2012 Fan Favorites: Teams
That was one conclusion drawn from the latest ESPN Sports Poll gauging fans' favorite NFL teams.
Pollsters conduct 1,500 monthly telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of Americans age 12 and older. Edwin Roman, ESPN's director of Consumer Insights, passed along the data ranking teams by which percentage of respondents favored them.
The Dallas Cowboys were first at 8.8 percent in first-quarter polling for 2012. The Green Bay Packers (7.2) were second, followed by the New York Giants (7.1), Pittsburgh Steelers (7.1) and New England Patriots (6.8). There was a big drop to the sixth-ranked Chicago Bears (4.2). New Orleans was next at 4.1, followed by the 49ers at 4.0.
2012 Fan Favorites: Division
The second chart sums the percentages for teams by divisional affiliation (10.3 percent identified no favorite team).
The NFC West ranked eighth, ahead of only the AFC South. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars (0.4 percent) trailed the Rams in popularity.
This would seem to confirm suspicions that the NFC West is not America's Division, and America's Team is indeed the Cowboys, not the 49ers, Seahawks, Cardinals or Rams.
The polling does match up with my perceptions for fan interactivity on the NFC West blog. We hear from more 49ers and Seahawks fans than Cardinals or Rams fans in the comments sections, chats, mailbag, etc. The polling also correlates with how long each NFC West team has resided in its current market.
That is also reflected in the AFC South's standing as the least popular division. Indianapolis and Tennessee are relocated franchises. Jacksonville and Houston are relatively recent expansion franchises.
I suspect this polling data might not be popular among Cardinals and Rams fans, but if the info is accurate, the backlash will be minimal.
Note: ESPN Sports Polls contacts Americans year-round via land line and cell phones in English and Spanish, reaching 390,000 Americans since 1994.