It's common knowledge that York County's NFL loyalties are starkly divided.

Geography and history have much to do with that.

Five decades ago, most local NFL fans gave their hearts to the Baltimore Colts. When the Colts abandoned Charm City on a fleet of Mayflower vans during a cold, snowy March night in 1984, however, many area pro football fans felt those hearts split into pieces. Their NFL loyalties soon followed suit.

Many gravitated to the Pittsburgh Steelers, attracted by the team's blue-collar personality and Vince Lombardi trophies.

Others latched onto teams that were bit closer to home — namely the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins.

Finally, when the NFL returned to Baltimore in 1996, a large number jumped on the Ravens bandwagon.

Not surprisingly, there's not much love lost among all those area Steelers, Ravens, Eagles and Redskins followers. In fact, there's often a deep and abiding dislike, bordering on hatred.

However, when the NFL season starts for real this week, there are a few pro football stories that all of York County can — and should — root for as one.

Kuhn: It begins on Thursday night at 8:30, when the Green Bay Packers visit defending Super Bowl champion Seattle.

Dover High School graduate John Kuhn has overcome numerous obstacles to become a nine-year NFL veteran. He's been the Packers' fullback since 2007, making the Pro Bowl in 2011.


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Kuhn's achievements take on greater significance when you consider that he went undrafted out of a small college (Shippensburg), bounced around on the fringes of the league for several years and plays a position that has fallen out of favor in a pass-happy league. Still, he has survived and thrived as Aaron Rodgers' personal bodyguard and outlet receiver.

Beatty, Flaherty: Monday night at 7, many York County NFL fans will shift their focus to Detroit, where the New York Giants will take on the Lions.

The local folks should pay especially close attention to the Giants offensive line, which features six-year NFL veteran Will Beatty at left tackle. The York High graduate is coming off a broken right leg suffered in the final game of the 2013 season. The Giants desperately need Beatty to return to form if their offensive line is going to keep Eli Manning upright and healthy.

Another local product, Delone Catholic graduate Pat Flaherty, will try to help Beatty succeed. Flaherty is the Giants' longtime offensive line coach.

Arians, Keim: Finally, at 10 Monday night, many York County NFL fans will try to stay awake long enough to watch the Arizona Cardinals play host to the San Diego Chargers.

The Cardinals were one of the surprise stories of the 2013 NFL season in Bruce Arians' first year as head coach and Steve Keim's first year as general manager. Arians is a York High graduate, while Keim graduated from Red Land.

Those two men helped transform a franchise that staggered through at 5-11 season in 2012. With Arians and Keim leading the way, the Cardinals improved to 10-6 in 2013, narrowly missing the playoffs. Monday night, we'll start to find out if Arians and Keim can continue to work their magic.

On Sunday afternoon, York County's divided NFL loyalties will be on full display, when the Steelers, Ravens, Eagles and Redskins take to the field. There will undoubtedly be tons of trash talk and bad blood.

On Thursday and Monday nights, however, there will be a few stories that should draw those same area fans together as one, rooting for Kuhn, Beatty, Flaherty, Arians and Keim.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sports@yorkdispatch.com.