This week, Forbes magazine released its annual ranking of the NFL’s best fans, and the Broncos faithful did themselves proud by landing in the second slot, ahead of such legendarily rabid fan bases as Pittsburgh, New England, and Chicago. (Despite all the hype we heard last year about Seattle’s notoriously vocal “12th man,” the team ended up only ninth on the list.)
To determine the order, Forbes measured crowd “reach” (local media exposure and attention); social media following, adjusted for metro area population; and three years of attendance, merchandise sales, and TV ratings. The Broncos finished a respective fifth, fourth, first, second, and fourth in these categories, and the article notes how a certain veteran quarterback’s arrival to Colorado three years ago distinctly increased our stats in most of them.
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Although finishing second isn’t usually much of a thrill—as the Broncos themselves can attest to, after last February—in this case, we should be celebrating it like a championship. That’s because the NFL’s number-one fans are, and probably always will be, in Green Bay.
Think about it: The city owns the team. The waiting list for season tickets is currently 75 years long, and these licenses are passed down to younger generations like priceless family heirlooms. Green Bay has a record 13 NFL titles in its storied history, and its stadium is as legendary as any in American sports—all for a population (just under 105,000) that sits between Wichita Falls, Texas, and Daly City, California.
Plus, it’s Green Bay. What else is there to do other than follow the Packers? As I distinctly recall one of the city officials—it might even have been the mayor—telling the media about a decade ago: “If we didn’t have the Packers, we’d be Fargo.”
So we here in Denver should enjoy our salutatorian finish, because this is one throne no one else is likely to ascend. And if that still feels a little hollow, always remember: At least we don’t live in Wisconsin.
Follow 5280 Editor-at-Large Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.