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Philly Fans Ranked 21st in NFL? You Gotta Be Kidding!

Eagles fans are throwing a flag on a new study that claims to show Pittsburgh has America’s best pro football fans, while Philadelphia ranks 21st — behind Las Vegas, who have hosted the Raiders for less time than Joe Biden has spent as president.

Say, what?

The analysis is from, which looked at measurements like attendance, ticket prices, and how much social media traffic teams generated. Pittsburgh sits atop the list, followed by Green Bay and Dallas. Kansas City, whose Chiefs will face the Eagles on Sunday in Super Bowl LVII, is seventh.

Whatever their calculation, Philly fans in the Delaware Valley say they fumbled it.

“I have been going to Eagles games since 1973 when my father got season tickets for the family,” said Christine Flowers, a local lawyer and frequent contributor to DVJournal. “Our seats were two rows down from the legendary 700 Section, and I have memories of drunken men rolling down the seats into my lap. (They were Eagles fans, so it was okay. It would have been a different matter if they rooted for Dallas).

“I have gone to Wing Bowls, frozen my digits off at Monday Night Games in December, dyed my hair green-on purpose — and offered my hypothetical firstborn to the gods of football in hopes of a Super Bowl win. Fortunately, it became unnecessary. And I am by no means the craziest fan around. ”

State Sen. Frank Farry (R-Bucks) agreed.

“You can’t deny that Philadelphia has some of the most passionate and loyal sports fans around. We were fortunate enough to experience it just a few months ago when the Phillies were in the World Series. It was electric. You can feel that energy and excitement again leading up to the Super Bowl. It’s a great time to be a Philadelphia sports fan,” Farry said.

Sen. Frank Farry in his district office in Bucks County, PA.

Eagles fans argue their passions run deep, forged by years of die-hard support for a team that often didn’t deliver on the field.

Paul Rhodes grew up in Horsham in Montgomery County rooting for some mediocre (to put it kindly) Eagles teams. He has lived in Arizona for 44 years, but his understanding of the mindset of Eagles devotees remains.

“We grew up in a blue-collar city,” Rhodes said. “We didn’t have much to be proud of. The Eagles were terrible. But, we were at the games. It was a badge of honor.”

Rhodes compares Eagles fans to those in Green Bay, another city with a passionate fan base.

“Green Bay fans are tremendously loyal,” he said. “They are a blue-collar town of 110,000 people. They bleed green.

“We are from a blue-collar town. Most people don’t move more than 50 miles away from the town they grew up in. They are proud of their team, good, bad, or indifferent.”

Ukee Washington has been at KYW-TV for 36 years. The Dover, Del. native has a deep understanding of Philadelphia sports’ mindset fans in general and Eagles fans in particular.

“Eagles Nation is second to none in my opinion,” he said. “We are a proud, passionate group, and that enthusiasm begins at birth.”

Like Rhodes, Washington cited the blue-collar mindset of the Eagles’ fan base.

“Philadelphia is a hardworking blue-collar town that expects our teams to work extremely hard,” he said, “With no excuses and owning up to the tough times, while at the same time learning from mistakes to make it better.”

Washington acknowledged that from time to time the passion of Eagles fans boils over.

“The passion and knowledge (of fans) can at times seem intimidating,” he said, “with a few fans on occasion maybe going overboard a bit, but it’s all part of the psychological warfare that’s part of the game.

“That’s the vibe of being a true fan. We absolutely love our teams and would go through a brick wall for all of them.”

If anything, Eagles fans have a reputation for being too passionate. In fact, those passions — on ugly display at a Monday Night Football game in 1997 — led to the creation of “Eagles Court.” A jail, a courtroom, and a judge, all open and on hand at Veterans Stadium at game time.

Montgomery County resident Phil Gianficaro doesn’t dispute that Eagles fans love their team. But he said outsiders find the self-regard of the team’s local supporters a bit galling.

“What (fans in other cities) don’t buy is Eagles fans’ insistence that their passion is unequaled anywhere in the NFL, and insisting otherwise calls into question one’s intelligence. Go to Kansas City. Go to Seattle. They are insanely crazy about their teams,” Gianficaro said.

And at least one Chiefs fan says Eagle supporters aren’t the out-of-control maniacs of the stereotype. Heather Whitten lives in upstate New York but is a diehard Chiefs supporter. In 2021 she attended a Chiefs-Eagles game at Lincoln Financial Field attired in Chiefs gear. She says that other than some good-natured teasing she had no problems with the Eagles fans. (Then again, her Chiefs won 42-30.)

“In my experience, Eagles fans get a bad rap,” Whitten said.

Flowers was adamant, however, that when it comes to loyalty, passion, and commitment, Bleeding Green Nation is in a league of its own.

“Anyone who thinks that the Eagles fans are not head and feathers above any other sports creature, including the Steelers, is as crazy as the guy who hired Chip Kelly as head coach.”

Charlie O’Neill, a local GOP consultant, blamed “anti-Philly bias.”

“But like the song says, ‘No one likes us, we don’t care.'”

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Fatal Shooting at Roxborough High Shakes DelVal Sports Community

The Roxborough High School community is reeling after a 14-year-old football player died Tuesday afternoon. Nicholas Elizalde and four other juveniles, three of them teammates, were ambushed in a drive-by shooting. It happened at the school following a football scrimmage involving Roxborough and Northeast and Boys Latin.

Elizalde of Haverford Township in Delaware County was a student at Saul High School, a magnet school that does not have a football team. He played at Roxborough under a co-op arrangement between the two schools allowed by PIAA rules.

The other victims, two 14-year-olds, a 15-year-old, and a 17-year-old, were hospitalized.

The impact of Tuesday’s incident was felt throughout the Delaware Valley high-school sports community. Alan Nicholl is a science teacher at Council Rock South High School in Northampton Township, Bucks County. He has also been the boys’ soccer coach since the school opened 21 years ago.

Tuesday’s tragedy hit Nicholl hard.

“It’s disturbing,” he said. “Schools are a place of safety. Schools are a place we’re supposed to come and feel comfortable and feel safe. That should never come into question.

“As an educator and as a parent myself, there’s nothing more important than the safety of our kids. And when you see something like this happen, it should be outrageous to everybody. It’s unacceptable.”

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts said he was praying for the victims and their families and, “Praying for change.”

The investigation is ongoing. The shooting occurred shortly after 4:30 Tuesday afternoon as players, coaches, and spectators were leaving the field.

Five assailants got out of a Ford Explorer parked near the field and began firing shots. Authorities said they do not believe Elizalde was the target of the attack; they said they think the 17-year-old victim was.

The vehicle believed used in the attack was eventually recovered in South Philadelphia. It was reported stolen in Delaware County, police said.

Though Tuesday’s incident was one of at least three that have occurred at high school football games, it was the first involving gun violence. In August of last year, a shooting following a football game between host Academy Park and Pennsbury took the life of an 8-year-old Sharon Hill girl. Three police officers are awaiting trial in that incident.


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FLOWERS: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly of 2021

It’s a columnist tradition to write an “end of year” piece about the preceding 12 months, and put everything into focus and context. Many folks try and give a positive spin to catastrophic events, prompting the thought:  can you ever have too much hope? Others are matter of fact in their examination, while still others would find something to complain about even if Jesus came back to earth, gave everyone a blanket absolution and distributed loaves and fishes like Oprah delivering cars in her heyday. (It’s a joke. I already went to confession. Lighten up.)

I used to write that sort of column, obviously lacking in both creativity and ideas, but this year I decided to do something different. This year, I am going to focus on the one event that, for me, synthesized pretty much everything that’s been happening over the past 365 days.

I’ll call it The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and it refers to December 28th, the day that this country lost three of its most notable citizens. Each of them represents an aspect of this country that defines our complications, our virtues and our vices.

On that day, we lost John Madden, Harry Reid and Sarah Weddington.

The first two are fairly well known, and don’t really need an introduction. The last is not a household name, but she’s very familiar to those of us who fight for the lives and dignity of unborn children.

Let’s start with The Good.

John Madden is an example of the best this country has to offer in terms of human beings. He was big, brash, honest, authentic, funny, warm, and deceptively simple. This was a cross between Yogi Berra and Tom Brady, someone who had the gentle approachability of a loveable goofball but the steel-trap mind of a killer (or Super Bowl champion). Very few individuals personify the greatest game, football, the way that Madden did. For Philadelphians, we might hold out for John Facenda and that voice. For old-timers, it might be Vince Lombardi or even Tom Landry and their bespoke sobriety on the sidelines.

But Madden crossed generations, which is understandable since he’d been playing, talking about, coaching or simply breathing football since before I was born (and I just turned 60). He was a championship coach, an Emmy-winning broadcaster, a creative genius in the video game world and someone who loved the game with every sinew of that substantial body. To see someone who was so passionate about something so American, and know that he lived a life filled with grace and gratitude, is its own unique sort of blessing. He was, indeed, The Good.

It’s perhaps unfair to call Harry Reid “The Bad.” The former senate majority leader and longtime senator from Nevada was actually a very effective legislator, and someone who, in his own way, served the country that he loved. There’s nothing particularly “bad” in that. However, Reid was also a forerunner of that type of partisanship that morphed into what we see today. He was the sort of Democrat who wanted to win at all costs, did not brook opposition, could not work “nicely” with his colleagues on the other side, and who was as intransigent in his own way as Donald Trump showed himself to be years later. Reid was the Jurassic version of today’s “Squad,” just with more gravitas and less hair. I don’t mourn his loss as much as I mourn the loss of the civility he helped, in his own way, to destroy.

Which brings me to the ugly, the very, very ugly. Sarah Weddington was a woman of outward beauty, which contrasts so sharply with the body of her life’s work. Weddington’s name is well known in Pro Life circles, because she was the woman who, as a young lawyer in Texas, argued the case for legalizing abortion before the Supreme Court. She was successful, and the decision in Roe v. Wade is largely attributable to her legal skills as well as her legal dishonesty.

The case should never have come to the high court, since it was already moot by the time it was in the hands of the justices. Norma McCorvey, the nominal “Jane Roe,” was no longer pregnant at the time that the case was argued. There was no “pregnant woman” seeking an abortion before the court. There was no longer a “case and controversy” before the court, meaning that the whole thing was what we lawyers call “moot.” But Weddington ignored that, pushed on, and was the driving force behind the decision in Roe.

Harry Blackmun gets the credit (or the blame) for penning the majority decision, but had it not been for Weddington, who actively pursued this case so abortion would finally be legalized, we would not be here 49 years and millions of lost lives later. The great irony of Weddington’s death is that it fell on the Feast of Holy Innocents, a day that Catholics venerate in memory of the babies murdered by Herod when he learned that the Christ Child had been born. How fitting. I like to think those babies are at the Gates of Heaven, asking St. Peter to forgive Weddington, and let her in.

So this day, in the last week of a very difficult year, is what I think represents the arc of our lives in 2021. The Good, the (not so) Bad, and the Ugly.

That’s life.


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