If you're like me, every day when you log on to Bleacher Report and go to the Front Page, you notice three or four of the "Most Popular" stories are about the Oakland Raiders.
And if you're like me, it kind of makes you scratch your head in wonder.
Why is there such a disproportionate number of Oakland Raider stories compared to the other 31 NFL teams? (Here's a screen shot of the Front Page this morning in case you need actual proof of this phenomenon). There are six stories total in the "Most Popular" section, and no fewer than four of them are about the Oakland Raiders; it's like that every single day.
Am I the only one who thinks that's more than a little weird?
I mean, Oakland is far from the biggest city in the NFL, so it's not as though the sheer size of their fan base can explain this. In fact, according to Wikipedia, Oakland is the 44th largest city in America by population. I count 22 other NFL cities on that list that are above Oakland, including Nashville (Titans) and Jacksonville (Jaguars).
Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the city of Oakland or their beloved Raiders—and yes, I know that some people love to hate the Raiders. Not me. I'm not angry or upset about the barrage of Oakland Raiders stories on the home page of Bleacher Report.
You might be more accurate to say that I'm intrigued...puzzled...perplexed...vexed.
Allow me to put forth some theories as to why the Raiders have a presence on this site that suggest they are America's Most Popular Football Team (when—no offense to Raider fans—they are not).
1. High Concentration of Tech Savvy Fans
My best theory is that Bleacher Report is most popular with tech-savvy people—folks who probably already have their own website or blog and who are on the cutting edge in web and technology products and developments.
Since Oakland is so very near the heart of Silicon Valley, it stands to reason that they would have a higher concentration of the tech-savvy kind of person. Thus the higher concentration of Oakland Raiders articles on this site.
Why This Theory Might Be Wrong: Well, then how do you explain why the 49ers don't have the same over saturation on Bleacher Report?
2. Massive Conspiracy
While admittedly not my best theory, there is the possibility that Bleacher Report's staff members are such huge fans of the Oakland Raiders that they secretly boost the stories' popularity factors. I said it's possible...but it's definitely not likely.
Why This Theory Might Be Wrong: Well, there's not a lot of sense in rigging a site like this to promote your favorite team, since Bleacher Report is all about the fans' voice and democracy. There's too much downside if they were to get caught for me to seriously believe in a conspiracy.
Besides, if you're going to enter into a conspiracy to promote one NFL team, don't you think you'd pick a team that at least has half a chance of winning eight games this year?
3. There Are Just More Oakland Raider Fans Online and on Bleacher Report
It's possible that there are more Raider fans on this site, per capita, than there are fans of other teams.
Why This Theory Might Be Wrong: I really, really doubt this theory. I did some searches on Bleacher Report to test my theories. I searched for "Oakland Raiders" and got about 17 pages of stories. Then I searched for "Dallas Cowboys" (they are "America's Team" after all) and got 25 pages of stories. I searched for "New York Giants" and got a whopping 32 pages of results.
What this proves is that there aren't a disproportionate number of articles being written about the Raiders. There are, in fact, more articles here for the Giants and Cowboys. If there were more Raider fans in general on this site, then they would have the highest number of total articles written. But they don't.
And yet the Raiders still dominate the "most popular" section.
4. Raider Fans Have A Sophisticated Network of Online Supporters
This is the theory that whenever a Raiders fan writes a Raiders-specific Bleacher Report article, he alerts his Oakland Fan Network buddies through email, myspace, twitter, blog posts, and other means and they all go "read" his story immediately to help ensure the story goes hot and hits the home page.
Why This Theory Might Be Wrong: I just don't see why the Raider fans would be the only group to figure this out. If such a sophisticated network were to exist, I would think there would be other teams whose fans discover its power and do the same thing.
Also, I think it may be a little laughable to include the words "sophisticated" and "Raider fan" in the same sentence. Ooooh, burn. Sorry Oakland...that was a cheap shot and I couldn't resist. I should know better. Won't happen again. Really, that joke works no matter what fan base you choose.
5. Bleacher Report Has A Weighted Popularity System That Places Higher Values on Reads for Teams That Perennially Suck
Man, oh man, what did I just do?! I promised that the cheap shots wouldn't happen again and then, Bam! Geez, there's' something wrong with me.
Again, Raider fans, I'm sorry. In fact, just a handful of years ago you guys went to the Super Bowl, so I should be nice. But you have to admit that there have been a lot of lousy seasons lately for the Silver & Black.
So there you go—my five best guesses as to why the Raider articles seem to be so much more popular on this site than NFL stories in general. What I really want is for you guys to tell me what you think. I'm throwing out the question: Really? The Raiders are the most popular NFL franchise on this site? Really? How can that be?
Now I need answers.
Of course the real irony will be if this article itself somehow winds up being one of the most popular of the day, adding to the dominance of Raider-centric stories.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!