NFL fans, find yourself on North Carolina map

Can the fan followings of NFL teams be mapped county-by-county by  how frequently the teams are “liked” on Facebook?

If so, then Eastern North Carolina fans heavily favor Baltimore over San Francisco in the Super Bowl, while the rest of the state exhibits mixed loyalties. Location, location…?

When the entire 32-team league is mapped, the Carolina Panthers manage only a modest footprint in North Carolina and barely a toeprint in South Carolina. Their biggest rivals for fan affection: Pittsburgh and Dallas, which will come as news to no one who has observed fan attire when those teams visit Bank of America Stadium. I was surprised to see the state’s long attachment to the Washington Redskins go virtually unrecognized.

But when the map is redrawn to include only the 12 teams that made the playoffs this season, Washington rivals New England as North Carolina fans’ cynosure. Atlanta’s proximity to the state wins it little affection, except in those vacation-home counties contiguous to Georgia.

With the Super Bowl almost here, surely someone is counting “likes” to map which counties prefer guacamole and which salsa….


4 thoughts on “NFL fans, find yourself on North Carolina map”

  1. Another very interesting post, Lew. I wonder what it would be like if we could go back 60 years to a time when the NFL consisted of only 12 teams (none south of Washington, DC)… a super bowl was a very large open-top container for your soup, and facebook was an actual face on an actual book. I believe a 1953 sampling would have put the Washington Redskins at the top.

  2. No. Charlie Justice would never spell his name that way, and the facsimile-signature is not even close to Charlie’s handwriting style.

    Officially, from “Beckett Football Card Price Guide, 23rd Edition,” the card is W468 #26 from 1950, a card distributed by the Exhibit Supply Company of Chicago and was offered in arcade machines for a penny.

    Charlie Justice fans will notice another problem with the picture used for the card…Justice is wearing jersey #58…not his familiar #22. In fact, Justice never wore jersey #58 in a game, and in a 1984 interview he told me how that picture came about.

    Charlie Justice had made it clear from the beginning of the 1949 football season that he was not planning to play professional football. He felt, at 5’10” and 165, he was too small…and many agreed. So it wasn’t a surprise on January 20th during the NFL draft that most of the pro teams didn’t draft him. The Eagles, Bears, Giants, Browns and Steelers, all had shown interest, but didn’t take it any further. They didn’t want to use up a draft choice on a player that wasn’t planning to play. However, George Preston Marshall of the Washington Redskins thought he could change Charlie’s mind. So Marshall drafted Justice in the 16th round. During the next 10 months Marshall pursued him with numerous offers. And following his MVP performance in the College All-Star game, Justice gave in on October 15th and signed with the Redskins. He arrived in Washington on October 16, 1950…four games into the ’50 season. Marshall made a big deal out of his arrival, holding a press conference and had other team members dress out in full uniform and pose with Justice for pictures. It was the custom in Washington in those days that a new player got assigned “the next available” number and for Justice that was #58. The press photographers snapped away as Justice and his backfield mates posed. Marshall had his team photographer Abbie Rowe take special publicity shots of Justice and one of those publicity pictures was sent to the Exhibit Supply Company.

    An Associated Press wire photo of Justice and pals was printed in newspapers across the country. Well, when Charlie’s fans in North Carolina saw the picture of him wearing #58, they were irate. “The Choo-Choo and Twenty-Two Clubs of North Carolina” flooded the Redskins’ office with phone calls, telegrams, letters and post cards (no faxes or emails in those days). Marshall got the message and realized he had a public relations nightmare on his hands. What to do? Jersey #22 was currently being worn by Redskin defensive back Harry Dowda who had worn #22 since the start of the ’49 season. It would not be fair to just take the number away from Dowda who was an established player and give it to Justice who hadn’t yet played a game. Well, somebody, and Justice didn’t remember who, asked the seemingly ridiculous question, “What is the next available number?” That number just happened to be #44…Harry Dowda’s old college number at Wake Forest. (Justice had played against Dowda in college). So Marshall swapped the #58 with the #44, then held a press conference and had Justice and Dowda exchange old college numbers. Crisis averted…almost. Nobody remembered to call the Exhibit Supply Company and let them know about the change…Justice with jersey #58 went to press for Exhibit Card W468 #26.

  3. Thanks so much, Jack…. I had no idea the Justice exhibit card had such an entertainingly detailed history — especially the “Choo Choo and Twenty-Two Clubs”….
    I checked some other football exhibit cards from that era, and the signatures bear much resemblance to each other — I’m guessing they were cranked out by somebody in the office or print shop who happened to have legible handwriting….

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