the national evil guide to picking an NFL team to love (or hate)

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College football’s stodgy, Brooks-Brothers-of-sports big brother, the NFL, returns tonight. This is a league that fines its own players if their socks aren’t worn at the correct height, yet it is overwhelmingly the most popular sport in America. (Please refrain from forging agonized metaphors for what this says about our society.)

But what if you live in, say, Idaho? For whom do you root? Or just emigrated here from Cuba atop a milk-carton raft? You want to weave yourself fully into the fabric of Americana—but how?

Not by playing fantasy football, that’s for sure.

Herewith, a painfully simple guide for the football newbie. The National Evil offers up five worthy teams you can adopt wholeheartedly, plus a few mindless talking points you can bellow at anyone who questions the reason for your loyalty. As a bonus, Evil offers you a team to hate as well.

5 Teams You Can Root For (And Why):

Chicago Bears: They play outdoors! In Chicago! Da Bears, Ditka, great SNL sketches. The Super Bowl Shuffle. Walter Fucking Payton. (Say it that way. Don’t flinch.)

Green Bay Packers: They play outdoors! In Wisconsin! Lambeau Field. Lombardi. Only team owned by the fans, not some billionaire.

New Orleans Saints: Fans habitually wear bags over their heads. Post-Katrina sympathy. If NFL teams had marching bands, theirs would blow the rest out of the water. They’ve always been so, so bad, so they could really use your love. (This has the added benefit of making you seem like a decent person. Go ahead, lie. It’s OK.)

Pittsburgh Steelers: Classy organization. Logos on one side of helmet ONLY, thank you very much. Habitually pummeled the Cowboys (see below) in the 70’s.

San Francisco 49ers: Montana! Rice! Lott! Clark! Young! Walsh! Montana! Montana! Beautifully executed offense and a defender who cut off a joint of his own finger to play in a game. If you were a fan of a terrible team (read: the Atlanta Falcons) in the ‘80s, the 49ers were there for you.

. . . Aaaand, One Team You Must Hate:

Dallas Cowboys.

Enjoy the weekend. If possible, horse-collar tackle someone . . . with love.

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