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September 10, 2023

What it's like running an Eagles fan group in Boston

The White Bull Tavern has become a haven for Eagles fans in Boston. Josh Uzarski, who heads the Philadelphia Eagles Fans of Boston group, discusses what it's like being a hardcore Birds fan in enemy territory.

The energy that permeates throughout Philadelphia when the Eagles are good is unmatched. A head nod to another person wearing an Eagles hat walking down the street or hitting someone with quick "Go Birds" are part of the norms of the city. 

What happens when you're a hardcore Eagles fan living outside of the Delaware Valley though?

Take Josh Uzarski, the leader of the Philadelphia Eagles Fans of Boston group. 

Their haven isn't the Jetro Lot. It's not Chickie's and Pete's. It's the White Bull Tavern in downtown Boston just steps away from the famed Faneuil Hall. 

"On the low end it'll be around 100 to 150 people meeting up for the game," Uzarski says about the viewing parties at the bar, which has become the definitive spot for out-of-town Eagles fans to watch the game in Beantown. "On the higher end, there could be 300 people there, taking up both levels of White Bull Tavern."

This is serious business, Uzarski says. 

"We close it off just for the game," he says regarding the White Bull Tavern's game day patronage. "We have rules. You can't come in wearing other teams' gear unless you're with somebody. We even quiz people to make sure they're Eagles fans, not just random people."

During a Saturday night pregame event at White Bull Tavern featuring this fan group and the Philly Sports Trips company ahead of the Birds' season opener in New England, Uzarski discusses his path to Boston ring leader.

"When I was middle school age in the mid-'90s, that was the tail end of the Randall Cunningham era. I really enjoyed watching Cunningham's highlights," Uzarski, who grew up in Michigan, says about the dawn of his Eagles fandom. "Then I started reading about the passion and the lore of the Vet and thought that's very cool. That's my type of personality. It fits me. It grew and grew. At the beginning of message boards and online fans, I made friends and started going to the games."

Uzarski says he goes to a few games each season and will be in attendance for the team's home opener against the Vikings on Thursday. He moved to the Providence, R.I. area in 2009 and then moved to the Boston area in 2015, which kickstarted his in-depth work with this group. 

Philadelphians may take the common bonds that sports forge in the area for granted. It's a bit tougher for those on the outside to revel in that shared identity. 

"You got to find other ways to connect," Uzarski says about those ties. "Whether it be online. You have to seek it out more. Our Facebook group is 3,000 strong. It's harder when the Boston teams are doing well. It was hard the years the Patriots were good and we weren't as good. Now we can hold our heads a little higher, of course. It's more special when you come across an Eagles fan and you're not in Philly. You're both away and you get that head nod and recognition. If I'm in Philly I'm like, 'Wait, everyone is doing this.'

"A lot of my friendships in Boston come from this group."

Though Eagles fans get the lion's share of scourge about fan misbehavior from the national media, Bostonians aren't quite saintly figures themselves.

"We set an inflatable Swoop outside. He's taken a couple of beatings and been stabbed and deflated," Uzarski says. 

That's Deflategate 2.0!

The connective tissues between those Eagles fans stuck in Patriots country, however, remains strong through it all.

"The atmosphere is there. The group is starting to become this family sort of thing. That's what I wanted. It's not just some place to watch a game. We're all friends," Uzarski continues on to say.

The Eagles' Week 1 matchup with the Patriots presents a debate. Should fans stick to their regular routine and watch at the White Ball Tavern or make the trek to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro for the game?

Uzarski knows where he's going to be: his happy place at the bar. 

"I didn't want to pay the Tom Brady extortion fee," says of the Eagles-Patriots ticket prices, given that New England will be honoring Brady with a halftime retirement ceremony. 

We'll see if the Eagles rain on that little Brady parade and if Uzarski and his family of transplants get the last laugh. Either way, they'll have a blast following along in their Boston sliver of paradise. 

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