If you’re a New England Patriots fan, you’re happy. Every other fan base has some level of discontent.
A Los Angeles Rams fan’s discontent isn’t the same as what an Arizona Cardinals fan is feeling these days, but nobody’s happy. Except the champs (and the way Patriots fans treat every NFL story like a personal persecution is strange, though that’s a story for another day).
But some fan bases are really unhappy. It might be that they have experienced no real success in decades. Or there has been a string of horrible decisions by management. Maybe the ownership situation is untenable. For some teams it might be all of that, and more.
Which fan base is the most disgruntled? Here’s a ranking of the five fan bases that wake up the angriest:
There are a lot of fan bases that barely missed the cut, for various reasons. Cleveland Browns fans are too excited these days to make the top five. Oakland Raiders fans aren’t disgruntled, they’re generally delusional. Raiders fans all seem to believe every year is the year they’re going 14-2 and can talk themselves into it (for a window into their mindset, have a Raiders fan you know share their “the Bears didn’t win a playoff game so the Raiders won the Khalil Mack trade” theory ... you can’t be disgruntled when you’re optimistic to the point of insanity). Denver Broncos fans are angry about various missteps, but they need to calm down: Denver won a Super Bowl three years ago. Miami Dolphins fans have a lot to complain about, but life is good because they live in Miami. Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans should be mad about the Jameis Winston roller-coaster, but they don’t have quite as much to complain about as, say, Lions fans.
There have been two notable cases of an all-time great player stepping away at least in part because of the team’s losing ways, and they were Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson. The Lions have won one playoff game since 1957, and that came at the end of the 1991 season. Now they have to put their faith in Matt Patricia, who didn’t exactly come off as the most likable face of the franchise in his first year.
The draft didn’t help. They took Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson with the seventh pick, which might not be bad, but it conjured up memories of passing up Odell Beckham and Aaron Donald in 2014 to take tight end Eric Ebron (who had 13 touchdowns last season in Indianapolis ... after posting 11 in four years with the Lions). Then came the second-round pick, Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai, who was far down most draft lists, and a “Jahlani Who?” Free Press headline that summed it up.
Some times the Lions give you exactly what you expect, and sometimes they give you a "WTJ" moment -- "What the Jahlani?" From Saturday's @freepsports, the great work from @davebirkett, @seideljeff, @tanitaMXTX, @danalegriajr, @cmonarrez and more! pic.twitter.com/CCldWaOA7O
— Ryan Ford (@theford) April 27, 2019
There’s not much reason for Lions fans to hope, because they’ve never experienced hope before.
Lions fans are certainly disgruntled, assuming all their feelings haven’t been entirely beat out of them yet.
Jets fans kind of live in the disgruntled zone. Let’s be honest, have you ever met a happy Jets fan? Me neither.
Seeing the Giants have plenty of Super Bowl success, and then the Patriots put together one of the greatest dynasties in American professional sports history (with a coach the Jets had for like four minutes before he resigned) will do funny things to one’s psyche.
They’d be higher on this list, but there actually is hope instead of reasons to be gruntled. Quarterback Sam Darnold showed promise as a rookie last year. Jamal Adams is a great safety. The Jets might have gotten the best player in this year’s draft with defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. The Jets were more competitive last season than most figured.
There’s at least some hope for better days for a franchise that hasn’t been to a Super Bowl since Joe Namath guaranteed victory. Especially with the chance that the Patriots will eventually step back when Tom Brady retires.
And if the Jets fall apart and have to start all over, it’s not like their fans will be any more frustrated than they’ve been for the past 50 years or so.
In 2018, 29 teams had at least 80 percent attendance for home games, according to ESPN. Washington was last at 74.4 percent (don’t worry, we’ll get to the Redskins in a moment). The Los Angeles Rams were at 77.4 percent, but that’s mainly due to the cavernous and outdated Los Angeles Coliseum. The third-lowest percentage was the Bengals, at 77.5 percent. Tampa Bay (82.8 percent) was the only other team under 90 percent home attendance last season.
Teams shouldn’t make moves based on fan outrage. That’s not a winning strategy. Yet, there’s something to be said about turning off your fan base by voluntarily remaining stuck in neutral.
Marvin Lewis did some very good things for the Bengals, a franchise that was a perennial joke before he got there. But he never won a playoff game and until a few months ago, ownership stubbornly hung on. He’ll be replaced by unproven Zac Taylor this season. Andy Dalton hasn’t been a bad quarterback, but he’s not that exciting either. The Bengals drafted N.C. State’s Ryan Finley in the fourth round last week, but like most mid-round quarterback picks, he’s unlikely to be much of a long-term factor.
The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1991, aren’t expected to do much and unless Taylor turns out to be a home-run hire, there’s not a lot of excitement about the future either. And this all begs the question: Can you be disgruntled if you’re apathetic?
Quarterback Daniel Jones will be a touchpoint for the Giants and their fans.
Despite the overwhelming negativity about the Giants picking Jones at No. 6 in last week’s draft, he deserves a shot. There are reasons he was widely considered a first-round prospect. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman sees him as a franchise quarterback. You’d think by the social media reaction that Jones is already a bust, and that’s unfair.
But the frustration is evident. The Eli Manning situation has been mishandled. Gettleman’s plan seems to change week by week. Odell Beckham Jr. was wildly popular in New York, and he was traded to Cleveland this offseason.
The Giants are 8-24 the past two seasons. The Ben McAdoo debacle still lingers. This is a proud organization not too far removed from beating the New England Patriots for a second time in a Super Bowl. But that market isn’t patient and the discontent is fierce. Jones better work out.
For most fans, your favorite team is your team forever. However you landed on that team when you were young, you have to stick it out.
Yet, Redskins fans have had enough. Team owner Daniel Snyder has killed their will to cheer.
If you know some Redskins fans, you know some who have either pulled way back on their fandom or disowned the team completely. No other team, especially in the all-important NFL, has had such an exodus unless the franchise moved out of town.
There’s no more waiting list for season tickets. There are a lot more empty seats than ever before, even at last season’s home opener. Redskins fans walked out at halftime of a very ugly loss to the Giants, and it seemed like more of a statement than simply not wanting to watch the second half of a blowout.
Washington has been bad on the field; it has won one playoff game this century. Snyder’s micromanaging and incredible lack of self-awareness has turned off a lot of fans. Having a bland stadium in a relatively remote area doesn’t help. The regular controversy over the team’s nickname can’t be a positive either.
The fan bases for the other teams on this list are disgruntled. But at least they’re not jumping ship.
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