The Cowboys might not be the Super Bowl favorite, but it's not likely that Jerry Jones cares a whole lot when he looks at his coffers, because his franchise is still holding down the top spot for club with the most loyal fans, according to a study from Emory University.
In his Fanalytics study, Mike Lewis essentially seeks to determine what fanbases consistently reward their teams with loyalty by showing up and spending their hard-earned money.
From Lewis' introduction:
Each year, I do an analysis of NFL fandom. The analysis is grounded in economic and marketing theory, and uses statistical tools to shed light on the question of which teams have the most loyal or "best" fans. The key point of differentiation is that this is a truly quantitative analysis. It's driven by data, not by emotion.
Put more succinctly, he wants to figure out "which city's fans are more willing to spend or follow their teams after controlling for factors like market size and short-term changes in winning and losing."
And the result he came up with in the year 2018? Cowboys fans are the most loyal fans in football, which is pretty impressive considering the Cowboys don't make the playoffs very often, the Patriots win their division every year and the Eagles, who also have loyal fans, just won the Super Bowl.
According to his study, the Cowboys rank first in fan equity (home box office revenues), first in road equity (spending to travel) and second in social equity (a willingness to be a part of a team's online community).
The Patriots check in at second overall, finishing first in social equity, third in fan equity and fifth in road equity. The Eagles are third overall, finishing sixth in social equity, second in road equity and 12th in fan equity.
It's fairly stark just how far ahead the Cowboys are when you consider they're the only team a first- and second-place finish in multiple metrics.
But when you talk about spending money, maybe it shouldn't be surprising. Jerry's World is a social behemoth in Dallas, a place people go to see the Cowboys but also a place people go to be seen. It's a party in there on Sundays even as much as there's a football game happening.
It also might not be shocking to see that the Cowboys are at the top -- they topped our 2017 fan base rankings when we conducted an in-house survey.
At the bottom of the scale, the Browns aren't the worst at something! In fact, the Browns check in at 28th, which is probably underselling how much their fans care about a team with one win in the last two seasons, but is interesting because the teams below Cleveland are the Jaguars, Chiefs, Rams and Titans.
All four of those teams went to the playoffs last year! But again, this isn't just about winning and it's fair to say that sometimes in the NFL winning can be a short-term occurrence and regression can hit hard. That doesn't look like it will be an issue for any of those four teams, but it's certainly possible one of those teams ends up having a much worse season than anticipated in 2018. If that happens, it pays to take out the fluctuations in an analysis.
Or they could all just become the Cowboys, at which point they would be completely invulnerable to any and all success and/or failure on the field and just continue to print money.