Super Bowl XLV: A Lesson in Fan Loyalty from Green Bay and Pittsburgh

Anthony BarattaContributor IJanuary 26, 2011

Young and old you can not find more loyal fans in the NFL.
Young and old you can not find more loyal fans in the NFL.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The NFL Conference Championships are over, and the matchup for Super Bowl Sunday is set, featuring the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.  It only seems fitting that the two most storied franchises would meet in the biggest game of the NFL season.  Obviously names like Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Terry Bradshaw and “Mean” Joe Greene (amongst others) won’t be participating in this year's contest. 

However, don’t tell that to any Steelers or Packers fan.  This game not only features two of the best teams in the NFL this season, but also teams that enjoy some of the best fans as well.  NFL revenue officials should not be too worried about ticket sales for this years mega-contest because these two teams enjoy some of the most loyal fanbases in history. 

The NFL looks pretty smart in choosing Cowboys Stadium for its Super Bowl this year, because with 111,000 seats, it looks like it's going to need every single one of them.  With two of the most loyal fanbases that anyone could name, it’s sure to be a raucous crowd that shows up in Arlington on February 6. 

Both of these fanbases have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success from their teams over the last few seasons.  Perhaps more impressively though is the fact that not every year has been kind to either of these teams or said fans. 

For example, look at the Steelers from just one year ago, who suffered a humiliating defeat to the hapless Cleveland Browns on a Thursday night and missed the playoffs entirely.  In Green Bay, two words that once evoked such high praise and an incredible outpouring of emotion every time someone said them have now become grounds for expulsion from Lambeau Field and have been treated like venom from a snake: Brett Favre.

Three years ago, the Packers had to endure question upon question upon question about whether or not Favre would be retiring or returning to Green Bay to finish out his career.  Finally after months, that question was answered in an ugly public show from both Favre and the Green Bay front office with Favre being shipped off to the New York Jets. 

However, the fans stuck with their teams and have enjoyed watching them rebound from potentially ugly downturns in their franchises.  The Steelers will now be headlining their third Super Bowl in the last six seasons, and will be looking to add a seventh ring to their impressive collection. 

Meanwhile, the Packers are back in the big game for the first time since 1998, when public enemy No. 1 Brett Favre was still at the helm. Now it’s Aaron Rodgers, who will try to take the Lombardi Trophy back home to where it was born, Green Bay. 

It should be a fantastic showdown, and as the date nears, the fans only grow more excited.