I love NFL football. One of the benefits of living in so many cities during my life is that I can root for a number of teams. Growing up in Michigan, across the border from Toledo, Ohio and having a summer home on Lake Michigan, meant that my family supported the Detroit Lions. For most of my childhood these were dark years, brightened only when Detroit drafted Barry Sanders (we used most of our energy to cheer for the Michigan Wolverines in college football). In 1994, I began college at Taylor University in the middle of Indiana. In my senior year, the Colts drafted Peyton Manning as the first overall pick in the draft, turning a mediocre team into a profitable franchise.
When I married my wife, I added the Pittsburgh Steelers to the teams that I followed. My mother-in-law grew up near Pittsburgh and to this day, is one of the most avid Steelers fans that I have ever met. Shortly after graduating from college in 1998, my wife and I moved to Southwest Florida, where we lived for five years as I worked as a financial consultant. These were exciting years for Florida football fans. Dan Marino played his last years for the Miami Dolphins (ending his career in 1999), and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 with coach John Gruden.
While I enjoyed watching NFL games up to this point, my transformation into a full-blown super fan took place when I moved to Vancouver, Canada at the end of 2003 to begin graduate school at Regent College. I am convinced that the West Coast is the best place to be a NFL fan because you can watch a full lineup on Sunday, and be able to stay awake for the endings of Sunday and Monday Night Football games. On Sunday morning I would wake up, watch the pre-game commentary on the games, go to church, and come back to watch the 1:00pm, 4:00pm, and Sunday evening games. In the West Coast time zone, the Sunday and Monday night games finish around 9:00pm, rather than three hours later for those living on the East Coast. As a graduate student, I could organize my studying schedule in order to watch all the local games on Sunday and Monday. Because Vancouver is so close to Seattle, every Seahawks game was broadcast on the local stations. I couldn't help becoming a Seahawks fan. I cheered on the team as they progressed under the leadership of Matt Hasselbeck, who led them to Super Bowl XL in 2006 (sadly the Seahawks lost to the Steelers, making my wife's family happy). With the congenial West Coast time zone, I watched more football during my graduate school days than any other time in my life up to that point.
I was so committed to watching the NFL, that I purchased the Yahoo Sports package when I moved to Scotland in 2006, allowing me to watch as many games as I wanted on the internet. Although the picture was very blurry on my small laptop screen, my wife and I huddled around our computer each night of the week as we spaced out our saved games. Only the Super Bowl was televised in Scotland, and we had to wake up at 1:00am to watch it (Super Bowl XLI in 2007 was particularly fun to watch since the Colts beat the Chicago Bears). When we returned to America, my family and I lived in Indiana for two years where we continued to root for the Colts.
This is now my third year living in Tennessee and I am not yet a fan of the Titans. Perhaps if Peyton Manning had gone to Nashville instead of Denver, I might have picked up yet another team. But alas, I can't bring myself to support the Titans. My favorite team remains the Seattle Seahawks, who I am delighted to say advanced to the NFC championship after their win against the New Orleans Saints today. So, I say hooray for Seattle!