Emory University’s Mike Lewis produced a study to evaluate and determine the best fans in the NFL. Lewis looked at three main factors: Fan Equity (how much fans spend on their team), Social Equity (how much fans support on social media), and Road Equity (how much fans support their team while on the road).
The New England Patriots finished second in the rankings behind the Dallas Cowboys and ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots and the Cowboys were the only two teams to rank in the top five of all three measures.
Lewis notes that the Cowboys rank so well because “the Cowboy’s average home attendance (reported by ESPN) is more than 10,000 higher than the next team.” Technically the Cowboys stadium only seats 80,000 (t-4th largest), but they sell standing room tickets to boost revenues. The Cowboys average nearly 14,000 more in home attendance than any other team in the league, per ESPN, and Lewis notes “that the Cowboys achieve these [numbers] year in and year out, even in years when the team is not great.”
As for the Patriots, they have the biggest social media presence in the league and the depth of support for the team is still growing.
“Patriot fans may be bandwagon fans,” Lewis writes. “But at this point it is tough to tell. The team has been excellent and the fans have been supportive for a long time.”
In other words, when does a bandwagon fan just become a fan? The Patriots have been good for so long that those who hopped on for the ride in 2001 haven’t had to get off and won’t have to for a few more years. We’ll learn more about the support of the Patriots fans if and when the team ever struggles, but for now the Patriots fans rank second in the entire league.
And keep looking over your shoulder, Dallas. The Patriots don’t like coming in second.