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December 22, 2017

Are Philly sports still cursed, or are we just that unlucky?

Here are some conclusions we've drawn from the overshadowing of Bill Penn in recent years

Philadelphia is cursed. Or at least it used to be, after One Liberty Place surpassed William Penn’s hat, therefore breaking the “gentleman’s agreement” to not build anything taller than the statue on top of City Hall.

In the years following the new construction, Philadelphia sports teams suffered walk-off home runs in Game 7 of the World Series, a Stanley Cup Final loss, an NBA Finals loss, three straight NFC Championship losses and a subsequent Super Bowl loss.

Finally, in 2007, some wise steel workers decided that enough was enough, and placed a miniature William Penn statue atop the newly-constructed Comcast Center.

And, wouldn’t you know it, the next year, Chase Utley was announcing that the Phillies were “World f***king Champions.”

Philadelphians might have noticed that there’s a new building that’s suddenly taller than the first Comcast Center (from this point, we’ll call it Comcast Two).

Things were going pretty well for Philadelphia sports up until this point. 

The Eagles were on a winning streak that had people holding their breath the same way you would as a pitcher goes into the ninth inning with a perfect game going. There were whispers of “Super Bowl” once again. The Sixers had finally seen their long-promised “Process” coming to fruition. All was, pretty much, right with the world.

And then, Comcast Two shadowed Comcast One, eclipsing William Penn once again, and the Colonial Quaker gods (pacifists as they may be) punished Philadelphia by striking Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz down with a season-ending ACL tear, and, for good measure, threw in an injury to Sixers star Joel Embiid.

We are cursed once again.

Or are we?

Spoiler: We are not cursed, or at least not because of William Penn’s ego requiring him to be the tallest guy in town.

It turns out that, back in November, workers building the new Comcast behemoth quietly placed a new William Penn on top of the soon-to-be-finished skyscraper, thus extending our protection from supernatural sports interference.

“They did not want to take a chance and wait for the jinx,” Mike Delaney, executive vice president for construction company LF Driscoll, told

But let’s look at what happened immediately after in Eaglesland. The first game after the new statue went up was a 24-10 routing against the Seattle Seahawks. It was the team’s first loss since week 2. The next game, Carson Wentz tore his ACL on the same night Joel Embiid injured his back, putting the futures of the two franchises’ faces in jeopardy (at least for the time being).

The point of this all is that things started going south as soon as the statue went up. Logically, there are four conclusions to draw from here:

1. The city has always been cursed, we just got lucky in 2008 with the World Series win. What this did was give us hope that maybe we weren’t cursed to make the future failures all the more painful.

2. The new statue somehow canceled out the statue they put on top of Comcast One in 2007, the same way that multiplying two negatives gives you a positive number.

3. The new statue technically isn’t the highest point, since there is still steel above it, so we never actually fixed the problem.

4. We were never really cursed in the first place – we’re just a horribly, horribly unlucky city when it comes to sports.

Regardless, the sports world is mocking Philadelphia for flying-too-close-to-the-sports-success sun, counting our championship chickens before they hatched, and other sports metaphors to represent just how cocky the teams’ fanbases got with nothing to really back it up.

If we’re still cursed from Liberty Place, and the ghosts of William Penn and Edmund Bacon are playing a hand in our athletic failures from the ether, there’s not much we can do short of bulldozing half of the city. If we’re cursed because of the new statue, maybe those brave steelworkers can either place it even higher or take it down to see what happens.

If we were never cursed at all, then it’s going to be a long lifetime of cheering for our favorite teams.

Go Birds. Trust the Process.