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There may not be any other fans in America who have the intensity of those in Philadelphia. With countless incidents throughout the history of sports in Philly, they are often viewed as hostile and the worst fans out there from the outside.
Today most of the expression from the fans in The City of Brotherly Love comes from Eagles and Phillies fans, as well as great passion for the Flyers.
As the Patriots will be squaring off with the Eagles on Sunday, it is only appropriate that we take a look at exactly what makes these Philly fans so crazy when it comes to their sports.
The reality is that these guys have been through a lot of heartaches for all of their teams, maybe more than any other sports city, which is tough to say coming from Boston. Maybe we can’t acknowledge these fans as better than our own, but we can at least note that they belong at the top of the list when it comes to fans wearing their emotions on their sleeves.
These guys are tough fans too, they get on their own players and expect excellence every year from every team, especially now that the Eagles set up their ‘Dream Team’ in the preseason and the Phillies have established a potential dynasty in the making behind Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay.
Sure it’s nice to have some perspective when it comes to looking at fans outside of our region and complementing their ability to care about their teams, but Philadelphia sports fans are possibly the craziest people in this country.
The list of their collective crimes and outbreaks before, after, and during games is absurd. Passion doesn’t have to equal violence, just look at St. Louis where fans are some of the most kind people in all of sports yet they still show passion for their teams all the while genuinely respecting the competition.
In 1968, Eagles fans started one of the most famous riots in sports history when they assaulted a man dressed in a Santa Claus suit at the game. A massive booing of the man in general started up around a section of the stadium, and as the man made his jolly old way through the crowds, he began to be struck by an array of snowballs.
Another incident occurred at a recent Flyers pre-game ceremony. Sarah Palin was selected for the honorary drop of the puck and was booed throughout the process, all the while waiving at the crowd as if they were delighted to see her.
When quarterback Donovan McNabb was drafted by the Eagles, the fans at the draft booed mercilessly against the pick, which McNabb has still said bothers he and his family long after his days of love-hate with Philly.
Of course to say Philadelphia fans boo everyone who rubs them the wrong way wouldn’t be accurate, they have also been known to cheer from time to time. In 1999, Michael Irvin of the Cowboys sustained an injury after a hard tackle from Philadelphia defensive back Tim Hauck. As he laid motionless on the ground and was carted off the field, the Eagles fans roared with applause at what would become Irvin’s career-ending injury.
In 1997 the Phillies drafted outfielder J.D. Drew with the second overall pick. Seen as a potentially great defensive outfielder and all-star caliber hitter, Drew and his agent Scott Boras demanded no less than $10 million, but the Phillies were against paying that much money to a draft pick.
So Drew played for an independent league and then fell back into the draft the following season, and was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals. Philadelphia fans were enraged at the waste of a pick, and their emotions showed upon his return to Philadelphia throughout his entire career.
On Aug. 10, 1999, Drew was the target of D batteries thrown by fans in the crowd. While that may seem harsh, experiencing J.D. for five painful seasons might make Red Sox fans more likely to accept throwing batteries as justifiable.
In 2010, a man from New Jersey at a Phillies-Nationals game intentionally vomited on an 11-year-old girl sitting a row ahead of him in the stands. From the start of the game he was unruly, swearing left and right without a care that a family with a young child was nearby.
After the family complained, the man and his friend began to spit at the family innings later. His friend was tossed from the stadium, which inevitably led to the man leaning over the family throwing up, and then beating up a cop repeatedly. He was arrested on numerous counts.
Violence in general at sporting events in Philadelphia has always been brutal.
Fights breaking out in sections of Eagles games have been a common occurrence for decades, so much so that there was a criminal court installed at Veterans Stadium after a bad losses began to create riots. A Municipal Court Judge was put into place to deal with fans who had been thrown out because of poor behavior.
To say the least, Philly fans have a presence all their own when it comes to supporting their teams, so when the Patriots travel to play the Eagles Sunday afternoon, let’s hope the game takes center stage.