Before especially opposing fans ridicule this statement as premature grandeur of a team that hasn't won anything lately and is just nearing the end of a rebuilding phase, hear me out. I don't mean to compare our franchise histories and successes. The Packers are probably the most storied franchise in NFL history winning 12 championships, the last one in 1996. The Blazers are clearly not.
While fans hope (even expect if we are honest) this Blazers team wins at least one championship if the core stays together, this likely won't even become true going forward. Although tominhawaii did make a post way back in 2007 asking if our young team was comparable to their young team (of course still lead by a veteran Brad Favre at the time). Why not? And while Kevin Pritchard and Larry Miller seem to model the organization more after the San Antonio Spurs as the blueprint, I think the Packers would be an apt comparison for a solid franchise built for the long term, too.
But I mostly mean this comparison to Green Bay as a similarity of fan bases, the one-sport city (and state), the deep connection of the current organization to the community otherwise maybe only found in college sports.
I first got back to that idea in January, when the Darius Miles e-mail hit and I and other posters went scrambling to explain why the Blazers might have acted like that - with mixed success. One of the editors of Timberwolves blog Canis Hoopus wrote this, which I had to agree with:
I think Portland...
….is like the Green Bay Packers of the NBA. They seem to have a similar crowd makeup. - by Stop-n-Pop on Jan 12, 2009
Now that feeling got back to me again when discussing our franchise and fan behavior with Rockets fans as a pretty good term to describe who the Blazers and their fans are comparable to. Are we like Packer Backers?
You have seen people here on Blazer's Edge post pictures of elaborate posters they made. Fan videos. Customized shirts and jerseys. Blazers-themed cakes and cookies. Of pinwheels shaved in the back of their head. Of pinwheel logos tattooed on their arms or legs. Blazer hobby rooms ("man caves"). Roaring Rose Garden crowds. Darth Blazer. Fans vocally defending the team against inside and outside critique.
It's not quite as fanatic bordering on religious as in Green Bay, Wisconsin especially when looking at the average fan, but I feel like Portland, Oregon is getting there (again?) with Blazermania. I guess my question is, are we that different from Cheeseheads - minus the cheese? Beerheads? Pinwheel heads?
Searching around a bit, former Blazers COO Mike Gollub described my sentiments very good in an interview with Ben last summer:
[...] People who love the Blazers, LOVE the Blazers, dearly. We have a place in people's hearts and minds here, when we are doing our job right, that is unusual. People have this intense, personal, emotional relationship with the team and we are so grateful for that.
I think it's a different set of decisions for people. It's not, "do I get my oil changed?" It's a personal, emotional decision that's different from how people spend their money on other things because the marriage between Portland and Oregon for that matter is pretty unique. The franchise and the city and the state grew up together, came of age together. We are the only team in town.
We are perceived, for better or worse, as a representation of Portland. People's perception of Portland around the country is affected disproportionately, one might say, by the Blazers and we take that pretty seriously. I do think that's a special relationship that is more akin to the Green Bay Packers than perhaps any other team. We are the city and the state's team. if we do our job right and continue to connect with the fans I'm hoping we can weather any economic forces.
Would you agree?
Go Blazers, win or loss tonight.