I'm trying something a little different on Bleacher Report today. Rather than give you my opinion of America's team, I will make the case for the top three teams that are worthy: the Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys.
Now before Giants and Bears fans freak out, please understand that these teams are the "usual suspects," the teams that are always involved in this debate. But I don't want to hear it from overpaid analysts, I want to hear it from the fans: Who is America's Team?
Note to Cowboys fans. I understand this is just a nickname given to your team in the 70's by NFL films, one that was turned down by the Rooney family and the Pittsburgh Steelers, however, I am simply asking, if there was an "America's Team", who would it be?
For the Dallas Cowboys, its not about championships (they've won five), its not about conference titles (they've won 10), no it's not even about division titles (they have a whopping 21). For the Dallas Cowboys, its a popularity contest. The Cowboys are the prom queen to everyone else's goth freak. (No, I have no problem with goth style.)
If you throw values to the wind, the Cowboys easily trump the Packers and the Steelers in terms of national, mainstream popularity.
TV ratings, huge $1.2 billion stadiums, high value of the franchise—these are things Cowboys fans pride themselves on. No, the Cowboys haven't lifted a Lombardi in over a decade, but the moniker of "America's Team" suits them just fine.
Take a look at some of these facts:
- According to Forbes, the Cowboys are the nation's most valuable sports franchise. The magazine reported the franchise's value to be $1.65 billion, ranking behind only soccer institution Manchester United in the world.
- According to an NFL release, the most-watched television program of the fall was the Cowboys' Thanksgiving Day loss to the New Orleans Saints, which had an audience of 31.9 million viewers. The Cowboys' Dec. 12 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles had the highest audience ever for a Sunday night game (25.73 million viewers). And those two games came with the Cowboys, who always get the maximum number of prime-time games allowed by league rules, well out of playoff contention.
- The Harris Poll determined the Cowboys were the most popular NFL team among American sports fans the past four years.
Former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle once said this of the Green Bay Packers: "Green Bay, a small town. People owning their own football team. Rabid supporters."
The Packers are the only publicly owned major sports franchise in the country. No dividends are issued on the 4,750,937 shares held by the 112,158 shareholders. Instead, these people invest in the Packers out of love for football, not profit.
Curly Lambeau and George Calhoun established the Packers' franchise in 1919. That's 14 years before Art Rooney Sr. purchased the then-named Pittsburgh Pirates. That's 23 years before Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was even born and 33 years before the Dallas Texans became the last NFL franchise to fail.
The Packers don't have cheerleaders (neither do the Steelers). The Packers don't care about how much merchandise they sell or how big their stadium is—as long as they win.
And win they have. Counting the old AFL-NFL championships, the Packers hold 12 championships. That's twice the amount as Pittsburgh and seven more than the Cowboys. The Packers were making their bones while the Cowboys were going out with cheerleaders! (If you don't get the Moe Greene to Michael Corleone in Godfather reference, go watch the movie.)
Winning: Isn't that the name of the game?
The man whose jersey outsold every other player's in the NFL this past year and the team whose merchandise outsold every other NFL franchise's this season? Safety Troy Polamalu and the Pittsburgh Steelers, respectively.
The team with the most Hall of Fame inductees during the NFL's modern era? The Pittsburgh Steelers, with nine.
The team that has won more Super Bowls than any other? THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS.
The Rooney family reportedly declined a version of the "America's Team" nickname when NFL Films wanted to give it to the Steelers in the 1970s. They were proud to be Pittsburgh's team.
With respect to the small-town, publicly owned Packers, Pittsburgh is a small-town, blue-collar team, too. No, they don't have the flash of Dallas, but the Steelers rough, tough, grinding style reflects the values this country was built on.
Like I said earlier, I am not going to try and convince anyone of which team is America's Team.
Whichever team is America's Team, their fans will come to their defense.
So I ask you, who truly is America's Team?