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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Eagles-Bucs at Lincoln Financial Field

Today marked my first time ever visiting Lincoln Financial Field to watch the Eagles play. Here are some observations:

1. NFL Fans Have Created a Tribal Culture All to Themselves. I asked a bunch of people how early I'd have to leave the house to get decent parking near the Linc, and each said to drive into Center City (that's downtown Philadelphia for the uninitiated), park there, and take the Broad Street Subway to the stadium complex. That was wise, because the parking lots are full of tailgaters. From what I gather, some get there by 9 a.m., even when game time is 4 p.m. They set up, eat breakfast and then lunch, then head to the game and repair to their setups for a post-game libation. All of this on asphalt, with the whirr of traffic on I-95 in the close background (thankfully, the odors of the sewage treatment plant, while in Southwest Philadelphia and close to the airport, don't travel far enough to affect the football faithful).

2. Jerseys. All sorts, among them: many McNabbs and Westbrooks, and I spotted a Sav Rocca, which made me wonder why anyone would buy a jersey of the punter. There were white jerseys, green jerseys, black jerseys, vintage jerseys (replicas, of light blue and yellow, of what the team wore 75 years ago). I saw several Randall Cunninghams and a Kevin Kolb, and that also made me wonder why someone would buy the jersey of the back-up quarterback. Takeo Spikes was in the house, as were Steve Van Buren, Michael Lewis, Jeremiah Trotter (more on him later), L.J. Smith, many DeSean Jacksons, a few David Akers (as if the kicker is the most important guy on the team) and so forth. Name a former player, and the odds were that someone was wearing a replica jersey with his name on it.

3. You Get Ripped Off on Parking in Center City Philadelphia. Sure, it's great to park in Center City and take the subway to the game, because you avoid huge traffic jams getting out of the stadium area after the game. The agony of the experience is paying $20 plus for parking in Center City. My wife and I haven't gone into the city for years for dinner, and we like good food and are willing to pay for a great experience. Our protest is that you can get gauged on parking. Sorry, fans and apologists for the city, but all city parents need to figure out a better way to get suburbanites to want to come back into the city instead of getting clipped for parking.

4. The People Who Work at The Linc are Very Nice. They are warm and welcoming and give you a warm goodbye when you leave. A greeter insisted that I take my son to guest services to get a certificate that he attended his first Eagles game. He was so nice about it that we could hardly refuse his good cheer.

5. It's a Great Stadium to Watch a Game In. We sat at about the 30 yard-line on the home side of the field, not far from Mayor Michael Nutter's box. The sight lines are great, and if you yell hello to the mayor, he'll wave back to you.

6. It's Pretty Impressive When 60,000 Fans Sing "Fly Eagle, Fly." They do this after each Eagle touchdown, and the song concludes with the chant "E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!" So loud is the demonstration that even the most jingoistic English soccer fan would be impressed.

7. Michael Vick Looks to be a Distraction. He doesn't appear to have any meaningful role in the offense.

8. The Fans are Friendly. Okay, so they weren't that nice to the guy in the Tampa Bay jersey with Ruud's name on the back, but he invited the banter because he bragged about the Bucs' Super Bowl victory and asked how many the Eagles had. At which point the fans around him and I asked him where his cow bell is. No fisticuffs from anyone, no profanity, no, well, anything. And he disappeared after halftime, presumably to wonder about that Super Bowl team, because this year's model isn't very good.

9. Josh Johnson Will be a Good NFL Quarterback. Mel Kiper and others loved him a couple of years ago coming out of San Diego State, and you can see why. He can run out of trouble, he can hit the short passes and thread deeper ones, he has a good arm and he stayed composed despite all sorts of blitz packages being thrown at him. Yes, he threw 3 picks and his QB rating for the day was about 58.3, but he did a lot of good things out there today. If you don't believe me, find a podcast of Andy Reid's post-game comments and listen to what he said.

10. Jeremy Maclin Had His Coming-Out Party Today. Bucs CB Aqib Talib might have kept DeSean Jackson quiet, but Tampa Bay had no answer for the Eagles' first-round pick. Maclin got open all day and scored 2 touchdowns.

11. I am Not Sure That the Eagles are a Playoff Team. Look, they backed into the playoffs last season after 3 dreams came true on the final day of the season, one of which was an upset win by Oakland. They had 11 penalties today for about 110 yards, and if you do that against the Giants you'll probably lose by 3 touchdowns. The defense looked bad against the pass. Tampa Bay ran many screen plays and did so effectively, and the better teams will run those plays even more. In fairness, not all QBs can move like Johnson, but the young QB impressed the fans in the stands by his ability to get rid of the ball quickly. Also, the offensive line hasn't run-blocked well yet.

12. Donovan McNabb Looked Healthy Today. He ran out of trouble, threw the ball pretty well and had a good game.

All in all, a great experience, the parking cost notwithstanding. I was outside in great fall weather with my son, watching the hometown football team win by 19. And, yes, we did eat the Crab Fries from Chickie's and Pete's. That's becoming something of a tribal ritual too.


Anonymous tim said...

Glad you had a good time.

But do Bucs fans have cowbells? I thought that was just those of us who cheer for the Rays. You might be surprised, but there is surprisingly little overlap between the Buc fan population and Rays fans.

11:28 AM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

I was just joking. I don't think that they do. Thanks for pointing out that Rays and Bucs fans are pretty much a disjoint set. I didn't know that.

7:55 PM  

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