Before I became a journalist, I was a Philadelphian. Born in North Philly at what is now Einstein Hospital. Moved down the Jersey Shore when I was a kid, but still in Philly’s grips.
I don’t know how I became a Philly sports fan. My dad loved the Eagles — when he didn’t despite the Eagles, of course. Maybe that’s how my fan allegiance started.
But my dad’s attitude toward the Eagles — along with that of my many uncles — was my first exposure to Negadelphia.
How those guys loved the Eagles and Phillies and how they not only expected the worse, but probably were willing to bet a few bucks on the worse happening.
If there were alive in 2018, they would have called into sports radio on the morning of Feb. 5, not to talk about the Eagles defeating the Patriots and winning the Super Bowl, but complaining how the Birds’ defense allowed 33 points.
Philly guys, through and through.
My dad played football in high school and that was his sport. My first memory of sports was the 1960 Eagles-Packers NFL championship game. I remember, barely, listening to the game.
I don’t actually remember listening to the game. It’s more remembering the *idea* of listening to the game. My dad told me about listening to the Eagles winning the NFL title so many times, my brain formed its own version of reality. I heard the story so much, I figured it must be true and I created my own version of how it played out.
It was snowy that Dec. 26 — or at least the ground was snow covered. We listened to most of the game outside, as I recall, on a transistor radio. I don’t know why we braved the elements.
I don’t think the game was on television in South Jersey. I might be wrong about that, but I was very young and my recollection of that day seems a little foggy.
ALL PHILLIES, ALL THE TIME
When I was a kid, I played baseball nearly every summer day. All my friends were Phillies’ fans, so I might have gone along for the ride. I remember being so disappointed that my Little League team was the Pirates and not the Phillies.
I remember watching the Phillies-Mets doubleheader on Father’s Day, 1964. Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game and I thought I had gone to heaven. We were at a barbecue at my uncle’s house.
I ran outside to tell my dad, and other relatives, about what I had witnessed. I remember excitedly telling everybody about Bunning’s perfect game. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I was getting from my dad, my aunts and uncles.
They trusted a very young me to tell the truth and report the news accurately, they just didn’t think it was possible that a Phillie could do it.
Negadelphia, you know.
My first real Philly sports love was the Flyers. When the team was founded in 1967, I already loved hockey. I’m not sure why; I couldn’t skate.
When the Flyers won the Stanley Cup in 1974, that was the first Philly championship I was old enough to enjoy and celebrate. That title also helped wash away some of the lingering stink of the 1964 Phillies — although that will never truly go away.
By the end of the 1970s, I was a working newspaperman. As a sports writer and sports editor, I knew instinctively that I could no longer be a fan — at least of any team I covered.
The next Eagles team to grab me was Dick Vermeil’s 1980 Super Bowl team. Vermeil revived a franchise that had seen far too many losing seasons since 1960. Football was fun again.
That brings us to the 2022 Eagles. This team is the definition of fun … and aspiration. Even with the 2017 Super Bowl under their belt — and whatever promises fans made about not needing another Super Bowl if you just give us this one — Philadelphians are ready for another title.
I’m writing this at 10 on Sunday morning — about five hours before kickoff against the 49ers. If the Eagles win, they go to the Super Bowl.
Maybe it’s me being skeptical, but I often do not have great belief that our Philly teams will win the big one. My dad and uncles would be proud.
I knew the 2008 Phillies were the better team and would win the World Series. I mistakenly thought the same about the 2009 Phillies.
Objectively speaking, I have the same feeling about this Eagles team as I had about the Utley-Rollins-Howard-Hamels 2008 team.
I think the Eagles are going to win today. I think if Jalen Hurts plays today as he did against the Giants, the Eagles are going to win by two scores.
I know the Niners are a great team, loaded with talent. Normally, I would be negative and talk myself into believing San Francisco was the better team.
Not today. Eagles win. And remember, I’m normally the last guy to think that.