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Forbes magazine recently shared a story revealing which NFL teams have the best fans. Honestly, it shouldn't be any surprise who is in the top 5 and, more tellingly for this area, who isn't.

The rankings were based on five criteria: TV ratings, stadium attendance, merchandise sales, social media reach and a category called "hometown crowd reach." Based on those criteria, the top 5 fan bases in the NFL are:

5. Baltimore Ravens
4. New England Patriots
3. New Orleans Saints
2. Denver Broncos
1. Green Bay Packers

As for our home state Minnesota Vikings, well, they don't show up in the story's slideshow of the top 10. Honestly, that doesn't surprise me. I got to see firsthand how Vikings fans back their team back several years ago...

It was the 1998 season. I was living and working in St. Paul and surrounded by Vikings fans. The Minnesota Vikings were flying high. The Vikes had stormed through the regular season with a 15-1 record, winning the old NFC Central Division. The sheer amount of Vikings gear on display was amazing. I'd never seen so many of those Vikings car flags in my life!

I grew up in Denver, so of course I'm a huge Broncos fan. That year, John Elway and company were putting together as good a season in the AFC as the Vikings had in the NFC. As both teams moved through the playoffs, I was suddenly on the receiving end of much grief from my Vikings fan colleagues. The trash talk was strong and steady throughout January 1999. Not being a huge trash-talker, and being in the minority, I simply kept quiet, mostly answering "We'll see."

Then in the NFC Championship Game there was a missed field goal by the Vikings and the Falcons won in overtime and the dream season was over in Minnesota as Atlanta moved on to face Denver in the Super Bowl.

The next day, there wasn't Vikings paraphernalia to be seen anywhere! All the flags had been stripped from the cars they had adorned and all the Vikings fans had gone quiet. I decided then and there that the Minnesota Vikings had the most fair-weathered fans I had ever seen. And watching how they "root" for the team in the several years since, I've not changed my mind one bit on that.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying there are no die-hard Vikings fans out there. I'm just saying that, as a whole, Vikings fans seem to care less about their team than the fans of many other NFL teams I've witnessed.

Will the Vikings ever make the top 10? Maybe the new stadium will help. If it gets filled up every home game. Or maybe another strong run to the Super Bowl could ignite more passion. I don't know what it will take, but it would have to be major...