I was thinking last week about the Dallas Cowboys and their rivalry with the Redskins. I assume the reasons for this are pretty obvious, and I’m not going to revisit Dallas Week except to make this one observation: whenever I thought about the Cowboys and the Redskins, I thought of specific games. Sometimes they were good: the 1983 NFC Championship, the Monday Night Moss Miracle, the Troy Vincent blocked kick, the dominating win last year. Other times they were pretty cruddy: the Clint Longley game, the broken undefeated streak, the vast majority of games at Dallas since 1991. But the common denominator is that it was about the games.
There have been plenty of good games against Philly, wins and losses, but that’s not what keeps coming to mind as I think about this week’s game. What I keep thinking about instead are the Philly fans. When the guys at Mr. Irrelevant posed the question the other day about the Redskins biggest rival, Chris Mottram claimed to hate Philly fans more, even if he’d rather beat Dallas, which I think is rooted in the same phenomenon: the Cowboys are hated on the field, where the Eagles are hated off it.
(I should note at this point that some of my good friends and extended family grew up in Eagles territory and are lifelong Eagles fans. I want to hurry to assure all of those people that OF COURSE I’m not talking about them. I’m also not talking about the fictional-but-amusing Emo Eagles Fans at Kissing Suzy Kolber. [Language warning for KSK, although not those particular posts.] I’m talking about the OTHER kind of Eagles fan. You know, THAT guy.)
The roll call of misdeeds has at this point become legendary, and probably doesn’t need to be recounted, but what the heck. Eagles fans have, among other charming incidents:
- booed Santa Claus.
- taunted former Cowboys WR Michael Irvin while he lay on the field, possibly paralyzed.
- booed the first recipient of a hand transplant in the U.S.
- thrown batteries, snowballs, and other objects at assorted people through the years.
- badly beaten Chief Zee in 1983.
And the first fistfight I ever saw in person — more of a beating, really — was at a Phillies game at the Vet. So, you know, there’s all of that. On the other hand, much of this stuff is presumably exaggerated, right? And at least a few staffers here rolled their eyes when I asked about the Eagles fans, calling it a complete non-story and (I’m paraphrasing) the most pointless annual discussion in the history of mankind.
Maybe, I thought, I’m completely off the rails here. Maybe I’m buying into years of overblown hype. Maybe the Eagles fans don’t even deserve their reputation at all. So I asked the players.
“They deserve it,” says Fred Smoot. “They are the meanest fans in the NFL, no doubt. My momma never came to watch me play in Philly, and I bet she never will, because I care about her too much. They’re hard knock fans, and they demand respect.”
Mike Sellers agrees. “It’s a hostile environment,” he says. “When we’re driving in, they egg the bus. When we drive into the stadium, there’s all these little kids standing there flipping us the bird. They’re much worse than Dallas fans, when it comes to talking trash.”
That may be because they do their research. “They know everything about you,” says Rock Cartwright. “They know all about your family, everything that needs to be known, they’re gonna find out. It’s not all of them, you know, but some of them….” He shakes his head.
It’s Randy Thomas, though, who puts it all in perspective. “They’ve got passion. I really think these guys don’t like to lose, and they take it the hard way. And they let you know with their mouths. Besides our fans, they’re probably some of the better fans out there.”
They’re fans, just like us. Really. I’m sure that’s what I’ll find out when I head up to my first game at The Linc on Sunday.
Or maybe not, according to Sellers. “It’s great for their fanbase, because they try to intimidate people, but once you’ve played in the league for awhile you start to get used to it. You’ll see, though. When you ride the bus into the stadium, you’ll be like, “Okay….”