EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Here's the question, the answer as good a reason as any for you to amp up your personal holiness.
Say you don't make it up to the pearly gates, and the devil gives you this choice:
Would you like to spend eternity all hot and bothered with a roomful of Cowboys fans - or Giants fans?
"Oh, good Lord," Sean Iaquinto, founder of the Eagles Club of Hoboken, said yesterday.
Uh-uh. The good Lord has been deactivated for this one. You're on your own, Sean.
"I would probably say the Giants," he said after mulling it for a while. "I hate Dallas for many reasons, but the Giants are like our brother from another mother. They have the same kind of smash-mouth reputation. They're a similar organization with similar fans. A lot of my friends are
Until Iaquinto started his little club 5 years ago, they were pretty much his only friends.
"I was the lone, loud Eagles fan in the bar," he said. "Even when the Giants or the Jets weren't playing, I couldn't even get them to turn the sound."
Solution: Find your own bar and populate it with transplanted Bird watchers. Enter Irish-born Paul Dawson whose bar, Mulligan's, located in the heart of Hoboken (isn't that a song?), was amazingly unaffiliated. Hoboken is just across the river from Manhattan, 9 miles from the Meadowlands, a yuppie community with a sizable representation of Philadelphians.
Mulligan's can hold about 200 people. It is often packed early on weekend days with soccer and rugby fans transplanted from the Old Sod. But afternoons, and Sundays in particular, were pretty empty.
Were pretty empty.
"I told him that I could bring down 100, even 150 people on most Sundays," Iaquinto said. "He had no idea what was about to happen to him."
That was a couple of years ago, after the club outgrew a smaller Hoboken pub. Now a blog (www.philly2hoboken.com) and group at Google (http://groups.google.com/group/philadelphia-eagles-club-of-hoboken) have grown their numbers well into the hundreds.
"We have a ton of girls come, too," he said. "One way I promoted the club was to make sure I included pictures of cute girls at Mulligan's on the Web site. Why? Girls bring guys."
But faith waned on the Hudson just as it had on the Schuylkill this season, as the Birds fluttered to that 5-5-1 record. Iaquinto said some games during that late fall stretch drew as few as 25 club members on game day - then again, that might have had as much to do with the Phillies' World Series run as anything. The Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken changed its colors for a while there. In fact Iaquinto blogged only once about the Birds from September to December.
But the late-season surge - and particularly the Dec. 7 victory over the Giants up here - has recharged the rowdy group. When things are going well, like now, patrons in bars all along the street are subjected to the sound of the Eagles' fight song.
Tomorrow, Mulligan's will be packed to capacity with fans of Premier League soccer team Chelsea - the owner's true love - and Eagles fans. Chelsea kicks off against hated Manchester United at 11; the Eagles play the Giants at 1.
Giants fans are allowed in. But they must stay at the front bar.
"The back bar," said Iaquinto, "is ours."
On his blog, that is Rule 4:
"If you want to bring your friends, who are Giants fans, then sit at the front bar, please. We are doing this to just keep the peace, during a game where emotions and alcohol can get in the way of good fun."
"I think a lot of them come to watch us wallow in our misery," Iaquinto said. "It's like me with the Mets. Some people enjoy other's misery. I do."
Most of the time, it's all in fun. As he said, some of his best friends are Giants fans. They're kind of his half-brothers after all, sharing the same passion for their team as he does for his.
As for the occasional Dallas fans? Iaquinto won't make that same leap. He wouldn't be caught dead with one.
No matter how nicely the devil asked. *
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