Root for the Home Team! Ranking the NFL's 32 Team Fanbases
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.
32. Jacksonville Jaguars Fans
When Tim Tebow is considered the “savior” of your franchise, you know that you are in deep trouble.
Tebow was a collegiate superstar that most people believe will be an NFL role player as opposed to the game-changer the Jaguars are expecting.
You do not draft role players in the first round. However, if you’re the Jacksonville Jaguars, then you do in order to put butts in the seats.
If you need to draft a player based on their in-state mystique as opposed to their actual play on the field, then your fans are doing something wrong.
The Jaguars shouldn’t have trouble selling tickets in Florida, especially when they have had more success than the Dolphins and Buccaneers during the past five years. The 2005 and 2007 Jaguars were formidable teams that were top eight in the league those respective years. Yet a mere two to four years later, their fans are seemingly gone.
Sure. you could probably blame it on the fact that the team has only been around for the past 15 years, but the only expansion franchises with quicker success than the Jaguars are the Vikings and Panthers. The Jags reached two AFC Championship Games in their first five years, and the franchise is over .500 in terms of winning percentage—yet for some reason, the butts just won't go in the seats.
That is unacceptable for a fanbase.
31. St. Louis Rams Fans
Let me put it this way: The Rams aren’t even a decade removed from being the "Greatest Show on Turf," and yet if you asked their fans, those years are long gone. In a region filled with three football teams to chose from, the Rams easily come up as the bottom feeders.
Perhaps the Rams come up short because the team was in Los Angeles 16 years ago; therefore, much of St. Louis doesn’t care about them.
Perhaps the Rams come up short because one could argue that St. Louis is a “baseball town." I mean, aren’t the Cardinals considered one of the five best franchises in the baseball history or something like that?
Seriously, the Rams won a Super Bowl as recently as 1999, and yet you don’t hear their fans talk about it.
While I’ll admit that there are a few Rams fans online who love to let us know about underrated Steven Jackson and future Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk, at the end of the day, they just don’t cut it.
30. Arizona Cardinals Fans
When ESPN compiled this list a few years ago, it had the Cardinals with the worst fanbase in the league. The reasons cited in the full article included fans of other teams dominating the area and a general lack of interest.
Sure, things have changed now that the Cardinals have experienced postseason success during the past two years, but not enough to move them up a bunch of spots.
Quite a few of the Cardinals fans that I know are incredibly intelligent. In fact, some of those fans are some of the smartest guys I know in regard to football. Unfortunately, a lot of them live outside of the United States and support the team more than the locals.
It seems that if University of Phoenix Stadium had not been built a few seasons ago, attendance numbers would have remained down.
It seems a lot of Arizona Cardinals fans are embracing the current rendition involving Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin in the high-flying passing attack.
Few seem to remember—or at least they chose not to—the Jake “The Snake” Plummer years, when they were the whipping boys of the NFC East.
29. New Orleans Saints Fans
This just in: I don’t care that the Saints just won the Super Bowl. That in no way, shape, or form is going to change my mind that the overwhelming majority of their fans represent a conundrum.
The conundrum to which I am referring is the fact that a considerable portion, if not the overwhelming majority, of current Saints fans are bandwagoners.
Bandwagoners represent everything that is wrong with sports. They ruin the legitimate experience that it is to suffer and long for a championship for years, only to finally get what you want.
On the other side of the conundrum is that these bandwagon fans prove the power of the NFL, in that the Saints (alongside the Hornets) have undoubtedly lifted the spirits of the community of New Orleans with their resurgence to relevancy during the past four seasons.
That said, I have to go with the perception that the overwhelming majority of current Saints fans are on the bandwagon. I even have to believe that a lot of the “die-hard” Saints fans are unaware of the team’s history.
I watched the Kickoff Special on CBS in which the seven inductees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame 2010 class were introduced prior to the coin toss. In front of a packed stadium that was predominately Saints “fans," former dome-patroller Rickey Jackson was introduced. Jackson, now one of the Saints four Hall of Fame players, received little fanfare. How could a face of the franchise in the ‘80s not receive a standing ovation? Perhaps because a lot of these fans didn’t know who he was.
At the end of the day, the Saints fanbase has a great story about it post-2005. However, that’s about it.
Let’s remember two key points. The first is that prior to Katrina, there were ramblings about a potential move for the Saints. The second is that this is the same fanbase that invented the paper bag over the head.
28. Atlanta Falcons Fans
I’m sorry, but when most people think of Atlanta Falcons fans, they think of a fanbase that is so nonchalant that they seemingly don’t exist.
Most people realize that the average Falcons fan realizes that for the most part, their franchise has been inept. I mean, it wasn’t until last season that they had two back-to-back winning seasons.
Falcons fans are currently happy about the Matt Ryan era, but they were enamored with the Michael Vick experience just seven years ago. However, when you ask fans about what Vick did for the franchise, most have forgotten. The same way a lot have forgotten exactly how much Jamal Anderson gave the franchise in its best season ever in ‘98.
A lot of Falcons fans don’t seem to be rich in the team's history, but rather are focusing on the here and now. I haven’t met many Atlanta Falcons fans that can remember beyond the Michael Vick years, which is quite sad.
Fact is, the Falcons have one of the largest markets in the country and have a team makeup that should appeal to all walks of life throughout Georgia. Yet they just don’t come to the games, and a lot just don’t seem to care.
27. Carolina Panthers Fans
The Carolina Panthers fanbase is an enigma.
The Panthers are a franchise that has only been around for 15 years—like the Jaguars—yet you can find Panthers' fans supporting their team easily. In fact, the Panthers are a relatively average-sized market and are somewhat in the middle of nowhere in comparison with other teams. At the end of the day, though, none of that stops Panthers fans from cheering.
Honestly, the Panthers could be higher on this list, but their minimal amount of time in the league really hurt their status. If the Panthers had been around longer I am sure that we would be much more aware of the team’s fans exploits.
Like the Atlanta Falcons prior to this season, the Panthers have never experienced back-to-back winning seasons, but you couldn’t tell their fans that. Their fans expect a competitive team every year, and if the team isn’t performing up to standards, they will let you know.
Panthers fans orchestrated one of the most interesting anti-head coach campaigns that I have ever seen with their “Fire Fox” campaign, which utilized the Mozilla Firefox logo. You could find this campaign as an avatar or signature on NFL message boards or even on billboards.
The sad part is that this was the best picture I could find for them.
26. San Diego Chargers Fans
Let me ask you a question:
Have you ever been to a San Diego Chargers football game? If you have, then you probably did not go for the electric atmosphere. You didn’t go because the fans make the place so edgy in hopes that the Bolts will win the game.
No. When you go to Qualcomm Stadium on a Sunday or Monday, you’re not there to experience a football game. You go to be surrounded by other people on a nice afternoon in the beautiful sun. Oh yeah—there just happens to be a football game going on as well.
When I think about the Chargers fanbase and how lethargic it is in terms of cheering for the team, all I have to think about is their fans during the AFC Divisional Round this past postseason.
I cannot count the number of times I found myself saying, “Is this a postseason game? Why are these people quiet? Your team isn’t dominating a team they’re supposed to beat, and yet you guys seem complacent.”
The entire stadium, sans the lower levels surrounded by the guy who wears that giant lightning bolt head, was quiet. It was like they were at a wine tasting up in Napa as opposed to a crucial playoff game.
I guess that I would give them credit if “The Epic in Miami” had been a Charger playoff home game. However, if that were the case, the game probably wouldn’t have gone so long because the Chargers fans wouldn’t have been in it like the Dolphins fans were.
25. Cincinnati Bengals Fans
I am not a hateful person, nor one to dislike an entire fanbase because of a select few that I meet on the Internet or in my everyday life. I, however, can say confidently and without hesitation that I absolutely hate Cincinnati Bengals fans.
In fact, while I met some respectable ones this previous season, prior to that, I had only met one Bengals fan I enjoyed conversing with prior to this season.
Why do I hate Bengals fans? Well, it’s simple, actually. They have the mark of one of those fanbases that do not know how to act like they’ve been there before. The Bengals went without a winning season for 15 straight years until the 2005 season.
When the Bengals finally put up a postseason appearance, we began to hear chants of “Who Dey” for the first time since the team was in the Super Bowl. To this, I ask where were the damn chants when the team had 14 straight .500 or worse seasons?
I think the 2005 and 2006 seasons sum up the Bengals fanbase perfectly. When the Bengals won the AFC North on virtue of tie-breakers in 2005, their fans let Steeler Nation have it. When the Steelers went on to beat the Bengals and win it all, they did nothing but talk trash and make excuses.
This trash talking and the excuses got worse when in the 2006 season the Bengals were beaten in Week 17 by the Steelers in overtime. That loss prevented the Bengals from going 9-7, which would have been good enough to qualify for the playoffs.
Instead, they went 8-8 and tied the Steelers. Rather than focus on the big picture (missing the postseason), thousands of Bengals fans focused on the fact that, once again, via tie-breakers the Bengals were “better” than the Steelers.
It’s mixed-up priorities like that, accompanied by a pride that disappears when the team fades into mediocrity, that makes me rank Bengals fans so low.
24. Detroit Lions Fans
What?! What can I be thinking! The Detroit Lions fans aren’t the worst fans in the league? How is that possible? I mean, they booed the team during the 0-16 year and flipped the team off regularly.
Well, you’re right. If I were taking that season as the sole reason for basis, then Lions fans might be the worst in the league. However, I have to realize that the Lions have some of the most die-hard and loyal fans in the league.
Unfortunately, the number of Lions fans that stick with it is very little in comparison with other teams with some of the craziest fans out there. With the Lions amount of crazy fans, though, they do manage to place higher than eight other teams who just happen to be plain crappy in terms of fan support.
Detroit has continually been the mark for cities that are stricken with poverty and layoffs. In addition to this, poverty and layoffs hit all-time highs and were coupled with the 2008 Lions being the worst single-season team in NFL history.
Despite all of this, you can find Lions fans still shelling out what little dollars they have to attend games—even if it was just to yell at former GM Matt Millen.
The Lions have been around since the 1930s and haven’t won a championship since the '50s. Despite this, the Lions fans still stick around. They continually support their team every year on Thanksgiving. It isn’t rare to find Lions fans thanking the higher powers for the few successful years in the '90s that they did have with Herman Moore and Barry Sanders in town.
23. Tennessee Titans Fans
During the 2008-09 season, I was involved in a head-to-head argument with numerous Titans fans throughout the season. The argument? I told them that the Titans would not win the Super Bowl. In case you don’t know, I was eventually right.
After going 0-6 during the 2009-10 regular season, the Titans fans that I came across regularly during the previous season disappeared. It wasn’t until the Titans fans became the talk of ESPN and Chris Johnson cemented himself as a superstar did Titans fans return.
This seems to be commonplace for Titans fans. When the Titans are the talk of the National Football League, you will hear and see Titans fans left and right. When the Titans fall to mediocrity, their fans are nowhere to be seen.
The primary reason the Titans are so low is because their fans don’t really have any tradition and therefore cannot celebrate it. When the Tennessee Oilers became the Tennessee Titans, most people threw out the Oiler history, given it belonged to a team with a different name from a different city.
Essentially, the only heartbreak, tradition, and turmoil Titans fans have really been through is “One Yard Short” in Super Bowl XXXIV. However, I do have to commend Titans fans because they do comment about said play a lot.
To their credit, though, they will defend Vince Young until the death.
22. New York Jets Fans
The New York Jets are another one of the teams on this list that suddenly has fans coming out of the woodwork. With so many coming out of the woodwork, the media has run away with how great this fanbase is. Unfortunately, what the media wants you to see is far from the truth.
Let’s be honest here: The Jets play second-fiddle to another football team in a town that is, in reality, a baseball town. That’s not going to get you very high on this list.
Sure, Jets fans are plenty aware of their history, but that is because they don’t really have a history outside of Super Bowl III.
I’m sure that Bleacher Report’s regular Jets homer Nick Antonicello will disagree with me, but I’m sure the majority would see it my way. At the end of the day, when you think Jets fans, you think of guys who, for some reason, didn’t cheer for the Giants and not by choice. Obviously that thought is wrong, but again, its just how you think of them.
At the end of the day, I have more online friends that are Jets fans than any other fanbase, but when I think of Jets fans, I think of guys who cheer year round but don’t truly get loud until the Jets reach the postseason.
However, I will give them props for having arguably the league’s greatest super fan in Fireman Ed. Ed has single-handedly made the world learn that damn "J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!" chant.
21. Miami Dolphins Fans
When I think of Miami Dolphins fans, the first thing to come to mind is my high school friend and fellow Bleacher Report writer Ryan Reid.
He embodies Dolphins fans. They love the sport but don’t exactly show it as much as the other fanbases.
None of that matters, though, because Dolphins fans know that they can lay claim to the best things ever in NFL history. They know that they have the best team ever in the ‘72 Dolphins.
They know that they have the best quarterback of all time in Dan Marino.
They know that Don Shula is the best coach of all time. A lot of the time, you cannot change a Dolphins fan’s stance on these placements.
The Dolphins, unlike some of the teams that rank higher than them, are the pre-eminent team in their city, regardless of sport. For that reason, I have them higher than some of the other lists that I’ve seen them on.
Finally, while Dolphins fans don’t appear as outwardly passionate as other fanbases, I can comfortably say that an overwhelming majority of Dolphins fans that I have conversed with are among the most knowledgeable fans I have ever met. That scores huge brownie points with me.
20. Indianapolis Colts Fans
It is weird to think that the fanbase that has been one of the loudest this decade could be placed this low. So allow me to point out that this list is based on more than recent history.
When you look at the City of Indianapolis, it hadn’t truly embraced the gift that it was given overnight from Baltimore in 1984 until the Manning/Levi era.
To quote a lifetime Colts fan who has held season tickets since 1994: “People in my age group who cheer for the Colts are usually former Baltimore-area natives. It seems as if Indianapolis natives didn’t embrace the team until they started winning every year.”
I have to agree with his sentiments. When I think of sports fans from Indianapolis, I think of Indiana Pacer fans first. However, with the Pacers slipping into mediocrity and the Colts supplanting them with their success this decade, things have changed. But it hasn't been enough time to put the Colts much higher on this list.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Fans
The Buccaneers were one of the five franchises where it just hurt to be a fan from the ‘60s to the ‘80s. I mean, the Buccaneers were the first team to ever go winless in a season during the modern era, yet their fans stuck by them, given the fact that the team was relatively new.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been around for 33 years, and 66 percent of them have resulted in a losing record. Only eight times have they had a winning record, and only three times have they exceeded 10 wins.
Buccaneers fans remain loyal and are one of the few fanbases that embraces its team’s losing years. While other fans merely say that the time spent as a loser or not being competitive makes them better fans, Buccaneers fans embrace their history of losing because it makes their short period of relevance in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s feel that much better.
When your franchise’s offensive all-time career leaders have numbers virtually identical to that of the Houston Texans and your fans still cheer, then they are die-hard.
If you still don’t believe they’re great fans, then look at a regular season game from the 2009-10 season, in which most of the stadium embraced the creamsicle jerseys in hopes of a win.
Their use of Chuckie Dolls was brilliant, too.
18. New England Patriots Fans
I’ll probably get lambasted for this one, but I absolutely have to stick with it. After all, if I cave into peer pressure and place them in the top 10, where is my journalistic integrity?
It may seem crazy to place the New England Patriots this low because their fans seem to be everywhere nowadays. Therefore, I ask for you to allow me to explain before jumping down my throat.
Prior to the Robert Kraft era, the closest thing to a Patriots fan I had ever met while living all over the world was my mother, who liked them because they beat the Cowboys in a preseason game we attended.
It is easy to cheer for a team when they are a dynasty, but the true mark of a fanbase is putting up with the team during horrible skids or while continually coming close but falling short.
The fact of the matter is that Boston will forever be a “baseball town” as well as a “basketball town” first. Heck, I could even argue that it’s a “hockey town” first. Any momentum and ground that the Patriots gained on the other four teams was immediately forfeited when the Red Sox and Celtics returned to their winning ways in the same decade.
I feel that I can say that a Red Sox pennant or Celtics Eastern Conference Championship without winning it all mean as much, if not more, to the fans in the City of Boston than a Patriots Super Bowl.
After all, how many Bostonians do you hear talking up their two Super Bowl losses in 1985 and 1996? Now how many Bostonians do you hear talking up the Sox and Celtics, even when they didn’t win it all?
It is a bad rap for the select few that have cheered for the Patriots day in and day out, but it is how it is.
I do give the fans props for their creative use of snow during the 2003 season and from then on. Rather than throw it at the opposing team like bad fans, they used it to celebrate.
17. Philadelphia Eagles Fans
This one is interesting to me. The Eagles are kind of a double-edged sword. When people compile these lists, you usually see the Eagles fall into the top 10 or the bottom 10. Perhaps that is why I feel that they are perfectly placed in the middle at 17.
I have lived in Philadelphia for about half of my life and am very in tune with the Eagles fanbase. In fact, if I had to cheer for a team that isn’t the Pittsburgh Steelers, it would most certainly be the Philadelphia Eagles. However, I have reservations about whether or not I’d like to be a part of their fanbase.
Sure for the past decade, and in the early ‘90s, the Eagles fanbase has been loud and well-known, but they just don’t do it for me. In Philadelphia, it is all about who is front running. That is why Philly was a “basketball town” in the ‘60s and ‘80s, a “hockey town” in the ‘70s and was a football town during the last decade until the Phillies won two back-to-back pennants to close out the decade.
When the team is doing great, the majority of Eagles fans are passionate and bleed for a championship. When the team falls into mediocrity, they are put on the back burner like most Philadelphia sports teams.
The main reason the Eagles fans are so low is the way in which they display their “passion." Said “passion” is usually displayed via drunken tomfoolery that involves throwing objects at the field and of course, booing.
A recent example of this is the pelting of 49ers fans simply for wearing their jerseys at an Eagles game this season. Another way in which fans display their “passion” is through calling for heads of coaches (Reid) and players (McNabb) even when the team has been competing in the playoffs year after year but not winning it all. Boo hoo.
Most Eagles fans claim that they are desperate for a championship, but I’ve only met a few that realize that they have an NFL Championship.
Having lived in Philadelphia, I know quite a few of the small minority of downright intelligent Eagles fans. Sure they are few and far between, but if you look hard enough, you can find them.
People like Bob Cunningham, Geoff Crawley, Dan Parzych, Cody Swartz, Ashley Hartman, and my girlfriend’s cousin Grant. People that can ramble on about the Eagles of the ‘50s and ‘60s as if they were there. People who actually understand the history of the franchise—something a lot of the fanbase doesn’t.
On the bright side http://www.onecrazyfan.com/index.php has made me start to really respect more Eagles fans that I do not know.
16. Houston Texans Fans
The Houston Texans had never had a winning season in their seven professional seasons but finally managed to capture one last year—its eighth in the league. That didn’t stop Texans fans from rooting for the team with a passion.
A lot of Houston Texans fans are former hold-offs from the glory days of the Oilers who had their team taken away from them when it moved to Tennessee. Held without a football team for six years when the Texans returned to Houston, and it became love at first sight.
To know how much Texans fans love their team, you need not look any further than their first game in which they beat their cross-state rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. The stadium was arguably the loudest that I had ever heard. While it hadn’t quite reached that level again until Week 17 of this year, do not think that this stadium is quiet.
As previously mentioned, the Texans have to compete with one of the five largest fanbases out there in the Dallas Cowboys. Despite this obstacle, they keep churning out fans.
Texans fans will let you know about the greatness of their players. They are sure to let you know who Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub, DeMeco Ryans, Brian Cushing, and Mario Williams are. I’ve never seen a fanbase collectively campaign for respect for its players the way the Texans fans do.
15. New York Giants Fans
There is something mysterious about New York Giants' fans. They are loyal to a T. While Cowboys fans and Eagles fans (and to a lesser extent, Redskins fans) are arguing back and forth with one another, Giants' fans are quietly sitting back watching football.
The Giants are rich in history, but I will admit that, unlike some of the teams that fall higher on this list than them, a lot of their fans aren’t up to par on it. That is because the Giants are a football team in a baseball town. Not to mention that they have another team in their metropolitan area in the New York Jets.
Despite these two aforementioned facts, you would be hard-pressed to not find a Giants fan around you if you live in the northeastern part of the country. You can find a Giants fan anywhere from Washington, D.C,. all the way to Maine in the Northeast.
These fans are always quick to remind you that their team pulled off the “greatest upset ever” in 2007 en route to a Super Bowl title. You would think that was the springboard for Giants fans, but they were prominent even in the days between the LT/Simms/Parcells era and the Manning/Coughlin era.
It is no secret that a lot of people feel that Eli Manning is an average quarterback. In fact, a lot of the New York media prior to the 2007 Super Bowl run felt that Eli was a below average quarterback. That did not stop Giants fans from defending Manning vehemently and they still do.
I will say that going to a college that is about 20% Giants fans, they do have the sexiest fanbase on the east coast in terms of ladies. Too bad that scores no points.
14. Baltimore Ravens Fans
It should be easy to hate the Baltimore Ravens fans as a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, right?
At least as it pertains for me. In fact, aside from Ccoolahan14, who is known to start Ed Reed/Troy Polamalu fights all over the Internet, I’ve never met a Ravens fan that I do not like. That even includes my personal “rival” that I met over the Internet in 2002. Though we talk trash, we have great respect for each other.
The Ravens fanbase is loyal and embodies the team. Fans love the fact that their team is defense-oriented, and they live and die by that stance.
The reason that I have the Ravens so high here is because they have a very respectful fanbase that doesn’t have to tell you how great it is. They let you find out firsthand.
Although the Ravens have to compete with the Eagles to the north and the Redskins to the south, they still maintain a healthy fanbase who is proud of its relatively new franchise. Not bad for a bunch of guys and girls who had been robbed of football for 16 years.
13. Minnesota Vikings Fans
Have the Minnesota Vikings won anything of merit? Nope, not even an NFL Championship. You wouldn’t know that though, would you, given how die-hard their fans are?
Ever been to a game in the Metrodome? You would think that the Vikings were as storied as the Bears or the Packers the way that their fans support them through thick and thin. You will always find Vikings fans wearing Helga hats and horned hats. There is almost no difference between the Metrodome from 2001 to 2007 and during the past two years as a Super Bowl contender.
The Vikings have had a run similar to that of the Bills in that from 1969 to 1977, they went to four Super Bowls and lost all of them, as well as an NFC Championship Game in 1977. However, their heartbreak didn't just end in the 1970s.
In thelast decade, the Vikings faithful have been loyal through rough times, including the 1998 NFC Championship Game loss to Atlanta, the 2000 NFC Championship Game crushing defeat by the Giants and, most recently, this season's NFC Championship Game. Despite all of thi, the Vikings fans remain loyal and very knowledgeable about their team and its craft.
The icing on the Vikings' cake are their two super fans who also double as mascots. Super fan Joseph Juranitch became the team’s official mascot “Ragnar” in 1994. The other super fan is always within view of a camera as he is painted and aptly named Syd the Viking. Syd would very well be in the Hall of Fans if not for the loophole that those enshrined must be American citizens.
Syd is testament to the heart of Vikings' fans. For decades, Syd has been crossing the border from Canada to attend just about every Vikings home game. Talk about fan dedication!
12. Seattle Seahawks Fans
The Seahawks fanbase had to compete against the likes of the Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos, and Chargers fanbases for 25 years. If you haven’t figured it out yet, three of those four teams will have fanbases that place within the top 10 on this list.
The Seahawks entered the league in 1976 and played second-fiddle to all four teams in the division but still managed to compete with the big three in terms of fandom. The Seahawks fans managed to do this despite the fact that Seattle isn’t exactly a breeding ground for football.
The Seahawks only managed to win the AFC West twice, and the fans still supported them through the best and worst of times.
The biggest testament to the Seahawks fanbase is the fact that they are considered the “official” 12th man out of all 32 NFL fanbases. This is because of the noise that they make for home games. Despite playing outdoors at Qwest Field, the sound levels have reached incredibly high numbers that rivaled that of the Kingdome.
Seahawks fans are also incredibly intelligent and passionate. Seahawks fans led the charge after the Super Bowl XL controversy, but unlike most fanbases, with time, they have calmed down. I can say that I know plenty of Steelers fans that would still be griping had the shoe been on the other foot.
11. Chicago Bears Fans
Quite possibly the team most rich in football history, the history of the team is not lost on Chicago Bears fans. Sure, there are a few youngsters out there who aren’t aware of the team’s past, but that just makes their fandom even more impressive.
Well, even with the Super Bowl appearance, the Bears haven’t had much to cheer for this decade.
Bears fans have been suffering through a two-decadelong quarterback carousel, and in reality, they haven’t had a franchise quarterback in the modern era. It doesn’t matter, though, because they haven’t needed one. They’ve been a defensive-minded franchise. Being defensive-minded, the fans have embraced the gritty and tough resolve of the franchise.
Any Bears fan alive can tell you their rich history of tough players from Brian Urlacher and Mike Singletary on the defensive side of the ball to Mike Ditka on the offensive side of the ball. There isn’t a Bears fan alive that cannot tell you who George Stanley Halas is.
Bears fans love their players and embrace them from day one. When the Broncos cast off Jay Cutler, the Bears fans accepted him with open arms. They did so even when Cutler showed few signs of maturation early on in Chicago—taking shots at the city of Denver and making excuses. Despite this, Bears fans were quick to defend him.
Finally, who else is so die-hard that Saturday Night Live made fun of them for a whole decade—that’s right, Da Bears fans.
10. San Francisco 49ers Fans
San Fransisco 49ers fans are like carbon copies of any other group of fans with a commendable history. They are die-hard and can tell you the history of their team, especially in its hey day, with the snap of a finger.
I can tell you from personal experience that if you ever try to convince a 49ers fan that Vernon Davis isn’t a great tight end, Frank Gore isn’t an elite halfback or Patrick Willis isn’t the league’s best linebacker, you are in for a hell of a fight.
Unlike other fans who just blindly march into said arguments, 49ers fans will pull out stat after stat to try and convince you that their player is elite.
49ers fans, like Cowboys and Steelers fans, can be found all over the country, rocking their colors with pride and a smile. What separates the 49ers fans from the Steelers and Cowboys in that regard is that the 49ers haven’t been a solid Super Bowl contender this decade like the other two.
What has been most impressive about the 49er resolve is that they’ve had to witness their rivals in the Cardinals and Seahawks go to the Super Bowl this last decade and thus had no leverage whatsoever for trash talk.
A testament to how serious 49er fans take their football is the attack two guys underwent at the Philadelphia Eagles game this season. They were idiotically pelted with snowballs and just took it for a chance to watch their 49ers live.
9. Washington Redskins Fans
Quick question… How many teams in the league have a group of super fans?
The Redskins, Raiders and Browns.
Now ask yourself another question. How many of those teams also have an individual super fan?
The answer is one: The Washington Redskins, who have Chief Zee.
As a result, the Redskins are the only team with multiple true super fan inductees into the Hall of Fame’s “Hall of Fans” section.
The Washington Redskins are another one of those teams I dislike for some reason. Somehow, when I compile my annual “100 Most Impactful Players” list, they manage to be among the top in terms of overall number of players. This fact is never lost on my cousin Randall, who is a D.C. native.
Despite the overwhelming amount of talent that has been in Washington for the Dan Snyder era, which started in 1999, the Redskins faithful haven’t experienced considerable success since the early ‘90s. In fact, Washington only has three postseason appearances since 1992 and a mere two wins.
With this lack of success, the Redskins faithful could easily stop showing up, but they don’t. You can find Chief Zee and “The Hogettes” at any Redskins game.
8. Denver Broncos Fans
The Denver Bronco fanbase has a very quiet resolve about it.
You don’t hear them complain about the lack of a franchise quarterback since John Elway retired, although you hear the media comment on it all the time.
You don’t hear them complain that they were one of the 10 best teams this past decade but have nothing to show for it.
Hell, while there was some complaining about how Josh McDaniels handled his first season as a head coach, it wasn’t from the overwhelming majority of the fanbase.
That is because the fanbase keeps iquiet until it matters most: game day.
On game day, you can hear this fanbase rattling the opposition with what is, in my opinion, the premier chant for any sports team: “In-Com-Plete."
You can go an entirety without having seen the Broncos play, but when your team rolls into town and your quarterback throws that first incompletion, you realize that your team is on the road in Denver.
Sure, a lot of chants seem like novelty concepts, but to continue with this chant for a full 60 minutes of game time—or three-and-a-half hours real time—is testament to this fanbase’s dedication.
Finally, the legacy of the late Tim “Barrel Man” McKernan as one of the five most notable singular super fans firmly cements the Broncos' place at No. 8.
7. Buffalo Bills Fans
The team that you are a fan of is one of the best to ever exist. Despite this, it gets absolutely no credit. Your team dominated its conference for four straight years and did it with relative ease.
Why doesn't it get credit?
Because itlacks a Super Bowl title despite its dominance of the American Football Conference for four straight years. It doesn’t matter though—you kept cheering for them.
Now let’s not mention the fact that your team plays in a notoriously cold weather part of the country but is one of the best offenses to ever exist. Despite the weather, you showed up to all the games and cheered your butt off.
Now realize that had your kicker not pushed a game-winning field goal wide right, your organization would have had a Super Bowl championship. Would you continue to cheer for the team?
The Buffalo Bills fanbase most certainly has. Despite four straight Super Bowl losses, including the aforementioned “wide right” game, the Bills faithful remained true. In fact, vandalism of Scott Norwood’s life was held very minimal.
On top of all things listed above, would you remain a fan of your team if the closest thing to a playoff win they have had for the past 15 years was a loss on one of the craziest calls of all time in the “Music City Miracle?"
Despite all this, Bills fans remain tried and true. It is miraculous.
Oh and though he isn’t an “official” super fan, Chris “Boomer” Berman is the most prominent one in America.
6. Cleveland Browns Fans
There are few cities in the league that would be able to “recover” its team in a mere four years if you took them away. In fact, I would wager that the only other city that could possibly pull something like this off is Houston.
Despite the fact that Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore and changed the team'sidentity, the city of Cleveland found itself with a football team again in a mere four years. This is because the Browns faithful were dedicated and would not let the NFL screw them over.
Browns fans are loyal and downright scary and support their team through thick and thin. Let’s be honest: It’s been more of the latter than the former since they returned to the league.
This is a town that embraces its team’s rich history despite the fact that most of the world —myself included in some cases—cares very little about pre-Super Bowl era championships.
The Bills, Vikings, and only a few other teams had rougher times during a short period of time, but the Browns haven’t even reached a Super Bowl. If John Elway had not concocted one of the greatest fourth-quarter comebacks in NFL history and Earnest Byner not fumbled on the Broncos three-yard line, the Browns wouldn’t be one of four teams to never have reached a Super Bowl.
In addition to those hardships, one cannot forget that the former Browns went on to win a Super Bowl in just their fifth year in Baltimore as the Ravens. Talk about kicking them while they’re down.
Despite this, the Cleveland faithful keep on trucking and the “Dawg Pound” remains one of the most notable groups of super fans in sports.
The Browns fanbase would be higher if not for the embarrassing beer- throwing actions they performed during Week 14 of the 2001-02 season.
5. Dallas Cowboys Fans
I must admit that I have a dislike for the Dallas Cowboys. It displeases me that they have been considered “America’s Team” for the past three decades. Sure, they’ve appeared in the most Super Bowls, but I would personally designate that title to Steelers.
With that said, I can see why the Cowboys are considered “America’s Team,” because you can find a Cowboys fan anywhere that you go.
Usually when people list the Cowboys fanbase among the top of lists like these, they are met with an outcry of “bandwagon jumpers” based on their success in the early 1990s.
However, Dallas Cowboys fans have held a strong fanbase throughout the entire Super Bowl era. Is that in large part because of their success? Probably. However, these people are not jumping on the bandwagon.
Cowboys fans remain with the team despite the bleak times that have hit the team. Prior to this postseason, the fanbase had to endure the jeers from Eagles and Giants fans about their postseason success from 1996-2010. Fourteen years is a long time.
The average Cowboys fan might not be the smartest fan, but what the fans do have loyalty and passion. They stick with this team through thick and thin and will defend a Cowboys player to the death even after they’ve left the team.
4. Kansas City Chiefs
This one is kind of an enigma to me. I grew up in Fort Riley, Kansas, for seven years of my life and didn’t really notice many Chiefs fans.
However, I am not stupid. I realize that I can realistically attribute this to the fact that because Fort Riley was a military base, and most of the inhabitants were not Kansas natives. In fact, most came from the Dallas area— a place you should hate if you’re a Chiefs fan.
That does not change the fact that most Chiefs fans are about as devoted as they come and find themselves traveling from all over Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska to witness the Chiefs play on Sundays. This is all despite the fact that the franchise has only managed a measly 13 postseason appearances.
Chiefs fans have embraced the team, and unlike many of the teams on this list, they are aware of their history. Chiefs fans that have lived in or originated from Kansas can tell you about the AFL days and Super Bowl IV. They even have a super fan in Arrowman that not too many people are aware of.
At the end of the day, though, what keeps Chiefs fans here is the roaring crowd that is Arrowhead Stadium. While I disagree that it is the loudest stadium in terms of atmosphere, Lambeau Field is the only one that I can think of to best it.
3. Oakland Raiders Fans
This team may be slowly becoming irrelevant and the worst-run team in the National Football League, but that doesn’t stop Raiders fans from showing up.
You can go anywhere in the United States and find a Raiders fan within driving distance. When other fans are wearing bags over their heads for the type of run the Raiders have had since 2003, their fans lovingly wear their silver and black.
Sure, a lot of other teams call themselves their respective team’s “nation,” but the fact of the matter is there is only one nation: Raider Nation.
Raiders fans don’t get to boast much nowadays, but when their team wins, you can bet your butt that you will hear them screaming. As of late, the franchise that was once thought to have “rude” fans has learned to win with grace because they come so few and far between.
Reports have the Raiders attendance falling, but that hasn’t stopped the tried and true from sticking it out despite having to compete with the other football team in the bay area (San Francisco 49ers) as well as their LA holdovers having to deal with the fact that L.A. is a Collegiate Football town.
While some of these teams have received brownie points for having a notable super fan, the Raiders have a notable group of super fans, and you know where to find them: The Black Hole.
2. Green Bay Packers Fans
This fanbase could very well be considered the best in the NFL.
Have you ever tried to convince a Packers fan that Brett Favre wasn’t a great quarterback in his final years as a Packer before he “retired?" Have you tried to convince a Packers fan that he was a great quarterback during the 2009 season?
Packers fans are bullheaded and stick to their guns like no other fanbase. Just look at how they’ve embraced Aaron Rodgers in the exact same way they once embraced Favre.
When you are a Packer, you are the greatest thing on Earth to that “tiny” town in Wisconsin. What you did with any other team doesn’t matter.
Ask Packers fans about Reggie White, Darren Sharper, or Brett Favre. Though these guys “weren’t as good” when they didn’t wear the yellow and gold, you can bet that when the time comes for them to be Hall of Famers, the Packers fanbase will embrace them fully for what they did in Lambeau.
However, rampant homerism alone does not get a fanbase this high on this list.
Packers fans are on here because the overwhelming majority of them can tell you the complete history of the franchise all the way from their 1936 championship to their postseason loss in Arizona last month.
It is often imitated but never duplicated.. There is only one place where you can find the Lambeau Leap.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers Fans
I am proud to call myself a member of this fanbase. Sure, you could argue that this placement is biased, but I am being 100 percent honest when I say that only one other fanbase compares to Steeler Nation.
The Steelers are the other of the two true small-market teams but manage to be the top team in terms of merchandise sales year-in and year-out regardless of success. Sure, you could say that this is because they’re the second-most storied franchise around ,but you’d be wrong.
The average Steelers fan in the 26-year Super Bowl championship drought had never experienced a championship season, yet still remained devoted despite five AFC Championship Game/Super Bowl losses from 1992-2004.
Steelers fans helped Myron Cope create the single-greatest piece of sports memorabilia in the Terrible Towel. Hundreds of teams in every major American sports league emulate the Terrible Towel, but none compare.
The final piece of the puzzle that places this team over the rest is the fact that their fans all over the country. Sure, there are some bandwagon fans, like any other successful team, but in 14 years of fandom, I’ve only encountered two. Steelers fans are known for taking over stadiums all over the United States to the point where they may very well be the majority fanbase in the stadium during a road game.
Not to mention there are well over 130 “Steelers Bars” in the United States.