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Dissecting The Complicated, Yet Misunderstood Eagles Fan

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Eagles fans aren't as bad as you think they are. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.
Eagles fans aren't as bad as you think they are. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

Philadelphia Eagles fans are a complex species: they are constantly criticized, often frowned upon and frequently misconstrued. Growing up in Philadelphia and attending countless Eagles games, I can say with conviction: the Eagles fan is a far cry from the villain they are repeatedly painted out to be.

That being said, the Eagles fan could care less what you think about them.

They are confident, proud and highly critical of the football franchise that represents their city. Eagles fans are not passionate; they are obsessed. Water cooler chats are not friendly exchanges between co-workers; they are hotly contested debates about the use of a timeout early in the third quarter … following a win by three touchdowns.

Still, the national media continues to bill Eagles fans as boisterous, unruly and dangerous. Simply put, the Eagles fan is grossly misunderstood, thanks in large part to a few isolated events involving less than one percent of the fan base. But before I explain the mentality of the Eagles fan, let me clarify some things.

Snowballs were thrown at Santa Claus in 1968, but how does an isolated event, over 40 years ago, define an entire fan base? In 2001, following a controversial call late in the game, Browns fans threw thousands of plastic bottles, many filled with beer, at the refs. Somehow this incident in Cleveland was quickly forgotten.

When Michael Irvin lay motionless at Veterans Stadium in 1999, there were boos. I have absolutely no idea what part of the riverdance Deon Sanders was reinacting during the stoppage in play, but I do know that most of the boos were directed toward him — I know this because I was there.

Finally, a jail was installed inside Veterans Stadium, but instead of touting an organization for making an effort to quickly deal with the unruly, Eagles fans were once again labeled disorderly and uncontrollable. For a tiny percentage of disobedient fans, the jail allowed for swift punishment. Alas, the jail in no way symbolizes debauchery within an entire fan base.

To understand the Eagles fan, you must realize that their egotistical state-of-mind stems from the incredibly high expectations they have year in and year out. Eagles fans firmly believe they are better than you; admitting that their beloved Birds are inferior is treason.

The best part about the Eagles fan is their unwavering loyalty. The typical Eagles fan is incredibly knowledgeable about the game of football, and their disgust at games epitomizes a dissatisfied customer who’s not afraid to voice their opinion amongst members of their community. Eagles fans are not just happy to be attendance. The boos that may come late in a losing effort signify a fan base’s infatuation with a sports team. 

Is it tough to play in Philly? Absolutely. But that’s because the Eagles fan is highly invested in their team’s success (or lack thereof). In the Eagles fan’s mind, win or lose, the Eagles will always be superior.

And one last thing, when Donovan McNabb was drafted in 1999, he was booed by 25 Eagles fans at the draft in New York. To suggest that an entire city scoffed at the idea of McNabb becoming a member of the Eagles is ridiculous; yet another fallacy with the public’s perception of Eagles fans.

They may never be understood, and that is perfectly okay with them.