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Skylines, Beaches, and Culture: Ranking NFL Broadcast Transitions (Part One)

Matt, Luke, and Uprooted Texan get together and rank the NFL’s sublime broadcast transitions.

FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Year Press Conference Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Football is the most popular sport in America. It’s our game that only (mostly) we play. It’s a bloodbath of bone-crunching interstate collisions, sniper shot passes, ergonomic-defying movements, eight-dimensional chess matches, and enormous men moving faster then enormous should ever move. We love the game because of the intersection of violence, skill, and strategy. But underneath the top level of it, like all things, there is enjoyment of the little things that you can only understand with a greater investment of time and love. Like how comically terrible the Chicago Bears’ Coach’s Film camera angle is, Philip Rivers’s bolo tie, Andy Reid always getting tangled up in the metaphorical water hose that is late game management, and Ed Hochuli’s biceps. These are all little things impossible not to enjoy as your skin grows into the couch twenty Sundays a year.

My personal favorite of these things is the NFL scene change. After a punt, extra point, kickoff, quarter change, slight directional difference in the wind, the NFL goes to a commercial. The human brain can’t handle immediately sliding across the floor directly into football. The action and drama are too intense. So to help with the adrenaline, the product’s producers give the viewer some exposition. Quick stats. Highlights. Solomon’s “Words of Wisdom.” And best of all, the NFL scene change that markets the city hosting the game with a clip of some cliched part of it.

Athletes are just mercenaries paid lots of money to represent certain segments of civilization. The scene change showcases a city with a flash of the Grand Canyon, the beach in Tampa, a bull in Texas, or shivering intoxication in Buffalo. This makes you think things like, “Wow, I really want to go there,” or, “Wow, I really hate this.”

Throughout last season, these scene changes had Luke, UT, and I’s attention while we waited for football to get in the way of our commercial watching. We wanted to catch a fish in Seattle. We got sick of towel waving in Pittsburgh. We laughed at the bridge in Jacksonville. To celebrate, to truly live and enjoy the little things of NFL fandom, we each ranked the 32 teams by the quality of their scene change.

A few notes before we begin. One, I don’t want to know how much money FOX paid for Cleatus, that knockoff football spinning transformer. They completely skimped on the scene changes. Instead, it’s a blue and gray football robot that awkwardly moves around to the tune of Bud Light. Two, CBS and NBC give the good stuff. Landscapes. 25 second action-packed panned shots that sometimes span multiple locations. Three, there is no formula for these rankings. It’s pure solipsism. It’s what we like and feel because we are each unique snowflakes who are very special and can do anything that we want to do. Four, the rankings themselves are just an average of of what us three came up with. Five, ties go to the scene with the highest ranking of the three. If it’s still tied, it goes to the team with the highest worst ranking.

32. Indianapolis Colts Average: 31.67

Matt: The worst cities get scenes like this. Shots of minuscule skylines, highways, and stadiums. Yes, Indy has a nice stadium. Yes, it has a very large window. But they have literally nothing else to show in between Colts games other than a stadium that was built nine years ago. The only thing worse is when they try to praise the history of this franchise-stealing city by plastering Peyton Manning over everything. (32)

UT: I was in Indianapolis back in 2000 to catch the NCAA Final Four and honestly, if you were to put the RCA Dome back and remove Lucas Oil Stadium, I don’t think I’d be able to tell if anything had changed. That’s how little has changed there. Aside from the fact that it was the first time I’d ever seen a White Castle before (spoiler alert: they’re terrible), I can’t think of anything particularly memorable about the city itself. (31)

Luke: Tis’ better to have died a small town than grow up to be a boring city. (32)

31. Jacksonville Jaguars Average: 29

Matt: Come to Jacksonville! You have to drive a bridge to get to downtown! Cool! Also, before the bridge is the stadium. It has a pool! Swim in it so you get to piss yourself while your favorite team on the field does the exact same thing. (29)

UT: Hooray for Wells Fargo, king of Jacksonville, I guess. I assume they were trying for a shot of the bridge and failing spectacularly at it, because there’s not much else to see except a pretty day and WELLS FARGO sprawled out right in the middle of the shot. (28)

Luke: I’m going to cheat a bit here and do the comment for Jacksonville, Tampa, and Miami. I literally cannot tell the difference between all three of the GIFs we have for each city. There is nothing that distinguishes these cities from one another. There are probably palm trees in Tampa or Miami or a beach in Jacksonville. Is Florida just one homogenized lump of landscape? I don’t know. (30)

30. Kansas City Chiefs Average: 28

Matt: Just like Indy, there is nothing fun about Kansas City from CBS’ perspective. They show their oval stadium with oval video boards and a skyline that’s a bunch of cardboard boxes. (31)

UT: Kansas City might have the least interesting skyline this side of Oklahoma City. At least it’s not another shot of their vastly inferior barbecue. (29)

Luke: Is this Kansas City? You could tell me it’s not and I would just as easily believe you. I’ve found there’s something oddly uniform about Midwestern cities when it comes to how they look. It’s one large business building surrounded by red brick industrial buildings that are in the process of being gentrified and turned into a dive bar where someone with a thick chin mange and beanie can tell you all about his micro brew and range of locally sourced beat poets. (24)

29. Dallas Cowboys Average: 26

Matt: This is no different than the cows thing for Houston. Actually, now that I think about it, this is probably how everyone feels when they see the same fish get caught, the same serene shots of the Statue of Liberty, or the same towels circling over pasty heads. (27)

UT: As a matter of principle, I object to the very idea that a client state of Oklahoma knows anything about barbecue. The fact that they’re just throwing a thing onto a grill is just more evidence of that. Also, that steak (?) looks like it’s already done and they’re throwing it back on the grill. The hell? Did Jerry Jones tell them to cook his steak until it was black and charred like his heart? I just hope he didn’t want ketchup to go with it, because at that point I’d be forced to call the police. (25)

Luke: Wait a minute……..isn’t that just grilling? (26)

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Average: 24.67

Matt: As someone who can’t deal with the pangs of winter’s fangs, who shivers when it hits 60 degrees, I found it very beautiful and touching that the people of Tampa can swim at the beach in October. (19)

UT: It’s a beach. I’ve seen them before. Difference between this one and Miami is Tampa’s is probably a little less poisonous to swim in. Last thing the state of Florida needs is people going into the water and coming out as C.H.U.D.s. (27)

Luke: See Jacksonville. (28)

27. Pittsburgh Steelers Average: 24

Matt: I’ve never been to a city that loves their home teams as much as Pittsburgh does. Everyone there loves the Pens, Pirates and Steelers. I get it. But they don’t have an identity outside of that, and they are unable to leave their city without their little blankies. Shoutout to the cool guy in the blue pants who even thinks these towels are dumb. (30)

UT: (Bleep) these people and their stupid towels too. I guess if the only thing you have going for your city is, literally, a sandwich, you have to make things like waving a piece of cloth a worthwhile activity. Also, I can’t prove it, but I’m pretty sure the yellow towel is responsible for the death of the steel industry in Pittsburgh. (32)

Luke: I love this GIF for no other reason other than the guy on the right with the fanny pack who is just looking over this display of towel waving with the same look of dismissiveness of an elderly father who’s just been introduced to the concept of ‘’twerking’’. (10)

26. New England Patriots Average: 21.67

Matt: NERDS. (20)

UT: I like historical reenactments and I like football. But, Boston, could we please save one for after the other? Your Minutemen look like they’d get beaten up by a gang of elementary school children from Southie, and all it would take is one really disgruntled Jets fan or a ref whose check from Tom Brady bounced to replace the blanks in your muskets with live ammunition to pepper up another boring Patriots game with some hilarious and potentially fatal high jinks. (24)

Luke: The OGs of the Cosplay World. (21)

25. Miami Dolphins Average: 21.67

Matt: Pretty cool. I’m used to getting a bacteria riddled infected foot from the Texas coast while swimming around the shredded remains of fetid carpet. Never before have I seen really tall buildings on a beach. (10)

UT: This stretch of beach reminds me of something that Stephen Fry said about Miami and Miami Beach which more or less echoes my sentiments: The word “hole” comes to my lips and it’s certainly not my kind of city. I’m sure it must have a heart and a soul and a meaning and a kind of delightful center or something; but I need to find it. It’s just horrible, horrible concrete buildings. It has that feeling of being designed as a holiday paradise and indeed all the dreary things that go with the word “paradise” like palm trees and huge cutout parrots that promise so much and deliver so staggeringly little. (26)

Luke: See Tampa. (29)

24. Houston Texans Average: 21

Matt: Everything involved with Houston had livestock in it. People being pulled by a neon horse carriage under the unlit husks of very tall buildings. Cows jostling around in a green field. It all reminds me of when I played Halo 2 on Xbox Live and I would be asked if I rode a horse to school because I was from Texas. (28)

UT: What you are seeing here is an all-bovine production of “The Hunchcalf of Notre Dame.” Trouble is, since they’re all hunchbacks, everybody thinks they’re Quasimodo and none of these cows went to acting school; so really they’re kidding themselves if they think they can take this act on the road. They need to drop this acting dream of theirs and get into something more practical, like learning how to tan leather goods or something. (16)

Luke: My high school and pre-school both had uniforms that were sold by external retailers, so at the end of August, just before the year started, I would be forced to make the trip to this retailer and try on uniforms that were two sizes too big and get told that I would ‘’grow into them’’. The way that the excess skin and fat hangs off these cows reminds me of having a uniform two sizes too big. Maybe these cows will eventually grow into their skin like I grew into a uniform…...or y’know, they’ll become a nice steak. (19)

23. Los Angeles Rams Average: 20.33

Matt: “And I’m amazed at all the stars underneath that old Hollywood sign”. (15)

UT: I totally expected that person with the camera to run off with it. Related: Someday, I will abscond with one of the letters from the Hollywood sign. I don’t know when or what kind of Ocean’s 11-esque caper I’ll have to do to make it happen, but I will have one of those letters. Then on a cold, rainy Seattle day, I will go into my backyard, look at the “W” gathering rust, and possibly squirrels, and chuckle to myself at that which I hath wrought. (19)

Luke: ‘’You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.’’’ (27)

22. New York Jets Average: 20

Matt: Like the Giants, they just show tall buildings. I want to see rats, trash bags on the side of the road, subways, people honking at each other, slices of pizza, traffic, people walking through crosswalks while ignoring crosswalk instructions, museums, not a bunch of tall buildings. At least they stopped showing this glory boy. (22)

UT: This might be the most cliched of bump GIFs in this entire project. I’m no hipster, I leave that to Big Matt. Just once couldn’t they show something in Brooklyn (no, the Brooklyn Bridge does not count)? The Staten Island ferry? Hell, I’d even take a shot at Katz’ Delicatessen just for a change of pace. Also, sandwiches. (18)

Luke: The Empire State Building has 1,860 steps. I know this because I googled it. Back when the gym I used to go to had a StairMaster, I used to climb those 1,860 steps every time I went there. You may think StairMasters are antiquated and are only used by old women, but I don’t care. I just love the idea of virtually climbing these enormous buildings. It’s why whenever I see super tall buildings I just can’t help the urge to take the stairs. (20)

21. Green Bay Packers Average: 19.67

Matt: Green Bay is like Buffalo, except they get to hide their ghastly orange inhuman ability to drink behind the shield of history and those first two Super Bowls, which is one more than Aaron Rodgers has. (16)

UT: To echo Luke, how have we never gotten a cheese shot during a Green Bay game? I’ve certainly never seen one. Hell, they’ve had firetruck bumps before they’ve shown cheese. Or how about an actual meatpacking plant, like the team is supposed to be named for? Show me that! I already know Lombardi was a coach for Green Bay back in the day when men were men, freezing to death just meant you hadn’t been drinking enough, and concussions were a thing to be proud of! Let’s move on. (20)

Luke: I know Lombardi is great and all, but isn’t Wisconsin supposed to be well known for its dairy? Where’s the 10 second fondue shot? (23)

20. Carolina Panthers Average: 19.67

Matt: Carolina seems like the Indy of the South. Just a lot of boring white people. It was either this or the Billy Graham library or the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Either way, there’s nothing to see. Carolina needs to get an actual Panther on the sideline. (25)

UT: When I think of Charlotte, I don’t think of planes. I think of pork barbecue, NASCAR, and really not a whole lot else. This bump is misleading and should be ashamed of itself. (22)

Luke: Planes are cool, I guess. This is one of those GIFs that is going to end up higher on my list just because it’s not actively terrible, like some of the other ones (looking at you, Indianapolis). (12)

19. Washington Redskins Average: 19.33

Matt: No matter what is going on in this country, the National Mall is always remarkable. (12)

UT: You’d think they would’ve finished working on the Washington Monument by now. (15)

Luke: I don’t know whether to be annoyed or pleased that the Capitol building is partially obscured. (31)

18. Minnesota Vikings Average: 19.33

Matt: Folks, this is all we will be seeing from Minnesota until Super Bowl LII is over. Showing this futuristic, paranoid, android, bird-murdering monolith is the NFL’s way of brainwashing us into thinking that using public money to pay for stadiums is a good thing. I miss seeing all that cold breath and all those steaming heads. (24)

UT: I like stadium porn, and I like that when the NFL extorts cities for obscene amounts of money under threat of relocation, the stadiums that are being built are pretty amazing looking, at least compared against the old cookie-cutter stadiums from the 70s and 80s. It’s a far cry from where stadium architecture is now...although I’m not sure about Atlanta’s new stadium and its weird similarity to a certain part of human anatomy. But as for this GIF, it’d be a lot better if it were a day game so you could get a better look at the viking ship stadium. (12)

Luke: This isn’t Minnesota! Where’s the lutefisk? Where’s the Minnesota State Trooper discovering the wood chipper with Steve Buscemi’s legs sticking out of it? I want some authentic Skol, not this glorified bird cemetery. (22)

17. New York Giants Average: 18.00

Matt: See New York Jets. (21)

UT: I know for a fact after seeing “Ghostbusters 2” that a statue can walk when sufficiently motivated and hooked up to a Nintendo controller. Why haven’t they gotten her up and moving about? I’m sure Lady Liberty needs the exercise, and the holes in the street her footsteps would cause would keep construction workers busy for years. Ohh! Side project: Godzilla vs. The Statue of Liberty! If anybody here makes a movie about that, either you cut me in on the money or I’ll see you in court. (17)

Luke: Hey, they made the torch glow! That’s pretty neat. (16)

Check back this afternoon for Part Two.