Ultimate Standings: Trailing the Packers

Pardon me if you're still celebrating the Green Bay Packers' No. 1 ranking in ESPN The Magazine's "Ultimate Standings" of professional sports franchises. (And, who knows, maybe you're still rejoicing after their victory in that Super Bowl thing.) But last time I checked, there are four teams in this division.

How did our other three franchises rate?

Glad you asked.

Some of the information below resides behind the Insider pay wall, but I'm authorized to give you a juicy glimpse. Suffice it to say, the Packers were the only NFC North team to rank in the upper half of these standings.

Remember, franchises were rated in eight categories:

  1. Bang for the buck

  2. Players

  3. Fan Relations

  4. Affordability

  5. Stadium experience

  6. Ownership

  7. Title track (championships won, or expected to be won, during the lifetime of current fans)

  8. Coaching

On with it:

74. Chicago Bears

Best showing: Title track (49)

Worst showing: Affordability (108)

Comment: It's ironic, to the say the least, to see the Bears grade out best in terms of their aptitude for future success. After all, it seems that most media observers -- this blog included -- annually ring up the Bears for an impending collapse. On the other hand, Max Klinger of the Magazine calls the Bears "one of the least affordable teams in the NFL with the third-highest average premium ticket ($372) and the second-highest parking fees ($46)." It's only fair to note that Soldier Field has the smallest capacity (61,500) among NFL stadiums, at least partially accounting for the high prices.

94. Detroit Lions

Best showing: Coaching (51)

Worst showing: Bang for the buck (105)

Comment: The Magazine has jumped on the Jim Schwartz bandwagon, for "keeping it real" among other things. I think Schwartz has the Lions on the right track, but let's remember that a coach is as good as his record. Schwartz is 8-24 in two seasons. "Bang for the buck" was defined as "wins during the past three years (regular season plus postseason) per revenues directly from fans, adjusted for league schedules." Considering the Lions had a 0-16 season in that period, they're probably lucky their ranking wasn't dead last.

106. Minnesota Vikings

Best showing: Bang for the buck (48)

Worst showing: Stadium experience (121)

Comment: The Vikings won the NFC North twice in this period despite playing in the low-revenue Metrodome, elevating their "bang for the buck." The only stadium experience that ranked worse was Nassau Coliseum, home of the New York Islanders. I can't argue with that. But the Vikings also ranked No. 102 in "title track" and No. 112 in "fan relations," defined as "openness and consideration toward fans by players, coaches and management." I wonder if that wasn't a nod toward the organization's well-chronicled battles with the truth-o-meter in coach Brad Childress' final season.