After boos rained down on the Eagles during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss against the Lions, Fox TV showed an angry Birds fan shouting at the top of his lungs as the broadcast cut to a commercial.
The upset Eagles fan Fox happened to show for a few seconds was identified by many on social media as Eric Furda, who has been University of Pennsylvania’s dean of admissions since 2008.
The clip of an angry Furda, a Penn graduate, booing the Birds quickly went viral, with frustrated Eagles fans sharing it widely to sum up their own disappointment about how the game turned out. Others just used the viral video to crack jokes about Philadelphia in general.
“I’m sorry I don’t understand what’s out of the ordinary here,” wrote CNN anchor and lifelong Eagles fan Jake Tapper, who also asked Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney to give Furda the keys to the city.
Furda, who played lightweight football at Penn for four years and was once described by The Daily Pennsylvanian, Penn’s student newspaper, as “a legend” in the sport, didn’t respond to a request for comment. But in a tweet Monday morning, he said, “After further review of the play I will take the 15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. But I will not lose my passion for Philadelphia and Penn sports.”
While it’s typically hard to determine precisely what someone is saying through just their lip movements, in Furda’s case, the message was pretty clear, according to lip-reading experts who reviewed the footage.
“I’m pretty sure we can all read some pretty colorful language in what he was saying,” Robert Serianni, chair and program director of the department of speech language pathology at Salus University, told my colleague Tom Avril.
Sunday afternoon, Furda had re-tweeted a comment pointing out there was a young fan standing next to him as he yelled and described the Penn dean as a “psycho fan.”
Furda, who frequently attends Penn sporting events and has been spotted courtside at Sixers games, arrived at the Ivy League school from Columbia University, where he had spent 17 years. Before that, he worked in Penn admissions as regional director. Under Furda, admission to Penn has become even more selective, with the school accepting just 7.4 percent of applications in 2019, the lowest in its 279-year history.
Penn declined to comment on the viral shot of the admissions dean.
One pleasant surprise was that Fox broadcasters Thom Brennaman and Chris Spielman actually defended angry Eagles fans like Furda, something you rarely see from national broadcasters, who all-too-often turn to negative stereotypes about Philadelphia fans.
“They have a high standard and an expectation,” Spielman said of Eagles fans during the game. “If you’re not meeting that expectation, boos are warranted.”
Even on his best day, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick comes off as unlikable, especially when dealing with reporters. But he was downright miserable during a tense pre-game interview Sunday, ahead of his team’s match-up with the Jets.
At the end of her brief one-on-one with Belichick, CBS Sports reporter Dana Jacobson asked what seemed like a legitimate question about wide receiver Antonio Brown, whom the team cut late last week after Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko published threatening text messages the receiver reportedly sent to a women who accused him of sexual harassment.
“I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask what was the final straw with Antonio Brown?” Jacobson asked.
“We’re focused on the Jets today,” Belichick said dryly before giving Jacobson an angry stare, lingering for a few seconds before CBS cut back to The Other Pregame Show (according to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch, The NFL Today gave it a quicker cut).
The animosity over what seemed like a fair question Belichick had to know was coming drew critical responses from across the sports media world. ESPN senior writer Don Van Natta Jr. called it a “parody of his media tough-guy act,” while CBS Sports Radio host Damon Amendolara called Belichick “a petulant child.”
“It is Belichick’s tough guy staredown of Dana Jacobson that I find particularly weak,” wrote New York Post columnist Andrew Marchand. “He is in a position of power and it is a really bad look.”
Jacobson appeared to take the moment in stride, writing on Twitter Monday morning, “I did my job yesterday. Coach did his.”
While the Patriots cut Brown after more allegations surfaced, Belichick and the Patriots started the Pro Bowl wide receiver in Week 2 against the Dolphins, after he was accused in a federal lawsuit of rape and sexual harassment by his former trainer.
The Eagles media will get a crack at Belichick in Week 11, when the Birds face off against the Patriots on Nov. 17 at Lincoln Financial Field.
• “For the first time from either team today, we will see a punt," Brennaman said during Fox’s broadcast of the second quarter of Sunday’s Eagles loss, before realizing the Birds had already punted. After an awkwardly long pause, the veteran broadcaster saved himself.
“At least from the Detroit side of things,” Brenneman noted.
• Laughed out loud at this clip featuring Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski (my former colleague) pretending to be senior vice president of officiating Al Riveron explaining why an obvious facemask during Sunday’s Eagles game wasn’t called.
• While CBS aired Steelers-49ers in Philadelphia following the Eagles game, the majority of the country got the chance to hear Tony Romo just being Tony Romo calling Saints-Seahawks.