The rain had stopped and my neighbor Rocky was running across the street holding two mugs of beer, oddly stacked on top of each other, looking for someone to hug. His T-shirt was red and not green. Later, when he was hugging me, he mentioned something about his wife, who had died less than a year ago, and about how this shirt was for her (I didn't quite glean why). Then he asked me what my name was.

I think I might want to title this post something like "On Being a Giants Fan Living in Philly (and Rooting for the Eagles)" because that's what I was, that's what I am. I am not an 'Eagles Fan™' by any stretch of the imagination. But seeing how this sports team has transformed the vibe of the entire city, and how happy its made my neighbors and newish Philly friends, it was difficult not to pull for them. Oh wait, they were playing the Patriots... it actually wasn't that difficult, but that's beside the point^.

Rocky loves my wife. He was looking for her specifically among the neighbors and strangers who staged an impromptu Eagles celebration party on the corner of Palmer & Girard, mere feet from my house. She eventually saw him and they hugged. Everyone was hugging everybody. She later told me that he had been sober for years. I guess the Eagles winning the Super Bowl is about as good as any reason for a relapse; I honestly believe that.

The vibes leading up to the Super Bowl were such that I was certain the Eagles would lose, and more than likely lose badly. There could be no other outcome. The absurd overconfidence and joy would be shattered by either a heartbreaking loss or embarrassing blowout; it was going to be one of the two. That's the feeling Philadelphians secretly crave. They need it to maintain their identity: the (not-so) lovable loser.

But that's not what happened.

What happened was a tremendous game and a thrilling victory, and a greater understanding for what makes these people I'm surrounded by tick. The Patriots only play close Super Bowls. In fact, they really only play sensational Super Bowls. Of the eight games in this era, you'd be hard-pressed not to list seven of them in the Top 20 Super Bowls of all-time, if not the Top 10. My loathing of their success (and how they earned it over the years) is basically parallel with my level of fandom for my own team. I can honestly say that a Patriots loss, any Patriots loss, is nearly equal to a comparable Giants win. This is kinda sick and I realize that. But, I'm... just being honest.

So that's how I found myself screaming at the TV alongside a diehard Eagles fan named John last night. And that's how I found myself out on the streets after the game high-fiving random people as sketchballs in every direction launched real-deal fireworks in the middle of the street.

A lot has been written about the loathsomeness of Philly football fans, and it's all true. The ones who aren't bad don't deserve to be lumped in with the rest but the rest are probably far worse than their reputation. I'm not sure where they go now, both the good and the bad.

Rocky was just as boastful after the game, screaming to anyone who would listen that this is just the beginning of what will surely be an Eagles dynasty. "At least three!" He screamed. One word that still feels fitting for fans of the Philadelphia football team is delusional. This was true well before SBLII, before #WentzWagon and NICK FREAKING FOLES, before the genius of Chip Kelly and the "Don't even say the name Chip Kelly around me, bro^," before Andy and McNabb's half decade of losing NFC Title Games, before Randall, and before Buddy and–– it goes on and on...

It wasn't so much that Philly was never a winner as it was they weren't a winner in real life. They've always been the best and most important thing in this city. You know, this doesn't really change a thing. Life in Philly can be hard. People are mean. It's bleak and dirty. But that hope––that delusion––that the E-A-G-L-E-S Eagles offers this collective spirit cannot be beat; it's undefeated. They are the best sports fans that America has and it's not even close. And because this is America, that makes them worse. It was nice to me a part of the craziness for a night. I wasn't pretending.


Post a Comment