I am a second-generation Philadelphian. I am a baseball fan first and foremost, with football serving as filler until Spring Training fires up again. As any native to this area, I was raised an Eagles fan. Growing up, my father would set up an altar on the fireplace during Eagles games. At any given Sunday, this make-shift shrine was filled with figurines, a mini football or three, and strung with party flag banners. During the playoffs, or at least, in the weeks proceeding, he would light candles to appeal to the gods of the gridiron. He’d bow once for an interception, three times after a touchdown. Mind you, during the Rich Kotite/Buddy Ryan era, there were more losses than wins, so Dad didn’t bow as much as he would have liked.
The average loyal fan has many a theory on the reasons why the team was consistently so crappy. Initially, I thought it was me. After all, whenever I walked in the room, the ball was fumbled or some crazy interception would occur. “What’re you doing?” Dad would shout. “Get outta here with that!” He’d usher me out the room and promptly shut the door in my face. In my six-year-old brain, I was clearly the catalyst. Obviously, it was my fault. So I decided to not pay attention to football anymore, for the sake of my team. It was incredibly difficult to ignore the source of all the noise coming from the TV room upstairs and, in spite of my diligent non-attention, the Eagles missed the playoffs, regardless of their 10-6 record that year.
So what was a girl to do? The years went by, and although the roster changed, the result was still the same: not quite good enough. New, more intimidating uniforms surfaced, and still no go. A new stadium happened, with all the bells and whistles, and still no improvement. We even made it to the Super Bowl before those damned Patriots embarrassed us. I figured that if I perhaps loosely supported another team, thereby transferring my Typhoid Mary-esque luck to them, then maybe the Eagles would do a bit better in the future. So who, then, does a native-born Philadelphian support if not the Eagles? I decided this team must not be in our division, damn sure couldn’t be the Giants or the Cowboys, and obviously wasn’t doing too well at the time. Because even though I was defecting, I was still a Philadelphian, and that meant absolutely, positively no band-wagoning. So I looked west.
The Chicago Bears hadn’t won a Super Bowl since 1985, but they still had that ring. At the time of my defection, coach Lovie Smith had began his term at the helm a few years prior and was one of few black coaches in the NFL. So I casually began to pay attention to these “Monsters of the Midway,” with initial hopes of providing the Birds a chance to do some damage. When things did not begin to improve, I became annoyed. When Michael Vick joined the team, I was disgusted. I officially threw in my Eagles rally towel and purchased a Brian Urlacher jersey.
From then on, it’s been a casual observance on my behalf. My scorn for the Eagles stemmed from the constant disappointment I had experienced growing up in this town. My dad took down the gridiron altar he’d constructed as time went on. He wasn’t even upset when I wore my Bears jersey in front of him for the first time. Disappointed maybe, but he understood all too well the frustration that was inherent with Eagles fandom. That was when I knew I had made the right decision.
For the past three years, a friend and I have had an ongoing football bet: If the Iggles defeat Chicago during the regular season, I had to wear that green and silver on Super Bowl Sunday. If Da Bears won—which they had every year since we started this bet—my friend would have to wear that navy and orange. I’ve yet to put on any Eagles colors, in fact, I’d say it’s been a solid decade since I’ve worn anything with that mangy pigeon on it. I doubt very much that it will change anytime soon. Yesterday’s game was s’posed to prove my theory.
If, by some random stretch of magic, the Eagles make it to the playoffs and—dare I say—the Super Bowl and win that mother, I will have one thing to say to the fans of Eagles football: You’re welcome.