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NFL bandwagons, now boarding

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Posted: Thursday November 19, 1998 09:57 AM


Bandwagon jumping may become an Olympic sport for the 2004 games -- everybody's doing it these days. I'm not knocking any one tried and true fan base, but we need to deal with reality.

I don't question the sincerity of someone willing to paint their face and/or any other body parts in their team's colors. Maybe their sanity, though. I actually think bandwagon jumping is proper. Who would wholeheartly support a losing franchise year after year?

This past weekend, we saw sold out stadiums in Phoenix and Atlanta. Fans crammed Sun Devil Stadium to get a look at the Cardinals. It didn't hurt that the Cards were playing America's Team, the Dallas Cowboys.

To show you just how big this matchup between the then-6-3 Cowboys and 5-4 Cardinals, just take the case of diehard Packers fans Darla and Perry Hardin. The Hardins, Phoenix transplants originally from Dubuque, Iowa, used to make the round trip from Iowa to home Packer games in Green Bay and Milwaukee. Now landlocked in the Valley of the Sun, the Hardins make the journey to the frozen tundra once a year. The Hardins made only their second trip to Sun Devil stadium for a non-Packer game (the other was to see me in an Eagles uniform).

Jake Plummer almost lived up to the hype of being the next Joe Montana by rallying the Cards from 28 points down to within a pass interference call of winning with 465 yards passing. Score one for "The Snake."

The Georgia Dome sold out for the first-place showdown between the Falcons and 49ers. I had talked to Dan Reeves before the game, and he told me, "This game is simply about whether we can match up." The Falcons not only matched up but one-upped their NFC West brethren.

In what is symbolic of bandwagon jumping, a new dance craze has swept Atlanta, the "Dirty Bird." To me the Dirty Bird looks like a good and bad rendition of a cross between the '70s Funky Chicken and Billy "White Shoes" Johnson's old touchdown dance. From the players to the fans to even the players' parents (Jamal Anderson's Mom) the Dirty Bird was flying high in the Georgia Dome.

Dance all you want, but be careful not to pull a muscle trying to jump on the bandwagon.

James Lofton, one of 76 nominees this year for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is an NFL analyst for CNN/SI. His weekly column appears every Thursday exclusively on  

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