By Pats fan J.J. Feigenbaum
I don't claim to be an expert on the fans of the Philadelphia Eagles. I've never been to a game at Lincoln Financial and I never went to Veterans Stadium. I don't think I've ever seen a real Eagles fan in person.
But here's what I do know: While Michael Irvin lay motionless on the Veterans Stadium turf in 1999, the Eagles fans cheered. Despised playmaker on their most hated rival or not, the man under the helmet lay on the field. Was he paralyzed? No, but they didn't know that then. All that was known was that Irvin was on the ground and not moving.
And the Eagles' fans cheered. Sox fans might have the crudest of taunts ("Yankees Suck" comes to mind) and Pats games certainly aren't church picnics, but never have the fans of New England rejoiced in the injury, a potentially life-threatening one at that, of an opponent. Sure, I wouldn't shed any tears if Jerome Bettis or Chad Pennington took a tumble on the Gillette Stadium turf, but I wouldn't be celebrating either.
This is the reason why the Patriots have better fans than the Eagles. It is a very simple fact. The Pats have never been embarrassed by their rooting nation; the Eagles cannot say the same.
On some levels, the fan bases do have some common ground, or as is more popular in both cities, some common complaints. The Philly fans can complain about their title-less city, and that's certainly a legitimate gripe. And it is laudable the fans have stuck with an Eagles team that hasn't touched a Lombardi Trophy since, well, ever. But Pats fans cannot be blamed for our team's recent success and our historical devotion shouldn't be questioned.
The Patriots have sold out 114 straight games, a streak that includes every game in Gillette Stadium's history, and one that began at a time the Patriots were very much the worst team in New England, fifth behind the Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and even the soon-to-be departing Hartford Whalers. Only a great fan base sells out preseason games for a team that finished near the bottom of the league.
Eagles fans are a hardy bunch, that's for certain. They have braved below-freezing conditions with almost as much passion and resiliency as, oh that's right, Patriots fans. It's a shame really, to a large extent, that the Pats have the market on drama in inclement weather, from snowball fireworks to defying the frosty temps during the Tennessee playoff game last season. Eagles fans have their share of tall tales, heroic epics of weather-braving glory, but with the Pats fans on the other end ... Sorry Philadelphia, but it's a wash at best.
Boston is a baseball town, even Robert Kraft would have to admit that, but that doesn't mean the New England fans support and love and dream about and die for the Patriots any less. Patriot fans are dedicated and devoted to our team, we have proved it with sellouts and proved it in the worst conditions, and on Sunday we fans will prove it again.
It's almost a game of anything you can do, we can do better between the Philly Phanatics and Patriot Nation, but at the end of the day, the New England faithful come out on top. For instance, I really hope Rodney Harrison decapitates Freddie Mitchell on Sunday. But after it happens, I'll be very respectful while the mouthy receiver takes a few minutes realizes just how hard he just got hit.
By Eagles fan Ed Knizhnik
Philly fans are an overlooked bunch. It seems that people in this city have the notorious reputation of being calloused individuals who would boo their own mother if she was having an off day.
What people don't understand is that Philadelphians boo because they're passionate fans. Philly fans are, well, fanatical. We care too much about our teams, if such a thing were possible. If an athlete is cheered for heroics, you should expect fans to have the opposite reaction when they witness a poor effort.
Philadelphia expects a lot out of players -- fans live and die with their sports franchises. Hell, I was upset that the Miami Dolphins went on to beat the Eagles in a fictional Super Bowl matchup at the end of Ace Ventura, Pet Detective. Four sports, 21 years, no titles. It's absolute torture.
There's an entire generation of fans, myself included, that has witnessed no champion in our City of Brotherly Love (except for Rocky Balboa). It is this drought that fans the flames of our passion, it is this drought that intensifies our already ravenous hunger for a champion, and it is this drought that makes Philadelphia believe that it deserves a title more than any other city.
I realize that Boston, too, is a sports-obsessed city, but let's be honest: the Red Sox are No. 1 in New England's sports mentality. In my mind, the contrast between our two fair cities' approaches to sports became evident after New England's triumph over Carolina in the Super Bowl last year.
Following the win, I heard many a Pats fan say, "Go Pats! Dynasty in the making! Now if only the Sox could finally win one " Has there ever been such a devalued championship? As far as I'm concerned, that's sports blasphemy.
I get the feeling that, at this time last year, most Pats fans would trade away both Lombardi trophies for a World Series triumph -- that's not fandom, that's tunnel vision. I would sell my soul AND give away my firstborn child if it could ensure a championship coming home to Philly.