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Friday, June 17, 2011
NFC East teams flop in 'Ultimate Standings'

By Dan Graziano

So I was looking through these "Ultimate Standings" that the magazine does every year. They purport to "measure how much MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises give back to the fans in exchange for all the time, money and emotion the fans invest in them." They do this based on eight categories, including bang for the buck, fan relations, affordability, honesty/loyalty of ownership, things like that. It's a fascinating exercise, and this year's champ is the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers, as you can see by clicking that link up there.

Now, if you do click that link, you need to scroll down a good bit before you start seeing NFC East teams. In general, NFL teams don't fare especially well in the Ultimate Standings because of how much it costs to go to NFL games. But our division seems to have done poorly even by NFL standards.

The top finisher from the NFC East is the Philadelphia Eagles, who ranked 51st overall, well behind the Phillies and Flyers and just seven spots ahead of the 76ers in their own town. Among NFL teams, however, the Eagles ranked 10th, in large part because of tickets "priced more than $40 cheaper than their NFC East brethren (Giants $111.69, Cowboys $110.20)." The reason the Eagles don't rank higher seems to be their inability to advance deep into the playoffs:
"Fans aren't any happier than when [Donovan] McNabb was under center. That's probably because while the 2010-11 squad had its moments, its playoff run lasted all of 60 minutes. And that's because nine of the starters on defense against Green Bay were either undrafted free agents or seventh-round picks. Note to the suits: This ain't Madden Football; [Michael] Vick can't do it alone."

The Eagles were the only NFC East team ranked in the top half of NFL teams on the list. Next was the New York Giants, who ranked 81st overall and 17th among NFL teams. Among New York-area teams, the Giants came in behind the New Jersey Devils, the Yankees and (gulp) the Jets, who placed 76th. The main problems appear to be the disappointing new stadium and the cost:
"Not only is New Meadowlands 'underwhelming' and 'kinda ugly' to Yelpers like Bob D. (Milburn, N.J.) and Victor S. (Brooklyn), but it also boasts the third-most expensive average ticket ($111.69) and an obnoxiously pricey program (at $10, it should double as a vuvuzela, or at least hold that $8 beer). New Meadowlands wasn't the only thing disappointing to Tri-State fans, though. As little brother Jets soared under Sexy Rexy, the Giants stumbled under Tom Coughlin's withering glare, missing the playoffs for the second straight season."

We move on down the list to the Dallas Cowboys, who rank 102nd overall (there are 122 teams on the list) and 27th among the 32 NFL teams. The rankings is the Cowboys' worst in the history of these standings and is a combination of the disappointing on-field 2010 season and the stunning amount of money it apparently costs to park in the wide-open area around the new stadium:
"Instead of hitting ball carriers, the Cowboys' D frequently missed, giving up 436 points -- highest in the NFC last season and the most in franchise history. Six-dollar sodas and 10-buck programs (both the priciest in the league) aren't helping ease the pain. Neither is the $75 parking. And no, that's not a misprint. Big D's parking fees are the priciest in sports -- by 35 bones. Ouch!"

But as tough as the list was on the other three NFC East teams, it was toughest on the poor, downtrodden Washington Redskins, who came in at No. 121 overall and 31st among NFL teams, ahead of only the Cincinnati Bengals on both lists. The fact that the Redskins haven't been a factor competitively in some time is a big reason, but a bigger one seems to be owner Daniel Snyder, who is absolutely pummeled in Morty Ain's explanation for the ranking:
"Fans holding up anti-Snyder signs have been kicked out of games, and negative stories in the press are answered with threats or a lawsuit. Just ask Dave McKenna and the Washington City Paper; both were sued after running a laundry list of Snyder's failings entitled 'The Cranky Redskins Fan's Guide to Dan Snyder.' High on the list were charging fans $10 admission plus $10 parking during training camp, issuing $20 Redskins lottery tickets (the most expensive in Virginia lottery history), selling beer in bathrooms, trying to limit season-ticket payment options to just the Redskins MasterCard and attempting to profit on the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11th with commemorative hats ($23.99). All we can say is, hang in there Hog fans. (Anything else might get us a day in court.)"

So there you have it, NFC East fans. With the borderline exception of the Eagles, who at least fared well by NFL standards, the Ultimate Standings don't think much of the fan experience in our division. Do they have a point? Are they way off? Discuss amongst yourself. Just try and play nice.