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August 01, 2019

Natalie Egenolf: Fans have every right to be high on the Eagles — but not to harass athletes online

Opinion Natalie Egenolf
Eagles-Fans_080119_usat Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles fans have every right to expect big things from their team this season.

This season, it's Super Bowl or bust for the Eagles. There, I said it and I’m not taking it back.

It’s been a wild debate this past week over whether or not training camp is too early to declare this Birds team Super Bowl-bound. But the truth is there's no other option this year. 

Heading into last season, there was a malaise over the Eagles faithful. After wandering through the desert for 50-plus years, we finally found our promised land. Once “Philly Philly” was written in the sky, fans and even sports writers were left with a “now what?” feeling in the middle of an existential crisis trying to figure out how to identify their fandom as winners. Sports talk radio struggled to stir up spirited Eagles conversation with minimal avail. 

It was like the entire city of Philadelphia was on a football honeymoon that lasted an entire season, where we saw visions of Jason Kelce in a mummers costume dancing around in our heads. Nick Foles was still our underdog golden boy and we were in such a state of bliss, we thought he’d take a pay cut to stay here and hold a clip board.

Now, after losing to the Saints in the playoffs, St. Nick is gone. And oh yes, Tom Brady won another Super Bowl. In other words, it's back to reality...

Our reality is now that we have to get back on board with the Super-Bowl-or-bust mindset to be successful again. Our job as a fan base is to be hungrier than ever when it comes to our beloved football team. What’s better than one Super Bowl victory? How about two? Or three? Or four? Maybe more? 

Take yourself back to that football honeymoon and envision what multiple Super Bowl parades would be like. Zack Ertz is on the record saying this team is stacked with the most talent of any team he’s ever been on. If the best tight end in the game is saying this, you better believe they’ve got what it takes. 

We’re one week away from the first preseason game and a little over one month from the regular season. You have one month to get your mind right. Turn the cruise control off, my friends, and get in the zone — the Birds are back and they’re better than ever. 

Are you fired up yet? You should be. #FlyEaglesFly.

Don't mess with the bull...

On the Mike Missanelli show this past week, we discussed how Phillies pitcher Jake Arietta had a back-and-forth in the Twitter DMs with a fan. Due to the NSFW content, I can’t quote the conversation here, but one might argue that Arietta went below the belt with his insult after being subjected to multiple profane jibes about his performance. The fan thought Arietta was out of line during the interaction and his main argument was that these athletes make millions so they should be able to take the heat, as if money makes you immune to human reaction. 

I asserted that if the fan didn’t want the horns, he shouldn’t have messed with the bull. In no way, shape or form should anyone be expected to take abuse online, especially when it’s directly sent. I fail to realize how someone could be shocked when spewing venom on the internet (shout out to the comment sections too) that it would illicit a response equally as harsh.

As fans, we often find ourselves emotional about the highs and lows of the performance of our athletes. I know it’s not something we admit but let’s be honest, we care so much because we feel so deeply about the teams. 

When you spend so much time and energy (and money) on something, you feel entitled to have a say in their performance. It’s fair in most situations — like booing or yelling — but with the emergence of social media, I often wonder if there is a line that can be crossed. When does the human element come into play in what’s fair criticism? The question that also comes along with the criticism is, “Should the athlete (or any public figure) fire back when fired upon?”

Social media has made it easier than ever to hide behind anonymous handles to spread negativity and cruel words. Perhaps this is the way our culture is trending in general, but what happened to people having decency in their interactions? 

There is a way to be critical without being callous. Diplomacy is a lost art and cursing/insulting strangers on the internet is not going to make you feel better about yourself or improve the Phillies pitching woes, I promise. 

So next time, before you @ someone and hit send, think about if you’re going to be able to handle a reaction before claiming it’s “unfair” that someone fires back.


Follow Natalie on Twitter: @NatalieEgenolf

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