The Top 14 Best NFL Fan Traditions Ranked

Best NFL Fan Traditions
When it comes to the NFL, it’s not just about the game on the field. The true magic of football lies in the passionate and dedicated fanbase that supports their teams with unwavering loyalty. NFL fan traditions have become an integral part of the game, enriching the experience for both players and spectators alike. In this article, we will delve into the top 14 best NFL fan traditions that have stood the test of time and continue to captivate fans across the nation.

The Top 14 Best NFL Fan Traditions

The Tailgate Party Experience

Before every game, the atmosphere outside the stadium is electric with anticipation of what’s to come. This pre-game ritual brings fans together in a sea of excitement, uniting them in their shared love for their team. The tailgate party has become an art form in itself, where fans gather hours before kick-off to set up the ultimate pre-game celebration.

Setting up the ultimate tailgate party requires careful planning and the right essentials. From portable grills and coolers stocked with refreshing beverages to comfortable folding chairs and canopies for shade, fans spare no effort in creating a welcoming and vibrant environment. Tailgating tips from seasoned veterans include organizing games like cornhole and ladder toss to keep the party going.

No tailgate party is complete without mouthwatering recipes for the perfect feast. Grilled burgers, hot dogs with all the fixings, and savory chicken wings are staples of these gatherings. For those with a more adventurous palate, recipes, like pulled pork sliders, jalapeno poppers, and buffalo chicken dip, are sure to impress. The aroma of sizzling food fills the air, enticing fans with irresistible flavors and creating a sense of camaraderie among strangers who quickly become friends.

The Wave

One of the most iconic traditions seen in stadiums across the NFL is the wave. This synchronized movement of fans rising and sitting in a wave-like pattern creates a powerful visual spectacle. The wave embodies the unity and collective spirit of fans, transcending team rivalries and bringing everyone together in a moment of pure exhilaration.

The history of the wave dates back to the late 1970s when it first emerged in stadiums. It quickly gained popularity and became a staple in NFL games. Memorable moments when the wave took over stadiums include playoff games where the energy of the crowd intensified with each wave, creating an electric atmosphere that reverberated throughout the entire venue.

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The Terrible Towel

No discussion of NFL fan traditions would be complete without mentioning the Terrible Towel. This iconic symbol of Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan pride has become synonymous with the team’s success and the unwavering support of their devoted fanbase. The origins of the Terrible Towel can be traced back to 1975 when Myron Cope, a Pittsburgh sports broadcaster, introduced it as a rallying symbol for the team.

What sets the Terrible Towel apart is the heartwarming stories of its impact on fans. From cancer patients finding strength and hope in its comforting presence to fans waving it proudly during milestone moments in their lives, the Terrible Towel has become a tangible representation of the emotional connection between the team and its supporters.

The Lambeau Leap

When it comes to iconic NFL traditions, the Lambeau Leap holds a special place in the hearts of Green Bay Packers fans. After scoring a touchdown, players leap into the stands, immersing themselves in the sea of adoring fans. This tradition began in 1993 when LeRoy Butler first performed the leap, and it has since become a cherished ritual that fans eagerly await during games.

The Lambeau Leap embodies the close bond between the players and the community. It is a symbol of shared triumph and celebration, where players can directly interact with the fans who have been cheering them on. Iconic Lambeau Leap moments, such as Brett Favre’s legendary leaps and the jubilant reactions from fans, have forever etched themselves into the annals of NFL history.

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The Black Hole

For fans of the Oakland Raiders, now the Las Vegas Raiders, the Black Hole is a notorious fan section that exudes passion and intensity. The Black Hole is an area of the stadium where fans dress in black attire, their faces painted with intimidating designs, and create an atmosphere that strikes fear into the hearts of opposing teams.

Inside the Black Hole, the atmosphere is rowdy and electric. Fans unleash a cacophony of chants, cheers, and taunts that reverberate throughout the stadium. Legendary moments and fan rituals within the Black Hole include elaborate costumes, skull masks, and raucous celebrations that showcase the commitment and dedication of these die-hard Raiders supporters.

The “12th Man”

The Seattle Seahawks’ fan tradition of the “12th Man” represents the remarkable influence fans can have on the outcome of a game. The “12th Man” refers to the fans who passionately support the team, often making their presence felt with deafening noise levels that disrupt opposing offenses.

The influence of the “12th Man” on the game cannot be overstated. The noise generated by Seahawks fans has been recorded as one of the loudest in the NFL, reaching decibel levels that rival those of jet engines. Unforgettable moments when the noise level shook stadiums include playoff games where opposing teams struggled to communicate, resulting in penalties and mistakes caused by the overwhelming atmosphere created by the Seahawks’ faithful.

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The Gator Chomp

Originally a fan tradition of the University of Florida Gators, the Gator Chomp has been adopted by NFL teams to rally their fans and energize the crowd. The Gator Chomp involves fans extending their arms and making a biting motion, mimicking an alligator’s jaws snapping shut. This gesture symbolizes the tenacity and ferocity of the team on the field.

The origins and symbolism of the Gator Chomp can be traced back to the University of Florida’s football program. Memorable moments when fans unleashed the Gator Chomp include touchdown celebrations, game-winning plays, and pivotal moments that electrified the crowd. The Gator Chomp serves as a unifying force, connecting fans with a shared sense of excitement and team spirit.

The Hail Mary Prayer

In the world of NFL fan traditions, few moments evoke shared anticipation and excitement like a last-second Hail Mary pass for victory. When a team is down, time is running out, and hope seems lost, fans come together in a collective prayer for a miracle on the field.

Analyzing famous Hail Mary passes and the reactions of fans reveal the emotional rollercoaster that accompanies such plays. The ball soars through the air, hearts race, and breaths are held as fans watch with bated breath. When the pass connects and a touchdown is scored, jubilation erupts in the stands, uniting fans in a moment of sheer euphoria. This tradition represents the undying hope and faith that NFL fans hold for their teams, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

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The “Skol” Chant

The Minnesota Vikings’ fan tradition of the “Skol” chant is a rallying cry that energizes the team and invigorates the crowd. The “Skol” chant is accompanied by a rhythmic clapping motion and the chanting of “Skol Vikings!” It is a powerful expression of unity, pride, and unwavering support for the team.

Understanding the meaning and origins of the “Skol” chant requires delving into Scandinavian history and culture. The word “Skol” derives from Old Norse, meaning “cheers” or “good health.” Notable moments when the “Skol” chant became deafening include crucial moments in games, player introductions, and during key defensive stands. The rhythmic chant reverberates throughout the stadium, creating a sense of unity and strength among the Vikings’ faithful.

The “Who Dat?”

The chant of “Who Dat?” by New Orleans Saints fans captures the essence of their city and its vibrant culture. This chant, accompanied by a rhythmic clapping, is a rallying cry that unites fans in their unwavering support for the team. The origins of the “Who Dat?” chant can be traced back to early jazz and rhythm and blues songs, which eventually found their way into the lexicon of Saints fans.

Tracing the history and cultural significance of the “Who Dat?” chant reveals a deep connection between the team and the city of New Orleans. Unforgettable moments when fans roared with “Who Dat?” pride include Super Bowl victories, playoff triumphs, and crucial plays that ignited the crowd. The chant serves as a testament to the resilience and pride of New Orleans and its unwavering support for the Saints.

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The Dawg Pound

The Cleveland Browns’ dedicated fan section, known as the Dawg Pound, is a testament to the loyalty and passion of Browns fans. The Dawg Pound is a boisterous and spirited section of the stadium where fans dress in dog-themed costumes and bark, creating an atmosphere that is uniquely Cleveland.

Exploring the origins and loyalty of the Dawg Pound reveals a rich history of support for the Browns. Legendary moments and rituals within the Dawg Pound include barking chants, bone-shaped headgear, and passionate celebrations that showcase the unwavering dedication of these fans. The Dawg Pound has become an integral part of the Browns’ identity, symbolizing the indomitable spirit of Cleveland and its football team.

The Flyover

Before every game, fans are treated to an awe-inspiring military flyover that pays tribute to the men and women who serve in the armed forces. The significance and emotional impact of the flyover cannot be understated. As jets soar overhead in precise formation, fans are reminded of the sacrifices made by those who protect and defend our country.

Memorable flyover moments that left fans in awe include special events such as the Super Bowl or Veterans Day games. The sight of the jets streaking across the sky, trailing plumes of smoke, evokes a sense of patriotism and unity among fans. The flyover serves as a poignant reminder of the interconnectedness between sports and the larger world, honoring those who serve while adding an extra layer of grandeur to the game.

The Rally Towel

In playoff games, teams often distribute rally towels to fans, turning the stadium into a sea of waving fabric. These towels, emblazoned with team logos and colors, have become symbols of support and unity. Examining the impact and symbolism of rally towels reveals their ability to ignite the crowd and fuel team victories.

Rally towels serve as a visual representation of fan solidarity and unwavering support. They can be seen twirling through the air, creating a mesmerizing spectacle of color and movement. Celebrating historic moments when rally towels fueled team victories brings to mind images of fans waving their towels with fervor, encouraging their team to push through adversity and secure the win.

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The “Tomahawk Chop”

Originally a fan tradition of the Atlanta Braves in Major League Baseball, the “Tomahawk Chop” has been adopted by the Kansas City Chiefs and Florida State Seminoles in the NFL. The “Tomahawk Chop” involves fans chopping the air with their arms while emitting a rhythmic chant. However, this tradition has sparked controversy and diverse fan responses due to its appropriation of Native American culture.

Unforgettable moments when the “Tomahawk Chop” reverberated through stadiums include playoff games and pivotal moments that brought fans to their feet. Proponents argue that it is a celebration of team spirit and unity, while critics highlight the cultural insensitivity and potential harm caused by appropriating Native American traditions. The debate surrounding the “Tomahawk Chop” highlights the need for ongoing dialogue and understanding of cultural sensitivity in sports fan traditions.


NFL fan traditions enrich the game and create an atmosphere that is uniquely football. From the pre-game excitement of tailgate parties to the iconic rituals performed in stadiums, these traditions unite fans, generate excitement, and elevate the overall experience. Whether it’s the synchronized wave, the symbolic Terrible Towel, or the electrifying chants of fan sections, these traditions embody the passion and dedication of NFL fans. They have become integral parts of team identities, bringing fans together in a shared celebration of the game they love.

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What is the most famous NFL fan tradition?

The Terrible Towel, waved by Pittsburgh Steelers fans, is one of the most famous and iconic NFL fan traditions.

Which NFL team has the rowdiest fan section?

The Black Hole, dedicated to the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders, is renowned for its passionate and rowdy atmosphere.

What is the significance of the Lambeau Leap?

The Lambeau Leap is a fan tradition where Green Bay Packers players leap into the stands to celebrate a touchdown, connecting with their loyal fanbase.

Why is the Seattle Seahawks’ “12th Man” tradition significant?

The “12th Man” tradition represents the influence of the crowd on the game, as the Seahawks’ fans generate deafening noise levels that disrupt opposing teams.

What is the meaning behind the “Who Dat?” chant?

The “Who Dat?” chant is a rallying cry for New Orleans Saints fans, embodying the spirit and pride of their city.

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