This Is Not a Dallas Cowboys Fan

It’s Philly Mag writer Richard Rys, who donned the gear of rival teams at four local games to settle one burning question: Are Philly fans really as ugly as everybody says?

Undercover Philly Fan

Photo By Dale May

Booooooo! To outsiders, that sound is a war cry, a clarion call for action, a howl of barbarism. For Philadelphia sports fans like me, the boo feels like home. On this October afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field, I’m walking into an Eagles game, as I’ve done more times than I can count. But there’s something about the boos today that feels wrong. I ascend the stairs into section 211, high above the southern end zone, and the faithful all around rise up, like a tidal wave of green and white. They cup their hands and scream like hell. There’s no action on the field right now.

Today, those jeers are for me.

Nothing inspires more sports hatred in this town than the star that is the Dallas Cowboys logo. That symbol can be seen prominently on either side of my head, thanks to the silver-and-blue Mexican wrestling mask I’m wearing for today’s contest against America’s Team. In case it wasn’t already clear from my Tony Romo t-shirt, I’m rooting for the visitors. I am not a masochist. I didn’t lose a bet. This is the final act in a theatrical—and potentially life-threatening—investigation I’ve dubbed the Ultimate Philadelphia Fan Experiment.

Philly Fan PollMy idea, misguided as it now seems, was to dress up in the garb of a rival team for each of the four major sports. I’d stay in character—cheering for the visitors, trash-talking when trash needs to be talked—to determine whether the reputation of Philly fans as a bunch of brutes and savages is deserved, or whether we are, as I’m hoping, unfairly maligned. No team inspires more venom than the Cowboys. This game is my grand finale.

It’s also beginning to feel like my funeral.

I’m here with my cousin Bill, who’s wearing his vintage Eagles jersey (Andy Harmon, defensive tackle, ’91-’97) to make it clear that he doesn’t share my rooting interests. He’s my protection should this scene get ugly, which it does rather quickly. We find our section, but pick the wrong stairway—our seats are at the opposite end of the row. We pardon and excuse ourselves, forcing everyone to stand and let us walk by. I’m so close to these fans that I can smell the mix of light beer, nachos and bile on their breath when they shout directly in my face as we file past:

“ASSHOLE!”

“DALLAS SUCKS!”

“BOOOOOOOOOO!”

The only security guard within hailing distance is a sweet bespectacled woman who will be of little use if I get gang-tackled. Later, a thick-necked lug in camo pants and aviators sitting a few seats over walks past us to fetch beer. It’s not his first drink of the day. “Fuck you,” he says to me, nose to nose, before turning to my cousin. “And fuck you for bringing him here.”

I fear that, ironically, I may be the victim of the next story that gives Philadelphia’s fans a black eye…

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  • Amy

    I just moved to Philadelphia and as an outsider you guys are CRAZY about your sports teams here. As a sports fan myself I appreciate you passion, but Philadelphia takes it a little to far in my opinion. There is so much potential for this to be a world class city full of culture, but instead it seems like all anyone cares about is sports. You can’t even get the headline news about what is going on in the world before the news reports something about sports. Philadelphia there is life outside of your sports teams.

    • movetodallas

      Fuck ya mutta

  • Scott

    I’ve gone to the Linc (and previously the Vet) anytime my Chicago Bears are in town, including that God-awful game last Sunday – and always with a Bears jersey on. I’ve never felt unsafe or had any uncomfortable interactions with Eagles fans. My worst experience as a visiting fan of the Bears was actually at a Jets game (weird, since they play there once every 8 years).

  • jk

    I took my son to a Dallas Eagles game for his birthday. He is a Dallas fan, I am an Eagles fan. This was the first time I almost decked someone. As we were walking to the Linc,the jeers got louder(to be expected). But the drunk that smacked him in the head went to far. Mama bear went after him. The situation calmed down and once in the gate, security was great to my son. however, I made him take off the jersey. He would get hurt for sure. I never see this hostility toward other fans from other teams. There is just something about Dallas.

    • Troy

      go to dallas then and take him to a game there

    • Nifty Sissy

      It isn’t just against Dallas, and it isn’t just the Eagle fans. My son worked for the Tampa Rays, and when they were in town for the World Series games a couple weeks ago, he was mortified by the Philly fans. He had been so excited to show “his city” to his friends from Tampa. One friend’s 8 year old daughter had a beer dumped on her head by an adult Philly fan! Tampa staff was instructed by Security to not walk around or go to the rest room alone.
      Saddest part is that Phi;;y takes some kind of sick pride in this deplorable behavior. Not cool!

  • Tim

    What about the time Philly fans cheered when Michael Irvin ended his career? That should’ve made the list as to why Philly fans are horrible

    • sean brace

      you idiot.

    • Glenn

      Tim – on one hand agree. On the other hand, Michael Irvin was an ass who taunted Philly fans relentlessly. Not justifying, but he kinda brought that reaction on himself. And no one knew at the time his career was ended.

  • RogerS

    This life long Eagles fan does not go to games anymore. Irvin nails it with his comment – the anger and frustration MOST of those fans have and their expression of it towards anyone who is not one them is despicable. As a side note the last game I walked into at the Linc – a family of four with two teenage daughters – were visibly scared and shaken by the crowd around them and the hands and bumps that the mother and her daughters had to experience as we funneled towards the gate. The TERRIFIED look on the Dad’s face that there was nothing he could do was when my buddy and I moved over in the crush and created a space of 1-2 feet behind his daughters. The guys behind us ( in their carhart cooler outfits) were pissed and started mouthing off and pushing real hard to make our move a problem. Thankfully it did not. Not saying this only happens in Philly – could have been anywhere – but it did happen in Philly and shouldn’t happen anywhere. Eagle fans revel in their boorishness and deserve all the bad labels until the supposed silent majority of good eagles fans take back the stadium. You really are CRAZY and I think you know that if you did anything in response to most of those so-called fans (MR Camo Pants) that there was a high probablity the scene would have gotten out of hand.