With the recent release of Emory University’s NFL Fan and Brand Report, JTP thought we take our shot at ranking the current NFL fan bases using the same foundational concepts but with a slightly different criteria. Enjoy and try not to fight too much in the comments.(All statistics mentioned are from the Fan and Brand Report)
10.) San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers faithful kick off our list of the top ten NFL fan bases. Although the Niners haven’t seen much success lately, they still retain the older demographic of fans rooting for them since the days of Joe Montana and Bill Walsh. They were number two in fan equity(meaning that the team’s predicted revenue for the season was greatly exceeded by its actual revenue, showing prominent fan support) and ninth in terms of social media following, which warrant a place on our list.
9.) Oakland Raiders
The Niners’ counterpart across the bay edges them out and takes the number nine spot. Honestly, the Raiders have been pretty awful throughout the 21st century, but the Black Hole remains a loyal and fervent fan base. They were ranked number four in road equity meaning this is a traveling and national fan base. In addition, Raider nation goes to extreme lengths to show their support, which has to be considered when conducting a list such as this one.
8.) Denver Broncos
Orange Crush takes our number eight spot on this list. Broncos Fans are a very underrated fan base that JTP feels like should earn more respect. According the NFL Fan and Brand Report, they had the fifth highest social media following and the fifth highest fan equity, reflecting their unwavering loyalty. In a state where there is plenty of other recreational activities to participate in, the Broncos are still king.
7.) Chicago Bears
Da Bears have Da seventh best fans in the NFL. Bears’ fans are a seasoned and loyal group that have the fourth highest fan equity despite being one of the worst teams in the NFL for the past five years. The only reason they are not higher, and this is a detriment to other higher ranked fan bases as well, is that they are not the number one ticket in their city, behind the Cubs. However, you have to respect the resolute allegiance Chicago Bears’ fans have to their squad.
6.) New Orleans Saints
Who Dat? The Saints faithful take the number six spot on our list. The Saints were a relatively irrelevant team the first thirty years of their existence, but the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina really rallied this city behind the black and gold and made them one of the NFL’s best fan bases. According to the study, the Saints’ fans rank seventh in road equity above bigger markets. Therefore, Saints’ fans come in at number six.
5.) New England Patriots
The fans of last year’s Super Bowl runner-up come in at number five on our list. The ranking of Patriots’ fans is where JTP and Emory’s list strongly disagree. Although Boston is probably the best sports city in America packed with die-hard pats fans, they show signs of a bandwagon fan base to me. In the 1980’s and 90’s when the Patriots were making it to super bowls, their stadium was not even to full capacity. In addition, in my mind, they still lag behind the Celtics and the Red Sox as the city’s favorite team. Nevertheless, they are a fantastic fan base that rank number five in road equity and number three in fan equity so they deserve a top five-spot.
4.) Dallas Cowboys
Although my personal bias may be affecting this selection, “America’s Team” comes in at number four on our list. Statistically, Cowboys’ fans dominated this list with number one fan equity and social equity, but they are by far the biggest bandwagon in sports. The Cowboys’ fan base to me is the definition of quantity over quality. Sure, the Cowboys are an international brand with fans all over the country and the world, but how many of those fans have a true connection to the blue and white? However, I can’t deny the sheer size and impact this fan base has on football and just society overall so they deserve a top four ranking.
3.) Philadelphia Eagles
The fan base of the defending Super Bowl Champions come in at number three on our list. When you think of a loyal til death, gritty, and fanatic fan base, Eagles fans have to come to mind. Through all the ups and downs this franchise experienced, the Linc is always packed and The Bird Gang is always rambunctious. Eagles fans were number two in road equity and number six in social equity and are by far the number one ticket in a populous city with competitive teams. Therefore, they come in at number three.
2.) Green Bay Packers
The Cheeseheads take the number two spot on our list. Lambeau is a football holy ground filled with some of the best fans in football. Even though Green Bay has one of the bottom tier markets in terms of population size, they still manage to sell tickets and have a strong influence on NFL culture, cementing themselves as the number two best fan base in the NFL.
1.) Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steeler fans sit atop the throne as the number one fan base in the NFL. The Steeler faithful have been swinging their Terrible Towels for a solid fifty years and their spirit has not diminished one bit since the days of the Steel Curtain. The Steelers’ fan base has the third ranked social media following and the sixth ranked road equity despite having one of the smaller markets. Their impact on the game and culture is unmatched and that’s why they’re number one on our list.