Some NFL fans are born, others drafted

Updated: September 7, 2009, 9:04 AM ET

It's hard to explain to fans born with an NFL franchise stamped on their birth certificate that some fans chose rather than inherit teams.

Take the perspective of epdroege.

Dolphins fans
johnny059qn"Whoever Dad rooted for I'd root for the opposite team.(nice kid, huh?)," wrote johnny059qn. "I was 7 in 1972. I believe I became a Dolphins fan forever when the Dolphins beat the Steelers in the AFC Championship game Dec. 31, 1972."

"Eagles fans just 'ARE,' " he writes. "They are fans before they are born, before their father even knows their mother's name."

And yet we know from the hundreds of people who responded when we asked how SportsNation found favorite teams that a jersey purchased at a garage sale, a championship game or wanting to show up your brothers can also lead to a lifelong affiliation.

Outsized pro football personalities such as Tom Landry, Barry Sanders, Brett Favre, Jerry Rice, Tony Dorsett, Jack Lambert, Kurt Warner, Curtis McClinton, Tom Brady, Vince Lombardi, Ricky Williams, Peyton Manning, Bill Parcells, Bo Jackson and Dan Marino (and the list goes on) also captivated and converted many fans.

Here our favorite stories. You can tell your story in the comments section.

Chance encounter

Sadly, I can't say that I come from a family that had any allegiance to any particular team. I have to admit that I became a fan of pro football through what I like to call "Fan Roulette."

When I was about 8 years old, I was turning through the channels and I stopped at the Pittsburgh Steelers-Houston Oilers game. In that game I saw Earl Campbell just plow right through defenders carry after carry. I'd seen football played before but I think I just never really paid attention. But this day I couldn't turn away.

As much as Earl Campbell did his thing, NOTHING stuck in my mind more than all those passes I saw Lynn Swann catch from Terry Bradshaw. As soon as the game was over, I went outside to repeat what I just saw. My little brother was the involuntary quarterback and defender. I was an immediate fan of the Steelers. -- raske42

Living in fear

I live in Yonkers, N.Y., and growing up both sides of my family were die-hard Giants fans, except for my father. He was a Cowboys fan growing up because of "Bullet" Bob Hayes.

Despite all the T-shirts, Troy Aikman jerseys and the drooling over the cheerleaders, the moment that made me a Cowboys fan came when I was 8. The Cowboys were in the last seconds of losing a game to the Chicago Bears, who at the time were one of the worst teams in football. When the game clock finally struck 0:00, my father hurled his sneaker through my mother's china cabinet, breaking a few nice glasses in the process.

I wasn't a '90s bandwagon jumper. It was the fear that I'd end up like the sneaker if I rooted for anyone else, let alone the Giants. -- SnookiesRevenge

Family tradition

I never had a choice in the matter. Growing up in Chicago, there's only one team that truly unites the Second City, and that's the First Team of Football, our beloved Bears. My dad has had season tickets since the end of the '70s, and they're actually part of my inheritance from him when he passes away (decades from now). I knew the lyrics to "Bear Down" by the time I was 7. My first teddy bear was named Walter Payton and was dressed in a Bears T-shirt.

The Hainsfurther men bonded at Bears games. Soldier Field was my second home. It was where I learned to curse. It was where I learned to be a true sports fan. My creativity flowed from my hate of those who stepped onto the hallowed grounds just beyond the colonnades. My first love was football, and if I have my way, I'll be a part of that field as long as it stands, it's where I want my ashes scattered. -- Aceman8689

Neon lights the way

I grew up in South Carolina. In 1989 the Falcons drafted a CB out of Florida State by the name of Deion Sanders and I immediately became his fan. Not being from Georgia I didn't feel any loyalty to the Falcons so when Deion went to San Francisco, I followed. From there he went to the Dallas Cowboys, again I followed.

Holly4ball ">[+] EnlargeSteelers Fans
Holly4ball "I have been a die-hard Steelers fan since I was 6," wrote holly4ball. "I get a lot of mess here in San Diego being a Steelers fan and they think I'm from somewhere else, but I was born here and I tell Chargers fans, 'I had a much happier childhood,' "

Deion and the Cowboys were a perfect fit, at least I thought they were until they betrayed us (Deion and myself) and traded him to the hated Redskins in 2000. That really hurt my feelings but I had been following Deion for 11 years so when he left Dallas and went to the Redskins I went to the dark side as well.

I had told myself a few years earlier that whatever team Deion retired with would be my team and since he retired with the Skins that's my team. FYI, I don't count the Baltimore years as being Prime Time because he no longer wore the #21 so those years are stricken from my personal record. -- Trab2U

Banner year

I didn't pick my favorite NFL team, they picked me. You see, my first memory in this life is helping my mom hang a banner over our street-facing garage on a particularly electric January night. She told me that my Dad was on his way home from "something amazing, something amazing, something ... amazing."

When my Dad, unshackled by earthly gravity, floated up the driveway he caught my mom in an embrace and they kept saying "We did it! We did it!!!" as my uncle drove off in his old mustang honking as he went. Whatever "it" was, I wanted a piece. Whatever it was my Dad loved so much, I wanted to love as well.

After 12 years of season tickets and fandom unfulfilled, he was finally rewarded. A decade of dominance later I unfurled that old homemade banner and the memory was as fresh as if it was the night before. It's message was clear and precise: SUPER BOWL BOUND!! SF 28 Dal 27 '81 NFC CHAMPS!!!! -- cmurray3927

California, Montana, Missouri

As a kid, I loved Joe Montana. He was and still is my favorite player of all time. This is where I may trick a few people. I'm a Chiefs fan, not a 49ers fan. When the 49ers traded Montana to the Chiefs in 1993 I was 7 years old. Being a Chiefs fan in the days of Montana at quarterback, Marcus Allen at running back was amazing. They still had that stellar defense with Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith. -- njdevilsfan85

Expansionist tendencies

Growing up in Portland, OR, I was eight years old in 1976 when the Seattle Seahawks joined the NFL. It was perfect timing, and I was the perfect age to establish ties to a team. Before that point, I did the little kid thing of rooting for whoever was winning, or whoever was popular. I remember liking Bob Griese and the Dolphins because he wore eyeglasses, and so did I! Anyway, I adopted Jim Zorn, Steve Largent, and the underdog Seahawks as my own. -- EdHoch

Daddy's girl

I was the youngest of 4 children and a daddy's girl to the max. He was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan, so quite naturally I followed suit. He had his den in the basement and had his friends over on Sundays to watch the Cowboys play, and I still remember those poor guys having to apologize for saying words a little girl shouldn't hear.

Browns fan
B3nzin0 "I grew up on the East side of Ohio, but I'd never, ever, not in a million years cheer for Pittsburgh," wrote B3nzin0. "I'm a Brownie for life."

Until the day he died, I was the only girl he allowed to come down there and I still have every piece of memorabilia he had: his Troy Aikman jersey, his Emmitt Smith autographed helmet, and his prized Tom Landry autographed football. I loved sitting down there with those men watching the 'Boys win three Super Bowls in four years and nothing that ever happens in sports will ever out weigh those memories. -- Lilsweetcin

Video replay

My dad was a New York Giants fan and I was born shortly after the Giants defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. He had bought the Super Bowl Highlight tape and as a 3-4 year old I used to watch that tape nonstop while running around the living room with a football.

The first part of the video focuses on the Broncos jumping out to a 10-7 lead on the running and passing of John Elway and even though the Broncos lost on the tape, the combination of Elway and the bright orange and blue uniforms led to me being 99 percent of the Broncos fanbase in Connecticut before their two Super Bowl titles. -- tonyskarface8

Picking up the threads

Tennessee, 1990, seventh grade: Despite the fact that I knew nothing of pro football, my mother purchases a Dallas Cowboys T-shirt at a local yard sale for me. Despite being ridiculed at school for a team that had gone 1-15 in the previous season, I stand firm and proclaim my loyalty as Emmitt and Troy make my mother and I look like prophetic geniuses. -- deveauj