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….
“Disappointed by soft ticket sales for an exhibition game against the Green Bay Packers, [Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall] called the host city of Winston-Salem… a ‘lousy town.’
“Stung by the criticism, the Rotary Club invited him to take a tour of the city. He accepted, only to ridicule the R. J. Reynolds tobacco factory, the Western Electric plant and the airport and people who enjoyed flying. At an underwear plant, he said: ‘I haven’t worn an undershirt in 25 years. Only wear shorts. Guess I cut your business in half.’
” ‘Winston-Salem turned the other cheek to critic George Preston Marshall,’ wrote the Winston-Salem Journal, ‘and he managed to slap it too.’ ”
— From “Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins” by Thomas G. Smith (2011)
For entirely different reasons, Packers Coach Vince Lombardi had his own ill feelings toward Winston-Salem, where the teams played an annual exhibition 1955-60.
On this day in 1951: WBTV in Charlotte and WFMY-TV in Greensboro carry the state’s first Washington Redskins telecast. The image is grainy black and white and the Redskins lose to the Browns 45-0, but North Carolinians like what they see.
The Redskins network was created by team owner George Preston Marshall and sponsored by Amoco gasoline – the NFL’s lucrative TV packages are years away.
Marshall plays to white Southern fans, maintaining an all-white roster until 1962. He signs such regional favorites as Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice, plays exhibitions in Winston-Salem and even includes in the team fight song “Hail to the Redskins” the line “Fight for old Dixie” (later changed to “Fight for old D.C.”).