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Patriots fans are the second-best fans in the NFL, according to science

An Emory University study shows that New England fans are some of the league’s best by several metrics.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New England Patriots Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Back off, man, I’m a scientist.

Or rather, Dr. Michael Lewis is an associate professor of marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School who puts out a data-driven quantitative analysis grounded in economic and marketing theory to rank all 32 of the NFL’s fanbases, so, close enough.

Kind of like Pro Football Focus grades for everywhere from LA to whatever town in New Jersey the Jets play in that I neither remember nor care enough to look up right now, Dr. Lewis’s study has been analyzing this stuff every year by using statistical models to measure how much fans support their team. To do that, the study is based on three different measures:

  • Fan Equity - basically measuring how much fans spend on tickets, jerseys, team merch, that kind of thing
  • Social Media Equity - there’s no way to explain this without sounding like a brand-bot. It is pretty much what you think it is. How much love does a team get online, how big are their official fan clubs, you name it.
  • Road Equity - do the fans show out at away games?

Average those three together, and every fanbase gets an overall ranking for how well they support the team through the good times and the bad, the playoff runs and the top-10 draft picks, and the scandals versus the NFL’s elite ability to mess up toast.

Here’s how the top 5 shakes out:

  1. Dallas Cowboys (1st in Fan Equity, 2nd in Social Equity, 1st in Road Equity)
  2. New England Patriots (3rd in Fan Equity, 1st in Social Equity, 5th in Road Equity)
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (12th in Fan Equity, 6th in Social Equity, 2nd in Road Equity)
  4. New York Giants (7th in Fan Equity, 13th in Social Equity, 3rd in Road Equity)
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers (16th in Fan Equity, 3rd in Social Equity, 6th in Road Equity)

Hey, I’m no statistician or anything, but maybe the common thread here is just the NFC East going to all of each other’s games to piss each other off? That’s a level of hate any New Englander can respect.

And here’s what Lewis had to say about Patriots fans (and to his credit, he admits to being a Steelers fan in the 70’s):

As such, I bring my personal biases to the interpretation of the findings. I can’t help but to think of the Patriots as having bandwagon fans, and the Eagles ranking above the Steelers just does not seem right.

Patriot fans may be bandwagon fans. But they have been on the bandwagon a long time. A couple of decades of success likely means that the Patriots will remain NFL royalty even after Tom Brady leaves the game.

You’re the doc, Doc, but if a bandwagon has lasted almost 20 years now, doesn’t that kind of make it, you know, not a bandwagon?

Here’s the full chart, if you want to see how everyone else ranks below the Patriots (so, like any normal Sunday, really):

So as Jerry Thornton at Barstool Sports pointed out the other day, while most people would be perfectly happy being second-best, I see your metrics and raise you this:

Show me another fanbase that skips school and work to watch the first day of TRAINING CAMP, and I’ll skip work to go to training camp just to prove you wrong.

Like we said, it’s science.