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Ben's Babbles: Everyone off the bandwagon

Feb. 5, 2011

Later this weekend either the Pittsburgh Steelers or Green Bay Packers will be crowned Super Bowl Champs.

And in all likelihood another generation of bandwagon fans will be born.

I have a confession to make. I was once one of them and there are pictures to prove it.

Back in the mid-1990s the Dallas Cowboys were awesome. Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Jimmy Johnson's hair ruled the decade.

From 1993 to 1996 they won three Super Bowls, all in dominant fashion.

I was in grade school at the time and with the Seattle Seahawks proving to be inept at the game of football, I declared myself a Cowboys fan.

I bought jackets and a hat which I proudly wore to school. I knew nothing of the team's history before the 1992-93 season, of players like Roger Staubach or the 1-15 1989 season, but hey, they were winning at the time, so of course I was a fan.

Johnson left before the third victory, the stars got old and the NFL instituted a salary cap and the free agent era. The Cowboys have never been back to the Super Bowl since.

It could have been worse though; I could have bandwagoned with the Buffalo Bills, who made it to four straight Super Bowls, lost all four, and have been mired in mediocrity ever since.

Shortly after that 1996 Super Bowl the Cowboys' paraphernalia began to disappear. Maybe it was because some of my long-suffering local teams finally started to become good.

The Seattle Mariners had made a miracle run to the playoffs in baseball that fall and that summer the Seattle Supersonics would come just short in attempt to upset Michael Jordan's Bulls in the NBA finals, so those two teams occupied most of my interest.

I quickly forgot my fanhood for the Cowboys.

As the team stumbled and bumbled its way into the 21st century I likely would have denied that I had ever been a fan, if not for an extremely dorky picture of me in my Cowboys jacket that hangs on the wall in my family's house, or Tony, a high school friend and true fan of the team, poking fun at my brief span of interest in the Cowboys.

The Packers and Steelers are fortunate that both franchises have a long history of success and many hard-core fans in their home cities.

But that won't stop folks in far-flung regions of the country from adopting the winner as "their team."

Just look at Boston sports teams. The Red Sox and the Patriots stunk for years. Now the Patriots have turned into a model franchise, the Red Sox are perennial playoff contenders and "fans" of both teams are likely the most annoying and aggravating on the planet.

But that comes with the territory when you don't realize that either team existed before 2002.

So if, following the Super Bowl, you feel the urge to rush out and buy some Green Bay Packers or Pittsburgh Steelers merchandise, go ahead.

Just be prepared to wear it for a long time, through both the good seasons and the bad seasons.

Otherwise your bandwagoning exploits may forever be memorialized in dorky photos.

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