Excuse me, the Cheeseheads?
While the Broncos did come in at a very respectable No. 2, it's obvious that mascot, fan attire (a block of cheese... really?) and anything cool or important about awesome fans were not part of the criteria.
And if there is any solace in not being No. 1, it's that Seahawks fans didn't crack the top 7.
In fact, the ranking was done on statistics and Nielsen ratings over the past three years based on five criteria:
- hometown crowd reach (defined by Nielsen Scarborough as a percentage of the metro population that watched, attended, and/or listened to a game in the last year);
- television ratings (per Nielsen);
- stadium attendance based on capacity reached;
- merchandise sales (per NFLShop.com);
- and social media reach (a combination of Facebook likes and Twitter followers based on the team's metro area population).
Well there you go. As if those things really tell you how good your fans are. HA!
OK, so maybe percent of population attending/watching a game is pretty good, but Green Bay has 300,000 people and no - I mean no - competing sports during football season...unless you count ice fishing, and I'm pretty sure that's not televised because cameras at least understand that -30 degrees is inhumane.
Plus, if Denver built a stadium to hold its entire city - or even a third of it like Green Bay - Mile High would still sell out. LIKE IT'S BEEN DOING SINCE 1973!
Did you hear that Forbes? Since 1973!!! Yeah, yeah, I know Lambeau Field has been sold out since 1960, but the Packers started in 1919. It took them 41 years to sell out. Broncos only needed 13 - and just three after joining the NFL. We win.
And about that drop in attendance during the three-year period prior to Peyton Manning's arrival...
The Broncos placement [at No. 2] is proof interest can wax and wane with bandwagon fans. Prior to Peyton Manning's arrival the team had three consecutive years of below capacity attendance. The past two seasons it has reported 100.7% and 101% capacity. The team's merchandise moved up among the best selling during the same time also. The elder Manning went from having among the best sold Colts' jerseys to the best selling Broncos' jersey. Curse them all you want. Bandwagon fans can be good for business.
I won't completely defend the fans who didn't use their coveted Broncos tickets those years, but you must understand that was our way of protesting the worst coaching hire ever in the history of worst coaching hires. The Josh McDaniels era in Denver Broncos history is a dark and sordid tale. Fans were actually so dedicated to the team, some Broncos faithful launched a website with the sole purpose of getting rid of that guy.
We needed to show the much-beloved Pat Bowlen that that was not his best move.
And you know what? It worked. Bowlen got rid of the Belichick understudy, and the Fox/Elway era began. 'Nuff said.
But without taking too much away from Packers fans - because really, fans who sit outside in that weather do deserve some serious kudos - here are 7 reasons why Broncos fans are the true No. 1 fans in the NFL:
1. We will always have super fan, the Barrel Man.
Throw away your blocks of cheese and your dog bones. This guy wore a barrel - just a barrel! - to every home game for 30 years.
Tim McKernan started attending Broncos games in 1967, long before the team was any good, and only missed four games up until he died in 2009, a week after the Broncos pummeled the Giants on Thanksgiving Day. The barrel became his modus operandi in 1977 which he wore in sun, sleet and snow until retiring it in 2007. His Super Bowl XXXII barrel had 49 Broncos autographs and sold for $30,000.
Our fans are so awesome, there's even a Facebook group with the sole purpose of getting Barrel Man into the Hall of Fame because he was just that cool.
2. We embrace - even relish - snow on Game Day.
It's true. We like our snow. We know most teams can't handle it, so when those wonderful flakes of chrystalline water ice begin to fall, we get giddy. Plus, it's a good reason to wear our favorite hats and get in a few ski runs before the game.
3. We are fans for life...even if we don't have 13 championships (yet).
Sure we've had two Super Bowl wins and some iconic comeback wins along with Hall-of-Fame players and legendary plays - The Drive, The Fumble, The Helicopter.
We've had John Elway, Terrell Davis, Tommy Jackson. Now we have Peyton Manning, Demaryius Thomas and Von Miller. We've got Hall of Famers and legends. Some days it's really easy to be a fan. And some days it's harder.
We've had many, many soul-crushing losses too, including five of the February kind. They sting like nothing else you know as a sports fan, but you come back again and again because you believe.
Broncos fans are still here, and we will keep coming back. Always eager, always hopeful, always loyal.
And we know - deep down to our core - that Lombardi trophy is coming back to Mile High.
4. Our fan base extends to all the Rocky Mountain states plus way beyond American borders.
Our "home fans" include Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and into Northern Texas, not to mention every continent, including Antarctica. That's just cool.
5. Mile High Magic
Oh it's real. And it's magnificent.
Our city is a mile high. Our stadium flanks the Rocky Mountains. And our mascot is a white freaking horse.
Thanks to fans at Mile High Stadium, our home field advantage ranks among the top every year, and from 1974-2006, Broncos held the best home record of any team in the league: 191-65-1.
I'm not even sure why we're having this conversation.
6. We own the real "12th man" designation in the NFL.
Broncos fans have been selling out Mile High for almost as long as Starbucks has been open. So Seahawks fans, grab a latte and call us in 40 years. We got this.
7. The Broncos even created the 'Mile High Salute' to thank us.
And, Green Bay, what did your Super Bowl-winning QB do for you? Oh yeah, he signed with a rival team.
So go ahead Packers fans, enjoy your honor from Forbes.
And Seahawks fans, keep pretending you've been here all along.
Broncos Country knows who's the best, and we'll be ready to prove it all season.