Thursday, July 16, 2009

NFL Network Fan Rankings....Same List Different Year

Now that training camps are approaching, the NFL has kicked it's speculative coverage into high gear. If you turn on the NFL Network in July, you will find a different countdown list seemingly every day where the show experts rank everything from current players, to past coaches, to stadium food.

Of course, I'm pretty sure the NFL Network had the same thing last year. Seriously, how could a list of the best stadiums have changed that much in a year? But people love rankings, so the NFL gets a different expert (see: former player) to grace us with their opinions.

One of the latest rankings is the best NFL fans. The esteemed fat-ass, Jamie Dukes (former journeyman offensive lineman), weighs in, literally, on what he thinks are the top five fan bases in the NFL. According to Dukes, he took into account jersey sales, home ga
me sell outs, and support in visiting stadiums.

Before I give
you this list, let me just say there is no quicker way to escalate an argument than to talk about who has the best fans since it is fans arguing about themselves. Seriously, ask a Yankees fan and a Red Sox fan to argue Joe DiMaggio vs Ted Williams and you'll get an argument. Ask the same guys which team has better fans and you might end up with a brawl.

Dukes lists the best fan bases in the NFL as follows:

5. New England Patriots
4. New York Giants
3. Dallas Cowboys

2. Green Bay Packers
1. Pittsburgh Steelers

I understand that n
o one is ever going to make a list of best fans that is dulcet to everyone, but I definitely have issues with Mr. Dukes list because he picked successful teams. How hard is it to have a rabid fan base for a good team? The Patriots had zero fans in visiting stadiums until eight years ago. What a coincidence!

Dukes mentions how many sellouts the Giants have as to why they are a top team. No kidding! And how many people either live in or are originally from New York? Giants fans are loyal, but several teams have sold out their stadium for years.

I don't even know where to start with Dallas being ranked number three. I grew up there; Dalla
s fans love their football, but they aren't a great group of fans. Back in 1989 when the Cowboys were terrible, you could play a giant game laser tag in the giant empty sections of that stadium. High schools were drawing more crowds to the games. Troy Aikman said it best when he declared "Dallas isn't a football town, it's a winners town." That just about sums it up.

I know Dallas fans travel well, but that's because of the giant legion of fans that grew up
watching the team win in the 1970's. Any city that didn't have a franchise back then (Carolina, Phoenix, Jacksonville, etc.) generally has a group of people that grew up rooting for the Cowboys. Because they were good.

The same with Pittsburgh. I know Steelers fans will want you to think that they've been waving those terrible towles forever, but I don't recall hearing or reading much of anything about the greatness of being a Steelers fan before 1972 or so. Don't get me wrong, Pittsburgh fans travel well, they show up early and stay late for ball games. It's just not that hard to support what is probably the best organization in the NFL.

With that in mind, I have two teams from the heartland ranked as the top two fan bases in the NFL, one from the NFC and one from the AFC.

One is the Green Bay Packer fans. Mr. Dukes got that one right. I've been told multiple times that I need to see a game at Lambeau Field before I die. Well, if I sign up for season tickets today, I MIGHT get there before I die. Like the Giants, the Packers have an unbelievable waiting period to get tickets and I'm pretty sure the New York subway has more people in it than Green Bay.

You mig
ht be tired of the cheeseheads, the nasal Wisconsin accents, and the constant chorus of "Frozen Tundra" references, but Packers fans take it all the way. They have nothing else.

The other top fans live in Kansas City. I have heard nothing but superlatives about the atmosphere at Arrowhead Stadium. You can't play the "only support a winner" card because the Chiefs have basically been terrible since the early 1970's. True, Marty Schottenheimer built a solid squad and the Chiefs were a high flying offense under Dick Vermeil, but those seaso
ns always ended in heartache. Yet you never hear Chiefs fans taking the "we've been cursed" approach offered up by Cleveland Browns fans.

There are the Chiefs fans tailgating before every game, going bonkers for their team and offering unwavering support during the lean periods that seem to last eight years at a time. If this team ever builds a dynasty, watch out.

Those are my two picks as top fan bases in the NFL. They may lack the creative insults of the northeast fans, the national following that the Steelers and Cowboys have, or the moneybags owner like the Redskins. These fans just leave and breath for their football teams no matter how fair the weather is.

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