San Francisco 49ers to Miami Heat: Top 10 Bandwagon Teams of 2011
I like to think that I'm the ultimate authority when it comes to being a bandwagon fan.
The first football jersey I ever owned was Peyton Manning's with a Superbowl XLI patch; after watching the victory over New England in the AFC Championship, I was an Indy fan.
We're all guilty of being a bandwagon fan at one time or another. Hell, it's how most of us became fans of our teams in the first place. We can convince ourselves and our friends that because your dad grew up in St. Louis, you have a right to be a Cardinals fan. Who cares if it just happens to be right after Game 6 of the World Series?
There is a trick to being a good bandwagon fan, though. For example, I hitched onto Indy's wagon at an opportune time, but am still just as big a fan at 1-13 as I was when they beat the Bears; I stand by my shameless endorsement. I started with nothing, and gained an appreciation for a good team.
No shame in being a bandwagon fan, as long as you stick to your guns when it counts.
2011 was a great year to hop on some bandwagons. There were a ton of teams emerging as contenders that haven't had the marquee success as say the Patriots, Yankees or Red Wings.
Some of them flourished, and a good amount floundered.
It was a great year to reset our allegiances, and concoct new rationalizations for all of them.
Without further adieu, and submitted for your disapproval, I give you the top 10 bandwagon teams of 2011.
10. San Francisco 49ers
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What a great season to be a 49ers fan.
I have to say, it's been incredibly tempting to hop on board this train in the wake of Indy's slide. If I weren't convinced they don't stand a chance in the playoffs with the second best/worst quarterback in the league, I'd probably be wearing a Patrick Willis jersey right now.
I have, however, come across a number of people within my own reach that have suddenly developed an undying pride for the unlikely contenders. They're the ones who buy an Alex Smith authentic jersey with sewn on name and numbers, and flaunt them on Monday mornings as though it were the Lombardi Trophy itself.
As an aside, if you want the key to spotting a bandwagon football fan, it's the guy who spends the extra hundred bucks on the tackle twill stitching on the on-field jersey. A real fan buys replica and spends the rest of the cash in the Beer Garden.
Enjoy the ride while it lasts, bandwagoners.
9. Detroit Tigers
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In my 24 years of bandwagon research, I've concluded that, due to the lengthy and repetitive regular season in the MLB, most bandwagoning takes place during the playoffs.
For the Detroit Tigers, this was certainly the case. While Justin Verlander amped existing fans and alerted potential wagon-hoppers to his team's potential, the real crowd didn't start gathering until Detroit dispatched the damn Yankees in the AL Division Series.
It seems a pretty steady constant that if you're one of the many who unconditionally hate the Yankees—anyone other than Yankees fans—you automatically become a fan of whatever team they happen to be playing.
As as a fellow Yankee hater, it was a fun ride until Texas got in the way.
8. Denver Broncos
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Before actually delving into the Broncos, I ask you to turn your attention to the fine gentleman on the right in the picture provided:
Acting like a jackass wearing a sewed jersey. I rest my case.
It's no surprise that the Broncos are on here, but the attention the franchise has gained this season is less attributed to the team as a whole than the second-coming under center.
Blasphemy aside, Tim Tebow has resurrected (sorry) a seriously depressed city.
His jersey sales alone are saving local Denver sports memorabilia business from extinction, and whether a lifer or newbie, people are rockin' the Tebow.
7. Los Angeles Clippers
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This is my personal favorite as both a newly-announced Clippers bandwagoner and a devout Laker-hater.
The city is being divided around me for the first time...ever? Kobe's old, Blake's young, Odom's gone and Paul has made a splash.
My Clippers No. 32 jersey is in the mail, and I couldn't be happier watching Laker Nation crumbling around me like the walls of Rome.
It's a new renaissance, people. Hop on board.
6. Vancouver Canucks
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
I'm sorry for what's about to happen...
Listen up, mother lovers. I've gone through 24 grueling years of pain and agony watching my Vancouver Canucks struggle through Mark Messier, Garth Snow and Anson Carter, and all of a sudden you're a Canucks fan?
I swear to Tim Tebow if I ever see you walking the streets in your brand-new, brightly colored, stitched Roberto Luongo jersey...It'll be a dark day for stitched jerseys.
OK, I sincerely apologize for that. I'm hoping my editors don't chop it up (Editor's note: they did, a bit), because I'm about to redeem myself here. That's how South Park gets away with everything; what makes me any different?
The Canucks have emerged as one of best teams in hockey.
Yes, they lost to the Bruins in embarrassing fashion, and yes, the city embarrassed itself with a riot following the Cup loss (trust me, I was there—smart cars everywhere know my name...kidding, don't sue me), but I do have to admit it makes me smile to see people walking around Los Angeles wearing Canucks hats and shirts in the beginning of another promising season for Van City.
As another aside to go along with the football jersey rant, the only appropriate attire at a hockey game is the "player jersey tee." Unless you're a Green Man, to be a true fan you must sport a jersey T-shirt, which says "I'm a fan, but I'm down to party." That's how I see it.
Go Canucks. I hate you, Tim Thomas.
5. Boston Bruins
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It seems only fitting to follow that pity party up with a concession to the rightful champs.
The Bruins beat Vancouver with grit and goaltending, and I'll never take that away from them. Except Johnny Boychuk for dropping the can opener on Mason Raymond you piece of...sorry. I'm done.
As one of the Original Six teams, it's great to see a franchise with real hockey history bring the cup home (credit also to Chicago).
This is like pulling teeth.
Way to go, Boston. You and your stupid bandwagon deserve it.
4. St. Louis Cardinals
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
I'm pretty sure everyone fell victim to this one.
After David Freese's heroics in Game 6, how could you not? I think somewhere, even Rangers fans wanted them to win.
I can't say that for sure, I've never actually met a Rangers fan.
I assume they're out there somewhere.
3. Philadelphia Eagles
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I could go on and on about the "Dream Team" that never was, but that would make me just like any other unoriginal writer.
People love hammering Philly for calling their shot and swiftly and efficiently blowing it, but nobody wants to admit that they were just as excited as Eagles fans to see what the Dream Team was made of.
I have a Mike Vick Eagles throwback in my closet (replica, of course) and I don't even like the Eagles. To be fair, this was partly because I always buy the jersey of my first fantasy football draft pick (I'm in the championship, so save it), but I definitely had the Eagles as a favorite to make it to the Superbowl.
Lets also not forget that, at the time of publication, the Eagles aren't mathematically extinct from the playoffs. We could be on the horizon of a monumental run...
But probably not.
2. Green Bay Packers
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Replica jersey, front and center...good on ya, kid.
I can proudly say I've yet to fall victim to the seductive lure of the Packers bandwagon. As enticing as it is to put your support behind an arm like Aaron Rodgers, it's almost too easy.
It's the equivalent of cheating at Words With Friends; yeah, you're winning, but everyone knows you're just a weasel (challenge "thenickcollins" and find out for yourself).
I'm full of envious joy for all life-long Pack fans, but it's hard to give any love to those hopping on this bandwagon.
...even though it's exactly what I did with Indy. Do as I say, not as I do.
1. Miami Heat
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This is no surprise, mostly because it was the title photo of this article.
Between welcome parties and decisions, the Heat organization basically sent out an open invitation to bandwagoners looking for a new home.
And what a ride it was.
We all know how this saga ended, and if you don't, well, I'm not even sure how you found Bleacher Report in the first place, let alone this crappy article.
The reason the Heat landed at number one is due to their theatrics combined with the fact that they're actually still contenders. The team made it to the finals, and despite what anyone says, that's pretty damn impressive.
I wouldn't be surprised to see them go deep again this season.