Football games are as much about the on-field action as they are the atmosphere in the stadium. A great fight song can energize players and rally fans like nothing else. Here is a ranking of 5 top NFL anthems based on history, tradition, and how they capture team identity.
“Who Dey” by Cincinnati Bengals fans
The anthem “Who Dey” does not have a traditional title, artist or year of release as it originated organically in the 1980s among Cincinnati Bengals fans. But it has become synonymous with the team’s identity and culture.
What “Who Dey” lacks in instrumentation, it makes up for it with passion. The lyrics “Who dey, who dey, who dey think gonna beat dem Bengals?” express confidence in the team’s ability to defeat their opponents each week.
“Who Dey” is considered one of the best NFL anthems because of how authentically it reflects the underdog mentality and defiant spirit of the Bengals franchise and their loyal fans. Through many ups and downs over decades, the chant has become a badge of pride that energizes the team and creates an intimidating home-field advantage. It is a memorable part of Bengals gameday culture and has been carried on for generations of fans.
“Fly Eagles Fly” by Charles Borrelli and Roger Courtland
The Philadelphia Eagles adopted “Fly Eagles Fly” as their official fight song in 1969, playing it following touchdowns and before home games at Lincoln Financial Field to rally the fans.
The anthem has the characteristics of a fight song with an uptempo rhythm and catchy melody. The lyrics encourage the Eagles to “soar high” and score more points while taunting their rivals. Over time, the popular “E-A-G-L-E-S” chant emerged and is shouted at the end of the song to display team pride.
What makes “Fly Eagles Fly” one of the best NFL anthems is the way it captures and expresses the passion of Philadelphia fans. The lyrics reflect the city’s tough, defiant spirit. For over 50 years, the song has energized and motivated Eagles players before each game, you would think the NFL odds are favorable for them against any rivals in the table with the formidable players they have on the roster. It creates an electric atmosphere inside Lincoln Financial Field that intimidates opponents. To this day, it remains synonymous with Eagles pride.
“Skol Vikings” by James Red McLeod of Edina, Minnesota.
Skol Vikings was written in 1961 by composer James “Red” McLeod of Edina, Minnesota. The Minnesota Vikings adopted it as their official fight song, playing it after scores and wins at U.S. Bank Stadium to rally the hometown crowd.
With an upbeat Nordic melody, “Skol Vikings” sounds like a battle song. The use of the word “Skol” in the lyrics celebrates the team’s Scandinavian heritage. In 2016, the Vikings introduced the “Skol Chant” – a rhythmic call-and-response between fans and players that was inspired by Iceland’s passionate football supporters.
What makes “Skol Vikings” one of the best NFL anthems is the authentic way it honors Minnesota’s large Scandinavian-American population. The song reflects the Vikings’ tough, resilient identity and has energized the team for over 50 years. Overall, the anthem pays fitting homage to the Vikings’ Nordic roots.
Hail to the Redskins by Corinne Griffith
Hail to the Redskins was written in 1938 by Corinne Griffith, the wife of team owner George Preston Marshall, and composed by Barnee Breeskin.
Originally called the Boston Braves, the team was renamed the Redskins in 1933 after Marshall took over as owner. They adopted “Hail to the Redskins” as their official anthem, playing it after scores and wins at FedExField.
With a marching band-style arrangement, the anthem has an upbeat tempo and patriotic lyrics praising the team. However, the use of “Redskins” and references to “Braves on the warpath” became increasingly controversial.
What made “Hail to the Redskins” iconic was how it rallied fans for over 80 years, reflecting the team’s heritage and pride. However, the racial undertones also came to define their controversial identity. After retiring the name and logo in 2020, the song title was changed until the team became the Commanders.
Bear Down, Chicago Bears by Al Hoffman
Bear Down, Chicago Bears was written in 1941 by Al Hoffman and released that same year.
The Chicago Bears adopted it as their official anthem, playing it after scores at Soldier Field to rally fans. With a big band style, the song features brass instruments and a driving beat.
The lyrics capturing the team’s founding by George Halas and his motivational phrase “Bear Down” to players. This reflects the franchise’s history and tough minded identity.
What makes it one of the best NFL anthems is how it energizes the team and crowd to emulate the ferocity of bears. Generations of Bears fans learn the history and tradition through the song.
While other teams have changed songs, “Bear Down” has endured through its simplicity and ability to instill the franchise’s values in players and fans for almost a century. The song is an indelible part of Chicago football culture.
Some of the most iconic fight songs in the league include “Fly Eagles Fly” spurring on Philadelphia fans for over 50 years, “Who Dey” reflecting the underdog spirit of the Bengals through rich history, and “Bear Down, Chicago Bears” epitomizing the city’s toughness while honoring founder George Halas.
But what makes these anthems stand out is not just their musical qualities, but how they become deeply ingrained in the lore of each franchise through memorable moments and connections to multiple generations of devoted fans. A great fight song is a soundtrack to a team’s legacy, continuing to energize players and crowds alike long after the final whistle blows.