By Steve Czaban Special to Published Jan 26, 2005 at 5:07 AM

{image1} Have you ever sat down and started making notes on the various NFL fan bases and tried to rank them according to some sort of coherent criteria? I have. And it wasn't easy.

So here's my list of the best fan bases in the NFL. This is not just home attendance. Not just a national fan base that shows up at bars and road games. Not just knowledge or dedication. All of the above. And weighted. Only I can't even say how. There is no formula. This is purely my opinion. Read it, and get mad.

1. Pittsburgh: For some reason, I just never seem to meet an obnoxious Steelers fan. (I know, there's a guy in your office I need to meet first.) These guys know their current team, they know their history, and they keep it all in pretty good perspective. If I've got to choose one "fan base" to sit down and drink a beer with, the "Stillers" fans get the nod.

2. Green Bay: No doubt Packers fans are insanely dedicated. To sit in Lambeau through the most arctic temps in the league year after year, is amazing. However, something about the Favre-worship bothers me. Not to mention getting married at the stadium. Part of me says to those people: get a life, it is only football. The other part is just jealous.

3. Miami: Whenever I meet a Dolphins fan in another city, the thing that impresses me is that he always has a really good take on what the hell is going on with his team many miles away. Too bad all the bar stool Fish fans from around the country can't get their asses down to Miami every now and then, because the locals can't ever seem to sell out the stadium for an entire season.

4. Dallas: In the city itself, these guys and girls are shameless front runners. There were non-sellouts during the Campo and Gailey regimes -- unacceptable, no matter how bad those guys were. But the Cowboy diehards around the country that have loved the team since Staubach and yet NEVER lived there, are smart and up to date on stuff. Even though some will act like rooting for the team since Aikman qualifies as a long time. I hate to admit it, but the Cowboys truly are "America's Team."

5. Oakland: Flat out, the biggest bunch of jerk fans in the NFL. Not altogether very knowledgeable, rational or employable. They obviously take their cues from the Greaser In Charge, Al Davis. What did you expect? Commitment to Excellence is easily the most pretentious slogan in sports, and their fans quote it as if it were Holy Scripture. Sadly though, like ants at a picnic, Raider fans are everywhere.

6. Cleveland: The city is too damn small, and the franchise without nearly enough past glory to have as many national fans as they do, but few teams pack bars in faraway cities like they do.

7. Chicago: When you are market No. 3, you will have plenty of fans scattered around the country, but the team's total lack of any player or season worth caring about since 1985 has kept this group very quiet.

8. New York Giants: Even worse than just being a New York team, the Giants reach deeper into New Jersey than the Yankees. And as usual, New York sports fans are just soooo endearing to everyone else around the country. Ugh.

9. Denver: I hardly know anybody who is from Denver, or ever lived there. Yet they seem to have a strong following that extends well beyond the local populace who keep the Broncos among the league leaders in consecutive home sellouts.

10. Philadelphia: Insanely loyal, intensely knowledgeable and neurotic to the core. Nothing good can come from anything the Eagles do in their minds. The fans that booed the McNabb pick on draft day, are now the ones saying he was their guy all along.

11. Washington: Once upon a time, a simply great core of fans. Sadly, Dan Snyder's lifeless mausoleum of greed (FedEx Field) has permanently softened the home field edge, and has also driven off five to 10 percent of the base in disgust of his hyper-spending, meddling ways.

12. Kansas City: The only team between Denver and St. Louis, fans of the Chiefs are hard core and legit, even though I rarely run into any around the country. Home field edge is no fluke, these fans rock on Sundays.

13. Buffalo: When you live under God's Snow Machine (Lake Erie), you are already a little bit insane. Yet, I've found Bills fans to be very easy to talk to without wanting to punch them in the face. You can't say that about many fan bases in the NFL that has a team which enjoyed a good amount of success recently. I guess LOSING all four Super Bowls, kept them humble. Otherwise, they might be insufferable.

14. New York Jets: Like with any New York based team, fans better bring knowledge and passion, or "just go the fu** home," as a Jets fan might say. But the last thing they could hang their hat on in terms of bragging rights was Namath, and he was a long, long time ago.

15. New England: Despite the recent run of glory, it'll always be a baseball town. Plus, I want to see the passion level in five years, when there's a good chance the team slips back into the middle of the pack. These fans barely exist outside of New England.

16. Minnesota: Sometimes unified by hating the Packers, more than loving their own team. City should have built the team a new stadium by now, but I can see the hesitancy to put money in Red McCombs' pocket.

17. San Francisco: Utterly spoiled by the Greatest Long Term Run any NFL franchise has ever had, and they now have no clue how to act or think. Here's a hint. Just sit there and suffer, like the rest of us usually do.

18. Tampa Bay: A part of that state which used to just care about the 'Noles and Gators, is now hardening into a really good NFL city. I still can't get over the old Creamsicle uniform colors and stupid pirate logo. It was almost as if somebody had a secret bet (ala Trading Places) that he could make the franchise fail in less than five years.

19. Tennessee: No doubt the fans in the Volunteer state know their teams and show up and shout like hell for them. But at the NFL level, I would guess that Titans fans don't watch or care about much else besides their own team.

20. Houston: A great football city dating back to Luv Ya Blue, or so I'm told. And even though Bud Adams was a two-faced prick, you just can't let your team walk like you did. Getting back into things quickly though, with a fabulous stadium and impeccably sharp color scheme and logo.

21. Indianapolis: It's a good thing this city has the smallest current stadium in the league, and the best quarterback of a generation, otherwise I think they would have a hard time filling up the seats. Very few "original" Colt fans migrated emotionally with the team from Baltimore, and for good reason.

22. Carolina: Fair weather like you can't believe, and winning so much in just their second season didn't help expectations. Still, I was happy to see the core group of Panthers fans rewarded by a trip to the Super Bowl last year. Insanely tight restrictions on behavior at home games (like no removing your shirt, among others) just crushes passion.

23. Jacksonville: Had trouble selling out games this year early, despite a team that was hot out of the gate and with one of the league's best young QBs. Maybe the market size just isn't big enough, and the league made a mistake here. Crushing AFC title defeat to Titans didn't help either.

24. Baltimore: I'll give them this much, their stadium is great. Otherwise, way too many Ravens fans act like they were in the limo with Ray Ray, and it was all blown out of proportion. Early Super Bowl victory in their return to existence, pegged the needle on obnoxious.

25. Detroit: These fans are really, really loyal and still show up to take it in the shorts year after year after year. I know this fan base exists, but it is harder to find than Osama Bin Laden right now outside of Michigan.

26. St. Louis: Always will be a baseball town (see Boston) and not having a team for a while hurt the momentum.

27. San Diego: I was a East Coast kid at 10 years old who fell in love with the 'Bolts because they were almost always the late game on NBC. And who didn't like watching Air Coryell? Now however, fan base seems to be predominantly So Cal gang banger -- witness the annual knifing in the parking lot after the Raiders come to town.

28. Cincinnati: These fans do exist outside of southwest Ohio, in fact I know one of them. One. That's all.

29. Atlanta: I read a stat where something like 70 percent of Atlantans are originally from somewhere else. This explains a lot.

30. Seattle: Poor, poor, Seahawk fans. Twenty-five years or something like that without a playoff win? And these saps once thought Jim Zorn to Steve Largent was a hot combination. How far did that take you?

31. New Orleans: The ghost fan base. Ask yourself: ever seen a dude rolling in Saints gear? Bad teams, bad attitudes, a ridiculous owner with a parasol on the sidelines, and this is what you get.

32. Arizona: Half empty stadiums on Sunday as far as the eye can see. New crib is being built as we speak, as if that will actually change anything. Two problems I see here besides the fact the teams have always sucked. 1) Worst owner in football 2) A nickname that is both stupid and not even remotely appropriate for the geography.

Steve Czaban Special to

Steve is a native Washingtonian and has worked in sports talk radio for the last 11 years. He worked at WTEM in 1993 anchoring Team Tickers before he took a full time job with national radio network One-on-One Sports.

A graduate of UC Santa Barbara, Steve has worked for WFNZ in Charlotte where his afternoon show was named "Best Radio Show." Steve continues to serve as a sports personality for WLZR in Milwaukee and does fill-in hosting for Fox Sports Radio.