Is That an Eagles Thong You’re Wearing?

Philly's sports teams are finally getting their due where it counts—on fans

I’ve lived in Philadelphia all my life except for four years away at college. I’ve been a fan of Philly sports for as long as I can remember—through the darkest days of the Phillies in the early ’70s, the past decade of malaise for the Sixers, and the Eagles in the … well, lots to choose from there. It hurt when our teams lost, sure, but what really hurt was paging through the mail-order catalogs of national sporting-goods companies—Dick’s, Eastbay, Modell’s—and never, ever seeing a Philadelphia team’s gear on the pictures of the models. Oh, you’d see photos of handsome guys decked out in Miami Dolphins merch, or Yankees and Red Sox jackets, and plenty of come-ons for the detestable Cowboys. But you could search all day for a single smiling guy wearing my city’s colors. The message was clear: Philly sports figures weren’t worthy of emulation. No one wanted to be like them—and, by extension, us.

These days, things seem to be looking up.

No Eagles or Phillies made the Top 10 best-selling football or baseball jersey lists in 2008. No Eagles on the Top 10 for 2009, either, unless you count Donovan McNabb, whose Redskins shirt was there. Michael Vick finally burst through in 2010, hitting number six, and there were three Phils in the MLB’s Top 10 that year: Halladay, Utley and Lee at numbers three, four and five, respectively. This month, Vick showed up at in the NFL‘s number three slot, and DeSean Jackson’s 10 debuted at number nine. And suddenly our town is all over those mail-order catalogs: Eagles hoodies and caps, Phils’ t-shirts and tank tops and even thongs.

So while the Phils’ October dive was disappointing, and the Eagles are off to the rockiest of starts, if jersey sales are anything to go by, we can hold our heads up high in public, at least. Should the Union—who in my humble opinion have the classiest logo in professional sports—win in the playoffs, we’ll be seeing Mwanga and Le Toux and Adu shirts across the land. There are more folks wanting to rep our stars right now than there have been at any time since Allen Iverson used to regularly light up the Top 10 charts. Maybe, if the NBA season ever gets started, there’ll be another Sixer up there.

On second thought, nah.