I’ve never been to San Francisco.  Yet, my favorite NFL team is the 49ers.

What’s the connection?

Um, I’m not quite sure.  But, I’ve been in love with that team since I was a little girl.  Instead of identifying with the local teams in the New York market where I lived, I had a poster of Joe Montana next to my bed and wore 49ers terry cloth cuffs by age 10.

Granted, my local teams weren’t as good as San Fran back in the day.

The 49ers won Super Bowls in 1981, 1984, 1988, 1989, and 1994.  Compare that to the Jets who have zero Super Bowls in the 1980’s and 1990s and the Giants with one Super Bowl in 1986.

So, perhaps it was the 49ers overwhelming success that originally sparked my interest in this team.

Still, it doesn’t explain why I continue to carry a torch for an NFL team that is located more than 2900 miles away from me, and particularly because the team hasn’t been good in recent years.  In fact, 2011 was the first time in nine years that the team had a season over .500.

We may never get to the bottom of why the down years never dampened my spirit for this far away team, but I’ve noticed that I’m not alone in experiencing this phenomenon I’ve dubbed as “NFL Disproximate Team Affection”, or “NFL DTA”, i.e. the propensity of an NFL fan to root for a team located outside of their geographical market for unknown reasons.

I recently thought about my Dad and “NFL DTA”, knowing that he is also afflicted with this condition.

He is a native New Yorker, yet he is devoted to the Kansas City Chiefs.  He told me his affinity for this team dates back to Super Bowl IV when he was just 22 years old.   Shortly before that day on January 11, 1970, he received a job promotion and took the extra money to purchase his first color television set.  When he sat down to watch the game in his living room, the bright red of the Chiefs uniforms looked like candy to his eyes used to seeing all prior games in black & white.  These images burned into his mind and seeded his interest in that team.  But, what explains his continued allegiance over 40 years later?  Is “NFL DTA” genetic?  I’m pretty sure that’s not likely, based on several other discussions I’ve had with fellow NFL fans.

For instance, I used to work with a guy who had an Oakland Raiders flag hanging from his computer.  Knowing that he was a New Jersey lifer, I once asked him why.  He didn’t remember what first attracted him to the Raiders as a kid, but he continues to like their “tenacity and toughness”.  Well, no one can deny that Oakland has a history of tough players.  (And, then there’s the black and white logo of the guy with a patch over his eye.)   But, aren’t there tough guys on his local teams?  Is this man’s identification with a team’s personality enough of a reason for him to turn away teams in his own geographical location?  One can’t be certain, except that he also seems to be suffering from NFL DTA as well…

I’d love to find out who else may be experiencing this phenomenon.  Please share your story.


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