Today, we are discussing what it’s like to be a Philly fan—specifically, a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles.
NOTE: If you can’t handle disappointment, DO NOT move to Philly.
As you may know, the Philadelphia Eagles lost Super Bowl 57. (I refuse to compute Roman numerals. It’s stupid.) They (the Eagles, not the Roman numerals) scored 35 points and still lost. They were lead by the extraordinarily talented Jalen Hurts, who himself threw for 304 yards, rushed for 70 yards, scored three rushing touchdowns—the most rushing touchdowns by any quarterback in Super Bowl history, just by the way—and Philadelphia still lost.
“So NOT fair!”, you might exclaim. And if you did so exclaim, it would be clear: you are NOT from Philly.
But let’s go back a week. No, wait. Let’s go back a season. No, let’s go back to my childhood growing up in the home of my father, Jer (the prototype for “Mur,” if you’ve read my books). Jer was a season-ticket-holding, walking encyclopedia of sports, and a lifelong Eagles fan. (Not an exaggeration. The Eagles franchise was born four years before Jer was.) Being a lifelong Eagles fan also means the man is a realist. But that doesn’t stop him from yelling at the TV every game. Eagles fans are yellers. And we don’t yell things like, “Nice try!”
I remember one rare occasion when I got to go to a game. Jer had season passes, but he usually shared them with clients. It was just smart business. I was not. I was merely a financial drain. But one Sunday, there I was in the stands, surrounded by an angry sea of green and white. We were losing of course, and the mood was belligerent, Philly style.
“You’re a pack of bums!” “What the hell is wrong with you?!” “Stop that son of a bitch!” “Stop him, you fuck!” “Punch him in the fucking throat!”
Even at the tender age of nine, I knew this behavior was more than a bit extreme. So when the man in front of me stood and yelled, “Stab him in the heart!” I chose to go for perverse agreement. I yelled, “Kill his family!”
Yep, that was one step too far even for my heart-stabbing friend. Clearly not understanding that by being an absurdist, I’d pointed out the ridiculousness of his own behavior. He just looked at me, aghast, shook his head (a few rocks fell out), and sat down.
Flash forward to 2006. That’s the year the movie Invincible came out. It stars Mark Wahlberg, who is not from Philly but Boston. And while my money is on Philly in a street fight, at least Boston would go down swinging. Anyway, Invincible is the true story of the Philadelphia Eagles’ walk-on player, Vince Papale. The first time I saw that movie, it gave me the inspirational, feel-good Eagles’ winning moment that I had never actually gotten from my team. So I began a new tradition. I watch the movie every year, right after the Eagles are out of the running. (Sometimes, that’s week two.)
Then, in 2018, it happened. After decades of losing, the Eagles were in it. Carson Wentz was looking like a Hall Of Fame quarterback…until he wasn’t. An injury took him out, along with all hope of winning. Hey, it’s Philly. That’s how we do. A faint glimmer of hope followed by a throat punch and the all-too-familiar big bucket of disappointment. But, no! Wait! Nick Foles steps in and somehow champions the Eagles to their first-ever Super-Bowl win. It was epic. Yes, there were tears. Even people who hate the Eagles were crying on my behalf.
Jump ahead five years. Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts has overcome a shoulder injury and is going to lead us back to the big game. And because we’d now tasted victory one time in 57 years, we were thinking, “This could happen.” Pht. Silly human nature.
Just days before the game, Mr. Parker and I were flying from Park City to New Orleans. At the gate, we were called to the counter. Seems there was one first-class upgrade available, and we had to decide which one of us got it. Mr. P immediately jumped in, claiming it’s his turn. “You got the last upgrade, remember?” I did not. But once he refreshed my memory (it was on a flight from “Fantastic Puerto Vallarta!”), I thought, Is this chivalry? Is this how a gentleman acts? I could tell by the look on the female gate agent’s face that the answer was, “Don’t suck me into your domestic soup, lady.”
Fine. I had an aisle seat in an exit row and a snapshot of Mr. Parker’s drink vouchers. I’d be fine. Across from me was a linebacker-sized man in an Eagles jersey. I tried a few times to catch his eye, to bond over the birds, but it didn’t happen. So I relaxed with a bourbon rocks and watched a rock-music documentary recommended by a friend. When it was over, I noticed that Mr. Linebacker was watching Invincible. Then I saw it on a few other screens around me. Did I dare watch it? I’d never watched Invincible when Philly was still in the running. Was I playing with fire? Ugh. Life choices. I decided that if I didn’t watch it to the end, we’d all be fine. I hit play.
As we came in for a landing, the cabin lights came up. Mr. Linebacker leaned over and said, “You’re watching Invincible. How do you like it?”
“I watch it every year. I’m from Philly.”
And just like that, instant camaraderie between him, me, and several of the other Invincible watchers around us. There was excitement and (something so rare for an Eagles fan) hope. No dread of the inevitable. It was as if winning once made everyone feel all things were possible, even in Philly. If it weren’t for that fasten-seatbelts sign, we could’ve all burst into high-fives and chest bumps. Damn you, in-flight safety.
Game day. I knew my sister, niece and her fiancé would be with my father. Good. At such an important time, the man shouldn’t have to yell at the TV all alone.
SIDEBAR: My father now watches what we call “Silent Sports.” The sportscasters make him crazy. So he watches sporting events with the sound off. It’s like being in a bizarre, televised sports prison.
Meanwhile, 1200 miles away at our place, we had four friends over and food for 20. Did that make me too optimistic? Well, if you watched the game, you know how it went. Jalen Hurts played a game most quarterbacks will only dream of—and the Eagles still got the big “L.” When it was over, I did what I always do: Shake hands with my old friend, Mr. Disappointment, and get on with my life. This is how we roll. We’re used to it. We’re good at it.
But there was that nagging question. Was it my fault? Did I watch Invincible too soon? Did I jinx my team? Crazy, right? But I never told Jer that I’d played with fire and lost. He’s used to being disappointed by the Eagles. I’m staying mum and taking my shame to the grave. Unless he reads this. Then I’m screwed. I hope I stay in the will.
2/19/2023 10:02:31 am
I debated whether to share this rather prolific commentary with Jer, but then decided to nix that idea. As for shame . . . none for you, just hope for next yer, right
2/19/2023 10:44:54 am
Thaniks for the discrassion. ;) Here's to 2024!!
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Honey Parker has been writing, writing, writing for decades, decades, decades. In there, she has also been a standup comedian, a Hollywood screenwriter, a director, and a co-author of edgy business books. Careful-ish is her debut novel. It is the first in a trilogy. It is comedy-ish.