A 2017 survey by the number-crunching website Five Thirty Eight found that the most beloved team in the NFL is not the Dallas Cowboys, or New England Patriots, the San Francisco 49ers or the New York Giants.
It is, by a fairly wide margin, the team in the league’s tiniest market: the Green Bay Packers.
With a population of 105,0000–you could actually squeeze the entire city into the University of Michigan football stadium and still have seats left over– Green Bay clearly punches above its weight when it comes to its fan base. Is it the Green and Gold colors, or the 13 NFL championships dating back to 1929, or its legendary tough-as-nails coach, Vince Lombardi, who seemed sent up from central casting?
It was likely all of those things but likely none are as important as this: more than any team in the NFL, and perhaps all of professional American sports, no team embodies community quite like the Packers.
Founded in 1923, the Packers sold shares to its fans and today, nearly a century later, the team remains the only publicly-owned franchise in all of professional sports. That, in combination with everything else, nurtures a sense of investment, of ownership, in the Packers that far surpasses the 5 million outstanding shares.
Cheeseheads, you see, rock!
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