would not be in the position they are in. McCoy is the best player on that roster and is arguably one of the best five running backs in the league.

    Whoever Philly’s coach is next season, he will be better served than Andy Reid was this year if he gives McCoy more carries.

Bears: Brian Urlacher

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    Brian Urlacher may not quite be the playmaker he was in his prime, but he still has the ability to control a game from the middle linebacker position.

    Urlacher is without a doubt the favorite player of the Bears’ fanbase. He continues the proud linebacking tradition of Mike Singletary and Dick Butkus in Chicago and has been one of the most reliable forces in the entire league for years.

    He embodies the hard-nosed grit that the city of Chicago loves and will continue to be the Bears’ leader until he retires.

Packers: Aaron Rodgers

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    You could certainly make the case for Donald Driver here (or even Clay Matthews), but Aaron Rodgers is the choice for Packers fans’ favorite player.

    The Green Bay signal caller not only had to prove himself to his coaches and the organization, but he also had to win over a Packer fanbase that was still getting over its love affair with a certain QB named Brett Favre.

    One Super Bowl trophy and MVP award later, and I think it’s safe to say that Rodgers did just that.

    Other fanbases may be growing tired of the “Discount Double-Check” commercials and constant Rodgers love, but he is the top player in the hearts of Packer supporters.

Lions: Calvin Johnson

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    Few things have gone right for the Lions’ organization since Barry Sanders retired, but Calvin Johnson is beginning to change that.

    The best wide receiver in the NFL was an integral part of a Detroit playoff run last season and is so talented that he has seemingly defeated the dreaded Madden cover curse this year.

    Fantasy football players may love Megatron, but nowhere near as much as the people of the Motor City do.

Vikings: Adrian Peterson

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    The way that Adrian Peterson has recovered and thrived within one year of tearing his ACL is nothing short of incredible.

    The Vikings running back has not lost a beat and is still running around, through and over defenders across the league. In the gritty NFC North, Minnesota fans are more than happy to embrace someone with that level of determinism and toughness as the team leader.

    The Vikings are in the middle of a playoff race, but they wouldn’t be without Peterson.

Saints: Drew Brees

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    Perhaps no single player means more to a fanbase than Drew Brees does to the New Orleans Saints’ supporters.

    Brees' affection for the city in the light of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina is well documented, but the fact that he has reached out to the fans the way he has is inspiring to watch, even for non-Saints fans.

    Maybe you don’t believe in karma and things of that nature, but the Super Bowl title that Brees won following Katrina had to be one of the most rewarding championships of all time.

Panthers: Steve Smith

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    Steve Smith has been around for so long that he gets overlooked when discussing the best receivers in the NFL.

    He has been to five Pro Bowls, had an all-world type of season in 2005 and is a constant threat to make a big play every time he steps on the field. Even in disappointing seasons for the Panthers, Smith finds a way to get his numbers.

    Cam Newton may be the future of the Carolina franchise, but Smith is the fan favorite for now.

Buccaneers: Ronde Barber

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    The three constants in life are taxes, death and Ronde Barber in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey.

    Barber has been in Tampa since 1997 and is the one link on the current roster to the days of Jon Gruden, Warrick Dunn, Warren Sapp and a Super Bowl victory.

    Barber is almost 40 years old and is still suiting up every Sunday for the Bucs as a defensive presence. He even has the ability to make the Tampa Bay creamsicle jerseys look good.

    The Bucs have a bright future with Doug Martin and Josh Freeman, but for now Barber is still the favorite player.

Falcons: Matt Ryan

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    The city of Atlanta and Michael Vick had a rocky relationship to say the least. Sure, Vick won lots of fans with his exciting playmaking abilities on the field, but outside the lines he constantly found himself in the news for all the wrong reasons.

    Not to mention the enormous contract he signed.

    Matt Ryan has helped the Falcons’ fanbase put the Vick era in the past however, and he has done so without ever getting into trouble off the field.

    "Matty Ice" has Atlanta sitting atop the NFC standings and is a serious Super Bowl contender. For now, he will have to settle for being the favorite player in Atlanta.

49ers: Patrick Willis

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    The 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFL, but they don’t really have a lot of transcendent offensive stars. Sure, Frank Gore is great, but he doesn’t jump off the field like an Adrian Peterson.

    But that’s just how San Francisco likes it.

    The hard-nosed defense that shuts down almost everyone it comes across is led by Patrick Willis, who is also the favorite player among 49ers fans.

    If San Francisco is going to reach the Super Bowl for the first time since the Jerry Rice and Steve Young era, Willis will be a big reason why.

Seahawks: Marshawn Lynch

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    Any player that is perfectly alright with Skittles being thrown around in the crowd in his honor is probably going to be a fan favorite. Throw in the fact that he has the tendency to enter “beast mode,” and there is really no contest as to who Seahawks fans love the most.

    Marshawn Lynch flies under the national radar, but he is a reliable back that is a threat to get 100 yards every day.

    But it is the excitement that surrounds his big plays that really endears him to the fans in the Pacific Northwest.

Rams: James Laurinaitis

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    This one may be a bit of a stretch, but the Rams offense is not the reason they were winning some games earlier in the season.

    The St. Louis defense, led by Chris Long and James Laurinaitis, is one of the more formidable units in the league, despite the poor record for the team. St. Louis fans, whom had grown accustomed to the greatest show on turf with Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk, are now embracing their defense.

    A case could be made for Long as well, but I am going to give a nod to Laurinaitis at the middle linebacker position. He is the captain of the defense and will only get better as he accumulates more experience in the league.

Cardinals: Larry Fitzgerald

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    Poor Larry Fitzgerald.

    Outside of the brief stint he played with Kurt Warner, one of the league’s most premier receivers has never played with a quarterback talented enough to allow Fitzgerald’s true potential to shine.

    Nevertheless, Cardinals fans love No. 11 and appreciate the fact that he has never asked out of town or really sounded off about the QB quandary. He continues to make Arizona relevant, at least to fantasy players.

    Perhaps Fitz will get a decent quarterback one day. The league will officially be on notice if he does.

Patriots: Tom Brady

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    Hate him or love him, Tom Brady is a living legend already, and he still has a few more years left in the league.

    The Patriots’ signal caller is adored by fans in the Northeast and for good reason. He has won MVP awards, Super Bowls and even has the ability to make Uggs look cool (just kidding, he doesn’t).

    The truly great thing about Brady is that he hasn’t exactly had the Jerry Rices of the world to throw to during most of his tenure in New England. He makes guys around him better and frankly gets overshadowed by Bill Belichick a bit when credit is given out for the Patriots’ recent success.

Jets: Darrelle Revis

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    There’s really only one choice for favorite player of the New York Jets fanbase, and that is Darrelle Revis.

    Revis’ play inspired the moniker "Revis Island" for a reason. He is perhaps the best shutdown corner in the league, and it has become painfully evident how lost the Jets’ defense is without him this season.

    Of course, if Mark Sanchez continues to run into the backsides of his offensive linemen, Tim Tebow may become New York’s favorite player by the end of the year.

Dolphins: Jake Long

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    I wanted to put an offensive lineman somewhere, and there is no better spot than Jake Long in Miami.

    The Dolphins really don’t have any dynamic skill players on their roster outside of Reggie Bush that gets fans excited. Furthermore, whether it is fair or not Miami’s quarterbacks will always be compared to Dan Marino by supporters.

    That leaves Long as perhaps the best player on the Dolphins’ roster. The team used its No. 1 draft pick on him a few years ago, and he has become a rock on that line.

    That type of consistency and dependability is what Miami needs out of more players if it hopes to return to the playoffs in the near future.

Bills: Fred Jackson

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    The Buffalo Bills have a number of dynamic players that at least put up good fantasy numbers even if the team isn’t that great.

    C.J. Spiller, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson immediately come to mind. At least among Buffalo fans, Jackson is the favorite.

    He has established himself in a Bills uniform for a number of years, even when the team around him is struggling. Showing up to work every Sunday and doing your job effectively for long periods of time on a bad team will earn you respect around the league and among your fanbase.

    That is exactly what Jackson has done.

Bengals: A.J. Green

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    It wasn’t that long ago that Bengals fans were falling in love with another big-play wide receiver who seemed to cross the goal line every single game.

    However, the difference between that receiver—Chad Johnson—and A.J. Green is that Green is one of the quietest superstars in the NFL. Basically, he is not a risk to get himself in the headlines for anything except for what he does on the field.

    Green is a big reason why playoff-caliber football has returned to Cincinnati. As long as he keeps catching deep routes, the Bengals will be relevant throughout December.

Browns: Trent Richardson

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    There aren’t many bright spots on Cleveland’s roster, but rookie running back Trent Richardson is one of them.

    The Browns took Richardson from Alabama with their No.1 pick, and, despite the devaluation of running backs in the NFL, it has worked out quite well. He gives some hope to a franchise that really hasn’t had much since the current Baltimore Ravens left town.

    It’s also easier for Cleveland fans to get excited about the future of a rookie that is not 28 years old like their quarterback.

Steelers: Troy Polamalu

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    The AFC North is dominated by tough defenses, and Pittsburgh’s has been a little less tough without its leader.

    Troy Polamalu’s absence is a major reason why the Steelers are battling with the Bengals and Colts for a wild card berth instead of with the Ravens for a division crown. If they have any hopes of making a deep playoff run, they need their hard-hitting safety back sooner rather than later.

    Polamalu is more popular, whether thanks to his hair, commercials, style of play or combination of the three, than any other player among Steelers fans.

Ravens: Ray Lewis

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    We hear the clichés all the time from the talking heads when it comes to team captains—he is an emotional leader, the heart and soul of his football team and the inspiring player that gets the troops going.

    Well, cliché or not they are absolutely true when it comes to Ray Lewis.

    Until his injury this year, Lewis has continued to play at an incredible level despite his age and the amount of years he has been in the league. He is still one of the most fearsome linebackers in the NFL and is one of the few players in the world that could come back from a triceps tear as quickly as he plans.

    He is the unquestioned favorite among Baltimore fans.

Jaguars: Maurice Jones-Drew

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    There is only one player on Jacksonville’s roster that moves the needle for most NFL fans, and that player is running back Maurice Jones-Drew.

    Jones-Drew is a bowling ball of a runner who is never afraid to make the extra block or steamroll over a would-be tackler. His style of play is endearing to many football fans, even if there aren’t that many in Jacksonville.

    Unfortunately for Jones-Drew, the Jaguars have not been very competitive during the majority of his tenure in North Florida. That is not because of a lack of talent at the running back spot.

Colts: Reggie Wayne

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    Andrew Luck is an incredible player, especially for a rookie, and will be Colts fans’ favorite player for years to come.

    However, Reggie Wayne, one of the few connections left to the Super Bowl team on the current roster, holds that title for now.

    Wayne has experienced something of a renaissance with Luck at quarterback and has provided a steady and calming veteran hand to a young offense that is riddled with inexperience. Wayne’s performance against Green Bay was one of the best in the NFL all season.

    The Colts will undoubtedly be Luck’s team in the future, but for now it is Wayne’s.

Texans: Andre Johnson

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    It’s been J.J. Watt mania in Houston this season, but Andre Johnson was there for the struggles and successes.

    That means something to a fanbase.

    The Texans wideout has just started to flash his all-pro ability the past few games, and defenses are in trouble if that continues the rest of the year. With Arian Foster taking carries in the backfield, Johnson should have plenty of opportunities against single coverage.

    The more touchdowns he racks up, the more Texans fans are going to love him.

Titans: Michael Griffin

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    This one is also a bit of a stretch, but there is really nobody outside of Chris Johnson that truly stands out on the Titans’ roster. Between the slow starts and last year’s holdout, Johnson isn’t the most popular player, so the nod goes to the unassuming playmaker at safety.

    Michael Griffin is a defensive force in the secondary for Tennessee and is comfortable playing the ball or laying the lumber with a big hit.

    Safeties aren’t usually the favorite players among fanbases, but Griffin’s talent level and the lack of dynamic athletes on the Titans’ offense leads to a ruling in his favor.

Broncos: Champ Bailey

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    You could certainly make the argument that Peyton Manning belongs in this spot, but I’m going to give it to the Broncos mainstay.

    Champ Bailey has anchored the defensive secondary in Denver for approximately 45 years, and he is still making plays this year. Bailey may be one of the best cornerbacks in the history of the NFL and always seems to make the big play when it is needed most.

    If Manning is going to guide Denver to a Super Bowl title this year, he will need some help from No. 24.

Chiefs: Jamaal Charles

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    Even if Jamaal Charles does ask opposing players for autographs after the game, he is the favorite player of the Kansas City fanbase.

    The Chiefs have very few players on their roster, at least offensively, that would make an impact on a good team, but Charles is definitely one of them. As fantasy football players will tell you, Charles has the ability to go off on any given Sunday.

    However, as a member of a stagnant Chiefs’ offense he also has games where he is relatively unheard from. Fortunately for Kansas City supporters, he has far more games where he is one of the best players on the field.

Chargers: Eric Weddle

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    Life has the tendency to be frustrating if you are a San Diego Chargers fan. Norv Turner isn’t exactly Vince Lombardi, Philip Rivers isn’t exactly Tom Brady and LaDainian Tomlinson isn’t coming back.

    However, Eric Weddle is a consistent playmaker in the defensive secondary that has endeared himself to Chargers fans by making the big plays when necessary and providing a level of consistency that the other star players do not.

    San Diego has too much talent to have such a poor record. If more of its players were as reliable as Weddle it would be in the AFC West race still.

Raiders: Sebastian Janikowski

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    Last but not least we come to the fanbase that has a kicker as its favorite player.

    Placekickers aren’t supposed to be exciting, but Sebastian Janikowski certainly is. Whether it is his ability to drain 60-yarders or his tendency to get into the headlines off the field as well, he is always entertaining.

    Perhaps it says more about the Raiders than Janikowski that he is the favorite player of Raider Nation, but he is as good as it gets when it comes to kickers.