Sports fandom: some people are just better at it than others. For every person painting their face five hours before a game, there are those that are taking off in the third quarter to get a jump on traffic. For every light-hearted ribbing that takes place at the pregame tailgate, there are idiot 49er fans that take it too far.
This list looks to commemorate the former, the fans whose loyalty to their team can’t be questioned, and whose antics are both hilarious but not over the line (for the most part).
Across all sports, we’ve seen the fans that go above and beyond, and it’s time to honor their sacrifice. Here are our picks for the five best superfans.
Fireman Ed (New York Jets):
- Ed Anzalone, a retired New York firefighter, has led the chants of the NFL’s premier hard-luck franchise since 1986. Even a die-hard fan’s patience can run out and Ed briefly hung up his helmet in 2012 after confrontations with upset Jets supporters became too much. But Anzalone made a triumphant return at the beginning of this season to once again lead the “J-E-T-S” chants during what will no doubt finish as another underwhelming New York season.
Spike Lee (New York Knicks):
- A courtside staple at Knicks games for decades, Lee certainly didn’t pick the most successful team to back, but that has made the Brooklyn native’s long-running fandom even more hilarious. Frequently involved in exchanges with players and refs during the game, perhaps no moment is more famous than when Reggie Miller shut him up during the 1994 playoffs. Still, it’s pretty cool that a fan can have that kind of impact, even it is a negative one.
Green Men (Vancouver Canucks):
- Inspired by Charlie Kelly of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Green Men began wearing green suits to Canucks games in 2009. Sitting beside the opposing team’s penalty box, the duo quickly began finding new and innovative ways to antagonize visiting players. Their reign lasted five years and included a run to the Stanley Cup Finals; sadly, the pair announced they were retiring at the end of last season.
Barrel Man (Denver Broncos):
- Tim McKernan became a Denver legend after wearing a barrel to a Broncos game in 1977. Why did he do it, originally? In order to win a $10 bet to see if he could get on TV, of course. Why did he continue to do it for the next 30 years? In order to be remembered as a Bronco fan extraordinaire, we assume. McKernan died in 2009, but allowed his son to carry on the tradition for one game in 2014.
The Face (Alabama Crimson Tide Basketball):
- Jackson Blankenship saw fans taking giant pictures of players heads to basketball games and thought, “there has to be a better way to distract opposing players.” So the then-freshman made a giant cutout of his bug-eyed visage and it quickly got people’s attention. Since then, “The Face” made a brief stop in New York, where Blankenship interned at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.