Why are people so obsessed with Philadelphia sports fans? Why is it that we are constantly in the spotlight for our actions? Why are we continually looked down upon by fans of other sports teams and members of the media? Are we really as bad as people say we are, or are our actions simply exaggerated to live up to the so-called reputation that Philly has as a insatiable, booing city?
I used to be proud when people would talk about the big, bad Philadelphia fans. All of the glorious, or not-so-glorious, incidents from our past: The D batteries we threw at J.D. Drew. The snowballs we threw at Jimmy Johnson. The 700 level at the Vet, known as the Nest of Death. The actual jail that was created in Veterans Stadium. These are all true.
Yes, we booed Michael Irvin when he was paralyzed on the Veterans Stadium turf. We pelted Joe Maddon's seven-year-old granddaughter with mustard packets. We booed Matthew Scott, the only person in United States history to receive a hand transplant, when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch to a Phillies game and the pitch dribbled to the plate.
We are the only baseball team to have its organist ejected from a baseball game, which occurred in a 1985 minor-league game after our organist played "Three Blind Mice" at the umpires.
And yes, we have booed Santa Claus. The real Santa Claus. St. Nick himself. The man came down in his sleigh with his eight reindeer, Rudolph included, offered valuable presents to 50,000 fans, and we booed him.
But now, it's just becoming flat-out annoying. We don't kill people. Our fans don't bring weapons to the stadium. We're not like Los Angeles Dodgers fans, who threatened Phillies fans with knives during the NLCS in Dodger Stadium. We didn't injure Michael Irvin. We just cheered his injury. We didn't throw rocks. We threw snowballs.
We just won a championship, and we didn't destroy the city like Detroit did after the Pistons win several years ago. I was in Philly the night we won, and it wasn't about causing vandalism or starting fires. It was about celebrating. That's all it was.
So why do people only focus on the fact that Philadelphia fans are rowdy and we boo a lot? If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone mention that we booed Santa Claus, I would be a multi-millionaire.
I'm tired of hearing about how Philly doesn't care about its players. I quote former New York Jets head coach Herman Edwards, “You play to win the game.” If you cannot help a Philadelphia sports team win a game, you will be booed.
Why don't we receive credit for the enormous amount of fans we attract, even to away games? A 2003 Monday night game in Miami had 20,000 Philadelphia jerseys in the stadium. That's absolutely unbelievable. And this was back when the Miami Dolphins were really good! Thousands of Phillies fans traveled to Tampa Bay to watch the Phightin' Phillies in their first World Series in 15 years.
We watch our teams. 55 percent of Philadelphia homes watched the deciding game of the World Series last Wednesday night. By comparison, 27 percent of Tampa Bay fans watched. I don't care if your team is down three games to one and facing elimination. You're in the World Series, so watch your team!
We support our teams. We know the statistics, the history. And we are there for our teams, both in good times and in bad. Yeah, we boo. We boo A LOT. But we never stop coming to games. We pride ourselves on not having loads of bandwagon fans, like other teams. Where was Red Sox Nation 10 years ago? Where are all the 49ers fans right now?
Our fans are extremely passionate. We are dedicated. You could even use the term obsessed. You know what those boos are? They're love. We love our players. We love them to death. We love them so much that it hurts us when they don't succeed. Think of us as parents. Parents scold their children when they are disobedient. We boo our players when they don't come through for us.
And when they finally do come through for us, we will celebrate. We drew two million fans to our parade on Friday. That's twice as many as the New York Giants had at their parade last February. I'm not even going to get into the size difference between New York and Philadelphia. We have unbelievable fan support. If the Eagles ever won a Super Bowl, we would have four million fans at our parade.
Our fans are not arrogant like Boston fans, frankly, because what do we have to be arrogant about? We're not psychotic, chain-wearing thugs on the outside, but teddy bears on the inside like Oakland Raider fans.
We don't constantly talk about what happened in the past, like Dallas Cowboy or New York Yankee fans. We're not non-existent, like Florida Marlins fans, who have absolutely no clue that their team won two World Series titles in a seven-year span.
We're Philadelphia fans, and we're misunderstood by the entire world. We're not bullies. We don't have bandwagon fans. We're not as big and as bad as you make us out to be. We're obsessed.
Why do we boo? Because we care.