The first week of the 2012 NFL season is now under our ever expanding belts, capping off what has been a very interesting offseason: longtime Colts QB Peyton Manning went to Denver, while two rookie QBs (Baylor's Robert Griffin III and Stanford's Andrew Luck) were prepared to make their presences known. Troubled wide receiver Brandon Marshall landed in Chicago, while the hometown Texans contended with both the loss of several key players and heightened expectations following last season's playoff run.
Of course, there are those of you who care not one whit for the National Football League. Certain writers on this very blog (*cough* Uticone *cough*) proudly Tweeted their disinterest yesterday while others of us were doing the Lord's work, drinking beer and sponging off a friend's Texans season tickets.
It doesn't have to be this way, people. Even in the rarefied film/TV critics pantheon in which I travel, there are football (and sports in general) fans a-plenty. But because I realize it can be difficult to choose your pigskin-related allegiances wisely with no prior knowledge, I am providing a handy guide to all 32 NFL teams and the TV/movie/comic book character(s) which most closely parallel the team and/or its fans. I make no claims of objectivity, and neither have I made any attempt to repress personal bias. Go Bears.
The NFL is divided into two divisions: the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC)...yes, they mean essentially the same thing. The two meet at the end of the season in a championship game called the "Super Bowl," which occasionally lives up to the hype. The NFC has won 25 of these, the AFC 21, going back to when the former was NFL and the latter the AFL and oh God this is boring the shit out of me. Here are the teams of the NFC (we'll visit the other conference on Thursday).
Fun Facts: Fans of the teams seriously complain about a "Super Bowl drought" because their last win was *way back* in 1996. Owner Jerry Jones regularly ships tanks of infant blood in from Southeast Asia to extend his unholy immortal existence.
Pop Culture Analog: The Alpha Betas
New York Giants
Fun Facts: Quarterback Eli Manning is the younger brother of Peyton, but has two Super Bowl victories to big bro's one. This has led to an intense intra-family rivalry that culminated in the accidental bludgeoning to death of family patriarch Archie Manning in a skirmish known as the "Battle of Croquet Mallet Valley."
Pop Culture Analog: The Galactic Empire
Fun Facts: Their fans once booed Santa Claus, and not because they're all Jewish. The Eagles play at Lincoln Financial Field, which they refer to as "The Linc." This always makes me think of Link Hogthrob from The Muppet Show, which is appropriate because all Eagles fans are morbidly obese.
Pop Culture Analog: Scut Farkas
Fun Facts: Redskins' quarterback Joe Theismann was forced to retire after suffering a compound leg fracture on a sack by Giants' linebacker Lawrence Taylor. This is widely regarded as spirit vengeance on the team for its terribly offensive mascot.
Pop Culture Analog: King Robert Baratheon from Game of Thrones
Fun Facts: There aren't actually any bears in the greater metropolitan Chicago area. Nonetheless, the storied tradition of the franchise elevates it above such zoological semantics.
Pop Culture Analog: Tough one, but probably Galactus.
Fun Facts: One of four franchises that have never appeared in a Super Bowl. Current star wideout Calvin Johnson has the nickname "Megatron," which is cool.
Pop Culture Analog: Kuriboh (from Yu-Gi-Oh!)
Green Bay Packers
Fun Facts: The team's fans count it as a point of pride they play their home games in a frozen wasteland long abandoned by advanced humans. What's not generally known is team founder Earl "Curly" Lambeau got his name because of his vestigial tail.
Pop Culture Analog: The Tauntauns from The Empire Strikes Back
Fun Facts: The only time actual Vikings wore purple was when they were cloaked in the color and banished as punishment for unlawful carnal relations with gourds, a practice which continues in Minneapolis to this day (Prince even wrote a song about it: "When U Need 2 Freak a Pumpkin").
Pop Culture Analog: The guy arrested for "mopery" in Revenge of the Nerds
Fun Facts: The night before their sole Super Bowl appearance (XXXIII), Atlanta safety Eugene Robinson was arrested for soliciting a $40 blowjob from an undercover cop. The word "Falcon" is now a well-known code word for BJ in VIP rooms across this great nation of ours.
Pop Culture Analog: George Michael
Fun Facts: The arrival of the expansion Panthers in 1995 gave folks in North Carolina something to occupy their time between basketball and hurricane seasons.
Pop Culture Analog: The Shmoos
New Orleans Saints
Fun Fact: The Saints were recently punished for running a "bounty" program in which bonuses were offered to defensive players for knocking opposing players out of a game. As if the prospect of spending an extended amount of time in Louisiana wasn't terrifying enough.
Pop Culture Analog: The Vogons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Fun Fact: Before they adopted their current butch skull-and-crossbones motif, the Bucs had what was arguably the most fabulous logo in the entire league.
Pop Culture Analog: Glee's Dave Karofsky
Fun Fact: My sister's strategy for picking football games when she was a kid was to go with whichever mascot could be the opposing one in a fight (e.g. Giants over Falcons, Cowboys over Vikings). By this logic, the Cardinals should never have won a game (they've won a few).
Pop Culture Analog: Kobolds from Dungeons & Dragons
St. Louis Rams
Fun Fact: The Rams were a long-time Los Angeles franchise before taking their current vacation in St. Louis so they could a Super Bowl. L.A. still doesn't have a team, and nobody there seems to care. Meanwhile, the Rams are generally the 3rd most popular sports team in StL.
Pop Culture Analog: Cindy Brady
San Francisco 49ers
Fun Fact: 49ers fans have been largely dormant until the team made a late surge last season. Most have been in stasis since the Joe Montana/Steve Young glory days. Was this recent resurgence related to rise of Young's fellow Mormon Mitt Romney? It seems likely.
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Pop Culture Analog: The horde outside Brian's mother's house in Life of Brian
Fun Fact: The only reason this team doesn't go 0-16 every season is because they're owned by a delusional billionaire who also owns a yacht with two submarines and a basketball court.
Pop Culture Analog: GW Corporation employees