Steelers and Packers: Small Market Teams on Big Stage—Why the NFL Is Great

Ishmael T.Contributor IJanuary 26, 2011

Pittsburgh Greats; Past and Current celebrate conference Championship
Pittsburgh Greats; Past and Current celebrate conference ChampionshipAl Bello/Getty Images

Green Bay, Wis. is known for its meat-packing industry. Pittsburgh, Penn. is the one-time leader in the American steel industry. Both of these cities have sent their teams to the Super Bowl.  

Maybe we should dub this Super Bowl featuring the Packers and Steelers, The Blue-Collar Bowl.  Why Not?   Even their mascots epitomize the Era of Industry in America.  

This is what makes NFL superior to other sports, football has the ability to connect to smaller markets.

One glimpse of NBA League Pass will reveal something: The smaller markets have a hard time surviving.  You almost feel sorry for the players, seeing them perform in front of Development League-like crowds. The arenas are half-full and fans are half-interested. The minor market teams usually have difficulty with success.  

Owners will beg politicians to build better arenas to be more profitable. Politicians will scoff and tell them to be more profitable and we will build them. If the team does manage to stick around, they may not be profitable enough to maintain quality players.

Consider this: 26 out of the last 30 NBA championship teams have come from a top-10 city (Miami with one title is the 42nd largest city, Detroit with three titles is the 11th largest city).  

Despite not being in a Super Bowl in 12 years and only having just over 100,000 people in population, the Green Bay Packers have a national following.  Likewise, the Steelers may be the second-most popular football team besides the Cowboys, though Pittsburgh is only the 61st largest city in America.  

Cleveland Browns fans sent death threats to Art Modell when he moved the team to Baltimore, despite not having a championship since 1964.  Football teams embody much more than mere players.  They represent entire communities, surrounding areas and communal tradition. Tradition does not die easily.

Though brutal on the field, this Super Bowl is a testament to how honorable and civilized the sport is. The Ochocinco's will come and go.  Coaches will be fired and hired. Quarterbacks will claim retirement just to return next season.  

But teams and their fans will endure. Families will continue to huddle around the TV, friends will continue to make signs and wear silly attire.  Tradition and legacy will continue. 

Super Bowl XLV proves it.