Before the game, I was talking to one of the Eagles front office employees. She was saying what a good job the Lincoln Financial Field workers did removing the huge mounds of snow from the stands. She was right. It took 45 minutes to help shovel my friend's car out yesterday. Imagine how hard it was to clear a 67,000-seat stadium.
But despite the valiant effort, they couldn't get it all. There was still plenty left over when the gates opened and the fans trickled in. The first snowball was launched from the upper deck at 2:46 p.m. It almost reached the field. That was the opening salvo in what became the East Coast's largest intramural snowball brawl.
Around 6:45 - while the Eagles were holding off the 49ers and the game bled into the fourth quarter - snowball fights broke out in the South end zone. Before long, it seemed as though the entire stadium was engaged in the activity. Some people stood and watched or took cover. Lots of others gleefully participated, and white projectiles began flying from all over - the second blizzard in as many days, though this one was man made.
"I'm surprised it's taken this long," Fox color analyst Daryl Johnston deadpanned.
That makes two of us, Moose.
The Eagles weren't thrilled. Toward the end of the game, the fans with particularly strong arms started launching snowballs at the Birds bench - maybe just to see if they could throw them that far. (If the Phils are still looking for arms they might want to audition some of those people.) Joe Mays got up and signaled for them to stop, but that didn't exactly work. That's when the organization put a message up on the video screens:
"Fans are requested to refrain from throwing objects onto the field or in the stands during the playing of today's game. Anyone who engages in such activity is subject to ejection or arrest."
The crowd reacted with the expected response. That is, they booed. A lot.
"We probably don't need to throw snowballs," Andy Reid said. "We're a classy crew in Philadelphia. Save that for the parking lot."
The Eagles clinched a playoff spot yesterday, but my guess is that the national pundits will spend more time today talking about the fans and their behavior than they will about the Birds postseason aspirations. That's typical. It's also a little lame. There are probably more important things to discuss. No one should ever throw anything onto the field, but otherwise - so long as no one got hurt and everyone made it home in one piece - it was largely harmless.
"It looked like they were having fun," Jeremiah Trotter said. "I put my hoodie up. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't in harm's way."
Unlike a lot of people - journos and players alike - Trotter didn't make a huge deal out of it. He just sort of shrugged it off. After all, that's what people do when a storm dumps 20-something inches on their heads - they reach down, pack up a snowball and fire it at their buddies. Or, failing that, someone wearing San Francisco gear.
Not far from the press box, over near section 136, there was a flurry of activity. A guy in a white Niners Jeff Garcia jersey became the stadium's primary target for a few minutes. He was pelted from all angles, including quite a few snowballs that were dropped on his head from the upper deck. From where we were sitting, it looked like he eventually made it out unscathed.
One of Page 2's regular readers, a guy who calls himself Mullet Man (because he likes to wear a mullet wig to the games; go figure), was having a grand time. He was sitting right in front of me and, at one point, turned around and smashed a huge snowball onto the window that separated us. Then he smiled.
Before the critics freak out about what happened yesterday, they should relax a little and try that last part.
Andy Reid should send 49ers tight end Delanie Walker a nice fruit basket and a Christmas card. If Walker hadn't fumbled, the Niners might have scored and capitalized on Reid's curious decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 29-yard line in the first quarter. Somewhere, even Bill Belichick shook his head after that call. . . . During the ESPN pregame show yesterday, Keyshawn Johnson said he likes the Birds to return to the NFC Championship: "After watching that worst 13-0 football team [Saturday night], I think the Philadelphia Eagles with Donovan McNabb at quarterback, if they can keep everyone healthy, I think you can see a team making a run at the championship." Clearly he's unfamiliar with the jinx concept Someone needs to tell that man to knock on wood posthaste. . . . Jeffrey Lurie looks a little like a Bond villain. How long until he starts carrying a white cat around?