Philadelphia, the anti-hero

One of the first things my dad ever taught me, in addition to how to use a spoon and say “please,” was how to tell Eagles fans to go to H-E-double hockey sticks. So, how did I end up rooting for them?


Yours truly

Look, I made this awful whiteboard drawing of an Eagles/Phillies fan climbing a light post, because that’s what Philadelphians like to do.

Let’s get one thing straight before I begin: Philadelphia sucks. It would be the worst city in America if it weren’t for that garbage pile called Cleveland. 

If you want to understand why, I could give you a million reasons, but a lot of it makes sense when you just think about their history. 

They were the pride of America when it was a brand new nation — a landmark symbolizing democracy and freedom in an era where politicians had the decency to pretend to care about those things… and then literally nothing happened after that. Quickly: name one important thing that has happened in Philly not involving old guys with powdered wigs and tri-corner hats.

Didn’t think so. Essentially, after the country lost its need for a glorified meeting place, no one had a reason to visit the Quaker city; the capital was set in Washington, New York was the concrete jungle, and the Midwest was flourishing in the Industrial Revolution. Remember that kid from elementary school who was the coolest kid in your grade until he dropped off the face of the earth a couple years later? That’s Philly.

So, part of me understands when Eagles fans desperately try to climb light poles after they win a game. They’re the “middle child” city — the one we completely forgot about. Imagine how you would feel if your city went from “center of attention in a country about to dominate the world” to “the place with the Rocky statue.” 

Still, I struggle to feel sympathy for them, especially being a Pittsburgher. Every time I try to read a “best ______ from each state” list, the Pennsylvania entry is something from the eastern side of the state that couldn’t hold a candle to its Pittsburgh equivalent. When people think about Pennsylvania, they automatically think of Philly, which, in addition to being unfair to Pittsburgh, is embarrassing for everyone who lives here. Call me crazy, but I don’t like being associated with a city whose fans are notorious for throwing snowballs at Santa Claus.

That makes this weekend difficult for me. On principle alone, I’m supposed to see the word Philadelphia and immediately root against the Eagles — but I physically can’t bring myself to root for the Chiefs, or even be neutral. I’m tired of Patrick Mahomes. I’m tired of his stupid brother, and his stupid contract, and his stupid face. It’s been too long for Kansas City to still be an “up and coming dynasty;” they are the villains of the NFL. Someone has to beat them, and unfortunately, that someone has to be the Eagles.

This is the Philly Phanatic. No other mascot in sports has been sued as many times as the Philly Phanatic. (Pixabay Images)

Weirdly, this is not an isolated incident. Philadelphia sports teams have a history of being matched up with teams that no one can bring themselves to root for. Just think back five years to Super Bowl LII: the Eagles still sucked, but they were forced to play Tom Brady in the midst of his most prominent villain arc. We faced the same dilemma at that point, and we collectively arrived at the same conclusion: “I want Tom Brady to lose.”

Even more recently, the Phillies made me question my Pittsburgh values when they played the Astros in the World Series in 2022. The Phillies are especially nauseating to me because of their stupid name — seriously, that’s the best they could come up with? — but I can’t think of a single self-respecting person who could support the Astros (other than Ted Cruz in his Cancún resort, of course). Once again, I was forced to forget everything I knew about being from Pittsburgh and dive face-first into a franchise whose mascot was once so annoying that he got the crap kicked out of him by Tommy Lasorda.

The Sixers also have an interesting story. They didn’t necessarily face any villainous teams in the playoffs, but their “trust the process” storyline turned them into the ultimate victims. General manager Sam Hinkie decided that instead of trying to win with a mediocre team, he would rebuild the franchise from the bottom up. It worked incredibly well, and he turned the Sixers into a perennial contender — but of course, NBA commissioner Adam Silver had to step away from his day job of appearing in “American Gothic” and force him out of his GM role to stop him from doing what he was doing. For once, the city had a cool idea — prioritizing long-term success over short-term ticket sales — but the league said, “No, you’re not allowed to be good.” I actually felt sorry for those Philly punks.

Grant Wood’s American Gothic, 1930. See what I mean?(Public Domain)

And that’s where I find myself today — stuck between a deep hatred of a Philadelphia sports team and a situation that forces me to root for them. How does a Pittsburgh man reconcile with these feelings?

Maybe I’ll have to eat at Primanti’s tonight to wash off the Philly stink. I’ll definitely be listening to Mac Miller all day. Honestly, I’ll do anything to prove that my love for this city still runs deep. While I sit there tomorrow in my Kenny Pickett jersey, watching Jalen Hurts run all over the Chiefs’ defense and occasionally checking in on Andy Reid’s angry, walrus-like face, I hope I’m thinking the same as all you other Pittsburgh fans:

At least it’s not the Chiefs.