The NFL has a strong presence in several small markets where fans are especially passionate about their team. Think Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Buffalo, just to name a few. So we asked our experts: Which small-market team would you most hate to see relocated?
- Jason La Canfora NFL Network
Bills embody a 'true regional franchise'
Let me start by saying I don't want to see any franchises move. This league is strong and proud enough that it shouldn't be necessary. I want to see teams in Los Angeles and Toronto -- and ultimately in London and Mexico City, too -- but not at the expense of others.
<table align="right" width="315px"> <tbody> <tr> <td> <content:static src="/widgets/custom/packages/latest_debates.html"></content:static></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> Unfortunately, money talks and eventually the lure of L.A., especially if they get a downtown stadium constructed, will be too great. So I agree that someone will be losing a team there, and I tend to imagine the [Chargers](/teams/sandiegochargers/profile?team=SD) would be the most logical choice. But to this larger question, the [Buffalo Bills](/teams/buffalobills/profile?team=BUF) are a unique entity.
They are a true regional franchise. The way they suffered with four straight Super Bowl defeats, always fighting back for more, sums up the will of the people of Western New York.
- Vic Carucci NFL.com
Bills 'a way of life' in Western New York
This is a no-brainer for me -- it's the Bills. Having spent nearly 18 seasons covering the team and 29 years living in the community, I know as well as anyone what the Bills mean to Western New York and how devastating their relocation would be to the area. The Bills represent Buffalo's greatest link to the big-time. They are far more than a diversion. They are a religion. They are a way of life. Besides the tremendous economic impact the Bills create with each home game, they also have an enormous emotional affect on Buffalonians. A study was once conducted that actually showed productivity at Western New York businesses was significantly stronger the day after a Bills victory than it was following a loss. Despite the fact it has been a very long time since their Super Bowl days, people in Buffalo can think of something much worse than complaining about the Bills: not having them around.
- Bucky Brooks NFL.com
Personal fondness for the Jaguars
I would hate to see the Jacksonville Jaguars relocate. As a member of the 1996 team that made it to the AFC Championship Game, I've felt the support of the fan base, and I would love to see them eventually rewarded with a championship. While I clearly understand the financial woes that the team experiences with the inability to sell out the stadium, I would be very disappointed to see the franchise move on to another city based on my history with the team and affinity for the fan base.
- Steve Wyche NFL.com
Unmatched connection between team and residents
I'm torn between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers because their history is so deep, and those franchises are a large part of the fabric of those communities. If I have to choose, though, I'd have to say the Packers. That franchise drives the small city in Wisconsin. It is publicly owned, which also shows the investment the community has with the organization. The connection between the residents and the team is unmatched. Think about the kids and players riding bikes to training camp practice together, or the fans using snow-blowers to clear the streets. There is nothing -- no experience in the NFL -- like a football weekend in Green Bay. If the Packers were ever taken away, it would be devastating.
- Pat Kirwan NFL.com
Would hate to see Bills leave
Pittsburgh and Green Bay are both small-market teams, and I would hate to see either relocate, but I'm sure that will never happen with their great fan bases. I don't think the Bills or Jaguars can stay where they are if the structure of the NFL changed. I would be surprised if at least one of those teams is still in the same city five years from now, and the rich history of the Bills in Western New York makes them the team I would hate to see go.
- Albert Breer NFL Network
Hard to imagine Vikings fleeing
Selfishly? San Diego, hands down. No way I want that city taken off the travel log. From a sentimental standpoint, though, and assuming we're eliminating those clubs that aren't in play right now (i.e. Green Bay, Cincinnati, etc.), I'll take Minnesota. Minneapolis isn't that small of a market, ranking 15th in the United States, but the team has operated like one for some time. And the Vikings' situation is starting to bear some resemblance to what happened in Cleveland 16 years ago. Like the Browns, the Vikings are playing in a city where multiple venues were built at one time (for the Indians and Cavaliers in Cleveland; for the Twins and University of Minnesota in Minneapolis), with the local pro football team kept in a dilapidated old home. Like Cleveland, Minnesota has an extenuating circumstance (broke owner for the former, broke stadium for the latter). And like the Browns were, it's a franchise that's hard to imagine fleeing. What I do know is that the Vikings have one of the game's most dedicated fan bases, the history in Minneapolis is rich, and the NFL desperately wants to remain in that market -- if for nothing else than the outsized number of corporate headquarters and wealth in the area. But the city hasn't made it easy on either the team or the league to accommodate.
- Charles Davis NFL Netwrok
NFL would never be the same
The small-market team that can't ever be relocated is the Packers. I know, I know, the Packers are in no danger of being relocated, but as the greatest anomaly in sports (small market, sustained support and success) I shudder at the thought of the franchise, in some bizarre twist of fate being moved (don't laugh too hard, just ask the great people of Green Bay if it wasn't discussed at one point before Vince Lombardi came to town). If that happens, the NFL that I know and love would truly never be the same.