A few places around the Internet have been sharing the above image, a map of the lower 48 with redrawn borders to reflect the 32 NFL teams. Go ahead, click it to embiggen it, then come right on back to this post.
Back now? Great. Here’s where we’re going with this examination: what say you about that Redskins/Ravens border that cuts its way through Maryland? You know, this one:
I posed the question yesterday on the We Love DC Sports Twitter account, “Where does the boundary between Redskins and Ravens country exist?” Aaron Morrissey, editor over at DCist, quipped that “wherever it is, [he’s] sure it’s inching southward more and more every day.” Sure, the Redskins haven’t exactly been winning fans over north of Landover, but we’ll have to wait and see if the Ravens start taking over all of the state. For more specifics on where the line currently exists, William Yurasko pointed me back to a post of his from last month, during which he discussed the concept with a Giants fan. Their consensus? Once you hit Laurel, purple starts taking over burgundy and gold.
The geography indicator, also as mentioned by William, may be a natural boundary, not a town or county. If you follow the Patuxent River upstream – going through all the branches on the northern end of the river – it becomes clear that there is a natural division between the “DC part of Maryland” and R.O.M. (Sigh, RoVa works so much better as a kitchy acronym for a region, but I digress). If this was a game of Risk, Laurel would likely be the next open territory between both empires; once you get north of the river and into Columbia, it’s pretty much Ravens-land. Looks like the map above got it right.
The other interesting point brought up by Stephanie Kays is that geography doesn’t tell the whole story – history plays an important part in this border, one that may be chronological as much as about a river. Baltimore’s professional football past is a fascinating study of sports in the 1980s, and the overnight relocation of the Colts to Indianapolis in 1984 left that fan base high and dry. The Ravens didn’t move in from Cleveland until 1996, and in the decade in between the Colts leaving and the new team arriving, the Redskins boasted some of its best seasons, winning two of the franchise’s Super Bowls during those years.
Baltimore fans who wanted to cheer for a team had limited choices: Hail to the Redskins, stay loyal to the Colts even after the Mayflower trucks pulled away from the stadium, look north to Philly or Pittsburgh or just swear off the NFL entirely. My gut is many went with option 4 or option 1.
I’m also guessing that even when the NFL came back to Baltimore, many locals were not quick to embrace their new team. I would even venture to say that it probably took that 2000 Super Bowl win for the Ravens to start turning hearts in the region back around at a broad scale. That’s 15 years of factors to really impact fandom shifting. It’s interesting to consider how quickly the Ravens made their way back south into Maryland after that era.
What about the revisionist history version? Please take the following with ample amounts of salt: what if the Colts were still in Baltimore? The Colts have been one of the best teams in the AFC since Peyton Manning joined the team in 1998 – a rise that has occurred while the Redskins have toiled around mediocrity in the 2000s. Is there a chance that more of Maryland would have gone to the Baltimore team – or even other parts of states like Pennsylvania or Virginia? In the first case, maybe. In the second case, completely unlikely.
As a follow-up, I’d be intrigued to hear about professional football in the southwestern parts of Virginia. Titans fans? Panther fans? Too hungover from Hokies games to even care come Sundays? Comment away, friends.
What about the big Dallas Cowboys Star in between the Redskins and Ravens? DC Metro must have the largest Dallas cowboys fan base outside of Texas.
I don’t know, I’ve seen a lot of cars with the MD Redskins license plates around MoCo PG County…
If anything, I think the map presumes too much with the Detroit Lions. The entire state of Michigan? Really? No Green Bay or Indianapolis representation? C’mon, man…
Zesty got a good point. As does Adam with the Detroit bit. But the whole argument is moot, IT’S A STEELER NATION, BABY! I see at least as many Steeler stickers on cars as Redskins in NOVA. Easy.
Agree with S. Steeler nation has exploded now that they’ve embraced the non-helmet wearing motorcycle riders that like to dabble in sex assault on the weekend.
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1. Dan Snyder needs to be patient…Redskins for once need stability in the coaching position.
The redskins organization is loosing fans fast (not die hard fans, but those who wanted to be loyal ones, are finding their easy way out, and can’t blame them one bit for doing that!)
Redskins have 4 to 5 years to get at least out of mediocrity, redskins don’t have any true talent on this team, with the exception of only a handful (Thanks to Dum and Dummer! Snyder & Cerrato).
They will for once (FOR GOD’S SAKE!) use their DRAFT PICKS! KEEP ALL THEIR DRAFT PICKS AND BUILD THE TEAM FROM THE TRENCHES!
How hard is it to follow the blue print of the STEELERS, PACKERS, PATRIOTS, EAGLES? how hard can that be?
The culture has too change in the redskins organization, and it needs to start w/ Dan Snyder. It may be true that Shannahan is in charge of the team, but he is working with Dan Snyder’s mind set, ( I imagine the moment Dan told Mike, I want to win now!) So what does that tell us? the hell with the draft picks! yes, that is my perception!
If Snyder for once would try to hold his horses and at least makes an effor not to play fantasy football, and try what the successful franchises are doing (keep and using their draft picks), then maybe things will start turning around.
Is up to Snyder! Fans are loyal, but not stupid.
I believe that a die hard fan, doesn’t switch like day and night to anther team, specially those who have been fans for more that 15 years. I have a brother who got into following the NFL for 8 years, he cheered for the skins, but couldn’t get his identity straight because of the skins mediocrity, he is now a patriots fans, and has reason to continue being after a competitive season they had despite loosing, they are true contenders (thanks to draft picks and coaches!
Its up to our idiot owner. bottom line, he has control of the power plug.
@Adam, haha, Speaking of raping and pillaging, how awesome is Brett Keisel’s beard: http://twitpic.com/3src20/full
@Rod: I’d agree with your sentence: “The culture has too change in the redskins organization, and it needs to start w/ Dan Snyder.”, but would finish it with “needs to start w/ Dan Snyder leaving.” Organization’s attitudes start at the top, and trickle down. When I moved to DC, I tried rooting for the skins when the Steelers weren’t involved, but couldn’t take Dan’s antics, abrasiveness, greed, and downright piss poor leadership, and so, as the skins are banished to hover in purgatory indefinitely, I’ll commit to the Caps instead….. Bar when the Pens are involved, of course.
I know some folks out in Shenandoah who tell me there are strong ties to the Steelers running North-South along the mountains.
Line is moving south. Most Eastern Market area football fans I know have already switched to the Ravens.
You know, Michigan has an Upper Peninsula, and according to this map half of it’s dedicated to the Packers. There’s no Indiana loyalty in the state – we tend to look down on our southern neighbor. Natives may think Michigan’s nothing to brag about, but they thank god they’re not from Indiana.
I guess Steeler Nation sounds a lot better than Western Pennsylvania diaspora.
I think anybody who is jumping from Redskins to Ravens will return when the Redskins get good or even respectable.
The bigger issue is the Nats situation. MLB coddled cowardly Peter Angelos so much with the cable rights. He kept Nats off of most cable systems for 2 seasons and unfortunately, some Washingtonians are still loyal to Baltimore which just rewarded Angelos’ bad behavior. Blows my mind.
I recently perused the Dick’s Sporting Goods in Gaithersburg. The main display is Redskin Jersey’s. But the racks are 8 Ravens/6 Redskins. That’s incredible penetration by the Ravens only 9 miles from Snyder’s driveway.
The Redskins are four years away from losing upper MoCo and an entire generation of Maryland Football fans.
BTW: Colts fans DID NOT root for the Skins. They stayed loyal to the Colts and rooted for non-Colt rivals like the 49ers and SeaHawks.
The southern border for the Skins should dive in NC. The Panthers may be big in Charlotte area and SC, but parts of NC have a huge Redskins presence. Last year in Charlotte, that stadium was at least half and half skins/panthers fans. And that was at a pretty low time for the Redskins against a team that had gone to the title game the year before.
When one of the bases in SE Pennsylvania closed, St. Mary’s and Calvert counties saw an influx of defense contractors loyal to the Eagles and Steelers.
Why does the Redskins border enter WV? I go to Marshall U and I can tell you that state is ALL Steelers (and even more unfortunate, ALL Penguins)
…Go Broncos. ;)