I HAVE THIS mental image of a dejected Eugene Clarke sitting on the curb outside Lincoln Financial Field while his brother and a friend were inside watching the Eagles thrash the Bears 54-11 on Dec. 22.
Clarke's fanny was on the curb instead of in the seat for which he had paid $75. Why? As the 32-year-old tells it, he was the victim of authoritarian security guys with short fuses.
Arriving before kickoff, Clarke got in line, as the other guys did, but Clarke chose a bad line.
By "bad" I mean he was still standing in it when the Eagles took a 14-0 lead. His brother and his pal breezed through security like Shady McCoy through a defensive line.
Irritated at the delay, Clarke asked a CSC security guy named Anthony (he wasn't able to get the last name) why it was taking so long, and Anthony told Clarke he should have gotten there earlier.
Nice going, Ant.
Clarke said his time of arrival was not the issue, so Anthony called over Mike from APEX security and things went quickly downhill. Mike demanded to see Clarke's ticket. When Clarke balked, Mike put his hand on Clarke's arm - not with any real pressure - and Clarke figured, the hell with it, and produced his ticket. At no point was he out of line or verbally abusive, he told me.
"He ripped it out of my hand," said Clarke, who was left with less than a stub. His business concluded, Mike walked away saying Clarke couldn't be admitted because he didn't have a ticket. A couple of Philly cops came over to try to help Clarke get his ticket back, but Mike said he couldn't do anything because the ticket was ripped.
Clarke spent the next hour or so speaking to security and various Eagles staffers. He said that almost without exception the Eagles staff were friendly and professional. That took him almost to halftime, so he sat on the curb to wait for his brother and pal, who had driven him to the game.
He felt more humiliated than angry. He'd bought a ticket from a buddy with season tickets and saw his ticket destroyed by someone paid to protect fans.
The next day, Clarke called the team to try to get things straightened out and his $75 ticket refunded, but answers were slow to come by, so he tried me.
"I'm embarrassed by what happened," said Clarke, a Huntingdon Valley resident who manages a ShopRite.
"These security people need to be retrained," Clarke said, and if the facts are as he related them, there's no question about that. But are they?
I passed along Clarke's complaint to Derek Boyko, director of public relations for the Eagles, who said he'd check with security.
He did. And this is what he told me: "He was visibly intoxicated and frequently used offensive language and was not permitted into the stadium in an effort to keep a fan-friendly and safe environment."
Clarke told me that he did have a drink or two before arrival, but said: "I definitely wasn't intoxicated."
In his job, he said, "I deal with the public, I have a 6-year-old and learned to control myself when I was in the Marine Corps and had a religious roommate.
"If I was intoxicated, could I remember the names of everyone I spoke with and the order?" he asked.
Well, that's what the Eagles said and what Clarke said. I wasn't there, so I can't say which side, if either, was 100 percent right.
I'll give Clarke the final word. Although he disagrees with the Eagles' assessment, "I'm not going to continue fighting them because I don't have anything to prove my claims," he said.
The only thing I am sure of is that it was a damn shame that Clarke had to sit on a curb outside the Linc while his team was blowing up the Bears inside.
On Twitter: @StuBykofsky