The NFL season is just over a week away, and the football world could not be more excited to welcome back the most popular league in North America, and one that threatened not to even take place this fall. While most people would agree that the preseason doesn’t mean very much, it doesn’t mean that fans aren’t watching and aren’t getting excited for what is ahead. The past few weeks have seen several teams take the lead in social popularity, all of which are located in the northeast.
The New York Jets led all NFL teams in social media activity, which includes messages on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, with an 11.9% share of all NFL-related content, according to Nielsen Company research. It certainly makes sense that the Jets would be among the top teams considering they have a young, attractive, and talented high profile quarterback, they have a boisterous and entertaining head coach, and that they are from New York.
Following the Jets were the NFC East front runners and so-called ‘Dream Team,’ the Michael Vick-led Philadelphia Eagles, with an 8.3% share of social media activity. The Eagles have much been much talked about having added high profile name players this off-season. This score looks to be buoyed by the recent announcement that Vick signed a multi-year deal that guarantees him $40 million.
The third team scoring well in social media is another northeastern club, the New York Giants. The expectations are not as high with the Giants, but they are certainly scrutinized, especially quarterback Eli Manning. The Giants had a 6.0% share, while their division rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, came in just behind with a 5.9%.
New England Patriots, another club with Super Bowl aspirations and some big off-season signings, earned 4.3%.
Of the top four teams, three of them play in the NFC East, and of the top five, two of them play in the AFC East. The top five clubs represent four cities: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Dallas. None of the five clubs made it two the Super Bowl, where the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers faced off, and only three of the clubs made it to the playoffs.
Nielsen also tracked individual players, and Reggie Bush, former second overall draft pick by the New Orleans Saints who was signed by the Miami Dolphins this off season, received the most attention this off-season with 194,000 mentions.
The NFL locked out during the springtime, and as a result only one game was missed: the annual Hall of Fame exhibition game. Players and coaches were not allowed to plan and work together, and training camp and free agency were abbreviated. Still, from the fan’s perspective, very little was missed. The potential of not having football, however, certainly made fans more relieved and excited when the game returned, and has helped increased activity on sports sites.
The NFL’s various sites increased by 260% in unique views during the week following the lockout, according to Nielsen. The NFL certainly is not struggling, and threatening to take the sport away certainly has played at least a small part in the build up of excitement for kickoff on opening day.