Sunday night I drove four hours to Scranton, which I deemed a little over halfway to Philly. I’m an Office fan and took great joy in staying the night in this city. I used Airbnb and stayed with a really sweet girl named Katie. She let me down easy that there isn’t a Dunder Mifflin Paper Company site to visit. There is a store in their mall, but that’s not what I was hoping for. Back on the road Monday, I was about to get another rude awakening- Pennsylvania Turnpike Tolls are extremely expensive. I was not trying to drop near $50 two hours to Philadelphia. Roads should be free, this is America. Diverted a bit, I rolled into the city during rush hour, hooray, and made my way through narrow streets and by angry drivers to my next Airbnb location in South Philly with Steve. Steve was incredibly friendly and I felt bad peacing out for the game within the 10 minutes I had arrived.
Even though I’m sure his house was in walking distance, I took the subway one stop to the AT&T Station that is in walking distance to all the city’s sports venues. It was a Monday night and all the parking lots to the three complexes were completely full with tailgaters. I was in a hurry to meet my team contact, Anthony, for this game or I would’ve spent more time walking around the lots. From what I did see, there was some heavy drinking and delicious meats grilling. A lot of people were chanting “E-A-G-L-E-S” and yelling at one another too. My entire walk to the stadium I saw zero New York Giants fans. Maybe the reputation of Eagles fans scared them from coming out or maybe they don’t travel well. Either way, they were hard to come by during this visit. I stopped to take a minute to admire the stadium and took a picture of me pretending to be an eagle. Thank you to that security guard for being nice enough to take like ten pictures of me in various poses. Finally, the desired result was achieved and I could enter the stadium fully satisfied. The Eagles hooked me up with a press pass for this game and I headed up to the press box to touch base with Anthony.
After our meeting, I grabbed dinner because like most people, I love free food. Though I opted for a salad, I snagged a little cheese steak on the side because skipping that would have been criminal. While I ate I met some interesting people and was amazed at how many sports jobs there really are and what all goes into just one NFL game. Thinking about all the different aspects- the teams (obvi), officials, scorekeepers, security, media, hospitality, etc. and how they all come together is truly mind blowing. On that note, I headed down to the main concourse to be amongst the good people of Philadelphia. This was a game I was looking forward to and I was hoping I would get the full crazy Eagles fans doing crazy things experience.
Hey, insane fans- where are you? I read Deadspin articles about you all the time and yet when I’m visiting stadiums, the wildest thing I see is some guy throwing up on himself in Buffalo. That wasn’t so much wild, as absolutely disgusting. This post might disappoint, as I saw nothing that I’d say set Philly fans into the horrible people department. Their drivers earlier that day, yes, but all the fans I encountered, pretty normal. A few Eagles fans told me they only get nasty with Cowboys fans. If Cowboy fans are anything like Houston fans, I don’t entirely blame them! I was adopted into a group of season ticket holders during the pre-game warm-ups and had a great time talking football with them.
As game time neared the teams were introduced and I should note that the Eagles are the only team so far to come out together. There was no extra pomp and circumstance for the starters on either side of the ball. They also played the “Fly Eagles Fly” song which is catchy as French (video below). All these team theme songs are making my life. If anyone ever wanted to make me a mix tape someday, forget Marvin Gaye and Barry White, I will only be wooed by these jingles. When the game started I watched the opening Giants drive and fearing my home team curse, I apologized to my friends and headed to the main concourse to watch the game from standing room.
Lincoln-Financial Field is one of the better venues I’ve visited. The concourses are wide and tall and there are plenty of ways to move up and down between the sections. I decided to go up high first and climbed the steps, which ended up being more steps than I had anticipated. Got my heart rate up! Once at the upper concourse I admired the view of the city and Citizens Bank Ballpark, a great baseball stadium should you be in town during the summer. I found you could stand along the wall behind the lower seats of this section. You were asked to move if you stood in the section entrance alcoves, but they didn’t mind if you moved off to the side. It was warmer up against the wall anyways. The wind was a little nasty during this game and it was chilly once the sun went down. I did walk across a small bridge that fans could stand on, but there were too many people packed along the rail for me to get an unobstructed spot. It was also very cold here because it was out in the open between two sides of the stadium. I was a little nervous someone might fall off the bridge following a Manning pick (there was some serious leaping and hugging going on), but everyone managed to stay put… and live.
Every section I stood in, I made friends. This was another stadium I received a lot of hugs at- a whole lot of brotherly love going on. It might’ve been a different experience had the Eagles not been winning. After every touchdown, they played the fight song and the cheerleaders danced and guys ran down the field with banners. I liked the green fireworks they shot off too- one of my favorite colors. Right before the two-minute warning, I headed to the elevators to spend halftime in the press box. I wanted to warm up and get some coffee. They inducted Brian Westbrook and Maxie Baughn into the Eagles Hall of Fame during the half and since I had never watched either guy play, I didn’t feel bad not watching the ceremony.
At the start of the second half I was back out in the cold cheering on the Eagles with a group of fans that were a little more vocal then the other people I’d encountered. There was some very crude language and they were apt to yell their disapproval of Sam Bradford. It wasn’t anything I haven’t heard and most of the comments were more funny than venomous. They were more to the Philadelphia stereotype I was going for and I stayed in that section until the end of the game. It was a good game and the fans didn’t clear out early, so the atmosphere was steady until the final victory formation. I headed back to the press box to charge my phone and wait for Anthony to finish up his post-game responsibilities. While I was walking to the bathroom, Jon Gruden walked right by me. Not going to lie, I thought that was pretty cool. He had an entourage of people and a couple of guys ran after him.
Anthony signed my witness log and I was in a bit of a hurry back to the subway station. I was lucky to catch the last train of the night back to the city. It was a bit of a walk to Steve’s place, but I took main streets that were well lit and felt relatively safe. Cabs need to stop rolling up like lurkers asking if you need a ride. When I’m in “don’t f with me walk mode,” the way they approach scares the hell out of me. I know they don’t mean to, but it sets off all sorts of stranger danger alarms. This was my third and maybe last trip to Philly. As much as I enjoyed the stadium (it’s high up there for me), I don’t care for this city or really the state of Pennsylvania in general. The toll roads are ridiculous (among many more traffic complaints if you’re ever curious) and their liquor laws are archaic (I didn’t purchase any, but just knowing this annoys me). Upon reentry to Ohio, I declared I would only step foot in PA one more time for a Penn State white out game (against my Buckeyes of course!). Other than that, it was not so nice knowing you square state to the right.
Remember I am raising money for the Ronald McDonald House in Central Ohio. Please donate by clicking here.
Special thank you to Anthony for his time and assistance during my visit!