Watch sports long enough and you will come to understand certain things will never change. Some observations I have made over the years are as follows;
1. Philadelphia fans will never hear the end of the Santa Claus story, booing Donovan McNabb or any other tired story that is painfully and all-to-easily resurfaced by lazy national or local media from outside Philadelphia.
2. All fans will boo their own players under the appropriate conditions, regardless of locale.
3. Philadelphia fans are negative and will not shy away from booing players on the teams they root for.
The recent leading question served to DeSean Jackson on a platter by a reporter from CSN Washington has caused a stir on the local sports radio airwaves on 94 WIP and 97.5 The Fanatic. It is no surprise because those on the radio have also been served an easy talk radio topic to fill hours of conversation. Jackson was led to being able to take a shot at Eagles fans, at least that is how it has been interpreted, and he praised Washington fans. What else would you expect from a puff interview piece during training camp by the newcomer to the team? The intent of this question and response is to poke a stick at a rival team’s fans and sin the praises of the new fans.
Nothing Jackson just said in tat specific segment was false or misleading. Not. A. Word.
I am as loyal of a Philadelphia sports fan as they come, at least I like to think that is the case. I can also let my optimist side run wild with the best of them, although I also like to pull in the reigns and give myself a dose of reality. Sometimes I think the vocal portion of the Philadelphia fan base needs a dose of reality as well. So here are two hard truths about the Philadelphia fan, as I see it.
We are a loyal and dedicated fan base, but there is a fair portion of bandwagon fans. Guess what, it is the same in every city in America. There is nothing to be ashamed of, and when someone does suggest you are a front running city, just take a look at the attendance at Phillies and Sixers games before you go on a rant about how great you really are.
We do boo your own players. Often it is deserved though, and it is only a sign of how much we genuinely care about and want to be winning. If you are going to get in a huff about someone daring to say you boo your own, pay close attention to what is happening with Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon (although Papelbon clearly brings it on himself). We are a city that expects results. If a $25 million a year player is struggling on a nightly basis, he is going to hear it. This is the nature of sports. Those players do not get automatic cheers included in their contracts. That contract is with the team, not the fans. If a player cannot understand that, then the problem is on them and not the fans. And you know what, 10, 15 years or so down the road when a player like Ryan Howard returns for an anniversary celebration of the 2008 World Series, there will not be a boo in the stadium.
After all, he’s not Adam Eaton.
We are pretty paranoid. The city gets up in arms to react and defend ourselves as fans and as a city every time a former player or national media member or local columnist drags up Santa Claus, Michael Irvin’s injury or throwing batteries. Hey, if you’re going to say something about us, you better be prepared to back it up and receive a counter argument. Unfortunately, the counter argument always gets left in the dark of the minds speaking out with their tired and stale criticisms of the city. Yes, those things happened in Philadelphia. Bad things have happened in other cities too, sometimes worst things. But there is one thing we should take from all of this. Opinions of those unwilling to admit when they go overboard or lack doing original research will never change. Wasting your energy trying to combat it is often a futile effort. The best thing you can do is let the haters go on hating and you can rejoice even more when times are good.
We know Philadelphia is a great city and the surrounding region is a great one. We know we are a great sports community. We don’t need anyone else to validate that for us.
Helmet sticker to The 700 Level.