HELMETS OFF

Who Are The Best NFL Football Fans?

Jul 15, 2019, 3:46 PM | Updated: 3:52 pm
GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 20: James Jones #89 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with fans after s...
GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 20: James Jones #89 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with fans after scoring a touchdown thrown by Aaron Rodgers #12 in the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during their game at Lambeau Field on September 20, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Every fan thinks their fandom is the BEST fandom, but one researcher used data to answer the question – who has the best NFL football fans?

Mike Lewis, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, sets sports Twitter on fire once a year with a quantitative analysis that determines the best NFL football fans.

He applies the same test to Major League Baseball and the NBA.

What Makes A Good Fan – Statistically

To answer the question, Lewis begins with defining what exactly a good fan is.

Under his definition, there are three factors in measuring fan engagement- game attendance data (fan equity), social media following (social equity) and road game attendance (road equity).


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Fan equity is pretty straightforward. It focuses on home box office revenue taking into account stadium size and market differences.

Social media equity measures fans’ willingness to engage with the team on various social media communities.

Road equity is a measure of fans dedicated to watching their team play on the road or how big of a crowd the team draws nationally. This measure is adjusted for team performance.

NFL Winners

The top five fanbases, in no particular order,  include the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to the analysis.

Coming in at the bottom of the list are the Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tenessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs and the LA Rams, again, in no particular order.

The fanbases that come in at the top of the list haven’t changed in the past two years of the analysis. The Browns finally inched out of the bottom five in this year’s ranking.

The Emotional Factor

Scott Mitchell, former NFL quarterback and host of Helmets Off Podcast, experienced fans first hand during his NFL and college career. He said the analysis misses the emotional part of being a fan.

The most important thing about being a fan, according to Mitchell, is that support is not tied to wins and losses.

“It’s called unconditional love,” said Mitchell, “a true fan has that.”

Mitchell understands because he is a fan. On the podcast, he explained that he is a fanatic for the University of Utah football team, his alma mater. He recalled having conversations with his TV during Utah games.

“It’s about hope, it’s about knowing that one day my team is going to rise up. All my suffering as a fan will be worth it. It will be so joyous,” said Mitchell.

Respect For Competition

Good sports fans don’t belittle the competition, according to Mitchell.

“If there is one thing that turns me off about fans, it is when they belittle the other opponents,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell recalled an important lesson he learned as a professional athlete – everyone is good. No professional athlete “sucks” like so many opposing fans like to scream from the stands.

“I like healthy competition, I like having a rival and I like beating my rivals,” said Mitchell, “but I like doing it in a dignified way.”

Favorite Fans

The best NFL fans, in Mitchell’s opinion, are Green Bay Packers fans.

“There is this hometown, midwest quality to Green Bay Packers fans,” Mitchell said on the podcast.

Packers fans are loyal and they have the utmost respect for their competition, Mitchell concluded.

Listen to the full episode of Helmets Off below.

If you enjoyed this analysis subscribe to Helmets Off wherever you get your podcasts or on the KSL Sports app.

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