Eagles Fans Don’t Boo Reid, McNabb. Nation Stunned.

Maybe the world will believe that Philly fans have class when we start believing it, too.

And in the end it was all media manufactured hype.

Andy Reid walked out of the tunnel to a shower of applause and cheers from the adoring and standing fans at Lincoln Financial Field. Twitter responded in amazement (see below), as if Eagles fans suddenly stood upright for the first time.

Who can blame them? Sports talk radio stoked the idea that Philadelphia fans might boo both Andy Reid in his return and Donovan McNabb in the ceremony to retire number. The same sports talk show hosts who feign indignation at the national stereotype of Philadelphia fans as numbskulls, feed that stereotype by asking around the clock if Eagles fans can control their base instincts.

The constant drumbeat of the passive-aggressive radio question as to whether Philadelphia fans could possibly control themselves certainly had an effect on the national coverage.

I started listening at 7 p.m. when the NFL Network’s Rich Eisen started the coverage with the line, “All eyes will be on Andy Reid as he returns to Lincoln Financial Field and all ears will be on the Philly fans.” Minutes later, an Internet poll asks, “How will Andy Reid be received?”  Over 65 percent believe he will be cheered.

But the drumbeat continues anyway. A few minutes later, a pre-packaged report features fans all around the city talking about Andy Reid. It took just 19 minutes for the 45-year-old Santa snowball incident to be brought up and it was a Philadelphian who did it. The producer used six negative and just two positive comments. “Anywhere else he would be considered a winner,” said another Philadelphian, “but not here in Philadelphia.”

Next up on the NFL Network set, an interview with Donovan McNabb. His career as an Eagle started when WIP sports radio offered to provide a bus trip to anyone who wanted to go to New York to boo his selection in the draft. “I’ve moved on from that,” McNabb told Michael Irvin. The last time McNabb came back to Philadelphia was after being traded to Washington. Once again, sports radio spent a week wondering if he would be booed. He got a long, standing ovation. That was an eye-opening experience for the Eagles great and he told Irvin, “We pay too much attention to sports talk radio. It’s only a handful of people.”

McNabb got another long standing ovation when his number was retired at halftime last night. He looked up at the stands and said, “Number 5 will always love you. City of Brotherly love, Thank You.”

It was a wonderful moment. Why would anyone believe that anything else would happen? Maybe the nation will stop questioning the class of Philadelphia fans, when we stop questioning ourselves.

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