I grew up in a part of New York State that was a pretty equal distance from a number of NFL cities. As a result, I got an early dose of interaction with fans of several different teams. Later on, I joined the Air Force and ended up meeting, at one time or another, at least one fan of every team in the NFL.
Whether or not they’ll admit it, fans of the same teams usually share one or two traits across the board. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are downright annoying.
Here now is my breakdown/description/opinion of every NFL team’s fanbase. This is how I feel based on my experiences in life. It likely won’t change and I’ll likely piss off many who read this. So be it.
Buffalo Bills – These fans are few and far between outside Western New York. They are usually humble and at the point now where they joke about the four straight Super Bowl losses, but you can tell it still gives them the ball pain. The ones who have stuck through it all are some of the best fans in the game.
Miami Dolphins – They start every season with a lot of confidence, thinking this might be the year. By midseason, you’ll likely hear one of them respond to trash talk with something along the lines of “F*%K You, at least we got the Heat!”
New England Patriots – Proud and well read on the game and their team, but really only since the start of the 21st Century. Before then, the Pats were 4th in the hearts of Bostonians in terms of hometown sports teams. They still aren’t used to the trash talk that comes with success, as they are one of the easier fanbases to troll. I know because I am one of them.
New York Jets – They are usually the blue-collar fans of the New York Metro, rough around the edges and passionate. Like most fans of NYC teams, they can be loud and annoying. Unlike some, however, they know when to STFU when their team isn’t good.
Baltimore Ravens – For how much recent success they’ve had, I run in to a lot of Raven fans who don’t know much about their team outside Ray Lewis, who they’ll get into fistfights for in the name of defending his honor against murder jokes. The die-hard Raven fans I do meet are usually quiet with an aura of confidence.
Cincinnati Bengals – You get the sense that these guys are just happy to have a team. Now that things are on the up and up for them, I’m starting to see more jerseys and hats with Bengal stripes walking around. It’s not like they are bandwagon fans, they just aren’t loud when their team isn’t doing well, which I appreciate.
Cleveland Browns – These guys are some of the more passionate fans in the game. From what I’ve seen, they drink a lot and for good reason. Their loyalty was rewarded by having their team taken away from them, only to be replaced a few years later by a perennial punch line. As a fanbase, I got a feeling they are a sleeping giant. If they ever win a Super Bowl, you’ll see an explosion of Browns fans you didn’t know existed popping up all over the world, similar to what happened when the Boston Red Sox broke through and won the World Series in 2004.
Pittsburgh Steelers – If there is a fanbase who has a pass to talk trash whenever and wherever, it’s the Steelers. The thing is, from what I’ve seen, they rarely do (unless some Dallas fan gets loud). This is probably because they know they don’t have to. They are for the most part quiet and reserved, knowing the team’s historical success does the talking for them.
Houston Texans – This group of fans is a collection of ex-Oiler faithful who decided not to stick with the team after they moved to Tennessee combined with young Texans tired of the loud and obnoxious Cowboy faithful in their home state. All things considered, I haven’t really had any negative interaction with their fans. They keep to themselves for the most part.
Indianapolis Colts – The down season without Manning a couple of years ago might have been the best thing to happen to this team and their fans. They were reminded of their own mortality and now I believe have a better appreciation for a winning team. I’ve never met a Colts fan who talked a lot of trash.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Years of being crapped on by the media for shitty crowds and shitty records have created a vocal and chippy fanbase in northeastern Florida. Write or say anything negative about them and they’ll jump at the chance to tell you how wrong and how much of an asshole you are. You gotta love it.
Tennessee Titans – I know one ex-Oiler fan who did follow the team to Nashville — literally. He’s as die-hard as they get. The rest of the fanbase? Meh. Like Cincinnati, I think they are just happy to have a team. Nashville is college football and country music and I don’t see the Titans or their fans doing much to change that.
Denver Broncos – I think their national flowing is underrated. I meet Bronco fans everywhere I go. These guys love their team, but they do tend to go a little “homer” on you every now and then. Tebow-mania was painful for all of us, but at the end of the day, I respect them as a fanbase.
Kansas City Chiefs – Win, lose or draw, you’ll never witness a larger barbeque in your life than you’ll see in the parking lot of Arrowhead Stadium on game day. Few towns embrace their NFL team like Kansas City does. It almost feels like a college football atmosphere. I’ve met many a Chief fan but never a homer. As Dave Chappelle would say, “They keeps it real.”
Oakland Raiders – Speaking of keeping it real, Raider Nation is as real as it gets. Being a Raider fan is like being a Christian. Your entire life is based on it. I have much experience dealing with the Silver and Black from writing for a Raider fan site. Despite all his flaws, Raider Nation won’t allow you to talk trash about Al Davis. For that matter, they won’t allow you to talk trash about anyone on their roster. I once wrote an article where I said Terrelle Pryor was no better than Tim Tebow. Some of the responses I got included the phrases “failed abortion” and “kill yourself.” They won’t change and I respect them for it.
San Diego Chargers – As a fanbase, they might be the weakest in the NFL. Perhaps this comes from years of their team doing nothing with loads of talent. Maybe it’s the weather that causes them not to invest too much passion into their team. Whatever the case, if I ever hear a Charger fan talking any kind of trash, my response is to laugh and move on.
Dallas Cowboys – Ah, yes. America’s Team and America’s most hated team. I usually get along with every Cowboy fan I meet – until we start talking football. Loud, proud, stubborn and unreasonable is how I’d best describe them as a fanbase. I haven’t met a lot of people who disagree with me on that.
New York Giants – Classy team, Classy fanbase…for the most part. They have a proud history and their fans are usually well read. They are fairly realistic and reasonable. The only trash talk I ever hear from them is directed at me as a Patriots fan, and I can’t really say anything back.
Philadelphia Eagles – Eagle fans are a lot like Cowboy fans, only they haven’t ever won anything. I think they are more blue-collar than Dallas fans and probably drink more. They’ve got this little brother syndrome that comes from playing in a division full of teams that have had so much more success than they have over the years.
Washington Redskins – There was a time when there were a lot of Redskins die-hards. I just don’t know if that’s the case anymore. Nowadays, it seems like they have this outlook of “Hey, wait, we’re kinda good again, right? Sweet! RGIII and football and stuff!”
Chicago Bears – I got respect for the Bears and their fans as a whole, however, they are starting to head down that Cleveland road. They’ll always be one of the bigger fanbases, but the longer they go without winning anything, the more desperate they are gonna get, trying to convince themselves year-in, year-out that this is the year that things will be better. I’ve seen a lot of guys leave sports bars early wearing Bears jerseys with their heads hanging low in recent years, but they leave quietly and with class.
Detroit Lions – You get the feeling that these fans are like a hyperactive puppy jumping around as their team waves a tennis ball back and forth but never tosses it. Are they good now? Aw, nope, we suck again. Hey, we got Megatron! Aw, we missed the playoffs. Detroit fans are like Buffalo fans. They stick with their team through some real hard times and I respect the hell outta them for it.
Green Bay Packers – Like the Steelers, they know what they are and don’t have to brag about it. They talk a little more than Pittsburgh fans, but they usually know what they are talking about and I respect that. That said, unless you are a fan of one of their division rivals, there really is no reason to hate the Cheeseheads. If you do, you’re probably a pretty big asshole on a day to day basis.
Minnesota Vikings – The Vikings are like the NFC’s version of the Chargers, only with shitty weather. They never win anything, despite the talent that has gone through there. I see Viking fans here and there, but rarely do they say or do anything that I care to digest or pay attention to.
Atlanta Falcons – I rarely meet a Falcons fan who isn’t from the greater Atlanta area or the state of Georgia. I’ve never had a bad experience with them. I credit them with not blowing up and getting upset about the lack of love their team is getting heading into 2013. That said, watch out. If the Falcons ever win the big one, the “Dirty South” will rise and be recognized.
Carolina Panthers – Carolina fans never seem to take their team too seriously. They have college sports and NASCAR to worry about and I get the sense that the Panthers are just something they follow recreationally. Maybe if they start winning consistently that will change, but I kinda doubt it.
New Orleans Saints – Remember what I said about Atlanta and Cleveland if they ever win one? Well, that happened when the Saints won the Lombardi a few years back. During the first 30 years of my life, I met ONE Saints fan. Since their Super Bowl win, I’ve met hundreds and watched as fan sites devoted to the Saints popped up all over the internet, coinciding with their staggering jersey sales. Saints fans love their team and are tolerable to be around, even when they are acting like homers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – If I didn’t own Doug Martin in one of my dynasty fantasy leagues, I’d probably forget Tampa has a team. I met a few Bucs fans over the years and their devotion seemed almost forced, as if they felt obligated to watch and root for their team every Sunday because they were from Tampa. That’s just the kind of sports town and fans they strike me as.
Arizona Cardinals – Sometimes I get the feeling that the Cardinals are just here to give the league a nice even number of teams. Nobody wants them. Not Chicago, not St. Louis, not Tempe. They are just too flaky and not really from anywhere, just like their fans. Do you REALLY know any die-hard Cardinal fans? I mean, the highlight of the one Super Bowl they went to was when a local cable station interrupted the feed with a porn scene.
St. Louis Rams – St. Louis is a great sports town with great fans. They’ve perfected the Midwestern clap and are a fairly well read bunch. I have it on good authority from one of the other writers on this site that you’ve never been to an event as loud as a Rams home game. This was AFTER the ‘Greatest Show on Turf” era. Respect.
San Francisco 49ers – This group can be divided in two: older fans who were there for the good times and are just happy to be back and younger fans who have rooted for a shitty team for years and now can’t wait to talk shit every time they knock off the Cardinals. My attitude toward them really depends on the age of the person I’m interacting with.
Seattle Seahawks – I never had an issue with the Seahawks until they strung together a couple of successful seasons. I still don’t have beef with the team, but dammit if this group of fish eating, coffee shop loitering intellectual hipsters aren’t some of the most annoying people to be around now that it appears they have a winning squad. We get it. Your stadium is loud and your running back uses Skittles as a PED. STFU and go back to winning five games a year already.
BY J.P. SCOTT ON JULY 15, 2013