NFL Power Rankings: Counting Down the NFL's Most Fair-Weather Fanbases
The always entertaining Urban Dictionary defines a "fair weather fan" as follows: "A fan of a sports team who only shows support when the team is doing well. During hard times they usually bandwagon other teams. They basically have no real loyalty to the team, but still manage to get better seats than you at the game."
And another definition: "Certain people who only watch a sports team when said sports team is having a winning season."
So, to sum up, a "fair weather fan" only cheers for his team when it's winning. In the NFL, it's someone who only throws on a jersey and face paint when his squad is constantly competing in the playoffs or for Super Bowl rings.
If not, they'll jump on the bandwagon of the "it" team—like the Green Bay Packers this year—and give all their support to that squad because they're currently winning.
But which NFL fanbases are the most likely to do this? Well, let's take a look at the top 10.
10. Indianapolis Colts
Sure, the Indianapolis Colts have one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL, as the fans nearly blow the roof off of Lucas Oil stadium every Sunday.
But the Colts weren't really embraced in Indianapolis until one man showed up. Here's a hint: He wears No. 18. Yep, I'm talking about Peyton Manning.
It's not that there were no Colts fans before Manning came along; it's just that there are more of them now that the team seems to win 10-plus games every season.
Manning's on fire, the Colts are on fire and thus, so are their fans. But let's not act like they've always shown the greatest support for their team.
I mean, who remembers how many fans showed up to greet the Colts at the airport after they lost in Super Bowl XLIV? Eleven!
I wonder what they're going to do once Manning's gone and they don't win double-digit games every season.
9. St. Louis Rams
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the St. Louis Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf" gave Rams fans a reason to go watch the team play every Sunday.
Kurt Warner, Isacc Bruce, Torry Holt and Marshall Faulk formed one of the most exciting offenses in NFL history, and the fans showed their appreciation by actually showing up to the games. Now, St. Louis hasn't made the playoffs since 2004, and its fanbase has diminished as a result.
Maybe it's because the wins haven't been there, but maybe it's because the Rams have to compete for fans with the Chiefs or because they're a relocated squad from Los Angeles who will always play second fiddle to the Cardinals in St. Louis.
But make no mistake about it, Rams fans will jumping back on the bandwagon now that Sam Bradford's given them a sense of hope after years of despair.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Though the Atlanta Falcons have been around since 1966, it wasn't until the 2008 and 2009 seasons that the franchise put together back-to-back winning seasons.
And apparently that gives Falcons fans the confidence that only someone who looks like a Victoria's Secret model should have.
You could hear them chirping all season long about how they were going to win the Super Bowl because nobody could beat Matt Ryan at home.
So, when I wrote an article predicting that Atlanta wouldn't win a playoff game, you would have thought I made a personal attack on every Falcon fan's family.
Guess what, guys? I was right.
7. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars have only been around since 1995, making them one of the NFL's youngest franchises.
But the team's early success has spoiled its fans. After making the playoffs four times in their first five seasons (including two appearances in the AFC Championship Game), the Jaguars' fans were out in full force to show support for their team.
Yet, Jacksonville had a rough stretch from 2000-2004, with zero playoff appearances during that span, and the once loud and lively Jag fans became sullen and silent.
I mean, nine of Jacksonville's 10 home games were actually blacked out in 2009 because Jag fans couldn't bring themselves to watch their 7-9 team play.
I guess when they make it back to a couple more AFC title games, Jaguar fans will come out of the woodworks.
6. New Orleans Saints
As someone who's born and raised in New Orleans, I've been to my fair share of Saints games, and let's just say that the support you see for the team now wasn't always there.
It wasn't always Black and Gold or "Who Dat" chants everywhere. It was losing, more losing and eventually, those infamous paper bags.
Now, however, Drew Brees and last year's Saints team have done what many Saints fans thought was impossible: Win a Super Bowl.
And given my love for the Saints and the city of New Orleans, I'm glad to see it happen. But I don't like seeing friends of mine hooting and hollering about the Saints 24/7 when they never even used to watch football on Sundays.
Of course, not every Saints fan is like this. But the ones who are definitely drive me crazy.
5. San Diego Chargers
San Diego knows what it's like to win, with five playoff appearances since 2004, including four straight from 2006-2009.
What the Chargers fans don't know how to do, however, is show up to watch their team play when they aren't thrilled about their team's most recent performance.
Though San Diego won the AFC West and made it to the Divisional round of the playoffs during the 2008 season, that apparently didn't cut it. The team had to get a 24-hour extension to avoid a blackout in its 2009 home opener.
Really? A divisional title and one playoff win isn't enough for you, Chargers fans?
I know you'd rather win a Super Bowl, but showing a little more fan loyalty wouldn't hurt.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Blackouts, blackouts and even more blackouts—that pretty much sums up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
I really feel bad for local fans who—if they aren't able to go to the game in person for whatever reason—can't watch their team on TV because the Bucs have so many blackouts.
Interest in Buccaneer football did spike when the team was relevant early in the Jon Gruden era, but it's tailed off considerably since then, even though they seem to be turning the corner with Josh Freeman behind center.
Then again, it shouldn't be surprising that the Buccaneers' fans abandoned them once their Super Bowl XXVII victory got further and further away.
This is the same city that could care less about the Lightning and didn't even bother to show up when the Rays played in the World Series.
3. Cincinnati Bengals
Raise your hand if you knew that Cincinnati had that "Who Dey" chant before the 2005 season. I sure didn't.
The thing with the Bengals is that the team's chant was seemingly nonexistent for the 14 straight seasons at or below .500 before that 2005 campaign. Then, once they made it to the playoffs, Bengals fans couldn't get enough of it.
Well, cheering's all fine and dandy. But where was it when Cincinnati was at the bottom of the AFC Central and North for the better part of two decades?
Not coming out of the mouths of Bengals fans, that's for sure.
2. Arizona Cardinals
For years, even decades, the Arizona Cardinals were considered to be a joke in the NFL.
They played in a college football stadium, they were constantly outnumbered by fans of opposing teams and they couldn't even sniff the playoffs.
But fast forward to the 2008 season, when Cardinals fans realized their team was playing in a fancy new stadium...and was actually good. Here come the bandwagoners, who will jump on a trendy team like a six-year-old kid jumps on a trampoline.
Arizona went from NFL afterthought to a team whose stadium was filled with fans who suddenly owned Larry Fitzgerald jerseys.
I just can't wait to see how they react when John Skelton lines up at quarterback for the team's first game in 2011. My guess is that some other NFL teams will gain some new fans.
1. New York Jets
Are the Jets fans passionate and loyal? Yes.
Are the Jets fans a lot more passionate and loyal now that Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez are in the Big Apple? Hell yeah.
Just think about the last time the team was really relevant in the AFC for an extended period of time. Yeah, they made back-to-back playoff appearances in 2001 and 2002, but after the Super Bowl III win over the Baltimore Colts in 1969, they have just two AFC East titles (1998 and 2002) and zero AFC titles.
Now, all of a sudden, the Jets are supposed to be the greatest team in all of football. Sanchez this, Ryan that.
Um, last I checked, you weren't the defending Super Bowl champions, so stop acting like you are.