The NFL has never missed a chance to market and sell anything, so it’s no surprise that we get new draft-day hats every year.
When your team’s new first-round pick bro-hugs and mugs with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, he is given a brand new New Era hat to wear, and oh hey, you can buy it online without taking a break from one of the 47 channels of draft coverage. This year, the NFL added a slogan for each team to the hat. Some slogans are awesome and those hats will be probably flying off the shelves when they go on sale this week. Some … well, they should have consulted with us first.
In that spirit, let’s look at the hits and misses of the team slogans.
THE FIVE WORST
San Francisco 49ers: “Niners”
Really? One of the most storied franchises in the sport, and a shortened version of their team nickname is all we get? Should have put “Jimmy Garoppolo’s Team” on the hat and called it a day. In fact, that’s a money-making idea if I’ve ever heard of one.
Arizona Cardinals: “Rise Up Red Sea”
This seems so forced. I know, the Cardinals have tried this “Red Sea” thing as the name of their fans, but this seems like something produced in a meeting room and everyone just went along with it. Some corporate suit will see this hat and be happy his idea caught on.
Houston Texans: “We are Texans”
In case you forgot where you are, or what team you cheer for, the Texans stitched it onto their painfully boring draft-day hat.
Miami Dolphins: “Go Fins”
It’s like the “Niners” hat, but with “Go” added to the front. I fell asleep in the middle of typing this.
Buffalo Bills: “Billieve”
The only one that led to an immediate eye roll. We got “Broncos Country” and “Chiefs Kingdom” (needless to say, trying to come up with synonyms for the whole “nation” thing and landing on “kingdom” is a stretch, but whatever), but we couldn’t put “Bills Mafia” on there? Is it because of the “mafia” thing? And we passed on that for this corny play on words? WYD BIlls?
THREE BIG MISSES
Carolina Panthers: “Two States. One Team”
The Panthers have one of the coolest slogans in the NFL: “Keep Pounding.” It’s a great nod to the late Sam Mills, and has become a mantra for the franchise and a tradition, too. This year’s draft-day hats have sayings on the underbrim too, and that’s where you’ll find “Keep Pounding” on the Panthers’ hat, but what a miss. And all to inform people that the team wants to market itself to North Carolina and South Carolina? OOOOHHHH!!!!
Oakland Raiders: “Raider Nation”
The “Raider Nation” thing as a whole is fine and recognizable. But the underbrim has “Just Win Baby,” which would have been much, much better because it’s one of the great lines in the history of football. RIP Al Davis.
Minnesota Vikings: “Defend the North”
Even though it popped up out of nowhere, the whole “SKOL” chant is pretty cool. It seems natural, not something that a jumbotron needs to tell the fans to do. It’s instantly recognizable, and man did that happen fast. Yet, “SKOL” is on the underbrim while this Toronto Raptors “We the North” knockoff was featured on the front? Fail.
FOUR OF THE FIVE BEST …
Chicago Bears: “Monsters of the Midway”
Old school team nicknames are the best. This one goes way back and it still holds up. Certainly way higher on the cool meter than something bland and corporate like “Red Sea.”
Cincinnati Bengals: “Who Dey”
I love that you can say “Who Dey” and everyone knows it’s the Bengals’ rallying cry. I also wonder how the Bengals got “Who Dey” while the Saints didn’t get “Who Dat,” which is far better than the “Big Easy Football” that is on New Orleans’ hat.
Cleveland Browns: “Dawg Pound”
The Browns are always a bit restricted because they don’t have a logo. What can you do with a plain helmet anyway? But they make up for it with the nod to the “Dawg Pound” that dates way back to the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium fans.
New England Patriots: “Do Your Job”
All right, be mad. If you don’t like the Patriots, you would try to burn this hat even if it was on someone’s head. But come on, it’s pretty cool that this slogan has caught on. Wait, you don’t think it’s cool? Killjoy.
… AND CLEARLY THE BEST SLOGAN FOR THESE NEW DRAFT DAY HATS
Dallas Cowboys: “America’s Team”
Let’s be honest here. The reason you hate the “America’s Team” thing, other than Cowboys fans being obnoxious about it, is that your team didn’t co-opt it first. The Cowboys stumbled into it because of a line in an NFL Films highlight video (“The Timeline” by NFL Network devoted an episode to it) and it stuck. It might be the greatest marketing win in sports. You might hate the Cowboys but don’t lie … this hat is pretty great.
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