What Makes A Loyal Fan? Part IIBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Saturday, July 28th, 2012
Training Camp had finally begun as fans from near and far forge their way to see their favorite team and players. There are the old favorites that have filled our football seasons with excitement, joy, and a little heartache. But there are new faces that will soon become familiar ones as young budding stars look to etch their way into Philadelphia Eagles history and deep into the hearts of their new fans…you and me.
A couple weeks ago I talked about Fanship, about being a real fan, true blue and all that. I read most of your replies and was able to see deeper into the many nuances of true Fanship. I think I know who the real Eagles fans are, but who are these other people that say they’re true football fans? I’m not just talking about Philly fans but anyone who claims a team and follows them.
In my opinion you should pull for the team where you’re from and whose city you live in… right? After all, that’s where Fanship starts and loyalty begins…at home. And if you don’t pull for your home town team, why not? What makes you root for some other team instead of your hometown team? But my biggest question is, why would you or, how could you root for a team that rivals your home town team?
I’m talking to you, the Cowboy fans born and bred in Philly!
I could never understand how any football fan born and especially living in Philadelphia could twist his lips to root for the Dallas Cowboys. When thinking of this, I’m reminded of a man I played ball with in West Philly. On Sundays in the fall, Bobby was a hated Cowboys fan. As far as Fanship is concerned, he was the ultimate turncoat, the epitome of “traderizm” (I love making up new words). We’d get together after we played our game and then watch the Eagles. He’d be the only one there cheering for Dallas.
As I said before, you can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family and you can’t pick your football team. You’re born into it, the fan fraternity of the Philadelphia Eagles. Now I can understand it if you’re from a city that has no team or your team is young to the league like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers who joined the league in 1995. (I can’t imagine what not having a home town team would be like).
There are different reasons that football fans root for different teams. I moved from Philly to a town near Charlotte, North Carolina in 1996 but before that there was no NFL team between D.C. and Atlanta so fans in the south had to pull for either the Falcons or the Redskins. The Redskins seemed to be the favorite, due to their success at the time.
I tried to be a Panther’s fan, part time that is. Since I now lived in the Charlotte area, I adopted the Panther’s as “my home away from home team” but the Eagles were always #1. Of course when they played each other I rooted for my Eagles. It wasn’t until 2003-2004 when Carolina played Philly for the NFC Championship… I was in my glory, telling everyone down here how the Eagles would mop up the Panthers, that they had no chance. Imagine how I felt afterward. It’s been difficult rooting for the Panthers ever since.
I spoke with six men in the Charlotte area that root for six different teams.
Thomas, from Statesville, N.C. was a Baltimore Colts fan in the early 70’s because his father liked Johnny Unitas. But when the Colts moved to Indianapolis in ’84, his heart couldn’t follow. Being a Tar Heel fan and rooting for the University of N.C., he was a huge Lawrence Taylor fan so when the New York Giants drafted him with their first pick, he said that he instantly became a Giants fan.
Dennis, a North Carolina state trooper was born in Chicago but moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma before settling near Charlotte, but has always been a Bears fan. “I’ve never pulled for any other team” he told me.
Walter, who is a native of New York roots for the Jets rather than the Giants. Why I asked? “I don’t know,” he said. “My father always liked the Jets so; I started pulling for them too.”
And Brian, another New Yorker that once was a Bills fan changed to the Packers “from the time Bret Favre threw his first touchdown pass”, he said. “Because he was so thrilling… a gunslinger.”
Then, there are two brothers, Allan and Jay, who for years have pulled for two different teams. Allan loved the Pittsburgh Steelers from childhood, with the passion of an Eagles fan! Jay, I’m sorry to say is a Dallas Cowboy fan who never really gave me a reason why, at least none that I can remember. Maybe I blocked it out or something. Oh, by the way, they are both my brother in law. And did I mention that my father in law is a Cowboys fan too… you feel for me, I know. Imagine football season for me.
I can almost accept a fan rooting for an “out of town” team if there was any measure of sincerity and commitment but what gets me are the so called fans that jump on a team’s bandwagon as soon as they start winning. But ask them about that team’s history, former players and moments from the team’s past and they can’t answer, looking at you with question marks for eyes.
Everyone wants to be associated with a winner; as a long time Eagles fan I understand that as well as anyone. Back in the late 60’s when the Eagles weren’t very good I somehow developed a relationship with the Kansas City Chiefs in their heyday. The first Super Bowl I remember watching was Super Bowl IV when the Chiefs defeated Minnesota, my brother’s second favorite team.
On another side I feel for the fans of cities whose teams bolted, leaving them empty and without a team to root for. I’ve often wondered how Colts, Browns, and Cardinals fans dealt with the departure of their teams. If you were from Cleveland and were a Browns fan when they left town in 1995, did you automatically pull for Baltimore and become a Ravens fan since those were your guys, right? Even though you had a new team coming to town and called them the Browns, how did you make that transition? Browns fans had all the championship history as well as the heartache of not making a Super Bowl, then their team moves to another town and wins one there. That must have really sucked!
I remember the threat of the Eagles moving to Phoenix in the late 80’s. The thought of being without the Eagles in Philly was unfathomable for me. Thank God (for Philly fans) that the Cardinals left St. Louis instead! They may not have had any real success in St. Louis but the Cardinals were still their team. Then here come the Rams to give the St. Louis fans something more to cheer for only to leave L.A. team less, at least until the Raiders occupied the town for a while. Now the fans of Los Angeles have no team. How about if you were an Oilers fan? I don’t think its right!
How does a loyal fan – a long time fan of any team – deal with their city’s franchise changing faces? If Jeffrey Lurie – God Forbid – were to sell the Eagles or pack up in the middle of the night and leave Philly, how would it affect your Fanship? I would be devastated to say the least!
I imagine I would continue to root for the “Eagles” or whatever they would be called in their new city, at least for a time. I just can’t imagine that though. But how do you embrace the new group of guys when another team is ushered into town with the expectation of taking over your heart? How do you accept a bunch of new guys on the block as your own? And how do you give them the same dedication, the same commitment, the same loyalty… as the team you followed, cheered for, cried over… for so many years? I don’t know, I don’t know if I could. I guess I would try… how about you?
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