Can’t a Guy Get a Beer in This Town Without Freaking Football Blaring in the Background?

Why Philebrity's Joey Sweeney is supporting bars that don't support football.


During football season, Eagles talk — and also Eagles shouting, Eagles yelling and Eagles screaming — hangs in the air with a ubiquity rivaled only by oxygen. It dominates your television, your radio, your phones both smart and dumb, your already-fucked-up Facebook feed. It soaks into workplace asides, sidewalk encounters, waiting-room chats, barroom blather. It is everywhere. And for a large percentage of Philadelphians, this is an invigorating and compelling reality. We’ve waited all year, and it’s finally here! E-A-G…

For a much smaller portion of the population, however, the return of the National Football League spells hell. Living in Philly and rooting for a team other than the Eagles is an interesting existence, as we’ve recently discussed. But what about those who detest not only the Eagles, but the entire NFL and the controversial culture it’s spawned?

Joey Sweeney, founder and editor of the long-running city blog Philebrity, wants you.

Riffing on the #openinPHL hashtag popularized to promote operational bars during snow days and holidays, Sweeney, one of the most vocal anti-football advocates you’ll ever meet, has introduced a new campaign he hopes will serve as counter-programming in Eagles Country. The #openinPHLwithNOFOOTBALL movement, as he’s calling it — little long for a hashtag, but damn if it doesn’t sum it all up — seeks to single out establishments who welcome, and cater to, the football-averse.

Growing up in Fishtown, Sweeney recalls that most football fans around him preferred to watch games with their families in the privacy of their own homes. Nowadays? He cites an effect he calls the “Erin Express-ification of Center City” — that is, marauding packs of unsavory individuals who come to Philly and “basically treat the place like a consequence-free theme park.” This phenomenon shares plenty of DNA with contemporary Eagles fanaticism, in Sweeney’s eyes. “I live in Center City, and football season really has become a giant pain in the ass,” he says.

Hoping to highlight bars and restaurants that, either actively or passively, avoid broadcasting Eagles games and tend not to draw a football crowd, Sweeney launched his ever-growing list of establishments last week. What’s on it? Haunts like Fergie’s, Earth Bread + Brewery, Johnny Brenda’s and National Mechanics — ”places to go when you want/need to avoid mouth-breathing NFL fans who are too damned stupid to know that they’re being played by billionaires,” Sweeney writes. He encourages readers and Twitter followers to chime in with their own football-free picks using the hashtag, and plans on promoting it every time a game rolls around. (You might see it pop up before the Eagles’ Sept. 28 game against the 49ers.)

The #openinPHLwithNOFOOTBALL idea is simply Sweeney’s response to a culture he perceives as overbearing. He says he’s gotten a positive response so far, and the league’s embattled status, embroiled in controversies surrounding domestic violence, drug use and chronic brain injuries, has contributed to it. “When you take a look at the NFL, if you do have a conscience, you kind of know on some level that your patronage of it is morally untenable,” he says.

That doesn’t mean Sweeney hates all athletic competition. “There are many other great sports,” he says, “that do not sum up on a daily basis everything that is broken and wrong with American life.”

Follow @DrewLazor on Twitter.