So the New Orleans Saints are the Super Bowl champions. Like any respectable owner and face of a franchise, Tom Benson and Drew Brees thanked “the greatest fans on Earth” after their win.
It seems that around this time every year, there are two teams thanking “the greatest fans on Earth” after Championship Weekend. Then one of those teams gets to do it again after they win it all during the Super Bowl.
Simple logic dictates that the team that wins the Super Bowl is factually the “greatest team on Earth” for a full calendar year.
Does that mean that their fanbase should be elevated in status as well? Honestly, what makes the Saints' fanbase the greatest this year? Or the Steelers' fanbase the greatest in 2008? What about the Giants' fanbase in 2007? And so on?
When considering how great a fanbase is, one obviously has to consider the entire history of a franchise and how strongly or lethargically its fans have supported it through the best and worst of times. With that in mind, I have decided to foolishly make an attempt at ranking the NFL’s 32 fanbases—from the least supportive to the best.
Let me preface this by saying that there are 32 NFL teams, and not everybody can finish among the top. Sure, you may be more die-hard for your team than quite a few people in a higher-ranked fanbase, but you might represent the minority in your fanbase. As a result, I expect a lot of backlash for this highly opinionated article.
This list is heavily opinionated and based on several factors, which include:
Loyalty: It’s easy to cheer for a powerhouse or hop on and off of bandwagons. It’s another to cheer for a team when they’re down and out often or come close often and fall short. No front runners here.
Presence: It’s easy to have a strong fanbase in your hometown, but do your fans travel well? Do you have fans all over the country? Is your fanbase considered among one of the largest? Does your fanbase far exclude its market size?
Super Fans: This concept is something that I personally love. Super fans represent everything that is right about attending games in person. Personally, I’d much rather watch a football game with a 42" high-definition television, but these guys sometimes make attending live games better. Guys who are known well throughout the nation for their unique portrayal of fandom.
Lore: Does your fanbase have a certain mystique about it that there is no denying? A fight song that even fans of other teams know? A piece of memorabilia that is unmistakable when seen? A well-known section that opposing fans and players wouldn’t dare go near?
Knowledge: Do your fans know about the history of your team? If your team hasn’t won a Super Bowl but has a world championship, but your fans aren’t aware of it, how strong is their fanaticism? Do your fans truly understand the game of football, or can they just regurgitate what ESPN tells them?
Home Crowd Atmosphere: Usually overrated in these type of things, but it does play a factor. You cannot go to Lambeau Field and Jacksonville Municipal Stadium and tell me that the atmospheres are the same.
Tomfoolery: A special category thrown in to deduct some otherwise great fanbases. Fanaticism is about supporting your team. Not being drunk, berating the other team and having a good time based on mischief.
Prevelance in the Community: It’s fine and dandy if people are supporting you within the municipality, but if you’re playing second fiddle to the town’s baseball or basketball team, then you get deducted.
Personal Experience: How I've witnessed said fans and their enactment of the things listed above in my personal life.