January 30, 2018

What they're saying: Eagles fans are actually great (and they deserve a Super Bowl title)

Eagles Super Bowl LII
013018_Eagles-Fan_usat Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

A Philadelphia Eagles fan looks on from the stands prior to the NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field.

A lot has been made recently about the behavior of Eagles fans following their team's 38-7 win over the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. Of course, that's to be expected any time a Philly team makes it to a championship, thanks to a decades-long history of incidents involving local fans, most of which took place over 20 years ago. 

Because it's the easiest narrative hook from which to dangle their clickbait, writers from other cities typically seize on any opportunity to make Philly fans look bad. And while I could list countless articles below from every corner of the country to prove my point, linking back to those stories would only help said writers achieve their goal of angering a rabid fan base and drumming up page views. 

Aside from the extremely rare exceptions, these stories come from outsiders, the types of people who fly into the city on Saturday, stay for a night and fly out immediately after the game, making it even more impressive that they have the time for sweeping (and inaccurate) generalizations about the fanbase. How, then, could they possibly get to know real Eagles fans, not just the handful of idiots screaming for attention (or perhaps professional help) by doing something as stupid as punching a police horse? 

The short answer? They don't.

They get what they need from the worst among us and move on. That, or they willfully opt to forward a narrative they know to be false just for the sake of page views.

Either way, Eagles fans seem to have had enough. And that's the theme of today's edition of What They're Saying, which starts with a local guy standing up for his fellow Eagles fans. 

All we need

Tyler Ricky Tynes | SB Nation

I worked with Tyler in my previous life as an editor, and I can tell you from experience that this guy gets Philly. He was born in North Philly and although he now writes for a national outlet, he's never forgotten his roots.

Tyler took a look at how this Eagles run has impacted several different fans from several different walks of life, and his story is definitely worth your time, whether you're a Birds fan or not. 

Every fan base has its wahoos and crazies. But every fan base isn’t Philly. Every crew doesn’t rumble into another stadium 3,000 miles away and make it an extra home game. They don’t travel to Chicago just to interrupt a baseball game for a few seconds of “Eagles” chants. That being said, everyone doesn’t drive dune buggies up landmarks. We are a flawed people. Say what you will about Philly, and people like [Larry Poff] will lean into it...

The Eagles have often used a tag line saying, “We all we got. We all we need.” It is not just fodder used for creative marketing schemes to excite hungry fans for fun football. It is also the string that, at times, holds the lives of this city together: a football-fevered city that has always prayed for a Super Bowl, one that too often has found a way to escape us. Everyone has different reasons to love this team. So when the game clock ran out in the NFC Championship game numerous fans cried watching the Eagles advance.  [sbnation.com]

Sing it with us

A.J. Perez | USA TODAY

Memorizing the words to "Fly, Eagles, Fly" is a rite of passage for any young Eagles fans. In some cases, you learn to sing that before you even learn to read. And defensive end Brandon Graham proved he's no different from Eagles fans when he belted out his team's fight song on Monday at Super Bowl Opening Night – and even knew all the lyrics by heart.

“When I went out to learn about the fans and learn about the city, I said to myself, 'I have to learn the song,'” said the Eagles defensive end who has spent his entire eight-season NFL career in Philadelphia. “You are going to be put on a spot sometimes. People want you to show you really care. I wanted to make sure at least I knew the fight song.”

Moments later, USA TODAY Sports did put him on the spot at Monday’s Super Bowl Opening Night — and Graham nailed the song that is played after every Eagles touchdown and several other times during home games. 

“For me it’s about loyalty,” Graham said when asked why he chose to memorize the lyrics. “I’ve been here eight years now. They drafted me here. It’s my (duty) to go out there to learn what the city is all about.”  [usatoday.com]

Why not us?

Cody Benjamin | CBSSports.com

Over at CBSSports.com, they offered up five reasons why fans should be rooting for the Eagles – don't worry, they did the Pats a few days earlier – and, unsurprisingly, the fact that this city has never won a Super Bowl was on the list.

Philadelphia isn't completely devoid of championships. Although there are inevitably some same-state Pittsburgh Steelers fans who are bent on convincing you that any NFL games before 1967 didn't count, the Eagles were the NFL's top dogs in 1947, '48 and again in '60. And yet, for them and their hungry followers, the last five decades have done little more than tease a city starved for a trophy. Even the last great Eagles run, which saw Andy Reid coach the team to historic success and, of course, the club's last Super Bowl appearance against you-know-who in 2004, included a whopping four NFC Championship Game losses, three of which came back-to-back-to-back.

If you can spare a shred of mercy, you'll root for the Eagles to accomplish what's always seemed impossible, putting at ease fans of all ages who tasted -- but never truly consumed -- a championship course over the last 50-plus years.  [cbssports.com]

'Time served'

Rick Berger | Philadelphia Museum of Sports

Rick Berger isn't just a lifelong Philly sports fan, he's also the Director of Development at the Philadelphia Museum of Sports. So, yeah, I'd say he's pretty qualified to talk about what Eagles fans are actually like... 

I often categorize fans I meet by age. To me, the age of a sports fan is the equivalent to time served as a prisoner. The older you are the more you have seen, the longer you have suffered in a lot of cases, and the better you cope with disappointed. Only one team wins each year so based on an average of 30 teams per league you have roughly a 3% chance of achieving the ultimate goal...that's a lot of unsuccessful seasons. I remember crying myself to sleep in elementary school the night of an Eagles loss not knowing how I would make it through the week. But then I would look to my father for advice and support because he had served much more time then I had, so surely if he could get through the week so could I.  [linkedin.com]

Leading by example

Thomas George | SB Nation

With all that's been made about how player activism can be a distraction in the locker room, it's worth noting that it's had almost the opposite effect on the Eagles, who have some of the more outspoken players in the league.

“There is a need in America and a lot of players feel the same way,” [Malcolm Jenkins] said. “But they do not want to be out in front. They do not want to take the fallout. I’m OK with that.”

He is so OK with it that he had has been a leading voice in the Players Coalition for change and has visited directly on Capitol Hill and with the league office, police forces and in communities. His work along with defensive end Chris Long — a stout advocate who is donating his salary this season to his alma mater Virginia after its racially-charged tragedy last August — makes Jenkins and Long major faces and voices of NFL player activism...

NFL owners and coaches routinely preach about avoiding “distractions” in their season-long Super Bowl quest. Some owners this season (see Dallas and Jerry Jones) swung hard against player anthem protests. Some coaches privately and consistently voiced concerns to me over the disruption and commotion players becoming activists this season caused.  [sbnation.com]


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