One day Roger Goodell goes absolutely monkeyturds and forces every single team to move to a city that does not currently have an NFL team. For added madness he requires that the mascots not only have to stay the same, but they now have to make sense.
The owners hem and haw and try to dig their heels in, but Daddy Roger pushes the big red button in his basement command center, and he gets his way. This is the result.
The Arizona Cardinals move to West Virginia and become the Charleston Cardinals. The cardinal is the state bird for several states, most of which currently have NFL franchises. Virginia narrowly loses the franchise oppo to its western cousin, which has just about had enough of Big VA’s crap. Welcome to coal country, Cardinals.
The Atlanta Falcons move to Louisiana and become the Baton Rouge Falcons. This is largely due to the questionable popularity of the Marvel streaming show The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which is rumored to not have as high a rating as Disney hoped. The Empire of the Mouse makes a deal with the (Roger) Goo-Devil, and moves the team to the fictional Falcon’s home state.
The Baltimore Ravens pull the first upset of the Great Mandated Move, and hang it all up on a technicality: Columbia is only twenty miles from Baltimore, which threatens to riot and burn this whole MF to the ground if they lose ANOTHER team to another state. Welcome to the NFL, Columbia Ravens. Goodell will not let anyone else get away with this.
The Buffalo Bills realized after all these years that their mascot is also the name of their city which limits their relocation opportunities, but they can comply with the Mascot Mandate if they go somewhere that makes enough sense…which is, of course, Omaha Nebraska. Home on the range, where the buffalo roam, etc etc. Say hello the Omaha Buffaloes.
The Carolina Panthers move to Florida and become the Orlando Panthers. They miss out on that sweet sweet Miami money by not moving to the bottom of the peninsula, but Miami loses any further NFL teams by order of Emperor Goodell, so Orlando it is.
The Chicago Bears move to California and become the Sacramento Bears. Sacramento is the state capital and the bear is on the state flag. It almost makes TOO MUCH sense, but Goodell allows it.
The Cincinnati Bengals move to the deep dirty south and become the Auburn Bengals. The NFL is finally going head-to-head with the biggest franchises in college football, which are devoted to teams like the Auburn Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide. They’ve got their work cut out for them, and at the same time they get to piggyback on one of those colleges’ mascots, so this could really go either way. (But we know it will be a wreck.)
The Cleveland Browns move to the brownest state in America: Nevada. The 7th largest state in the union is mostly desert, making it popular for the mining industry, and if Goodell had gone on this insane power trip just a few years sooner they could have become the Las Vegas Browns. Too bad. Sin City no longer gets any NFL team at all, and so Cleveland sets its sights on the ultimate disappointing consolation prize to the north. That’s right sports fans: say hello to your Reno Browns.
Dallas Cowboys. Jerruh tries. Oh, good mighty hell, does he try. But even he cannot overcome the force of the Big Red Button. Though it takes a declaration of war from Congress, and a military skirmish with the Texas National Guard, the Dallas Cowboys are pried from Jerruh’s old, quivery-knuckled grip, and dragged kicking and screaming into the north, where they become the Oklahoma City Cowboys. Seattle basketball fans nod knowlingly at your pain.
The Denver Broncos give Michigan a chance to alleviate the pain (lol) of losing the Lions, and they become the Dearborn Broncos. Their new stadium is right next to the Ford Motor factories. Fans will cringingly refer to the team as the “Ford Broncos” from now until the end of time.
The Detroit Lions head west to Colorado, but they can’t have a piece of Denver, so they settle for #2: Colorado Springs. Colorado has the highest population of mountain lions in the United States. It’s the best they can do. The Colorado Lions never win their division.
Green Bay Packers. It was funny when the owner of the Packers offered to fistfight Goodell for the right to stay in Green Bay, because he almost fell for it, but he played it smart and forced them out. Unwilling to leave the state, the made the obvious move to the biggest city in Wisconsin, and although they kept the Packer name, they leaned hard into “wolf pack” imagery, changing the mascot to an alpha wolf. Hello, Milwaukee Packers.
The Houston Texans take a cue from the Packers and roll with the technicality, keeping the name but changing from a longhorn mascot to a cowboy-adjacent mascot. This will hopefully let them mop up some of the furious fans in Dallas who now want to raze Oklahoma City. They’ll stay in state, tying their identity to the Alamo by becoming the San Antonio Texans.
The Indianapolis Colts gave the fans 37 great years at the Crossroads of America, but they’ve got to move west yet again. Indiana’s just becoming too blue, you know? Gotta conserve those heartland roots, and there’s no redder stronghold than the frozen plains of Wyoming. Nail those horseshoes in tight and gallop into the Rockies, lads; you’re now the Casper Colts.
The Jacksonville Jaguars move upstate to a place that’s a little bit more talla-classy and become the Tallahassee Jaguars. In honor of the Interstate that runs through the northern part of the capital city, they keep losing 10 games a year.
The Kansas City Chiefs make the easiest move of all, returning an NFL franchise to Saint Louis, Missouri. Why? Because the ancient Native American mound-city of Cahokia is right there. A portion of the team’s revenues annually go to preservation and restoration of the heritage site. St. Louis Chiefs win four more titles in 20 years.
The Las Vegas Raiders skip out of the desert after only a few seasons, and go to a city that actually makes a damn lick of sense for a pirate-themed mascot: Galveston, Texas. Not only does this give dejected Houston Texans fans a chance to cheer for something closeby, but it also prompts the construction of another highway across the water to the island, creating marvels of engineering that link the thin strips to the mainland. Galveston Raiders, welcome.
The Los Angeles Chargers stay in-state and move up to the Central Coast, near the twin nuclear power plants in Avila Beach. This is some pretty low-hanging fruit, but the weather his hella nice for the San Luis Obispo Chargers.
The Los Angeles Rams decide to mimic a large number of California residents and move to Nevada. But where can they go? Reno now belongs to the Browns, and Las Vegas is off-limits. Taking a page out of the Ravens’ playbook, the Rams move close to Las Vegas, dropping their new stadium at the southmost end of Las Vegas Boulevard, right next to the M Resort where the I-15 takes you out of town. Say hello to your shiny new Henderson Rams.
The Miami Dolphins are pretty much limited to coastal cities with their mascot, and they’re used to living very close to a Latino nation with great cuisine. Plus that old Qualcomm Stadium is itching to make a comeback. Thus the team moves HELLA laterally to southern California, and becomes the San Diego Dolphins.
The Minnesota Vikings stay in the Midwest but move to the state next door, becoming the Madison Vikings. They had to stay somewhere cold enough (and Norse enough) for their moniker to remain sensible, and neither the Upper Peninsula nor Alaska had decent populations for TV ratings.
The New England Patriots have a lot of options as far as significant geography that matches their mascot. However those options narrow when you rule out cities that currently have franchises. Interested in staying somewhat close to the greater Boston area, they opt for alliteration and head a few minutes south to become the Plymouth Patriots. The new stadium is in Brockton or something…it doesn’t really matter, now that Tom’s gone the team is irrelevant.
The New Orleans Saints. Oh, when the Saints come marching in…to northern Utah. That’s right baby, this is Taysom’s team now, and he’s moving them to the mountain west to be close to home. Give a hearty hand-wave and a scrumptious casserole to the Salt Lake City (Latter-day) Saints. Watch your mouth.
The New York Giants got their team name from the skyscrapers of Manhattan, though the word “giant” itself is ambiguous enough that they could go anywhere. However, the Maras want to stay put. They like the Big Apple. They’ve been there forever. What do they do? They saw what happened to Jerruh (and they laughed.) They also saw what the Ravens and Rams did. They pull the mother of all technicalities, and move literally nowhere, opting to simply change the name to match where they already are. They are now the New Jersey Giants. Easy peasy.
The New York Jets could easily pull the same move as the Giants, but they really want to turn over a new leaf. Really want to break the curse. They’re making an effort, people. This is the era of Saleh and Wilson, it’s time to think big. They move to Virginia, and even though they have to keep the green color scheme, they want to become America’s Team. This means a lot of patriotism, a lot of military symbolism, a lot of joint showmanship with Andrews Air Force Base. That means they are now the Arlington Jets.
The Philadelphia Eagles. Hooo boy this one’s tricky, but they figure it out. The fans and media are known for being absolute jerks, so moving to Boston makes a ton of sense, but Philly hates Boston, and the Eagles are more closely tied to the Philly identity than they are to the Eagle identity. (And they can’t move to Boston.) So they need to move to the meanest city in America…which is Detroit, so they have to settle for the second-meanest city in America based on crime and population. This, surprisingly, is in Tennessee, in a place almost 2,000 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Boom. Done. You’re now the Memphis Eagles.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are pretty limited as far as steel-related cities go. Most of the big factories are in Indiana or Illinois. But there is one factory outside of Pittsburgh in North Braddock, so they copy the Ravens and Rams by becoming the No Bra Steelers.
The San Francisco 49ers are extremely limited on geographical options due to the highly specific nature of their mascot. However, they watched what the Packers did, keeping the name but changing the angle: they now base their entire identity on significant events from 1949, including the inauguration of President Harry S Truman for what would be his only full term. They become the Springfield 49ers, moving to Missouri not far from where Truman was born. The team is not popular in Japan.
The Seattle Seahawks have a logo based on Native American art, in a city named after a powerful Native American chief. Plus there’s the alliteration to consider. With that in mind, they head down the coast just south of the Bay Area near Carmel-by-the-Sea, and they become the Seaside Seahawks. They keep the logo and associated imagery, making inroads with the local Salinan leadership.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers add Captain Blackbeard to their iconography and head up to the Carolinas, where the famous pirate died. It’s not really possible to build a stadium at Ocracoke like the Galveston Raiders, so they compromise and set up in a coastal city in South Carolina. Thus they become the Charleston Buccaneers.
The Tennessee Titans really want to stay in the Midwest but they also want to move somewhere that embraces the Greek mythology angle. This leads them to Olympia, Kentucky, a place in the absolute middle of freaking nowhere. They’re not quite able to get away with calling themselves the Olympia Titans, since they have to build the stadium in Lexington, so they’re now the Lexington Titans with an offseason getaway resort in Olympia.
The Washington Football Team wants to move to Portland, Oregon. It just makes too much sense, plus it would give them a lead on a mascot name. But Dan Snyder is really embracing the generic-ness of the current name, and there’s a perfect little town east of Portland and south of Gresham that will allow him to keep trolling the team’s fans. And thus we round out the 32-club roster with the Boring Football Team.
Anyway, screw the offseason. Three months until football.