The NFL’s Best Fans Are…..

Pittsburgh Steelers fans
I suppose it depends on what your definition of a true NFL fan is. But all of the 32 teams in the NFL have their core of diehard fans. And yes, they have been ranked; specifically, Mark Mosley of ESPN.com has ranked the fans of all 32 teams from the best to the worst. The criteria that he used in this ranking are: Stadium factor, Live And Die factor, Traveling Road Show factor, Loyalty when team sucks, Hate factor, Tailgating factor and Home Fans’ creativity. Here’s the rankings according to Mosley and others (names are after comments), with comments on each team:

1. Pittsburgh Steelers
No team is as woven into the fabric of a city. The organization’s stability has a lot to do with it, as generations of Steelers fans relate to the tradition of ownership (Rooneys), smashmouth football, quality head coaches (league-low three since 1969) and success (five Super Bowl titles). The season-ticket waiting list is extremely long and the consecutive sellout streak of 299 games, including playoffs, is unbelievable.
— James Walker

2. Green Bay Packers
Want to talk about support? The Packers have been sold out since 1960. Win or lose, fans fill Lambeau Field. The Packers are a huge part of the community fabric, perhaps more so than any other NFL town. Passion is second to none. Of course, that passion has been directly challenged following the team’s ugly divorce with quarterback Brett Favre. Many fans are upset, and some have taken it out on replacement Aaron Rodgers. But if they are true to form, the vast majority of Packers fans will remain supportive of the team.
— Kevin Seifert

3. Cleveland Browns
Browns fans are some of the most dedicated in the NFL. Cleveland is a football-crazed town year-round, and its loyalty has been tested like no other city. Cleveland lost its team to Baltimore following the 1995 season, and the “new” Browns have taken nearly a decade to get it together. Yet the fans remain rabid and hopeful every year, sometimes to a fault. Cleveland fans travel well and the “Browns Backers” are one of the NFL’s largest and well-organized fan groups. About the only thing lacking is the stadium atmosphere, which has yet to reach the level of the old Municipal Stadium.
— James Walker

4. Philadelphia Eagles
No other team dictates a city’s mood like the Eagles. It’s a loyal group of fans, but don’t confuse it with blind loyalty. When the Eagles play poorly, they face the wrath of the fans. That rattles some guys, but players such as Jeremiah Trotter and Brian Dawkins have thrived on that tough love. Fans of opposing teams should tread lightly in the Linc.
— Matt Mosley

5. Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City is often referred to as the Green Bay of the AFC when it comes to fans. KC has a small-town feel, and the fans completely buy into the Chiefs. Arrowhead Stadium is a sea of red and the party begins early. There’s nothing like arriving at a Chiefs game and smelling miles of smoking BBQ hours before game time.
— Bill Williamson

6. Washington Redskins
Redskins fans aren’t as volatile as Eagles fans — especially in swanky FedEx Field. It is, however, a very astute crowd that stays loyal through tough times. It’s hard to tell who hates the Cowboys more between the Redskins and Eagles, although I’d lean toward the Eagles. The Redskins built a stadium at least 45 minutes from civilization — yet fans never missed a beat. Owner Dan Snyder has plowed through coaches at an alarming rate, but the fan base has a remarkable amount of patience that has been passed down from generation to generation. Outside of Steelers and Packers fans, the Redskins travel better than anyone. And though politically incorrect, the feathers and face paint still reign.
— Matt Mosley

7. Denver Broncos
This is traditionally one of the stronger fan bases in the NFL. The magic of old Mile High may be gone, but Broncos fans brave varying degrees of football weather to cheer the Broncos season after season. If you are a no-show for a game in Denver, you’ll endure plenty of shame from the orange-clad residents of Broncos Country.
— Bill Williamson

8. New England Patriots
There’s no way to argue with a fan base that has sold out Gillette Stadium since it opened — pushing the Patriots’ streak to 149 games, including playoffs — and is willing to join a waiting list 50,000 deep to get a crack at season tickets someday. On-field dominance will do that. It will be interesting to see how the addition of Patriot Place — a commercial development that offers shopping, restaurants, a movie theater and a medical center — will affect the game-day dynamic. Do you throw Italian sausages on the grill or grab a teriyaki burger at Red Robin? One sounds more festive than the other.
— Tim Graham

9. Oakland Raiders
The Raiders may have the most fun group of NFL fans in the league. The Raider Nation travels like a college contingent, and game day in Oakland is an all-day Halloween party, whether it’s October or Christmas Eve. The Raider Nation prides itself in bullying the opposition.
— Bill Williamson

10. New York Giants
It’s sort of a drag sharing a stadium with another team, but Giants fans are more loyal than Jets fans. And speaking from experience, Giants fans will tailgate in any weather. I prefer Lot C because that’s where you find the short-rib experts.
— Matt Mosley

For the rest of the team fan rankings (#11-32), click here.


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