At the end of 1992 NFL season, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Reggie White became on the first and most high profile players to take advantage of the new Free Agency. It was a media merry go round, as everyone speculated as to where the most dominant defensive player of the age would end up in his quest for a championship, a quest that was destined never to be fulfilled in Philly. SI had a famous front cover, showing White in his pads, with various team jerseys pictured as cut outs to stick on to him as they "scrambled to give him the shirts of their backs." Eventually, he signed with the Green Bay Packers, and finally became the winner his talents deserved to make him, finishing with three sacks of New England QB Drew Bledsoe as the Packers routed the Patriots 35-21 in Superbowl XXXI.
Now, in the off season gap between the 2012 and 2013 NFL seasons, another stud free agent is available, looking for the best fit after several unfulfilled years, never truly settling anywhere since "his" team upped sticks and went away. Yes, NFL.com and NFL Network's Adam Rank is looking for a new team to root for.
Some may think its a simple matter of choosing between the 32 franchises, but in truth Adam is not looking at 32 teams. There are instant disqualifications. The St Louis Football Club (still bewilderingly referred to as "The Rams" by some misguided individuals) are an automatic no, as are the Oakland Raiders. Other teams, like Arizona and San Diego, have held Adams attention for a time, but are undesirable locations at this time. After careful consideration, and in honour of Adam's very own "Pick Six" column, I present the six most likely outcomes for Adam Rank for the 2013 season and beyond.
So, in no particular order, let us begin.
WHY A GOOD FIT? This would seem to be a very desirable landing spot. The Steelers are one of the most storied franchises in all of American sports, with a record breaking SIX Superbowl victories. They are a perennial powerhouse in the AFC North, and are never usually far away from a post season berth. It is doubtful that this side will ever undergo years of absence from the playoffs.
WHY STEER CLEAR? The Steelers have a loyal and vociferous fan in fellow NFL.com star Dave Dameshek, and there may be a danger of the hugely succesful Dave Dameshek Football Program podcast becoming a Steelers love in, which would almost certainly lead to a fall off in listeners from the Cleveland and Baltimore areas.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
WHY A GOOD FIT? Could Adam follow Reggie White to "Title Town"? There are plenty of reasons why this makes a lot of sense. Like the Steelers, the Pack have a long and storied history. Hell, the Superbowl trophy is named after a former Packers coach. They have the best QB to watch in the game at present, and put up enough points to warm the heart of any fans braving the near freezing outdoor conditions. Plus, it would give Adam a better opportunity to more frequently hang out with Packers linebacker and #DDFP favourite AJ Hawk.
WHY STEER CLEAR? Not many obvious reasons to go against this plan, other than it is VERY VERY COLD in Wisconsin, especially in playoff time.
WHY A GOOD FIT? After having to watch the Arizona Cardinals suffer from crummy QB play and abysmal O line antics, it is expected that Adam will want to go and watch a team win, and win often. So where better to stop in than Denver, who are without doubt the cream of a pretty ordinary AFC West. John Fox has led the franchise to the playoffs in both of his years with the team so far, and after the hilarity of the Tebow experiment, the Broncos are the current home of one of the greatest regular season QBs of all time, Peyton Manning. A 11/12 win season, at least for as long as Peyton is around, seems certain.
WHY STEER CLEAR? It would be very difficult (nigh on impossible) to see/hear Adam getting behind Peyton Manning, knowing that every regular season win puts him one game closer to an inevitable post season failure. Plus, by his own admission, Adam did once attempt to nail his colours to the Broncos mast when Arizona QB Jake Plummer left for Colorado, so it is doubtful whether he would be up for a repeat.
WHY A GOOD FIT? Philadelphia sports fans are highly passionate about their teams, and love to show how happy they are when things are going well. They also possess a healthy dislike of all things from New York and Boston, a trait already shared with Adam Rank. Under Chip Kelly, the potential is there for a new philosophy of offence in the NFL for years to come. Plus, it must be said, Philly lends itself to sports movies (especially football) in a way that Pittsburgh just doesn't. (Bane didn't go blowing up the Linc, did he?) The recent award winning "Silver Linings Playbook" centred on the Eagles, the semi biopic "Invincible" was the incredible story of Vince Papale, a man who went to an open tryout for the Eagles and somehow made the team, which is turn saved as the inspiration for the movie "The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon". Hell, where was Rocky set? Philly!
WHY STEER CLEAR? Prolonged exposure to the Eagles can lead to a high degree of anger and bitterness (see Jonathan Loughran's character in the movie "Anger Management" for an understated example of this). I mean, this fan base booed Santa Claus. As an Eagles fan, I'd love to see Adam join the Bird brotherhood, but I couldn't recommend it.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
WHY A GOOD FIT? After a decade or more in the doldrums, the last two years under Jim Harbaugh have been welcome fayre for yet another storied franchise. Undoubtedly the team of the 1980s, the team struggled through the 90s and early 2000s. But under Harbaugh they have been to a Superbowl (which they lost) a year after reaching the NFC title game (which they lost). The progression curve would indicate that if Adam gets onboard now, he could be enjoying a Superbowl victory at Metlife in the cold next February.
WHY STEER CLEAR? Geographically, its just too damn close to LA, plus longstanding feelings of rivalry between this time and Adams beloved (and sadly missed) LA Rams make this an unlikely happy marriage.
STAY FREE AND SINGLE
WHY A GOOD FIT? It is very likely that LA will soon have a team once again, and also increasingly likely (in this authors view) that the team will be the reborn LA Rams. And what could be cooler than turning up for that first Rams game in LA wearing an original "BROCK #5#" jersey (Dieter Brock Drop...)?
WHY STEER CLEAR? Being a fan of a team means supressing that rational part of ourselves. Pinning your hopes on a group of men, hoping that THIS week the corner will be turned, THIS year they'll go all the way, that THIS team is the greatest you've ever seen...this is why we love sports.
So what will Adam choose? We shall have to wait, and watch.