Back during the awful fall of 2009, when the Redskins were banning signs and losing games and hiring offensive consultants out of Bingo halls, lots of national publications started writing about the declining fortunes of Washington’s football team. One of them was the Wall Street Journal, which made the argument like this:
It’s not that the Redskins are 3-7 and headed for oblivion—the team has had only three winning seasons since 1999. It’s that the complaints many fans and former players are hurling at the team seem to suggest something more serious is happening: that its essence—whatever it is that made the Redskins “the Redskins”—has gone away.
A Harris Interactive poll taken in 2003 put the Redskins at No. 6 in the NFL in nationwide popularity. In the most recent poll taken earlier this year, they had fallen to No. 17.
Now, it was hard to ignore the fan anger back then. And I’ve obviously suggested here that demand for Redskins tickets isn’t what it once was. But I thought at the time that this Harris thing was a bogus argument, and that the poll data rather suggested that Washington had one of the most resilient fan bases in the NFL.
Anyhow, this year’s Harris survey — which, oddly, asks American adults who follow professional football to name their TWO favorite teams — is out. See it here. The questioning was done online, in the week after the Redskins started out this season with a home win against the Giants.
And the Skins finished 8th in the popularity portion of the survey, right back in their comfort zone. In the 12 years of results released by Harris, Washington has been between 8th and 12th in the NFL eight times. They ranked eighth in 1999, when Daniel Snyder purchased the club. And the Redskins’ climb of seven spots in the last year was tied for the biggest improvement in the league.
So whether you believe the 2009 and 2010 results were outliers, or whether you believe the number of Redskins fans has increased rather dramatically over the last 12 months, that crucial piece of the Wall Street Journal’s 2009 argument no longer exists.
In one other piece of news from the Harris survey, three percent of Americans who follow professional football told Harris they thought the Redskins would win this season’s Super Bowl. Harris did not reveal how many of those three percent had the last name “Grossman.”
According to Harris, the NFL’s four most popular teams are the Cowboys, Steelers, Packers and Patriots. Those teams are responsible for seven of the 10 names in the latest list of the NFL’s best-selling jerseys. Washington had no players in the top 25.