Despite their differing performance, the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints have been two very similar organizations this season. Each are perennial NFC favorites who usually rely on their Hall Of Fame-caliber quarterbacks to fuel their offenses/account for their defenses. Both have won a Super Bowl in the last five seasons. On paper, there’s a ton of organizational overlap.
However, when subtracting the on-field congruencies, one glaring difference rises to the surface: where they play. This weekend, a wave of Packer Backers will head to Louisiana to see the team they love in one of America’s most loved locations. It’s safe to say New Orleans is among the coolest cities in all of professional sports. Conversely, Green Bay wouldn’t be an NFL city if it hadn’t been grandfathered in by a savvy agreement with the city. Despite Green Bay’s irrefutably incredible history, a bursting Rolodex of legends, and devoted fans base, a recent players poll indicated Green Bay was the fifth-least desirable NFL city in which athletes want to play (only Oakland, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Jacksonville ranked worse).
Shoving away as many factors about present personnel and any other directly football-related aspects as we could, Milwaukee Record ran down the league and ranked NFL cities from worst to first…using next-to-no data at our disposal.
32. Buffalo (Bills)
Around 20 years ago, Buffalo was on the top of the football world…or at least second to the team actually on top of the football world. But when the unparalleled Super Bowl runners-up streak ended, all that was left was the crippling realization players were forced to live in Buffalo. Like a larger Green Bay with a crap stadium, less industry, and, seemingly, about as much to do, the Bills are forced to either overpay players (e.g. Mario Williams) or sign reclamation projects (Kyle Orton) discarded by other teams…not unlike the Brewers in the ’90s and early 2000s. If you don’t believe us, Fred Jackson went ghost hunting for fun a few seasons ago.
31. Detroit (Lions)
Insert your favorite Detroit joke here, then apply it to professional football. Oh man, that’s a good one!
30. Cleveland (Browns)
29. Oakland (Raiders)
To be this low on the list when playing home games in sunny California is really saying something. Since it was anonymous, it’s hard to know the exact reasoning for the players in the poll placing the Raiders so low, but playing in an outdated shithole (a shithole meant for baseball, no less) for a team with no success in over a decade that’s on its second coach this season probably has a bit to do with it. On the plus side, Oakland is really close to San Francisco.
28. Green Bay (Packers)
We love the Packers, but when you take away the best home field in all of pro sports, the unparalleled history of winning, and the best fans on Earth, you’re left with the prospect of playing in a frigid 100,000-resident burg and hanging out in a 75,000-population city 30 miles away when you want to go out on the town.
27. Indianapolis (Colts)
Once you eat at St. Elmo Steak House, attend a Big Ten conference tournament, and drunkenly swim in a canal at 5 a.m., the only thing left to do in Indy is go to a Colts game. As a player, going to work is one of the most entertaining leisure activities in town.
26. Baltimore (Ravens)
We know it’s not fair to judge an entire city on the events of a few characters on a well-known TV show, but sorry, Ace Of Cakes totally skewed our perception of Charm City.
25. Arizona (Cardinals)
Sure, the 130-degree average temperature is nice, but there is a downside to playing in the political hotbed of the desert retirement community that is ’Zona.
24. Washington [name redacted]
23. Philadelphia (Eagles)
The Eagles were mistakenly left off this list initially. We’re sure Philly is cool and historic and all, but the fans seem generally terrible.
22. St. Louis (Rams)
Most St. Louis residents are too preoccupied with being “baseball’s best fans” to even realize that there’s an NFL franchise in town, and that said organization’s lease to remain in the city ends soon. The fans are so invested that the Rams play one “home game” in Europe every year and nobody seems to notice. That said, the helmets are pretty sweet.
21. Minnesota (Vikings)
Like a smaller Chicago, except colder. The team has no history of winning and is currently playing in a collegiate stadium that prematurely ended Brett Favre’s career.
20. Tampa Bay (Buccaneers)
America’s go-to TV comedy punchline would be much lower, except it’s generally warm and the tax savings will give you extra money to hopefully buy enough stuff to make you forget you’re playing in Tampa Bay.
19. Cincinnati (Bengals)
Beyond the less-than-savory Midwest winters, there’s probably not too much wrong with playing ball within the flower in Kentucky’s hair. The stadium is garbage, but the level of commitment to the tiger theme is admirable.
18. Houston (Texans)
Dallas: Smog edition.
17. Chicago (Bears)
Chicago has a lot going for it. Residents can visit Wisconsin with ease each time this overrated, unnecessarily expensive and problematic hellscape grinds their spirits to a fine powder. And their upside-down pizzas and hot dogs with fluorescent green relish are pretty good. However, it’d suck losing to the Packers twice annually.
16. Carolina (Panthers)
A perfectly average ranking for a seemingly average city.
15. Jacksonville (Jaguars)
Hear us out. Sure, the Jags are rudderless jokes of a franchise AND they play in the Florida city that produced Limp Bizkit, but if Maurice Jones-Drew could hack it as long as he did, you can too.
14. Kansas City (Chiefs)
Pros: barbeque. Cons: most other things.
13. Atlanta (Falcons)
It’s warm, the people have a reputation for being friendly, and Ludacris lives there. If you play football for the Falcons for a living, it can be assumed that you can probably meet Ludacris if you’d like.
12. New England (Patriots)
Boston is pretty cool.
11. Dallas (Cowboys)
Tax breaks and the outside chance Jerry Jones will let you play Mario Kart on the colossal scoreboard after good games is worth being in Texas.
10. Denver (Broncos)
Once athletes get accustomed to the elevation, Colorado’s capital is probably a pretty great place to play. Outside the all-too-rare four-sport city and all its amenities, there exists a plethora of natural wonders. Also, you can totally buy weed there. However, you’ll be suspended if you smoke it. Buzzkill, buddy!
9. Seattle (Seahawks)
Again, there’s no state income tax—one of just four states with NFL franchises to offer this raise. Shawn Kemp owns a restaurant there—which Detlef Schrempf occasionally visits when he’s in town! Plus, if pre- and post-commercial city-specific footage is correct, everyone’s just throwing dead fish at one another all the time. All this makes donning that hideous neon green pretty appealing. And since most “fans” have only been watching the team for a couple years, you can probably walk to Starbucks (buy local!) in the ever-present drizzly fog with little fear of being recognized by anybody.
8. Tennessee (Titans)
Like Texas, Florida, and Washington, Tennessee also has no state income tax. The Volunteer State gets a bad rap, but Nashville (where the Titans play) is an irrefutably awesome city with a great music scene (that extends beyond country music) and underrated nightlife. As a hand-me-down from Houston, players enjoy appreciation for just being there and—if virtually every quarterback since Steve McNair is any indication—little accountability for poor performance.
T-6. New York (Giants, Jets)
The city! The lights! The melting pot of humanity! Oh yeah, the cutthroat media looking to bury you at every turn and rabid/unrealistic fans who expect a Super Bowl every season. Plus it’s cold for half the season and home games are actually played in New Jersey.
5. San Francisco (49ers)
After a career’s worth of being screamed at by a guy in khakis at work, wouldn’t it be nice to be screamed at by a different guy in khakis while working a better job in the cultural, artistic, and culinary epicenter of California?
4. Pittsburgh (Steelers)
The city most like Milwaukee on this list. As devoted followers of a historic team with a winning pedigree, Pittsburgh’s fans are arguably just as passionate, just as drunk, and have just as many crazy-strong regional accents within their ranks as Packers fans do.
3. Miami (Dolphins)
Yeah it’s in Florida, where—as we’ve established—there’s no state income tax. Beyond the significant pay bump, Miami seems to be a slight departure from the abject insanity and trashiness of America’s favorite punchline. Add in the beautiful people, Cuban food, the nearby Atlantic Ocean, and the opportunity to make a ton of semi-relevant Ace Ventura references 20 years after the fact, and the south Florida oasis doesn’t sound bad.
2. New Orleans (Saints)
Beloved cuisine, local culture like no other NFL city, open intoxicants permitted, and an underlying aura and voodoo of seediness make every day an adventure.
1. San Diego (Chargers)
It’s on the water, the weather is perfect every day, and you’d get to wear the powder blue uniform periodically. Plus, most locals are transplants who don’t give a shit about how you perform on the field. No expectations!