Thursday, June 30, 2011
Best of NFL: AFC East teams
By Tim Graham
As part of Best of the NFL Week on ESPN.com, here are five bests for the AFC East:
Best tailgating, Ralph Wilson Stadium: The crowd outside Sun Life Stadium provides the best scenery for male fans, but that's not what we're breaking down here. I know people who have no intention of walking through the turnstile for Buffalo Bills games but show up to tailgate with their friends in the same lot spaces they've occupied for years. The festivities start early and last all day.
With the Bills out of the picture this season, the Patriots have the division's top throwback.
Best mascot, Pat Patriot: Slim pickings here. The Miami Dolphins have T.D. the Dolphin. The Bills have Billy Buffalo. The New York Jets have, uh, Fireman Ed, I guess? None of them is inspiring. But at least Pat Patriot is the team's classic helmet character come to life. And that leads us to ...
Best throwback uniforms, New England Patriots: In past years, I would select the Bills and their standing red buffalo on the white helmet -- such a clean and classic look. But the Bills announced last week that they wouldn't use throwbacks in 2011 because they want to wear their new uniforms every game. The Patriots' retro duds are a close second in my book anyway. So they leapfrog to the front. I would appreciate seeing the green Jets' helmets for a game or two, though.
Best celebrity fans, Dolphins limited partners: The Dolphins have a star-studded board room: Marc Anthony, Venus and Serena Williams, Fergie and Gloria Estefan. Jimmy Buffett couldn't get as involved because he has casinos in his business portfolio, but he was behind Land Shark Lager sponsoring the stadium in 2009. Other teams might have more famous fans, but none of them has a piece of the club.
Best team facility, New York Jets: The Jets spent $75 million for their headquarters in Florham Park, N.J. It's by far the nicest stand-alone facility in the division and stacks up favorably around the league. The Patriots are the only AFC East club that makes its home within its home stadium. So I guess I could've subtracted points from the Jets for not having 69,000 seats. But their facility is stand-alone remarkable.