Story by Halleigh Derrick
School of Journalism and New Media Student
Few things can make a group of people become friends or foes as quickly as sports team affiliations. Even as a state without a professional football team within its borders, the loyalty still runs deep.
According to the Oxford Buffalo Wild Wings General Manager, Ayric Bradley, the New Orleans Saints, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys gain a lot of traction in Mississippi. Other teams, like the Kansas City Chiefs, are also developing a fanbase within the state.
In a Google Trends comparison of the four teams, the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys have been consistently searched for in Mississippi every Sunday or Monday night for the past 90 days, depending on which day they take the field.
It’s also clear to see that people in the northern half of the state search more for the Cowboys and the southern half searches for the Saints.
“In Mississippi, the New Orleans Saints have a large fan base. But, besides that, the Giants and Cowboys are popular because of players like Eli Manning and Dak Prescott. The Kansas City Chiefs have also started to develop a fan base in Oxford because of past Ole Miss players like Breeland Speaks,” said Bradley.
On a typical Sunday, Bradley says the sports bar will start to fill up around 11:45 a.m. with fans anticipating the noon kickoff. If the Saints are playing, he says they’re always on the middle screens.
Of course with the heart of Mississippi only two and a half hours from the New Orleans Saints Mercedes-Benz Superdome, it isn’t difficult to understand why some Mississippi residents are drawn to the black and gold.
Taylor Harbor, a Meridian, Mississippi native, says her love of the Saints started from childhood.
“I’ve always been a Saints fan. I was literally born into a Saints family,” said Harbor. “Half of my family is from right outside New Orleans, and they have grown up a Saints’ fan win or lose.”
But location isn’t the only reason some fans are drawn to their team of choice.
“Like most Mississippi State fans, I jumped on the [Cowboys] bandwagon when Dak became their starting quarterback my sophomore year of college. I got to go to the Cowboys game that year and watch him score his first professional touchdown,” says recent Mississippi State University graduate, Emma Bond.
So, what happened in Oxford when the Saints and the Cowboys played each other this season?
“That game was interesting. I was with a lot of Cowboys fans watching the game. It was exciting when we won the game because we weren’t expecting it. Oxford was pretty excited,” said Harbour.
The Saints and Cowboys most recent match-up ended in a 12-10 victory for the Saints, but the Cowboys still hold the rivalry record, winning 17 of the last 30 games.