How bad are Philly fans?
Why are Philadelphia fans so bitter? Or better yet, why are they so awful? I mean, who throws snowballs at Santa Claus for crying out loud? Who cheers when someone from the opposing team receives a career ending injury? Who boos their star quarterback, pitcher, or power forward? These are some the age old questions I hear time and time again.
Let me first say that I am a die hard Philly Fan and I say that proudly. I believe we are the best fans in the world, and I’m not saying that because I love Philadelphia.
I understand what it means to have all your hopes and dreams crushed over and over, disappointment after disappointment. However, I also understand that our complaints are merely words; therefore, I’ll attempt to explain why we are the way we are. Let’s start from the beginning:
I’m 15 years old and I’m watching Monday Night Football with my father. I remember it as if it were yesterday. It’s 1996 and the Philadelphia Eagles are taking on the Dallas Cowboys. For those who don’t know, the Cowboys and Eagles are bitter enemies. In fact, it’s one of the biggest rivalries in the NFL.
Anyway, we are down by 2 points with less then a minute remaining and the Eagles have the ball. A receiver makes a big play and manages to make it down near the goalline. All we have to do is kick a field goal to win the game. There’s seconds left on the clock, and the Eagles bring out the kicking unit. I look over to my father and he is noticeably anxious.
I say, "We got this. It’s a chip shot."
My father says nothing and his eyes are glued to the television. The play commences and the place kicker mishandles the ball. He then grabs the ball and heads toward the endzone.
Surprisingly enough, there is not a football player in sight to make a defensive stop! All the place kicker has to do is run. So he dashes forward and is about to score a touchdown. Then, all of a sudden, reality hits. The place kicker fumbles the ball and Dallas falls on it...End of game...Cowboys win!
My father stands up, shakes his head and says, "The life of a Philly fan." He shuts off the TV and silently paces to his bedroom, slamming the door behind him.
For some reason or another, this particular story stands out in my head. It wasn’t a playoff game or even a game with playoff implications. The memory burns into my head because of my father’s reaction.
My father's reaction sums up our whole displeasure; a lifetime of fumbled snaps and missed opportunities. However, this STILL does not explain our public hostility and outward displeasure.
Let’s go back 3 years from the fumbled snap, shall we? It’s Game Six of the 1993 World Series, the Philadelphia Phillies vs. the Toronto Bluejays. It’s bottom of the 9th, and Philly is up by 1 run. Joe Carter, for the Bluejays, is up to bat with two runners on base, 1 out. Mitch Williams throws what seems to be a softball pitch right down the middle of the plate.
Carter crushes the ball, sending a high towering hit to left field. It’s a homerun, game over and Blue Jays win the World Series. I remember how I felt the instant Carter shattered that ball. I was in shock and disbelief, and the ball seemed to suspend in the air forever.
This was my first taste of "close but not close enough" experience. A taste of what all Philly fans go through, but even STILL, this is not enough to explain the Philly fans' misery.
Let’s go to 2001, the Philadelphia 76ers vs. the LA Lakers, NBA finals. We surprisingly take the first game and then Kobe and Shaq manhandle us taking the next four games. The 76ers have not been back to Finals since.
Ah, but there is more. Let’s go to the 2004 Superbowl, the Philadelphia Eagles vs. the New England Patriots. Donovan McNabb’s first Superbowl appearance is a bust. He throws for 3 interceptions and vomits on the field. Subsequently, Terrell Owens publicly ridicules McNabb and wishes that Bret Favre was his quarterback.
Let’s continue...go back to 1997, the Philadelphia Flyers have the mighty trio (the legion of doom): Eric Lindros, John Leclair, and Mikael Renberg. We easily make it to Stanley Cup Finals just to get swept by the almighty Detroit Redwings.
Had enough?...Wait there is more...From 2001-2005 the Eagles made it to NFC Championship game. We advanced to the Superbowl only one time, and as mentioned above, we lose.
And lets us not forget all the seasons in between where all of our franchises sucked ass! We had a laundry list of ‘potential’ players such as Rodney Peete, Shawn Bradley, Scot Rolen, and Ty Detmer...years and years of humility and despair.
Philadelphia Fans Explained
Now, I know the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series in 2008. In fact, it was the first and only time in my life where one of my teams won a championship! Honestly, I didn’t even know how to react.
I was in awe and almost disbelief. I was in near tears and the excitement was overwhelming. Of course, the dream was short lived, and ONCE AGAIN, we lost to a dominating team, the New York Yankees in the 2009 World Series.
Perhaps Philadelphia teams have a hard time with dynasties. I mean, we did lose to some amazing teams. The Toronto Blue Jays won 2 World Series in a row. The Detroit Redwings were arguably the best NHL team of all time. Phil Jackson’s Lakers, need I say more? Tom Brady’s New England Patriots is arguably the best team since the turn of the century. Last but not least, there’s New York Yankees.
For whatever the reason, Philly teams are a phenomenon. They are the biggest choke artists in the world, yet they usually attract the most confident and talented players such as Eric Lindros, Allen Iverson, Ryan Howard, Donovan McNabb, Charles Barkley, Eric Leclair, Lenny Dykstra, Curt Schilling, Terrell Owens, and Cliff Lee just to name a few.
The reason I shared my experiences and had this long drawn out explanation is because I wanted to show a lifetime of pain, agony, and defeat. Where every 4 to 5 years, we have all the talent, all the potential, and all the hopes to win a championship just to have the rug swept up from under us...every single time. This is a tiny glimpse of what goes on in the minds of Philly fans, year in and year out.
In fact, I dare say we are much like New York fans (who are just as rude and obnoxious, by the way), but there is one small difference. New York teams win. They know how to step up during crunch time.
When the chips are down and they need a quarterback to scramble out of an inescapable sack and complete a pass to a no name receiver, they do it. When they need a Hall of Fame shortstop to hit a homerun opposite field to win a game, they do it.
Philadelphia players don’t seem to possess such abilities or, rather, qualities. And it’s painful. So, we boo and curse our players. We are hostile because we have every right to be hostile.
When it comes to our top-notch players, we demand the best. We know they have to be the best in order to overcome this shield or curse that is over us.
We have become desperate for victory...a constant plea to every Philadelphia player, no matter what the cost. It’s not a matter of being rude or being too hard on our players. The time for pleasantries has past.
In order to see ‘our’ perspective, you would have to spend 20 years of your life, watching team after team fail, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
"Ahhhh, the life of a Philly Fan!" ~ my father (and every true Philly fan out there)