The title should piss you off. I know it pisses me off. But before, I explain why the Eagles rank so low on the Emory Sports Marketing Program list of the most loyal fan-bases in the NFL, I should probably go more in-depth about how the ranking were reached.
The list was created by Mike Lewis & Manish Tripathi of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.
In our series of fan base analyses across leagues, we adjust for these complicating factors using a revenue premium model of fan equity. The key idea is that we look at team box office revenues relative to team on-field success, market population, stadium capacity, median income and other factors. The first step in our procedure involves the creation of a statistical model that predicts box office revenue as a function of the aforementioned variables. We then compare actual revenues to the revenues predicted by the model. Teams with relatively stronger fan support will have revenues that exceed the predicted values, and teams that under perform have relatively less supportive fan bases. We provide more details on the method here and here.
That is a lot to take in. I think if you take the time to read exactly how the fanbases are ranked, you would get the idea that the Eagles are low simply because of the fact that they have had two down seasons. But if you take a look at the rest of the rankings, it becomes clear that success isn’t the only ingredient to being ranked highly on this list. ‘
The Jets have had back-to-back disappointing seasons, but they are still in a big market, and I can’t help but feel that the jersey sales of one Tim Tebow impacted their spot on this list. Tebow had the third highest selling jersey in the NFL in 2012. And regardless of how ugly his season in New York was, the Jets still made a ridiculous profit off of him, while he held a clipboard in their new stadium.
Then you get to the San Diego Chargers at number 11, a team that rarely even has home games televised because they can’t sell the games out. I’m struggling to think of the last time that the Eagles had trouble selling out a home game. If they have ever had trouble selling out, it hasn’t been my lifetime.
And really the Carolina Panthers have a more loyal fanbase than the Eagles? It’s almost comical.
So why do the Eagles rank so low? Let’s look a little closer at the formula used for the rankings again.
The first step in our procedure involves the creation of a statistical model that predicts box office revenue as a function of the aforementioned variables. We then compare actual revenues to the revenues predicted by the model. Teams with relatively stronger fan support will have revenues that exceed the predicted values, and teams that under perform have relatively less supportive fan bases.
We all know that the Panthers and Chargers don’t beat the Eagles in terms of actual fan support at a game, but because both San Diego and Carolina are both considerably smaller markets than Philadelphia, the model used will predict a lower revenue for support for both teams. So attendance wise, it is fathomable to see how even though neither team has the fan support that Philadelphia has, they performed better on there individual scale.
Then there is the off the field revenue, which I think the Eagles really lost out big in over the past two seasons. I can’t think of a player on the Eagles over the last few years, who I would even consider taking $100 and buying their jersey. Maybe LeSean McCoy, but that’s about it. Michael Vick has under-performed, and because of his checkered past, certain fans still refuse to buy his jersey. DeSean Jackson has massively under-performed. Most Eagles fans would have been more likely to just flush $100 down the toilet than spend it on a Nnamdi Asomugha or Jason Babin jersey, and the losing culture that those two were largely part of, makes fans less likely to buy anyone’s jersey on the team. And the losing culture also trickles down on fans buying team sweatshirts, t-shirts, sweatpants etc.
Carolina has a superstar jersey on their team, in Cam Newton. While Newton has yet to blossom into a superstar on the field, his superman celebration, million-dollar smile, and star-reputation from college landed him at number 11 on the top selling jerseys in the NFL in 2012. Michael Vick was the highest selling Eagles’ jersey in 2012, and he came in at number 22, eleven spots below Newton.
The Chargers just must have had extremely low projections, because they didn’t have a single player in the top 25 selling jerseys in 2012. It puzzles me how they could possibly rank as high as they do on this list.
Philadelphia is the type of city that will always show up to the games, but when they aren’t happy they aren’t going to blindly take their hard-earned money and buy team apparel. Who in their right mind would? By purchasing team apparel, or an individual player’s jersey, you are saying you support the direction the team and that individual player are heading to. Who over the last two seasons would feel that way about the Eagles?
If the Eagles had a young star like Robert Griffin III, Cam Newton, or Andrew Luck, there is no saying where they would be on this list. Or if they had someone like Tom Brady, who will sell a ridiculous amount of jerseys annually because of sustained excellence, they would be higher on the list.
The Eagles rank low on the list because of a recent drop-off in on-field production from individual players and the team as a whole. If this list was done in 2004 when the Eagles went to the Superbowl and had both Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb in the top five selling jerseys, the Eagles could very well be ranked in the top five in terms of loyalty of fanbases.
In other words, this list is flawed. As much as they tried to keep the list from being biased based solely on team success, jersey and apparel sells were heavily factored, and both of those are heavily influenced by team success. And the Eagles haven’t had much of that over the past two seasons. They also don’t have a superstar name like Cam Newton, and that really hurts them.
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