With the NFL season coming to an end this weekend, let’s take a look across the NFL at teams that featured a drumline as part of their pre-game or in-game entertainment in the 2016-2017 season.

 

My Experience in an NFL Drumline

A few years ago I had an opportunity to play in the Indianapolis Colts Drumline.  It was an awesome experience and that NFL season was a blast.  It was Andrew Luck’s rookie year and the Colts made it back to the playoffs after an abysmal 2-14 record in 2011 (when this guy was our starting QB in place of the injured Peyton Manning).

 

[photo credit: Daily Journal]

We got a free Colts jersey as our uniform, a small paycheck for each game, and a couple tickets to each home game (best part).  We borrowed the drums from Center Grove HS, and met up each Sunday morning of home games to do some pre-game entertainment around Lucas Oil Stadium and downtown Indianapolis before the games.  I was by far the worst drummer out of the group but I still had a blast getting to play at each game.

Unfortunately, the Colts drumline was short lived and was scrapped the following year.  Since then, I’ve jealously watched what seems to be every other NFL team have a drumline playing in between commercial breaks on TV.

 

Who’s Doing It Right

It turns out that the majority of NFL teams have a drumline now – 23/32 teams currently do.  Some teams even have a full marching band (Redskins, Ravens) which I had no idea was a thing in the NFL.  Of the teams that currently don’t have a drumline, many used to in the past and scrapped them for whatever reason.

Here’s a list of the teams that had some sort of drumline this year.  Let me know if I’m missing anyone.

  • Dallas Cowboys (13-3)
  • Kansas City Chiefs (12-4)
  • New York Giants (11-5)
  • Atlanta Falcons (11-5)
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5)
  • Seattle Seahawks (10-5-1)
  • Green Bay Packers (10-6)
  • Denver Broncos (9-7)
  • Detroit Lions (9-7)
  • Houston Texans (9-7)
  • Tennessee Titans (9-7)
  • Washington Redskins (8-7-1)
  • Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
  • Minnesota Vikings (8-8)
  • Buffalo Bills (7-9)
  • New Orleans Saints (7-9)
  • Philadelphia Eagles (7-9)
  • Cincinnati Bengals (6-9-1)
  • Carolina Panthers (6-10)
  • Chicago Bears (3-13)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13)
  • San Francisco 49ers (2-14)
  • Cleveland Browns (1-15)

 

Who’s Doing It Wrong

Here’s the list of teams that from what I can tell by searching Google and social media, did not have a drumline this year.  Most of these teams have fielded a drumline in the past but chose not to this year for various reasons I assume (if you know about a specific reason, I would love to hear more about the details).

  • New England Patriots (14-2)
  • Oakland Raiders (12-4)
  • Miami Dolphins (10-6)
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7)
  • Indianapolis Colts (8-8) (we get this at every home game instead – yeah, it doesn’t make sense to anyone in Indianapolis either)
  • Arizona Cardinals (7-8-1)
  • New York Jets (5-11)
  • San Diego Chargers (5-11)
  • LA Rams (4-12)

 

Next Level Drumline Stats

When I originally thought of the idea for this post, in my unashamed bias towards having a drumline, I assumed that each team with a drumline would naturally do better than teams without.  Drumlines get the crowd amped up and get people into the game.  Drumlines take a professional sport and make it feel more like the college team that you root for – where everyone is a diehard fan.  When fans are in the game, it can have a tremendous affect on the play of the game in the stadium.

I did some quick research and found out some interesting stats from this past season.  Of the 12 teams that made the playoffs, 9 of them had drumlines.  Teams with drumlines also had better defenses on average, allowing 13 points per game fewer than teams without drumlines.  Clearly, having a drumline is a home field advantage.

However, my affection of drumlines and the stats behind the Wins and Losses didn’t add up.  It turns out that teams without a drumline had a better win percentage than teams with a drumline (.518 without vs .493 with).  Teams without also scored more touchdowns and had better overall records against opponents in their conference and division.  Bummer.

But wait, if you take out the outliers, though, it tells a slightly different story.  If you remove the Patriots from the equation (best record in NFL at 14-2, no drumline) and remove the Browns (1-15 this season, yes drumline) this paints a picture more in line with what I had expected in the beginning.  These adjusted numbers flip the winning percentage to .513 vs .473 in favor of groups that have a drumline.

 

Why Every NFL Team Should Have a Drumline

So there we go, we solved it.  If you remove the ends of the bell curve – the Patriots who are ridiculously good, every year, and the Browns who are ridiculously bad, every year – that leaves you with the rest of the NFL.  It is statistically in your favor to have a drumline on your payroll if you’re an NFL owner.  Unless you’re the Patriots or Browns, in which case it doesn’t matter – everyone knows how you’re going to do before the season even starts.

If you don’t buy that, you should still have a drumline anyway.  The upfront cost might be a couple thousand dollars if you want to buy your own drums and deck them out with your team’s logo and colors.  That’s nothing compared to the minimum salaries you’re going to pay for even your least expensive practice squad players who make $6,600 a week minimum to not even play in the game.  The investment is well worth it if the home crowd environment gets you one additional win next year.

A drumline is way more exciting and engaging for your fans and your audience than just about anything else you’ll see at an NFL game across the country. Except for NFL cheerleaders, of course.  It’s really hard to beat NFL cheerleaders.