September 29, 2016

They say “Respect is earned, Loyalty is returned.”

That sure sounds nice, but does it hold true in the football world? After all, they probably don’t call the NFL the “Not For Long” league for nothing. Find out how your favorite NFL team stacks up on a list that measures loyalty by looking at stats most people don’t often consider.

How long does a veteran player stay with the team? A month, a year, a day? (“One day…” You say? Yup, happens more often than you’d think.) This is perhaps the best way to rank loyalty because, after all, players make the team.

Next, did the team deliver during the time that those veteran players were there? By looking at win/loss stats, it’s easy to see what teams kept players that actually played well, and what teams kept players because no one else wanted them. (Looking at you, Jacksonville Jaguars, the team who is so bad that even Google has trouble pulling up the search results for “Jaguars” and “bad”.)

Last but not least, did the coach stick around? If the players make the team, then the coach makes the players. (And the cheerleaders make their wives jealous…) As you’ll see, winning coaches tend to want to stick around. (Looking at you, Belicheck.) Losing coaches tend to move to the country and run a restaurant. (Hi, Dave Shula!)

Now let’s see who’s loyal, looking at the stats since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970. Let’s start with the biggest loser…

It will probably surprise no one (except people who don’t follow football) that the Cleveland Browns are at the bottom of the barrel. And their win/loss percentage? An unfortunate 413.7. To make matters worse, their coaches tended to stick around for only 2.88 years. That’s barely enough time to learn the players’ names. Even worse than that is their Super Bowl trophy collection, or lack of one. They nabbed one, zero, nada, zip.

Now for the big winner…

The Pittsburgh Steelers are on top of the loyalty pile with stats that outdo (almost) every other team, overall. (The Cincinnati Bengals actually kept players around for longer than any other team, Steeler included.) But with a staggering 895.3 win/loss percentage and the average coach sticking around for 15.33 years, it’s no surprise that they make the top of the list. In fact, the Steelers have only had THREE coaches since 1969, with Chuck Noll putting in a staggering 22 years.

Also notable is the fact that The Pittsburgh Steelers ‘stole’ more Super Bowl trophies than other team with 6 wins since the 1970 merger.

Although, in some kind of strange sports world justice, they also hold the dubious honor of having the worst-ever Super Bowl halftime show in history. Seriously. When you’ve got a gigantic center-field stage featuring The Black-Eyed Peas and Usher backed by Slash, it’s time for a (long) trip to the bathroom.

The rest of the teams fall somewhere between the aforementioned most and least loyal (as you might expect) but there are a few notable surprises…

The Minnesota Vikings, who have been the butt of many jokes for their poor performance over the years, come in 2nd place. And yet, longtime fan favorite the NY Giants are all the way in 24th place.

But, perhaps most shockingly, the #1 team on the list, The Pittsburgh Steelers, do not have cheerleaders. Now that’s loyalty. But then again, the worst team, the Cleveland Browns do have cheerleaders. Which, incidentally, is why that stat was left out.

We all know the NFL is a business, but one can't forget the importance of fan loyalty. There are no teams without loyal fans like yourself. Now check out the list to see where your favorite (and least favorite) teams are.