When you're lucky enough to live in a place as awesome as Colorado, there are inevitable side effects that stretch beyond longer traffic jams and lengthening ski lines as others figure out how great this state is. Few of those are worse than the annual "Look at me, I'm not from here" festivals of Colorado transplants going to home games decked out head to toe, rooting for the road team.
Perhaps the most famous of those infestations takes place this weekend, when the Chicago Cubs are in town for their annual visit, and everyone who grew up in Illinois or has a cousin or a great aunt back in Chicago storms through LoDo, turning the place into a sea of blue-and-white pinstripes. They're kind of fun but mostly obnoxious, just like fans of many other teams who come to Denver home games and fill up half the stands.
The most obnoxious road-team fans you'll find in Denver:
10. Chicago Blackhawks
Don't take it from me. "Much the way being a Boston fan became hip last decade, Chicago teams (particularly the Cubs and Blackhawks) have seen an influx of new fans recently," says Raj Sharan, executive producer at 104.3/The Fan. "Throw in the gobs of Chicago transplants living in Denver, and you have a pretty obnoxious group. Oh, and it's okay to put ketchup on a hot dog."
We're just getting started with you, Chicago sports fans.
9. Pittsburgh Steelers
Who could forget the November 2009 Monday Night Football game when the famed terrible towel took over Corporate Sponsor Field at Mile High? You know, the one that caused Broncos officials a few years back to issue a plea to season-ticket holders to not sell their tickets to Steeler fans before their playoff showdown in early 2016?
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They're loud, they're annoying and Primanti Brothers sandwiches are kind of overrated. But Steeler fans are also well-traveled and often deserve props for showing support on the road. Also, of course, the Steelers play in a different division and they do a pretty good job of beating the far more evil Patriots, Chiefs and Raiders.
But, you know, you suck and stuff, Steeler fans.
8. Oakland Raiders
Raiders fans mostly make this list for nostalgic reasons. With the team's looming move to Vegas, this could be an irrelevant fan subset a few years from now. But for now, you can still count on a slew of obnoxious Raider fans at Mile High, wearing Halloween costumes and scaring small children and some adults.
Even in the heart of their worst years, though, the Raiders somehow found a way to make the fans who traveled to the Mile High happy every so often. Who could forget the 59-14 home drubbing against Oakland in 2010? Or 600-pound quarterback JaMarcus Russell leading a game-winning drive to keep the Broncos out of the playoffs in 2009? I guess Raider fans deserve some credit for combing otherwise untouched corners of Amazon and Party City to dress themselves for a football game.
7. Los Angeles Lakers
(Unproven) fact: Most Lakers fans aren't from Los Angeles. (Anecdotal-but-you-know-it's-totally-true) fact: Most Lakers fans at Denver Nuggets games are from Denver.
If you're from somewhere and you love that team, that's entirely understandable. But the Lakers have a knack for drawing in some of America's douchiest fans, most of whom have fringe-at-best connections to Los Angeles. Of course, this is a byproduct of the team being as good as it was for so long — which makes many Lakers fans winner-pickers, including a good chunk of those who fill the Can for Nuggets home games against Los Angeles. And, no, your second cousin Johnny living in San Bernardino doesn't give you a reason to root for the Lakers.
Maybe even the basketball gods have gotten annoyed with Lakers fans, as evidenced by the Lakers being mired in a glorious five-year playoff drought. And is it just me, or have Laker fans at the Pepsi Center gotten noticeably quieter since Kobe retired?
Wish we were as cool as you, Kobe-jersey-wearing-bro-who-lives-in-RiNo.
6. Kansas City Chiefs
If this list were a compilation of fans most likely to black out by the second quarter, Chiefs fans would rank near the top. Then again, if you were a Chiefs fan, that's probably the best way to watch the team.
"Chiefs fans suck," sums up lifelong Colorado sports fan Taylor Utt, reflecting the collective mood of local die-hards.
They'd be higher on this list, but the Chiefs are kind of like that annoying little brother you periodically beat up just to let him know who's boss. Kansas City hasn't won a Super Bowl since 1969 and famously hasn't won a home playoff game since 1994, providing a delightful dose of schadenfreude for Broncos fans every January.
Plus, their coach looks like a giant tomato, especially after twenty beers.
5. Minnesota Wild
This spot came to a playoff between the Red Wings and the Wild, but the Wings suck now and, frankly, the Avs have done their fair share of sucking for the last decade or so (though things sure are looking up). Sadly, the Wings-Avs rivalry is really a thing of the past, especially with Detroit now in the Eastern Conference.
Meanwhile, the Wild rivalry has been simmering for some years. With the young, talented Avs on the way up and Minnesota a perpetual contender in the same conference, a few testy playoff series and maybe a viral Deadspin video or two of drunk Wild fans doing stupid shit, and Minny fans could well rocket their way up this list.
4. Golden State Warriors
The main reason that Warriors fans are so high on this list is because there was no such thing as a Warriors fan until Steph Curry became amazing about five years ago. Just like Seattle Seahawks fans magically appearing out of the woodwork sometime around 2011 (Seattle receives honorable-mention awards here), Warriors fans were an endangered species until they started winning. Now, all of a sudden, the Can turns into a 15 to 20 percent mix of Curry and Kevin Durant jerseys twice a winter.
"Really? You've loved Golden State forever?" says Doug Ottewill, editor-in-chief of Mile High Sports magazine and a Denver Nuggets aficionado. "Sure you have!"
We're betting 90 percent of those fans don't know that the Warriors' biggest claim to fame until Curry came along was the fact that their best player in the 1990s, Latrell Sprewell, choked then-coach P.J. Carlesimo after a practice in 1997.
Don't forget to cut the price tag off your The City jersey.
3. St. Louis Cardinals
Before I started texting a group of trusted friends and colleagues, I didn't see this one coming. But my buddy Paul Klee, ace sports columnist at the Colorado Springs Gazette, made a strong case. "I go to the mountains that weekend," Klee, a Colorado native, says of the annual three-day invasion of Cardinals red at Coors Field.
So why are the Cardinals, the pride of a city that just lost its football team to Los Angeles (thanks to the Nuggets and Avalanche owners, no less), so loathed?
"Cardinals fan at Coors: 'St. Louis is the best!'" Klee: "Then why do you all live here?" Klee says of St. Louis baseball die-hards.
Arrogance is what's catapulting redbird fans into a top-three slot. Remember, we're not ranking our most hated teams (if so, the Cardinals probably wouldn't even be a candidate); we're ranking the most annoying fans. We all know Denver isn't (yet) the truest of baseball towns, but spare us the we're-better-than-you crap. Plus, we all know Denver is a way better town than St. Louis. Just ask their red-clad refugees.
2. New England Patriots
This may not be well known to some Colorado sports fans, but the Patriots have traditionally played last fiddle on the Boston sports totem pole for a couple of reasons. The Red Sox are the baseball-crazy city's first and truest love, followed closely by the legendary Celtics and Bruins. The Patriots, meanwhile, were the pinnacle of mediocrity, making the playoffs just nine times in thirty years after joining the NFL in 1970. Plus, the Pats play their games in middle-of-nowhere Foxboro, which would be like the Broncos playing their home games in Larkspur. Anyone remember how the Pats nearly moved to Hartford, Connecticut, in the late ’90s?
But a few years later, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick came along and, well, the rest is history. The Patriots were the ugly kid in middle school who underwent a growth spurt and shed his acne the summer before high school. Boston has absolutely "loved" the Patriots for a solid fifteen years now, as their overly obnoxious fans love to remind you.
"Entitled, insecure, always playing the victim," lifelong Jets fan Conor Reilly says of Patriots fans. "They skate the rules and point the finger everywhere else. [The] Jets were 'rats' for SpyGate, ESPN was 'biased witch hunt' for DeflateGate. [NFL commissioner Roger] Goodell's fault we cheated."
The Pats are usually the best team in the NFL, and nothing draws out a good ol' fashioned slurred Bostonian accent like a chance to yell "Tawm Brady is a gawd" fifty times while throwing back a Sam Adams or fifteen at Corporate Sponsor at Mile High's finest parking facilities. Fortunately, the Broncos and Patriots won't play each other in the 2018 regular season.
1. Chicago Cubs
From the die-hard, lifelong Cubs fan who moved here a year ago after surviving Steve Bartman and Billy Goat to That Friend We All Have who suddenly dusts off a Cubs hat just to remind you he's from Insert Chicago Suburb Here but can't name a single player on the roster, Baby Bear Nation serenades Coors Field with W flags, Old Style and road jerseys each and every year.
"Cubs fans are total shitheads," says John Reidy, co-host of the South Stands Denver podcast.
They display a weird mix of admirable, perhaps even enviable hometown and serious baseball pride combined with Okay-I-get-it-you're-from-northern-Illinois annoyance. But don't just take it from some fanboy writer. The annual I'm-from-Chicago invasion is irritating, even for Rockies players of years past.
"It sucks for players when there are more of the other teams' fans at games," says Jason Hirsh, a former Rockies pitcher who started nineteen games in the Rockies' 2007 World Series team. "With a World Series under the belt, [Cubs fans] are probably not much better."
Sure, Colorado's professional baseball team is merely a quarter-century old, with just four playoff appearances and one weird dinosaur mascot to show for 25 years of loyal fanship, but it's hard to beat our beloved state's overall record. If watching WGN in Joliet and periodically spending $200 on a home game is so amazing, then why, exactly, are those Cubs fans here?
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"Before they won it all, it was the woe-is-me bullshit," lifelong Colorado sports fan Josh Pennock says. "Now it's how they still act like a tortured fan base. Also, the fact that Coors Field brings in Old Style for the Cubs series pisses me off."
Congratulations, Cubs fans: You're the unquestioned top pick for this list.
Like this list? Hate it? Want to move teams around on the order? Are you a Silicon Valley transplant who just Googled Kevin Durant? Send us your feedback!
(Disclaimer: I'm a Connecticut transplant but lifelong Colorado sports fan.)