I know what you’re thinking, football on a sailing blog? But please, bear with me. Indulge me for a few short minutes. Sailing is after all, a sport and after reading Sports Illustrated’s piece announcing Philly fans as the “most hated” in the NFL, I just had to defend my hometown, show some love, and rebut this because it’s tired. It’s completely unoriginal and cliche by now. So I ask – sailing friends, read on. Don’t click away just yet.
Yes, in 1968 Eagles fans booed Santa Claus and threw snowballs at him. Nineteen-sixty-eight, people! Do you realize how long ago that was and you’re still holding on? ESPN writer Phil Sheridan explains it perfectly in his blog so I won’t go into too much detail but to paraphrase, after losing their first 11 games that year, the Eagles went on a dismal two game winning “streak” which effectively knocked them out of contention to draft the No. 1 pick in 1969, hall of fame running back O.J. Simpson and at half-time they were in no mood for Santa. And… Santa isn’t even real!
The wind was real that December day at Franklin Field. The cold was also real as fans arrived to find the stadium and their seats covered in a foot of snow. The Santa that had been hired to appear at half-time was a no-show and the Eagles staff needed to do something quick. They scanned the stadium and saw a young man dressed in a Santa suit and persuaded him to march onto the field as their last-minute Santa Claus. 19 year old Frank Olivo’s life would never, ever be the same. Frank Olivo passed away April 30, 2015 in Philly and I’m sad that I never emailed him or got speak to him directly. I would have loved that.
Yes, in 1998 Philadelphia installed a jail in the bowels of Vet Stadium to corral the rowdiest of a-holes, and shortly thereafter in 1999 some Eagles fans were caught on camera cheering when Dallas’ Michael Irvin lay hurt at mid-field with a spinal cord injury that ultimately ended his career. I remember that game and no, it wasn’t a shining moment but it wasn’t the entire stadium, either. Every bushel has bad apples. Houston Texans fans cheered when their own quarterback Matt Schaub went down with an injury! Where’s the out-cry? And tell me again, how the Raiders’ fans escape criticism? Fa-get-about-it!
Listen – Philly is a tough town. The Eagles had two Super Bowl appearance and lost both. They went to three straight NFC Championship games only to lose and not make the playoffs all three times. It’s frustrating being an Eagles fan, yes. Hell, it’s frustrating to be a Philly sports fan, period!
But you know what? The waiting list for season tickets is “… a mile long” and Philly fans are still around regardless of weather, stats or lists deeming them “most hated.” In fact, I’m gonna say what I’ve been saying for twenty-years: The Philadelphia Eagles are the real… America’s Team.
Speaking of America’s Team
Not taking anything away from Jerry Jones’ successful marketing campaign but excuse me, Dallas Cowboys, what have you got besides a marketing budget (and affluent community that buys merchandise) that qualifies you as America’s Team? Because some announcer in 1978 said that the Dallas Cowboys’ players were so familiar they were like movie stars and therefore “America’s team?” Nice going… 37 years later, Roger Thomas Staubach is 73 years old and if I bumped into him in the Wawa, I wouldn’t know it. You want facts?
I got your facts…
The Declaration of Independence: America’s most important document… ever! Signed where? In Philadelphia. Do you know where Thomas Jefferson wrote that Document? In a small brick house on the corner of 7th and Market streets. In… Philadelphia.
The First Nation’s Capital: Yep. From 1790-1800 the mansion at 6th and Market street served as the Presidential Mansion to both George Washington and John Adams. 6th and Market in… Philadelphia.
Ben Franklin: We all know the story of Ben and his kite with the key and his discovery of electricity. But the reality is that in 1746 Ben actually shocked himself while messing around with some experiments in his house. You know where that house was? Philly! It wasn’t until a stormy day in 1852 that Ben took his kite and his son out to a field… in Philadelphia.
Betsy Ross: Remember Betsy? She was the seamstress who sewed that thing we fight for, die for and swear by… the American Flag? Maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s got some stars, a few stripes… it’s pretty famous. And… do you know where Ms. Ross sewed that flag? If you’ve been paying attention you do. In a small house on Arch Street in… Philadelphia.
Now… I could go on for days with factual evidence which places Philadelphia at the epicenter of America and that would just become redundant, boring and tedious. So I’ll end with this last, seemingly inconsequential point… our nations national symbol, the Bald Eagle.
What? I’m sorry, did you say… eagle? Our national symbol is not the cowboy. It’s not a single, blue star, and while we do idolize, revere and dare I say covet the surgically-altered, silicone-infused cheerleaders… they aren’t our national symbol.
At least not yet.