The word "fan" comes from "fanatic," which stems from the modern Latin fanaticus, meaning "insanely but divinely inspired." Combine insanity with inspiration and you get some strange people. As a result, we were easily able to comprise a list of the 10 worst types of fans in the world of football.
The Bandwagon Jumper
We have scientific proof that there are thousands of these jerks in cities across North America. Eleven of the 12 NFL teams with the lowest home attendance numbers last year missed the playoffs. The Saints had trouble filling the Superdome when they were mediocre in 2007 and 2008, but those numbers have steadily grown now that they're a consistent winner. Colts home games were jammed consistently during the Peyton Manning era, but season-ticket sales plummeted the moment the team entered its recent rebuild.
If you're a bandwagon fan, you're there for the good times and you're off learning new hobbies and experiencing other parts of life (i.e. cheating on your team) during the bad times. You're a big reason why sports franchises move, so I hope you're happy.
How you know you're a bandwagon jumper: Do you watch as feverishly when the home team is 2-9 as you would when they're 9-2? If you don't, you might have some bandwagon in you.
The Face Painter
If you're old enough to drink legally, you have no business applying your team's colors to your face. Or, for that matter, anywhere on your body. I mean, why do people do this? Isn't a jersey or a T-shirt with your team's logo enough to get the message across? People who paint their faces for games walk around with dung-eating grins on their faces, begging for the attention of every normal fan in their path. That's why I always pretend not to notice them in the same way I look away whenever a pompous d-bag pulls up next to me in his over-compensating sports car.
Oh, and on a side note, society permits you to wear jerseys on game days only. If you spend your Saturday afternoons at the mall with Tom Brady's name on your back, you're declaring to every chick within a 300-yard radius that you live in mom's basement and have 11 fantasy football teams. If you're cool with that, fine. I'm just telling you that it hurts my soul as a neutral observer.
How you know you're a face painter: You literally have paint on your face.
Exceptions to the rule: Kids and girls. It's kind of cute when they do it, but in very different ways.
The Front Runner
If you're a 21-year-old from Phoenix who loves the New England Patriots, you had better be capable of giving me an intricate explanation for how the hell that came to be. I have no issues with people supporting NFL teams from outside of their home regions, but that support can't exist solely because the adopted favorite team happened to be good at football when said fan began watching the sport.
It's amazing how many Dolphins fans I've met who clearly jumped on board in 1972. Same goes with Steelers supporters from Curtain days, and on and on. There simply has to be some sort of connection. Maybe you really liked their star player before he became big, or maybe you admire the team's gritty attitude. The problem is that it's almost impossible to prove that someone's a front-running fan if they stick with that original team.
But then there are extreme front runners — those who seem to cheer for a new NFL team every three or four years. And it just so happens that the team they're backing is never rebuilding.
How you know you're a front runner: Have you changed NFL allegiances in your adult life? Can you offer an explanation for this other than to say you fell in love with a new, better team? If not, you're a front runner, and we can't be friends.
Closely related to: The bandwagon jumper.
The Fan Who Chooses Fantasy Over Reality
Fantasy football has done a lot for the NFL in terms of producing new fans. The problem is that a lot of those new supporters of the game have ass-backwards priorities when it comes to their fandom. You always cheer for your real team first and your fantasy team second. If both succeed by working hand-in-hand (i.e. you draft like a homer), then great. But if/when the moment arrives, it's your responsibility as a fan is to sacrifice your support for your fantasy team in order to properly throw your weight behind your actual team.
The problem with these types of fans is that they're usually so damn loud about it. If you want to go against the grain and watch merely for fantasy purposes, fine. But I don't want to hear about it, because it's unnatural, sacrilegious and heretic.
How you know you're a fan who chooses fantasy over reality: You might lie to yourself and say that you aren't, but when you're watching your Chargers play the Bears and you crack a quick smile when Matt Forte crosses the plane of the end zone, you're guilty.
The Know-It-All Fan
Sometimes this fan actually knows his stuff, but he still drives everyone else crazy by over-analyzing every play in every game.
But oftentimes, this is just some windbag who played half a season of high-school football and read Jon Gruden's book in university and has concluded that he knows more about football than everyone seated in his vicinity.
Supreme know-it-all fans are often seen or heard questioning coaching calls in smart-assed fashion whilst failing to acknowledge the advantage they've received from hindsight.
How you know you're a know-it-all fan: You're pretty sure you could do a better job than your team's coach and/or general manager.
The Quarterback Bully
There's something wrong with your brain or your eyes, or both, which causes you to overlook the errors made by 52 of the 53 players on your favorite team's roster. Nope, it's always the starting quarterback's fault, and whoever's holding the clipboard is always Jesus Christ in a jockstrap.
How you know you're a quarterback bully: It's very hard for these types to come to grips with their disability. But if you find yourself making a Tony Romo voodoo doll, you're displaying a key symptom.
Natural Habitat: North Texas, Southeastern Pennsylvania
The Phony Fan
These people are fans for the sake of being fans, not because they care. They either fear being left out of conversations or not fitting in, or they're trying to live up to the expectations of fanatical friends or family members.
In their defense, they're usually busy and are often quick to admit that they have real jobs and obligations and don't have the time to commit to their so-called favorite team. And that's OK. So long as they don't start taking credit for always being there when times are good, they're tolerable.
But when phony fans try to pretend they know actual things about their favorite teams, they become annoying.
How you know you're a phony fan: Can you name both of your team's starting cornerbacks? No? Then you're a big, fat phony.
The Bad Beat Fantasy Guy
This fan might not necessarily choose fantasy over reality, but he still overemphasizes fantasy and overestimates how much anyone else gives a crap. He'll spend all of Monday and most of Tuesday bitching about the tough breaks his fantasy team encountered over the weekend.
Frankly, though, nobody cares about anyone else's fantasy team. Nobody. It's an inherently selfish realm of our culture. As a sports writer, I'm magnetic to these fans. They ambush me at parties/weddings/funerals and begin ranting in detail, sometimes complementing the embarrassing scene with sad, confusing attempts to pantomime the way in which they were robbed by a controversial sideline catch from Vincent Jackson or a ticky-tacky penalty on a Garrett Hartley field goal.
And this fan is living in such a fantasy world that he (or she) fails to pick up the body language of those who only faintly pretend to care about the fact that the 11th-round pick on their friend's imaginary football team is failing to live up to expectations through Week 5.
How you know you're the bad beat fantasy guy: How often do you complain about your fantasy fortunes to human beings who are not in your league? If the answer isn't "never," then you qualify.
The Drunk Fan
Alcohol might increase the experiences we have at parties, weddings, funerals and even football games, but there should be limits on drinking and cheering. If you need to drink to fully enjoy watching your team play, you might have a problem.
A beer or two is all good, but true fans should want to have their wits about them when supporting their favorite squads. These hooligans become most noticeable in stadiums. Just look for those who claim they're diehard fans yet are too plastered to see the yardsticks by the time the third quarter starts.
How you know you're a drunk fan: Your team is playing and you're drunk.
Exceptions to the rule: If you're team trails by more than three scores in the second half, feel free to bust out the whiskey and take a shot every time Joe Buck sounds unimpressed.
The Over-Reacting Fan
For these degenerates, every win is orgasmic and every loss is apocalyptic. Not only is this damaging to your internal organs and your social life, but it's affecting those around you. Do you know how hard it is to live with an over-reacting fan?
Listen, if you're 11 years old, I get it. When you're 11, Giants-Bucs in Week 2 is your world. You don't have a wife or a girlfriend or a mortgage and your biggest concerns are sixth-grade math and football. For those who continue to mature and become adults, it's too much to live or die with each win or loss.
How you know you're an over-reacting fan: If you're more excited by a win or more depressed by a loss than the players on your team, you fit the profile. Smarten up and gain some perspective. Believe it or not, there's more to life than sports.