- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 25, 2019

As injured as the Redskins were last season, the team’s fans also took a beating. The burgundy-and-gold faithful were called out by star players for booing at home games. They were criticized for letting opposing fans fill FedEx Field. They were even blasted in a player’s leaked conversation on social media. 

Despite carping and the second-guessers, Redskins’ fans are still ranked as the 11th best in the NFL, according to a new study from a business professor at Emory University.

Professor Mike Lewis, who conducts the study annually, developed a model that evaluates data on revenues, social media following and home and road attendance figures. The system also accounts for factors like market size and variances in winning and losing.  

Using Lewis’ model, the Redskins ranked 10th in fan equity, 28th in social equity and eighth in road equity.

All three of the Redskins’ NFC East rivals ranked higher in the professor’s study. The Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers ranked as the five best fanbases in the NFL. 

The Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams ranked as the five worst.

Washington fans, of course, came under fire last season — including from a number of Redskins’ players. A day after the team’s home-opening loss in September — which officially saw Washington’s self-proclaimed 50-year sellout streak end — running back Chris Thompson said he was “a little bit” shocked at how empty the stadium was. 

In November, cornerback Josh Norman blasted the atmosphere at FedEx Field — following a road win at Tampa Bay. Norman noted the discrepancy between the fans’ passion on the road compared to at home. 

“We come back to our home and it seems like guys don’t really care,” Norman said. “They just boo everything and aren’t really behind us. We don’t really feel that [support]. And I’m tired of it, really.” 

Former safety D.J. Swearinger backed Norman’s comments in a radio interview the following day — telling 106.7 The Fan that Washington’s home-field advantage was “lacking.” 

In December, linebacker Mason Foster apologized for “inappropriate language and derogatory remarks” made about the team’s fans in a series of private messages that were leaked on social media. Foster wrote “F– this team and this fan base” and included six laughing emojis. He later told reporters he thought he was sending them to a different person “in a joking way.” 

Overall, Redskins’ attendance fell 19% in 2018 and the team finished 27th among the league’s 32 teams.

Washington had gone into last season looking to “grab back” home-field advantage. The team hired a slew of marketing executives — including Brian Lafemina, who was named the team’s president of business operations. His department incorporated a number of new features in an attempt to win back fans, from better food options to cutting back on selling to ticket brokers. Lafemina pledged transparency and talked about the franchise “doing the right thing for 1,000 days.” 

Instead, Lafemina and his crew were fired shortly before Christmas. 

The Redskins drew an average of 61,028 fans last season, their worst since opening FedEx Field in 1997. 

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