I’m not one of you. I’m not a Philadelphian, and I’ve never claimed to be one.I’m from Central Pennsylvania, a small farm town in York County. As such, I grew up outside the Philly Sports Sphere of Influence; I’d actually been mostly a Baltimore sports fan. I wasn’t a hardcore Phillies fan until I met my girlfriend at the end of 2008, months after the Phillies won their first World Series. I catch my fair share of shit for this from my friends on Twitter and colleagues at The Fightins. As acknowledgement for not being an active fan during 2008, I’ve never claimed any connection to the 2008 WFC Phillies team. I don’t own any “World Champions” merchandise.
I moved to the Philly area last summer and got a place with my girlfriend, and it’s made it so much easier for me to follow the Phillies. I read the Philadelphia Inquirer, I watch CSN Philly, and I read Philly sports blogs like The 700 Level. I’m around Phillies news constantly and it’s friggin’ awesome. However, because of that, I’m always hearing Eagles news. I’m not an Eagles fan. Like I said, I’m a Baltimore guy. The Ravens have been my team since they came into existence. Last season, I caught maybe a grand total of two Ravens games and then with the lockout this past offseason and all the personnel changes that accompanied its ending, I realized that I lost all connection with the team I followed for a decade. Perhaps even stranger, I realized that because this is Philadelphia all you jerks do is talk about the Eagles and I subconsciously absorbed so much Eagles knowledge.
This Bandwagon will chronicle my latest step in Philadelphication: before game 1 of the Eagles season, I declared myself an Eagles fan and gave up my allegiance to the Ravens. I resigned myself to the consequences of this decision using the same logic I used upon hopping onto the Phillies bandwagon: I’ll have no claim to whatever the Ravens do this year, and I’ll have to take what I get with the Eagles. How long will this last? Who knows. At least this one season. Depending on what I learn and experience over the next 16+ weeks, maybe I’ll become a hardcore Eagles fan. Perhaps constant “E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!” chants will drive me insane and have me running scared after this season is over.
When I announced this project on Twitter two weeks ago, someone sent me a message along the lines of “You’re crazy. Why would you willingly put yourself through this?” I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the message. I didn’t even bother responding. Put myself through what? I know this is a long-suffering franchise, having never won a Super Bowl, but what exactly is there to be miserable about? This is a team that acquired the most prized free-agent in the past off-season and inked one of the premier quarterbacks in the league to a long-term contract. Sure, there are lofty expectations, but I’d rather have lofty expectations than no expectations.
What, exactly, did this person know that I didn’t know?
Week one went pretty much according to plan. The Eagles moved the ball almost at will in St. Louis on their way to easily defeat the Rams. There was some second-guessing as I flipped between the Eagles game on FOX and the Ravens curb-stomping their hated rivals the Steelers on CBS. My brother, who came from Kutztown to hang out, watch football, and eat tacos, even started talking some shit:
“You’re going to regret this. This is a team that could win the Super Bowl.”
“Whatever, man,” I said as I crammed an entire Tostito into my mouth, “Half of the teams in the NFL look like Super Bowl contenders in Week One.”
To make this all nice and official-like, my girlfriend picked me up an Eagles tee-shirt from Modell’s, which I dutifully donned upon rolling out of bed Sunday morning. I was genuinely excited for the game. It’s the national game! Sunday Night Football! I’ve been waiting all day for Sunday Night! Vick’s return to Atlanta! All that stuff.
We all know what happened; turnovers, missed opportunities, a big comeback, a big injury, and finally, big disappointment.
It’s comforting to me that I’m as in the dark about what the Eagles immediate plans are as the born-and-bread Eagles fans I’ve talked to. Vick has a concussion, and concussions are nothing to be taken lightly. How long is he out? Apparently, he hasn’t even been ruled out for this Sunday. If he’s out, and he probably will be, who starts in his place? Mike Kafka, the inexperienced third-stringer who performed admirably under pressure after Vick left on Sunday, or Vince Young, the NFL vet who’s nursing an injury of his own.
It’s Week Three, and there’s already a budding quarterback controversy in Philadelphia. Pinch me, this must be a dream. This can’t seriously be happening.
So… this is what that person meant by “You’re crazy.” Of course an injury to the QB would foul things up for the immediate future. Of course fans are divided on the matter and there’s in-fighting. Of course. That’s a term that I tend to hear and read a lot when people talk about the Eagles.
Of course this will be a fun season.
Ain’t It Fun
What I’d like to do in this space over the next sixteen-plus weeks is investigate exactly what makes Eagles fans tick. If you have any suggestions on potential topics or stories or anecdotes or whatever, please feel free to send them along. More than anything, I’m doing this to learn about this city and the people in it. So teach me, I beseech thee.
Ryan Petzar writes for The Fightins, you can follow him on Twitter @petzrawr.