Identifying the 10 most underrated NFL fan bases

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Identifying the 10 most underrated NFL fan bases

10. Arizona Cardinals

When discussing crowd noise, the top two teams brought up are the Seattle Seahawks and the Kansas City Chiefs. But last year, the loudest and most formidable place to play in the NFL in 2014 was the University of Phoenix Stadium when the Cardinals played a home game.

The Cardinals suffered last year through quarterback injury troubles (as well as injury troubles all across the board), stumbling through the end of the season after a blistering 9-1 start. Who cares? NEXT MAN UP!

The team was able to continue to win games by the combined effort of the defense and the crowd. A large part of why this fan base is underrated is the fact that they are the current rivals of the Seattle Seahawks. Any team that can challenge the Seahawks and their fans deserves more attention and respect within the NFL. Any fan base that stays optimistic about the team when Ryan Lindley is the quarterback deserves to be canonized.

A quick look down the quarterback depth chart in Arizona:

[QB0: Kurt Warner (shhh!)]
QB1: Carson Palmer
QB2: Drew Stanton
QB3: A JUGS Football Passing Machine
QB4: Ryan Lindley
QB5: Logan Thomas
QB6: Carl Nextmanup
QB7: Patrick Peterson
QB8: A life-size cutout of Keanu Reeves from The Replacements

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

9. Jacksonville Jaguars

No fan base gets more disrespect on a daily basis than the fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars. A fan can’t pour themselves a bowl of Corn Flakes in the morning without hearing about how the team should be moved to either London or Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the team is subject to blackouts, and any question concerning rebuilding tends towards discussions of the team adding the skills of Tim Tebow.

But the Jaguars end up pulling solid attendance, and despite the product on the field and one of the smallest markets in the NFL, the team still draws a good enough percentage of the television market. Their fan kingdom is largely localized to northern Florida rather than in other areas throughout the US, but that local following is more than enough to dissuade others from thinking that the Jags need to be moved.

(Un)intentionally offensive things said to Jaguars fans:

“You know, Jaguar is a British car company. They wouldn’t even have to change the name.”

“Tim Tebow is a free agent.”

“There aren’t any jaguars in Florida.”

“Blake Bortles has the chance to be the best Jaguars quarterback since Steve McNair.”

“The people of Los Angeles would watch any NFL team, no matter how bad they were.”

(AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

They have a pirate ship.

THEY. HAVE. A. PIRATE. SHIP.

Raymond James Stadium, the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was officially opened on September 20, 1998. The most important part of the stadium is obviously the 103-foot, 43-ton pirate ship that shoots rubber footballs and confetti whenever the Buccaneers score. It also has an animatronic parrot that talks to the fans.

Unfortunately, the cannon doesn’t fire off any actual cannonballs. Regardless, Raymond James Stadium is the one of the most heavily fortified non-military buildings this side of Uncle Ray’s Panhandle Swamp Shack.

On their stadium site, the Buccaneers clarify what most fans had on their mind.

From RaymondJamesStadium.com:

The pirate ship is reserved for Bucs personnel. Fans are not permitted to go on it during a game.

The link to apply for a job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is here.

How to become a Tampa Bay Buccaneers employee:

I used to imagine the only way for you to get an interview is if your vessel was commandeered and your merchant captain was carrying precious cargo, like sugarcane. He’d curse at the surly pirate captain for not being a true Englishman, the pirate would tie him to a line underneath the vessel and keelhaul him. Then, after the limp, battered and featureless body of the merchant captain was thrown back up upon the deck, the new captain would ask you if you’d like to be a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or face the same gruesome fate.

Now, all you need is a few references and a cover letter.

(AP Photo/Margaret Bowles)

7. New York Giants

The Giants are a member of the most popular division in the NFL based on viewership: the NFC East. The other three teams’ fan bases have notable identities. The Dallas Cowboys’ fans are America’s Team, famous for annoying folks all across the U.S. of A. The Philadelphia Eagles inspire people to not overpopulate the world. Washington fans suffer their way through the Daniel Snyder regime, and the team’s success or failure can dominate the city’s news cycle.

Because of this, the Giants can be relatively overlooked. But as one of the NFL’s flagship franchises in the country’s largest metropolitan area, the Giants significantly influence the tenor of the league. Comparatively to a smaller market team, the Giants are not underrated. But within the NFC East, the team can often be overlooked.

A short list of things New York-based Giants fans can do with their offseason free time:

Attend a performance of the New York Philharmonic live from the Lincoln Center

Take in Eastern art pieces at The Met

Get breathed on while riding the subway

Walk Central Park with the love of your life

Take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry through the smelly Hudson River

Enjoy every type of food/entertainment/activity/culture known to man

A list of things New Jersey-based Giants fans can do with their offseason free time:

Argue about the Giants

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

6. New Orleans Saints

The Saints’ home field advantage is one of the strongest in all of sports, and yet they often do not receive the same reputation as teams like the Seattle Seahawks or the Kansas City Chiefs. The Saints have earned a reputation on par with those teams.

While the team has had a rabid local following for a long time, they didn’t start to grow an international following up until the team became a winning franchise in 2006. Perhaps it had something to do with those slick uniforms. The fleur-de-lis is the best helmet in the NFL, and maybe fans wanted to see it more on national television. Perhaps it was the story of a team rising from the ashes of Hurricane Katrina that drew fans to the team.

Possible costume ideas for Saints fans:

Ignatius J. Reilly eating a hot dog and reading a copy of The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius

A greased pole for Mardi Gras (used to keep drunken revelers from climbing the poles)

A Creole ghost stricken with a voodoo curse

Sexy Tom Benson

An air conditioning unit

(AP Photo/Bill Haber)

5. Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills’ fans have a grocery list of grievances over the years. These include:

4 consecutive Super Bowl losses
The longest active playoff drought
That drought being started by the (dubious) Music City Miracle
A collection of dunces following Jim Kelly at quarterback
O.J. Simpson being O.J. Simpson

The team has been wallowing in mediocrity for the past fifteen years, but even as hope doesn’t immediately appear to come over the horizon, Buffalo still has among the most loyal fans in the NFL. According to author Sean MacDonald, Bills fans are also the drunkest fans in the NFL, which either makes them the most jolly or most likely to fall down. Either way, games at Ralph Wilson Stadium are bound to be an experience.

A heartwarming anecdote regarding the Buffalo Bills:

During the middle of November, the city of Buffalo was engulfed by the Winter Warlock, a snow storm covering its poor citizens with seven feet of snow. The Bills, who were scheduled to have a home game against the New York Jets, were forced to reschedule their game for Monday night. The Detroit Lions graciously offered Ford Field for Monday night, and the Bills went on to crush the Jets 38-3. The stadium was filled mostly with many non-partisans, but for the most part the stadium housed rabid, displaced Bills fans.

As a show of gratitude, the Bills bought the Lions pizza.

The Jets got nothing.

(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

4. Cincinnati Bengals

No team in the NFL has as much of a discrepancy between how successful they are on the field and how active they are in NFL discussions (maybe the Jets with the inverse). The Bengals have made the playoffs for three consecutive seasons. They have also lost in the Wild Card round in three consecutive seasons.

As such, fans are accused of bailing on the team often throughout the season when it appears as though the squad will endure a similar finish. But the truth is that while the team doesn’t have a strong following outside of southern Ohio, they have a coalition of dedicated fans. Plus the Bengals came up with “Who Dey” before the Saints came up with “Who Dat”.

Three moments in the history of the rivalry between Cincinnati and Cleveland:

1. The Bengals pranked the Browns after the latter announced a major logo update.

The update ended up being about as large of a paradigm shift as imaginable.

2. Bengals head coach Sam Wyche disses the entire city of Cleveland.



3. This moment occurred from The Simpsons.

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

3. Detroit Lions

As far as tortured NFL fan bases go, the first team people think of is the Cleveland Browns. While the Browns also have themselves to blame, this is in no small part due to the recent success of the Detroit Lions.

It seems to be a miracle that the Lions had any fans after the worst stretch of seasons in recent NFL history. From 2001 to 2010, the Lions averaged just under four wins per season, with it all bottoming out in 2008 when the Lions went 0-16. Combine that with a series of draft misses BME (Before the Megatron Era), and the Lions were stuck in the perpetual mire of the NFL. They were not lions, but primordial ooze scraping the bottom of the ocean. The team still maintained a fairly sizeable fan base throughout all of that, and now the payoff has finally arrived.

An incomplete list of historical events that occurred during the Lions’ 19-game losing streak from December 23, 2007 to September 27, 2009:

 The Beijing Summer Olympics occur, Michael Phelps wins an Olympic record 8 gold medals, 8 more than games the Lions won.
Barack Obama becomes the first African American elected to the office of President of the United States. Obama is a Bears fan, and hopes there is no end to the losing.
Kosovo declares independence from Serbia
The King of Pop and an icon of Motown Michael Jackson dies at 50.
Tom Hanks has his ship hijacked by Somali pirates.
Swine flu becomes a thing idoits are worried about.

The Lions prove that, though that long stretch, the night is always darkest before the dawn.

(AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

2. Minnesota Vikings

Along with the Buffalo Bills, the Minnesota Vikings are the other team in NFL history to appear in four Super Bowls without a win. This is a fan base without any band-wagoners.

The Vikings have gone through soaring highs, like the 15-1 season in 1998, and some crushing lows, like the 1998 NFC Championship Game, or the 2000 NFC Championship Game, or the 2009 NFC Championship Game. Actually, just steer clear of the NFC Championship if you’re looking at recent Vikings history. Or houseboats. The point is that the Vikings have been given the raw deal, and despite all of that, the fans continue to show up to the games. Last year the team was playing at TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the University of Minnesota, so they finished last in overall attendance, but were still able to pack the stadium last year.

Non-Vikings reasons to live in Minnesota:

That one big mall is there
Minnesota has the most bald eagles of any state in the US
The Hold Steady hail from Minnesota
Christmas looks like Christmas
Tater tot hot dish

Reasons not to live in Minnesota:

The fact that it is snowing might be a sign that it is warmer than usual.
Along with North Dakota, it’s where Fargo happened.
Easter looks like Christmas
The Minnesota Vikings (har-dee har har)
Moose sometimes walk in front of semi trucks

(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

1. Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs aren’t exactly considered a particularly underrated fan base. Arrowhead Stadium is annually one of the loudest and most difficult places to play in the NFL, and as such the Chiefs remain competitive at home most seasons.

The way the Chiefs unite Kansas City is unique. The game-day experience is among the best in the league, notably including tailgate barbecue (it is at this point that the author takes a break from writing to eat a slab of ribs), and the team’s games garner a high percentage of the area’s TV attention. The team hasn’t won a playoff game since Joe Montana was the team’s quarterback, and since that victory the team has reached the playoffs seven times. The Chiefs last and most painful trip to the playoffs occurred two years ago, when they blew a 28-point lead against the Indianapolis Colts. So, while the fan experience is in high regard, the attention given to the team is fairly non-existent.

A recipe for Kansas City-style pork ribs:

4 slabs of pork ribs, 3 lbs each
Kansas City-style barbecue sauce
4 cups (1 quart) of brown sugar
2 tablespoons each of salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, ground cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons of ground black pepper
All of the beer you can get your hands on

First, mix the brown sugar, ground peppers, salt, onion and garlic powder to create the dry rub. Take the rub and massage the rib slabs with it and let sit for up to 12 hours. Do this step yesterday.

Next, place the ribs on the grill meat-side down above coals at 225° Fahrenheit (107° Celsius if you are anywhere but the U.S., the Bahamas or Belize; 380° Kelvin if you are in the vacuum of space). Open up the beer, drink and forget about the ribs. When you wake up, someone will likely have taken care of it, and you will have ribs to eat immediately.

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Now THESE groups of fans are thankful.

When discussing the top fan bases in the NFL, a list can also serve as a "most annoying fan bases in the NFL".

It can be boring to just name the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers or the Dallas Cowboys as the best fan bases. Those fans don't need any more of a self-esteem boost, they are already blessed with winning. No, instead we take a look at the most underrated NFL fan bases.

The criteria here are varied. Some of these teams are popular fan bases overshadowed by similar but more popular competitors. Some of these teams are disrespected franchises deserving of more recognition. One is here just because they aren't the Seattle Seahawks.

In any event, each team is deserving of more attention and recognition in the NFL news cycle. Folks quickly tire of constantly hearing about the New England Patriots, or the New York Jets, or whatever team Johnny Manziel plays for. Other teams have fans that care.

HOT DEBATE: WHO IS THE MOST ANNOYING FAN BASE IN SPORTS?

Comedians Settle an Argument: Most Annoying Fans

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