The NFL is full of rivalries. Every year teams shed blood, sweat and tears against their most bitter rivals. Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy against Jay Cutler and Matt Forte are big names that carry on the epic rivalry between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. This is the longest running rivalry in the NFL. It’s practically the Yankees and Red Sox of football. No matter what team you root for, every true football fan loves and respects this rivalry. But what makes a vicious rivalry? How does it live on?
These two teams are just 174 miles apart. The locations of these teams and the close proximity between The Bears and Packers fans do nothing but fuel hatred. Even while walking down the street and seeing that nasty green and yellow Clay Matthews jersey, your heart starts pumping and the image of Jay Cutler being sacked replays in your head over and over again. You yell at the other fans, make obscene gestures and we all love seeing that one angry fan.
It gives us pride in our team and we love to let others know what squad we represent. Geography alone creates a great fan rivalry. However, what about the players? The coaches? What causes rivalry between them? What makes a true rivalry?
1-on-1 Player rivalry?
Rivalries between players can fuel a hatred between teams, especially if those two players are leaders. Take Phillip Rivers and Tom Brady for example. Since the Chargers team leader, Rivers, took his first snap as a starter for the team, he has played 3 regular season and 2 post season games against Tom Brady. In those five games, Phillip Rivers have fallen victim to Tom Brady every time.
I’m sure most of you have seen Rivers yelling from the sidelines during these games. His intensity against Tom Brady hasn’t proven good enough yet, but you cannot deny the effect it has on how hard both teams play against each other. They seem to be playing for their quarterbacks, this is another important key to a rivalry, but it doesn’t quite make it epic.
Coaching rivalries aren’t as exciting, mainly because they never hit each other. However, one of the best coaching rivalries I have been able to experience has been recent. Coach Pete Carroll and Coach Jim Harbough. This rivalry has is now in the past as Jim Harbough left the NFL and has gone back to college. The two coaches were conference rivals before even coaching in the NFL. Pete Carroll coached at USC and Jim Harbough coached at Stanford. The two coaches met every year. No matter where these two met they always coached to demolish each other. After their time in college they met in the NFC West as head coaches of the Seattle Seahawks (Carroll) and the San Francisco 49ers (Harbough) and the battles continued between the two powerhouse coaches that know nothing other than win at all cost.