Within the world of professional sports, some teams have great players, some have stupendous stadiums and some have fantastic fans, but only a few have all that and more.
According to a survey produced by ESPN The Magazine, the Green Bay Packers aren't just one of those upper-echelon teams, they're the best in the business.
In a project referred to as 'The Ultimate Standings,' this week's edition of ESPN The Magazine places the Packers atop a list of 121 franchises as the overall best in major professional sports (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB) according to fan polling.
"This just shows what I've always said, that this is the greatest story in pro sports," Packers President/CEO Bob Harlan said. "A team in a small city, owned by the fans, 12 championships, 19 players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a legendary stadium, and still going strong -- it's simply amazing."
The ranking is the result of fan feedback gathered by Markitecture (Norwalk, Conn.) and analyzed by the University of Oregon's Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.
In November and December 2002, fans in the United States and Canada were asked to rank teams in eight areas:
1) Bang for the Buck (how well a team performs on the field, compared to the money it receives directly from fans)
2) Fan Relations (how teams and owners interact with the local fan base)
3) Ownership (overall commitment of owner and effort owner makes to players, coaches and fans, as well as a willingness to spend money and commit to winning)
4) Affordability (from tickets to apparel to parking to concessions, what it costs to be a fan of a franchise) 5) Stadium Experiences (cleanliness, parking, security and promotions)
6) Players (effort given on the field of play, and how likeable they are off the field of play)
7) Coaching (quality of on-field coaching/managing of franchise)
8) Championships (how successful and dedicated the team has been in pursuing and winning championships)
The Packers topped the list, immediately followed by the Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB) and San Antonio Spurs (NBA).
In a strong showing by the NFL, the Miami Dolphins (6), Philadelphia Eagles (7), Pittsburgh Steelers (15), New England Patriots (16), Baltimore Ravens (19) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (20) also made the top-20.
Of all 121 major professional sports franchises, the Packers are the only community-owned team.
The designation as 'Ultimate' team comes months after Harris Interactive named the Packers America's favorite football team.
"I'm very honored, as is everyone here," Harlan said. "Packers fans should feel honored as well. They're a huge part of this. It's their team. It all belongs to them."
This week's edition of ESPN The Magazine is due on newsstands Wednesday.