The NFL season is in full swing, and fans are doing everything they can to give their favorite team a push into the playoffs.
But as the race for first place in each division grows tighter and the playoff picture remains unclear, we’re sure to see our share of unsavory behavior among NFL fans.
This season especially, we’ve noticed an uptick in misbehavior from fans, perhaps caused by post-lockdown frustration or pent-up aggression after a stuck-at-home 2020 season.
Whatever the reason, we’ve ranked all the teams by order of worst NFL fans – just for kicks.
5) New Orleans Saints: Who Dat? The NFL’s most aggressive fanbase
Visitors to the iconic New Orleans Superdome report encountering one of the NFL’s most aggressive and occasionally violent fans. From throwing beers on the field, cheering injuries to opposing players, and even assaulting opposing fans, the internet is flooded with reports of Saints fans behaving badly.
To make matters worse for NFL fans traveling to watch their team play in New Orleans, some commenters on the NFL subreddit have claimed security at the Superdome is so lax and used to the vile behavior from the home fans that they sometimes are unable or unwilling to respond to fan complaints. Thankfully, visitors to New Orleans also report the majority of Saints fans are friendly on gameday, despite engaging in a bit of friendly banter.
It’s possible Saints fans are simply following the lead of longtime head coach Sean Payton. A 2012 NFL investigation revealed that from 2009 to 2011, Saints players were rewarded through a bounty program that paid cash directly to players who could injure opposing players and knock them out of the game. Among other penalties, the findings lead Payton to receive a full-season ban for 2012, a first for any coach in NFL history.
4) Pittsburgh Steelers: Terrible Towels and Terrible Fans?
Steelers fans are known for traveling all over the nation to watch their favorite team play. The fanbase is also known for being one of the most spread-out groups of NFL fans, with numerous clubs and fan organizations littered throughout the world.
A city built on the steel industry, Pittsburgh now operates zero steel mills within its city limits. Perhaps this is why many of its fans left the city in the latter half of the 20th century to plant their Steeler-fan roots elsewhere.
The spread of Steelers fans throughout the United States has not come with a particularly warm welcome from other teams’ fans. One of only two NFL teams with a record six Super Bowl wins, the Steelers fanbase is known for bragging and bandwagoning. That is, fans who only support the team by jumping on the bandwagon when they’re winning.
With much success over the last 15 seasons, Steelers fans have developed a reputation for being overly cocky and arrogant towards other NFL fans. Opposing fans also express extreme irritation with the thousands of Terrible Towels waved by Steelers fans no matter which stadium they’re at.
3) Dallas Cowboys: Are Y’all Really Still Dem Boyz?
The Dallas Cowboys haven’t won multiple playoff games in a season since their 1996 Super Bowl-winning campaign. And despite having only seven 10+ win seasons in the last 25 years, the Dallas Cowboys boast the largest fanbase in the NFL by a large margin. If Facebook likes are any indication, Dallas is really dominating the popularity contest. The Cowboys have over 8.65 million Facebook fans, nearly two million more than the second-place New England Patriots with 6.7 million.
So what is it that causes Cowboys fans to be so unbearably confident? Like other teams on this list, the Cowboys have fans worldwide, many of whom hop on the team’s bandwagon when Dem Boyz are winning. To add fuel to the fire, Cowboys fans enjoy some of the nicest toys in the league on gameday.
In 2009 the franchise opened AT&T Stadium, aka Jerry World, at the cost of $1.3 billion. Seven years later, in 2016, the team opened the Ford Center, a $1.5 billion state-of-the-art practice facility in Frisco, Texas. These high-end facilities have caused other NFL fans to label Cowboys fans as spoiled, something these fans of America’s Team don’t do much to disprove. Despite taking place 25 years ago, winning three Super Bowls in four years seems to have left Dallas fans with a false sense of confidence as they claim each season that, “This is our year!” But it never is.
2) New England Patriots: New Success, New Fans
Is there a more spoiled fanbase in any sport, let alone the NFL, than the New England Patriots fans? Winning all of its NFL record six Super Bowl championships since the 2001 season, the Patriots are without a doubt the most successful NFL franchise of the 21st century. In fact, they’re the only team with more than two Super Bowl wins since 2000. With newfound success also comes newfound fans, much to the ire of die-hards for less successful teams.
Just like the millions of baseball fans who hold a particular disdain for Yankee fans, most NFL fans see New England fans as opportunists looking to enjoy the spoils of yet another Super Bowl win. And when it comes to spreading their negative reputation around the country, Pats fans don’t need any help.
New England fans are some of the most well-traveled in all of professional sports, and cities hosting the fair-weather fanbase have to put up with what many describe as the loudest, most obnoxious fans anywhere. Maybe they’ve simply had their egos inflated a bit too much by a total of 12 Boston professional sports championships since 2000. But we wonder how many of these “die-hard” fans have ever actually been to New England and how many just want to be on board for the next championship.
1) Philadelphia Eagles: The Worst Fans in Professional Sports
After the Eagles won the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 2018, its fans celebrated by tearing down light poles, flipping cars, and lighting fires. That’s right; Eagles fans terrorized their own hometown after winning the Super Bowl. Following their 41-33 win over New England, Philly fans spent the night rioting, looting, and destroying property — in their own city. Unfortunately, this sort of behavior shouldn’t surprise us.
Thanks to their long history of committing some of the most brazen acts of sports fan disobedience on record, these NFL fans have earned a reputation as the worst in American sports.
Some of the more notable misdeeds committed at the hands of Philly sports fans include cheering the career-ending injury of legendary wide-receiver Michael Irvin, booing Santa Claus, intentionally vomiting on an 11-year old girl, booing their own star players, beating up opposing mascots, and hurling numerous objects from beers to D-cell batteries at opposing players, coaches, and fans. And these are just a few of the recorded examples of the antics credited to fans from The City of Brotherly Love; who knows what they’ve done that wasn’t caught on video.
If fan behavior in Philadelphia following wins is any indicator, perhaps we’re all lucky the Eagles have only appeared in one Super Bowl despite being in the NFL since before the Super Bowl era began.
Featured Image: Matt Rourke/AP