On Thursday in Canberra, Australia, Barack Obama, the leader of the free world, the commander-in-chief of the largest and strongest army in the history of this planet, the symbol of liberty for those fighting oppression in the far reaches of the globe, was mercilessly swindled by Julia Bishop, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Australian Parliament.
Obama, as part of his twice-delayed trip down under, expected to conduct a little business and keep ties close with one of America's closest allies. Instead, he was converted to support the West Coast Eagles, an Australian rules football team from Perth. Bishop made sure as much, presenting him with a guernsey (jersey) with Obama's name on it.
“Think of the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Bishop told Obama, according to westcoasteagles.com.au, no doubt conjuring up images of greatness.
“A really great team,” the President replied.
Except there's one major problem with that comparison: The Steelers already had four Super Bowl titles nearly a decade before the West Coast Eagles even existed. Yup, the Eagles first season (1987) came four years after the retirement of Terry Bradshaw.
Which isn't to say the Eagles aren't a great team. They have won three championships in the past two decades, more than any other club and equaled only by Geelong and Brisbane Lions. But they cannot be compared to the Steelers.
So, Mr. President, as a favor to you, I've decided to compare each of the 18 AFL franchises to a Big 4 North American sports team. I hope you reconsider your Eaglehood and make an intelligent, fact-based decision according to the presentations put forth in the following 18 slides.
You can still pick the Eagles, but don't be forced into a club. After all, there is nothing more important on this planet than football.
First season: 2012
Wooden spoons: Nil
I've decided to group this in reverse order of last year's ladder (standings), and since GWS won't start competing until next season, it will have to be taken care of ahead of everyone else.
The Giants will become the second team in the Sydney area, but the first to play their games in the suburbs of Australia's other city (Melbourne, to any fan of Aussie Rules, is Australia's first city). As an expansion team, they'll get 11 of the first 14 draft picks, and already have a decent group of contracted players, as they stole Phil Davis, Callam Ward and Tom Scully from their respective clubs via restricted free agency.
The latter, Scully, was signed under controversial circumstances, and details later emerged that the Giants also signed Scully's father to a six-year contract as a recruiting scout.
But who to compare this team to? Oh, um, I'll say the now-defunct Atlanta Thrashers. Sydney has always and will always be a rugby hotbed. Even with all the talent they've stockpiled, it's hard to image the Giants will ever become anything more than a minor league team in their city, even if they start winning flags (premierships).
Other comparable teams: None
First season: 2011
Wooden spoons: 1
The Suns “won” the wooden spoon in their first season, nobly finishing last courtesy of Port Adelaide's eight-point upset win over Melbourne on the final day of the season. But with future Hall-of-Famer Gary Ablett, Jr. and a great corps of talented youth, the Suns could make a push up the ladder this season.
Gold Coast joined Geelong as the only AFL team not in a major city, although Gold Coast, which is about 60 miles south of the state capital of Brisbane, is nearly four times the size of puny little Geelong. However, unlike in Geelong, Aussie rules is not king on the Gold Coast.
This is rugby territory, and the Suns had trouble pulling in fans in their first season, even as the Rugby League team, the Gold Coast Titans, also secured a wooden spoon in the NRL. If Ablett and a pitiful Titans can't get people behind the Suns, what will?
It may take a premiership, and with all that youth they've stockpiled, such an accomplishment could be only a few seasons away.
We'll call them the Jacksonville Jaguars: a small-market team poised to win quickly, but they'll be plagued by empty stadiums and a struggle to bring in top-level free agents as the novelty wears off.
Other comparable teams: Washington Nationals, Toronto Raptors
First season: 1997 (founded in 1870)
Premierships: 1 (2004)
Wooden spoons: Nil
Port has a strong, proud history, dating back to their days as the kings of the South Australian National Football League. They won 36 flags in the regional competition, taking a title in every decade except the 1870s and the 1940s. And when the Victorian Football League decided to expand to become a national competition, everyone assumed it would be Port that were given the invite from South Australia.
But alas, the VFL opted to create a new team, and the Adelaide Crows entered the competition (which was renamed in 1990 as the Australian Football League) in 1991 instead. The Power wallowed in the regional league as the VFL continued to expand around the country, hoping one day they'd get a chance to show their true colors.
And finally, in 1997, Port got the call it wanted, and the Power began play in the highest level of Aussie rules competition in the world. And they took the AFL by storm.
In their first season, the Power missed out on the finals (playoffs) on scoring margin, finishing tied with the Brisbane Lions for eighth. Two years later, they reached September for the first time, and by 2002, they were the best team in the regular season.
In fact, they finished top of the ladder in 2002, 2003 and 2004, but it wasn't until the last of those seasons that they finally turned the dominance into glory, defeating the Lions by 40 points for their first premiership. It's only been since 2008 that the Power have fallen to the bad half of the ladder.
I'd say there's a good comparison to be made to the St. Louis Blues, who made the Stanley Cup finals in their first three seasons and remained a fierce challenge for decades despite constant playoff failures. But unlike the Blues, the Power did convert on one occasion.
But the best comparison would be the Miami Heat. After joining the league in 1988, the Heat quickly became a competitive team, but they couldn't get past the Knicks or Bulls. Finally, in 2006, they won that one title. Also, both Port and the Heat are widely hated, although the reason people hate Port (their terrible club song) is a little more petty.
Other comparable teams: Colorado Rockies
First season: 1997
Premierships: 3 (2001, 2002, 2003)
Wooden spoons: 1
Formed from a merger between the bankrupt Fitzroy Lions and the struggling Brisbane Bears, the Lions weren't supposed to be anything special. In fact, the partnership was selected to avoid anything special, as the other teams feared a merger with Melbourne or Hawthorn would create a super-team.
Well, they were wrong.
In their fifth season in the AFL, the Lions won their first title. In their sixth season, they overcame a strong challenge from Collingwood to repeat. And in their seventh season, the Lions became the first team in over 40 years to win three straight flags, punishing Collingwood for two hours, winning by 50 points. The bid for four straight ended with the aforementioned loss to Port Adelaide in the 2004 Grand Final.
During those glory days, the Lions were able to pull over 30,000 a game, but their recent downturn has pushed Brisbane back to the abyss, as they barely topped 20,000 per game in 2011 and had their lowest membership totals (official ticket holders) in a decade. Brisbane is rugby territory, and AFL barely registers a blink when the Lions aren't good.
They make a great comparison to the Florida Marlins, oops, Miami Marlins. The Marlins are the laughingstock of baseball 17 times out of 19, but the other two they win the World Series. Nobody cares enough to go to the games, as it's all football (and now basketball) all the time in Miami. But when they win, suddenly, there are more people on the bandwagon than countries America is indebted to.
I'd also bring up the Chicago Bulls, who, when they were great they were great, but didn't register a blip on the radar in baseball-hungry Chicago after Michael Jordan retired.
Other comparable teams: New England Patriots, Dallas Stars
First season: 1991
Premierships: 2 (1997, 1998)
Wooden spoons: Nil
The Camry Crows, or Adelaide Crows for those who wish to forget that Toyota once paid Adelaide a prince's bounty to be mentioned in the Crows' official team song, entered the league in 1991. It would take the better part of a decade for them to find their stride, but find it they did.
They won their first flag in 1997, recording quite possibly the second-most amazing comeback in finals history in the Preliminary Final before beating St Kilda in the Grand Final. In 1998, they repeated by 35 points over North Melbourne.
But mediocrity quickly took over, and despite making the finals all but once between 2001 and 2009, the Crows never did make another Grand Final. They are now decidedly in rebuilding mode.
They are—no questions asked—the Houston Rockets of the AFL. They won back-to-back titles from nowhere in the 1990s, remained a top team that disappointed in the playoffs throughout the 2000s and then fell to shambles at the end of the decade. It's as perfect a comparison as has ever been made.
Other comparable teams: Denver Broncos, Minnesota Twins
First season: 1897 (founded in 1859)
Premierships: 12 (1900, 1926, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1948, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1964)
Wooden spoons: 12
From the start of the second World War to the dawn of color television, the Demons were the team in the VFL, taking 10 of 26 premierships and competing in fully half of the Grand Finals. They're the only team to take three consecutive flags on two separate occasions, as well as the only team ever to win five premierships in six years.
With greats like Norm Smith and then Ron Barassi, both of whom later coached the Demons to flags, they were the definition of Aussie rules for a quarter-century, and their images will always be associated with the game.
But they fell hard after Barassi left to be a player/coach for Carlton in 1965, not getting back to a Grand Final until 1988. The wait for the unlucky 13th flag still goes on.
They must be compared to the Cleveland Browns. The Browns dominated throughout the post-war years, first in the AAFC and then upon their admission to the NFL. But financial difficulties forced owner Art Modell to move the team to Baltimore.
The Demons also considered relocation due to financial problems, and they almost merged with Hawthorn in 1996. But they survived, somehow, and like the Browns, remain a bottom-feeding club.
You can also compare them to the Cleveland Cavaliers, as their best player just left, breaking the hearts of Dees everywhere. Scully, as already mentioned, signed a massive contract with Greater Western Sydney.
Other comparable teams: Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Tigers
First season: 1908 (founded 1885)
Premierships: 10 (1920, 1921, 1932, 1934, 1943, 1967, 1969, 1973, 1974, 1980)
Wooden spoons: 7
Like the Demons just discussed, Richmond was once one of the pre-eminent clubs in the competition. Although the Tigers weren't one of the founding eight members of the VFL in 1897, it took only 11 years for them to make the jump to the big leagues.
And for the better part of seven decades, the Tigers remained competitive, winning a flag every decade from the '20s to the '80s with the exception of the '50s.
But the Tigers have been the joke of the competition for 29 years now. Since losing the 1982 Grand Final, the Tigers not just haven't been back to the One Saturday in September; they've barely been to September at all.
Richmond has reached the finals just twice in 29 years (1995 and 2001), a staggering rate considering almost half, and in some years, fully half of the competition reaches the finals. Their performances have been so lackluster that their team song has been mocked to reflect this, changing the iconic “We're from Tigerland” to “We finished ninth again.”
It's been a long, sad demise for such a proud franchise.
The best comparison would be to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since their glory days in the '70s and '80s, the Pirates have dropped to the bottom of baseball's large sub-.500 bin. They haven't had a winning season in almost two decades.
Furthermore, their last world title was in 1979, just one year before Richmond's last premiership. And their colors of black and gold are almost identical to the black and yellow of the Tigers.
Other comparable teams: Golden State Warriors, Washington Redskins
First season: 1995
Wooden spoons: 1
Now, before we start, I am a little biased here. I hate the Dockers. Hate them. Every little thing about them. From their ugly guernseys (although they are much nicer without the mucous green) to their pathetic attempt at a club song to how they always beat my Saints under controversial circumstances, I hate everything about the Dockers.
Well, everything except that they are the worst team in the competition, far and away. I love that fact.
In 17 years of AFL footy, Freo has made the finals just three times, winning but two September matches and never reaching the Grand Final. In fact, they've never made the finals more than once in any given three-year period.
Last year was supposed to reverse all that, but an insane number of injuries condemned Freo to 11th on the ladder. With new coach Ross Lyon, bitterly stolen from St Kilda but two months ago, the Dockers are a legitimate threat to make noise this season.
Fremantle, without a doubt, is the Los Angeles Clippers of the AFL. The prolonged crappiness cannot be overlooked, but neither can the momentum they're now building. Blake Griffin is a legitimate superstar, and his all-around ability can be compared to Freo's Michael Barlow. Heck, both have missed significant time in their first two seasons with injuries.
Moreover, Freo is the second team in a football-hungry town, playing second-fiddle to Obama's adopted West Coast Eagles in Perth, while the Clippers always fall in behind the Los Angeles Lakers in basketball-hungry Los Angeles.
A better comparison cannot be made.
Other comparable teams: Houston Texans, Charlotte Bobcats, Columbus Blue Jackets
First season: 1925 (founded 1883)
Premierships: 1 (1954)
Wooden spoons: 4
Of the 12 old Victorian teams (including now-defunct Fitzroy and the relocated South Melbourne Swans), the Dogs have accomplished the least. Their one flag is joint-least with St Kilda, while their total of two Grand Final appearances doesn't come close to being matched.
Since losing to Hawthorn in the 1961 Grand Final, the Doggies haven't been back to the sport's crowning event, a 50-year drought surpassed only by St Kilda's 52-year gap from 1913 to 1965 and South Melbourne/Sydney's 51-year horror from 1945 to 1996.
Over that time, they've changed names from Footscray to Western Bulldogs, renamed their ground in memory of the great Ted Whitten and moved into the much-larger Etihad Stadium. They've witnessed heartbreak after heartbreak, blowing halftime leads in three Preliminary Finals, and, in the case of 1997 against Adelaide, a four-goal lead in the dying minutes.
They're always just not good enough.
The best comparison I see is with the Atlanta Hawks. Although the Hawks have twice the number of finals appearances, they've only won a single NBA title, and their last trip to the promised land was also in 1961. Moreover, they've put together a lot of good teams over the years, but they've never been good enough.
Other comparable teams: Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Indians
First season: 1925 (founded 1869)
Premierships: 4 (1975, 1977, 1996, 1999)
Wooden spoons: 13
It took North a long time to get over the hurt of not being invited to found the Victorian Football League in 1897, if they ever really did. By the time they finally were allowed in for the 1925 season, football had changed, and they struggled to adapt to the faster-pace game at the higher level.
It took a quarter-century for the Roos to reach their first Grand Final and a further quarter-century to win one. Although winning one took a lot more.
As the only team in the league without a title entering 1973, North's board made a bold move, giving Carlton's legendary coach Ron Barassi whatever he wanted to take the reigns at the Arden Street Oval and securing a litany of high-priced signings, the best of which were Doug Wade and Barry Davis.
Suddenly, North Melbourne became a premiership contender over night, reaching a record six Grand Finals in just five years (their 1977 Grand Final against Collingwood ended in a draw, forcing a replay one week later), winning two. They would add a pair more in the 1990s.
This is the team that would best be compared to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Like the Steelers, they were a bottom-feeder for half a century, making headlines about as often as they won championships, which is to say never.
But come the 1970s, they became the best team in the world, playing on the big stage in front of millions of excited eyes for all the marbles. After a downturn in the 1980s, they came back strongly in the 1990s, although the ultimate glory came for North a decade quicker than Pittsburgh.
However, the Steelers have a much larger following than North, who rank as the least-popular of the 10 remaining Victorian teams.
Other comparable teams: Cincinnati Reds, Dallas Cowboys (although with a lot less hate)
First season: 1897 (founded 1871)
Premierships: 16 (1897, 1901, 1911, 1912, 1923, 1924, 1942, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1962, 1965, 1984, 1985, 1993, 2000)
Wooden spoons: 4
The team of the Milwaukee Bucks' Andrew Bogut, the Bombers' 16 flags are tied with arch rivals Carlton for most in league history. Moreover, they haven't won the wooden spoon for worst mark in the league in 78 years, a sign of their consistency and class.
But they've struggled recently, finishing no better than eighth since 2002, and in 2007, sacked head coach Kevin Sheedy after 27 years and four premierships.
These are no longer your father's Bombers.
But with their grand history and multitude of bloody rivalries, the Bombers draw a good comparison to the Montreal Canadiens. They play in the heart of their sport's homeland, and even though they've fallen on lean times, they still have amongst the most passionate, articulate and educated fans in the competition.
You make not like them, but you respect them, unless you're from Toronto, and that's what it is all about.
Other comparable teams: Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Dodgers
First season: 1897 (founded 1873)
Premierships: 1 (1966)
Wooden spoons: 26
Yes, you read those numbers correctly. The Saints finished last 26 times, including the first six seasons of the VFL. In fact, it took four years just for them to win a game.
But from all the sorrow, from all the misery, from all the terrible, terrible play, St Kilda gutted out a solo flag, winning a classic Grand Final in 1966 over Collingwood by one solitary point. There's not a Saints fan alive who doesn't know the full play-by-play call of those dying minutes.
St Kilda's recent history, however, has been riddled with heartbreak. They've been back to the Grand Final five times, losing four and drawing one. They've had the lead in the final term three times and the second half all but once, but haven't been able to close the door.
An unlucky bounce denied the Saints a second flag in 2010, drawing with Collingwood, 68-68, before getting smashed by 56 points the following week in the replay. With all their superstars aging, the Saints could be heading toward their last chance for a long time in 2012.
There are only two teams I draw parallels to. First, I'd say the Arizona Cardinals, who haven't won a title since the 1940s, have consistently been the worst team in the land, and recently lost a great Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers after leading in the dying seconds.
But the better comparison is to the Philadelphia Phillies. Throughout their history, the Phillies have been the worst team in baseball, waiting three-quarters of a century to win a World Series while going through prolonged eons at the bottom of the league.
Finally, in the last decade, they've been able to consistently contend, and as such, have developed legions of enemies that once laughed at them. But the Phillies were able to convert in 2008, winning that elusive second World Series title. St Kilda remains stuck on one.
P.S. If you adopt my Saints, Barack, please note that you NEVER put a period after the “St” in St Kilda. Never, ever, ever.
Other comparable teams: None
First season: 1897 (founded 1874)
Premierships: 4 (1909, 1918, 1933, 2005)
Wooden spoons: 11
South Melbourne helped found the VFL in 1897, and after remaining competitive for the better part of half a century, the Swans saw their fortunes vanish after World War II.
By the end of the 1970s, the VFL began to look outside the state of Victoria to expand their game, and with no local league in rugby-dominated New South Wales, the league staged a few trial games in Sydney in 1979 to gauge interest. They were deemed successful enough, and in 1983, South Melbourne moved north to become the first non-Victorian team in the Victorian Football League.
It took time for Sydney to catch on, but with two dramatic wins in 2005, first over Geelong in the Semi Final (the Semi Final is the third-to-last match, as you still have to win the Preliminary Final the following week to reach the Grand Final) from four goals down in the final quarter and then over West Coast on Leo Barry's last-second mark gave the Swans something to scream about. They had finally ended their heartbreak.
I'll compare them to the San Francisco Giants, although that's not perfect. The Swans never had the same level of dominance as the New York Giants did in the early days of baseball, although they were one of the flagship teams in the flagship city of the flagship league.
But stuck playing second-fiddle to the New York Yankees and with untapped riches to be made elsewhere, the Giants packed their bags and headed to San Francisco. After being so close so many times, they finally won it all in 2010, their first title since the move.
Moreover, no one really hates the Giants (except Dodgers fans), and you couldn't help but feel good for San Francisco when they ended their decades-long torment. However, the Giants don't really have much a following left in New York, while there are still thousands of “Old Bloods” cheering for the Swans in Melbourne.
Other comparable teams: Chicago White Sox, New York Rangers, Atlanta Braves
First season: 1897 (founded 1864)
Premierships: 16 (1906, 1907, 1908, 1914, 1915, 1938, 1945, 1947, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1987, 1995)
Wooden spoons: 3
The Old Dark Navy Blues are the second-most famous club in the league, and their great record of success—record 16 flags, 29 Grand Finals, no wooden spoons for their first 105 years in the league—is almost unmatched.
But after a century of dominance, the Blues have fallen on hard times this past decade.
In 2002, Carlton finished 16th, their first-ever last place finish, a feat they'd repeat in 2005 and 2006. In fact, from 2002 to 2007, only once did they not finish in the bottom two, an unheard of run of losing at Visy Park. They've rebounded the past three years, making the finals each time, but they still haven't reached a Preliminary Final since 2000. Could 2012 be the long-awaited return toward the top?
The best comparison I see is with the San Francisco 49ers. While the 49ers history doesn't date back as far as Carlton's, their sustained success matches Carlton's, as does the inexplicable downturn in the 2000s to the cellar of the league.
But like Carlton, the 49ers are achieving a renaissance of sorts this season, and maybe, just maybe, another title is just around the corner.
Other comparable teams: Boston Celtics
First season: 1987
Premierships: 3 (1992, 1994, 2006)
Wooden spoons: 1
Now, Barack, I don't want to stop you from being an Eagles fan. If it is what you truly want to do, please go ahead. As long as you don't pick the Dockers or the Magpies, I can't complain. But at least make an educated decision.
West Coast burst into the league, and by their fifth season, became the first non-Victorian team to play in a Grand Final. The Hawks crushed West Coast by 53 points in the 1991 decider, but it would only be 12 more months before the Eagles had their first flag.
Overall in 25 seasons, the Eagles have played finals footy 18 times, and three of those seven misses happened from 2008-2010. They've claimed three flags from five Grand Finals, and since 1991, only Geelong has played in more premiership deciders. Arguably, they are the best team of the past quarter-century.
Last season's shock fourth-place finish on the ladder, coupled with a strong showing in the Qualifying Final against Collingwood, has the Eagles back where they expect to be. With budding superstars in Luke Shuey and ruckman Nic Naitanui, the Eagles finally have the youth infusion they need to contend for a fourth premiership.
Nonetheless, they have a large, vociferous fanbase, and even though they technically have to share the town with Fremantle, the Eagles are the toast of Australia's western outpost of civilization.
The North American team that I'd say West Coast is closest to is the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Dbacks, like the Eagles, reached the playoffs in their second season and only took a few years to win it all. They've consistently contended for division titles, and this past year, turned the corner and made it back to the playoffs.
Other comparable teams: Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche
First season: 1925 (founded 1902)
Premierships: 10 (1961, 1971, 1976, 1978, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 2008)
Wooden spoons: 11
The Mighty Fightin' Hawks took a while to get the premiership ball rolling, but once they did, they began one of the three great VFL dynasties.
Hawthorn was unquestionably the team of the 1980s, securing four flags, the last in what is widely considered the greatest Grand Final of them all. They also lay a claim for team of the 1970s, taking three premierships from four Grand Finals, the same rate as Carlton.
Overall, from 1971 to 1991, they won eight flags, and from 1985 to 1991, the Hawks competed on the One Day in September every single year, the only team ever to make seven consecutive Grand Finals.
But since then, the Hawks have been notably inconsistent, reaching finals footy as often as they missed out. Their only moment of glory came in 2008, as they pulled the greatest of Grand Final upsets. Geelong, who went 21-1 that year, had its most inaccurate game of the year, losing to Hawthorn in a match the Cats dominated.
The Hawks are one of Melbourne's big four teams, and the entire league benefits when they're winning.
This was a hard one to come up with a good comparison for, but I settled on the Boston Celtics. Sure, the Hawks don't have the most titles in the league, but the two teams both dominated in the same time while struggling to keep up these past two decades.
Moreover, they each have added a single title recently, although Boston did so with a superstar trio that they handpicked for the sole goal of winning a title and winning it as soon as possible.
Honestly, Hawthorn is uniquely Hawthorn, and I'm not sure there's any decent comparison to be made to anyone.
Other comparable teams: Philadelphia Flyers, Oakland Athletics
First season: 1897 (founded 1892)
Premierships: 15 (1902, 1903, 1910, 1917, 1919, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1935, 1936, 1953, 1958, 1990, 2010)
Wooden spoons: 2
Australia's most famous team is Australia's most hated team. And it's not even close. Collingwood, big bad C'Wood, the Pies. Call 'em what you want, you're either a Pie or your not, and judging by membership numbers, there are more Pies than anyone else.
And of course, performance in battle has a lot to do with that. Collingwood's unrivaled streak of four consecutive premierships from 1927 to 1930 may never be equalled, nor will their 26 Grand Final defeats, nearly double their nearest rival. Overall, including two draws, the Pies have played in 43 Grand Finals, 14 more than either Carlton or Essendon.
But it's those 26 defeats that must be discussed. Since winning their 13th in 1958, the Magpies have reached 15 Grand Finals, posting just two victories against 11 defeats. They've lost three times by less than a goal, a further two by less than two goals, and of course, there was the loss to North Melbourne after the draw in 1977. A bounce or two the other way, and the Pies could have 21 flags.
History doesn't count almost, and instead, we get to talk about the Collywobbles as the Pies rue what might have been.
As such, Collingwood is definitely a mix of two of the most hated teams in American sport: the New York Yankees and the Oakland Raiders.
Their run of success, international acclaim and the pedestal to which they place their legends is almost identical, and you can't ignore those ugly pinstripes that plague their uniforms.
As far as the Raiders goes, that's simple. Pies fans dress up in obnoxious uniforms, shout at everything and think the world revolves around them. Moreover, their colors of black and white are just a little shine away from being identical to Oakland. Nonetheless, even though their supporters are hated, you have to respect the passion and love they have for their team.
To fans of the Pies and the Raiders, football is the only thing on Earth that matters.
Other comparable teams: No, it is and will always be just the Raiders and Yankees
First season: 1897 (founded 1859)
Premierships: 9 (1925, 1931, 1937, 1951, 1952, 1963, 2007, 2009, 2011)
Wooden spoons: 5
For 85 years, Geelong was the only team in the Victorian Football League not located in the Melbourne metropolitan area. Located on the other side of the Bay from Melbourne, Geelong was and still is but a small town in the world of metropolitan football.
After sporadic success, the Cats went 44 years without a flag after 1963, losing five Grand Finals before their record-setting 119-point win over Port Adelaide in 2007. It started one of the great modern-era dynasties, the first of three flags from four Grand Finals in five years.
But if you're thinking about picking Geelong as your team, all you need to know is what follows.
Everything lines up to make this the most perfect of all comparisons. The Cats are the Green Bay Packers in as many ways as the Green Bay Packers are the Geelong Cats.
Both are a small-market team, if you can even count either Geelong or Green Bay as a market, where they are the only show in town. When the Packers and the Cats play, the entire town gets behind them, and for three hours, if you're not in Lambeau or Kardinia, you're watching, praying and breathing football.
They're both foundation teams in their respective leagues, consistently winning titles. Yet after the 1960s, the Packers and the Cats struggled for decades to regain their footing at the top. The Packers finally won a Super Bowl in 1996, while the Cats lost the greatest of all Grand Finals in 1989 in addition to one-sided affairs in 1992, 1994 and 1995.
But while the Packers are just now starting a dynasty of their own, the Cats stamped theirs this year, winning their third and most unlikely title in five seasons with a 38-point win over the Pies.
The Packers? Well, they too are champions after beating the Steelers in the Super Bowl.
All the other ones are debatable, but this one is set in stone.
Other comparable teams: None
Well, Barack, I hope this helps. The decision is all yours, and as long as you don't pick Collingwood or Fremantle, I can consider voting for you in 2012.
But if you chose either the Pies or the Dockers, then I'm sorry; there's no possible way you can get my vote. Football, after all, is the only thing that really matters.