It took 3½ hours for employees to clean up the South Philadelphia Sunoco APlus gas station that was ransacked after the Eagles won the Super Bowl on Sunday.
When I stopped by Monday afternoon, I took in the bare shelves as the clerks behind the glass recalled what happened. Employees had actually scrambled to lock the doors but a crowd of "overzealous fans" — isn't that the going term for these criminals? — pushed through and began turning the place upside down in a display that was widely recorded.
"I don't blame the Eagles," said a young man whose work shirt read "Franky." "I blame the individuals who did it."
Absolutely. While the Eagles were busy putting Philadelphia on the map, these camera-loving morons were doing all they could to make us the butt of a nation's jokes.
I absolutely blame the individuals — and am waiting on cops who arrested four people on Sunday to make a lot more arrests in the coming days.
Vandalism is a crime. It's as simple as that, and it should never be accepted as a cost of celebration/victory. Which brings me to another group of people I blame: the apologists.
Apologists wasted no time downplaying the vandalism by playing a silly game of what I'm calling degrees of douchery: Considering the thousands of people who took to the streets, they justified over and over again, there were just a handful of people who acted up. (Just curious — how many acts of vandalism are not OK? Five? Ten?) It was just a few bad actors/apples. "Overzealous fans."
As Twitter user Clint Smith said, "Framing is everything."
In addition to vandalizing and looting the store, "fans" smashed a few department-store windows, they set fires in the streets, they toppled traffic and light poles, they flipped at least one car.
And in one spectacularly disgusting spectacle that isn't illegal but probably should be — and that will undoubtedly eclipse that time Philadelphia sports fans booed Santa a zillion years ago — one waste of space decided that now that Philly fans were done talking crap, he would literally eat it when he made a show of snarfing down horse excrement, on video, of course.
Make no mistake, the win is an exciting, long-overdue triumph, as a colleague noted in probably the best line I've read in the mountain of Super Bowl coverage.
"The chip on Philadelphia's shoulder died at age 57 at 10:18 p.m. Sunday," wrote David Gambacorta. "and was instantly buried by thousands of delirious Eagles fans who bolted out of bars and rowhouses in every corner of the city and screamed to the heavens in joy, celebrating, for the first time ever, a Super Bowl championship."
The chip may be dead, but the insidious Philly Shrug is still alive and kicking as people rushed to not just dismiss and downplay the nonsense, but wore it like some badge of honor. Meaning, if you had the nerve to call BS on the nonsense that mostly went unchecked, you just don't get it. Worse, around these parts, you're as disloyal, even worse than a Patriots fan.
It's a Philly thing, the defenses came in. You're a hater, a downer, that needs to get out of Philly.
Nice try, but I'm not going anywhere, and I'm not going to stop calling out the hypocrisy and double standards of what's cool for one group but not so much for another, depending on your loyalties, or who happens to be staring back at you in the mirror.
Accurately portraying the good, bad, and ugly is what keeps people and cities honest. It's journalism — which is why so many people rightly took offense to how these stories were framed in the press.
This isn't up for debate: There is a huge difference in how the media frame mostly white people "celebrating" their sports teams and black and brown people protest police brutality. But the papers are hardly the only places you see this play out.
These double standards are everywhere, depending on what team you're rooting for, what political party you side with, whom you happen to like, or don't. How many times do you hear someone downplaying or excusing someone's behavior because s/he's nice — as if nice people shouldn't be called on bad behavior?
Trump's alleged sexual misconduct — bad. Very bad. (And I agree!) Al Franken's … wellll …."
String bands — good. Drum lines — bad. (I'm coming for you, Councilman Mark Squilla.)
Black Lives Matter protesters — bad. Eagles fans, mostly good. So, Helen, why are you raining on our parade?
There have been a lot of heartwarming pieces about what this win means for Philadelphia, how there's no denying us now, and how, finally, we are on the right side of winning.
But you know how a winning city really wins? By not downplaying or dismissing the double standards, by not excusing bad behavior or bad "actors" because they happen to be rooting for our side, wearing the right colors.
The Eagles deserve more. The city deserves more.