by Max Kaplan
[Late edit] I was featured in an on-air interview to defend this article on Earth Day.
Earth Day is coming up on April 22, and even the NFL can do its part to reduce its carbon footprint.
I mean, just look at the divisions. Why must the Patriots travel all the way down to Miami every year when there are over twenty teams closer? Talk about waste…
The Eagles, Giants, and Redskins are all cozy and close, but who decided to throw the Cowboys into the East?
Let’s look at the facts. Dallas isn’t in the east. Indianapolis isn’t in the south. This is not how Mother Nature intended. In the name of conservation, preservation, and environmentalism, I’ve come up with a solution!
Let’s realign the divisions. Not willy-nilly but with an eye towards protecting our environment. There’s no need for the Chiefs’ 1,500-mile annual commute to Oakland. Kansas City certainly isn’t in the west of the United States. This isn’t the age of American pioneers. We can do better.
By my calculation, the NFL could save over 165,000 gallons in jet fuel each season by realigning the divisions.
The current divisions are a legacy of the NFL-AFL merger of 1970 and while we have seen the NFL climate change over the last half-century, the warning signs have been evident and growing stronger. We cannot afford to let this problem get any worse. It is time to decommission the old and open the new clean divisions. Sustainability is all about leaving a better future for the next generation. We must act now!
Below are the geographically optimal divisions – in order to minimize overall divisional travel.
- Southwest Division – ARI, DAL, DEN, SD
- Pacific Division – LA, OAK, SF, SEA
- South Division – ATL, HOU, NO, TEN
- Heartland Division – CHI, GB, KC, MIN
- Southeast Division – CAR, JAX, MIA, TB
- Northeast Division – BUF, NYG, NYJ, NE
- Atlantic Division – BAL, PHI, PIT, WAS
- Midwest Division – CIN, CLE, DET, IND
By realigning the divisions geographically, we put teams back in their ecological niche with local rivalries. The Raiders have only played the 49ers five times since they moved to Oakland. The Jets have played the Giants only twice in the last ten years – and they share a stadium.
- Unfortunately, no recycling. None of the divisions stayed the same.
- But we do have hybrids. The Pacific, Northeast, and Heartland Divisions all run on three teams from the old, clunky divisions.
- Sometimes the planet is out of equilibrium despite our best efforts. Three of the Heartland Division teams had double-digit win totals in 2015.
- The Super Bowl is a renewable resource. The Northeast Division (Patriots, Giants) and Atlantic Division (Ravens, Steelers) account for ten of the last sixteen Super Bowl titles.
For anyone interested, I layout the NFL minimal travel problem below.