Whoa! Is this still Philly?
Where Eagles fans wear their over-the-top passion, unruliness, defiance, and in-your-face rudeness as a green badge of honor?
Where city workers wasted their time slathering street poles with Crisco to prevent fans from climbing them after the NFC Championship win? (When they upgraded their prevention method to hydraulic fluid after the subsequent 2018 Super Bowl victory, the fans scrambled up them anyway.)
Not following rules is for the Birds.
So what happened Sunday, Philly, for the first home game of the season no less? Where were you?
To help keep the coronavirus at bay, the city prohibited tailgating in parking lots around Lincoln Financial Field and nearby Franklin D. Roosevelt Park. Starting at 6 a.m., the area from Seventh to Broad Streets and Packer Avenue to I-95 was blocked to traffic. Several other streets were closed, too.
And Philly stayed away. Officers blocked all the entrances to the area and police spokesperson Sgt. Eric Gripp said he heard “nary a peep” about tailgater wannabes causing any trouble.
Even though people could walk through FDR Park, no fans with grills and coolers full of beer could be spotted close to the stadium. They weren’t in the Chickie’s & Pete’s parking lot on Packer or the blocks nearby at peak time, one to two hours before the game.
Maybe the words of Mayor Jim Kenney stuck with them: “I recognize as a long-term rabid Eagles fan myself, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than in the parking lot tailgating for the 1 o’clock game. We just need to keep each other safe, and there will be other football seasons.”
The Inquirer did find one group of exuberant tailgaters in the parking lot of Bregy School at 17th and Pollock Streets. They call their pack “1-J-8” because they all grew up near the Barry Playground at 18th and Johnston Streets in South Philly. About 15 of them huddled together, some drinking beer and spiked Arnold Palmers, and munching on pizza and strombolis.
Until now, for every Eagles home game, they would start their party here, the place they call their “neighborhood spot,” then amble down to the stadium parking lot to amp up the celebration with fellow die-hards. The rowdiness was part of the fun.
“It’s just us now, just our friends,” said Matt Miller, 22. “It’s the next best thing to being around the crowd.”
They take turns being the leader of the group by being the fastest to chug a beer or spiked drink. They cheer each other on.
But they most miss the trash talk and chiding fans of rival teams. “Like when you see someone with a New York Giants shirt, you can go up and ask, ‘Where did you get that shirt?’" said Ed Cavanaugh, 19. “The toilet store?”
His friends laughed.
“This is all we have now,” Miller said.