The Eagles Fans Of Irvine

Helaine grew up in Philly. Her dad was a diehard Philadelphia sport fan who indoctrinated his only child. When Philadelphia sports teams are losing, Helaine watches with the sound off.

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I remember my first Eagles game. I went with my friend Marlene from Northeast Philly. Her dad had seats.

It was a spectacular September day. Mild. Sunny. We walked up the ramp, into the open and looked down at an American flag covering the entire playing field.

Goosebumps. Hooked before the kickoff!

I ended up buying those seasons tickets. I sat through every second of every game in that 4-10 season and the next few stinkers after that.

Helaine grew up in Philly. Her dad was a diehard Philadelphia sports fan who indoctrinated his only child. When Philadelphia sports teams are losing, Helaine watches with the sound off.

We sat down tonight with Stef, third generation Eagles fan, to watch tonight’s game against the Colts.

Tough to watch the first half. The Eagles didn’t look bad. They just didn’t look good. Down 17-6 at intermission. Ugly.

Well into the fourth quarter the Colts were on a scoring drive. They were up 27-20. A score would have almost certainly sealed the deal.

“Game’s over,” said Helaine in typical Philadelphia style, conceding the Colts touchdown and Eagles defeat.

But then, miracle of miracles. On a play where refs missed an Eagles penalty, Malcolm Jenkins intercepted. A few minutes later the Eagles tied the game.

They would go on to win 30-27 on a field goal as time expired.

Are you kidding me? This is how good teams win. I know because of all the times we’ve seen it done it to the Eagles! Do we even remember how to watch without complaining?

Two weeks into the season and we’re liking football a lot. We’re also waiting for reality to set in.

Changing Doppler With The Seasons

This is a sad year for the Phillies. In baseball terms, they suck. They’re getting older (not that there’s anything wrong with that), slower and less able to hit for power. The pitching staff has been so weak at times I expected walk-ons from the stands to toss a few innings.

We’ve seen them at Dodger Stadium and Angels Stadium. They’ll be in San Diego soon. It’s driveable. Maybe. But why?

Our attention now turns to the Eagles. There are high expectations for this team. I’ve heard it before, but never as positively as now.

Kiss of death? Probably.

To mark the changing of the season Doppler has lost her worn out Phillies tag and gone green!

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Screaming At The TV

In poker, Aces sometimes lose to deuces. A bad beat. The Eagles bad beat the Cowboys tonight. The better team did not win. I’ll take it.

We were screaming at the TV. Screaming at the Cowboys. Screaming at Jerry Jones. Screaming at Chris Collingsworth.

We were especially screaming at Chris Collingsworth.

We both told him to **** himself. That’s right. Sitting on the sofa in pajamas, the Foxes let him have it. Game get to us too much?

We are the consummate homers. And we’re fatalists. On the game’s first play, a six yard run off left tackle, we assumed all was lost.

The TV sound remained up the whole whole time.

“If you weren’t here,” she said sometime in the second half when I asked if she’d rather watch in silence.

“He’s limping.”

“He’s rubbing his arm.”

“Oh, that’s not good.”

We see more hurt and illness than any family of hypochondriacs.

The Eagles move on to the playoffs. They’re playing New Orleans next Saturday in Philly. Every game from now on is win or walk.

Too much tension. Can you be fined for profanity in your own home?

Eagles Should Have Played: I’m With Rendell

Note: After writing this I reconsidered my opinion. I am leaving the original up, but you should read the comments which were important in my decision. – Geoff

The Philadelphia Eagles play the Minnesota Vikings tomorrow night. The game was originally scheduled for Sunday night at 8:30 PM. At game time nearby Philadelphia International reported visibility of 3/4 mile in moderate snow and blowing snow. The wind was out of the northwest at 21 mph. It was 25&#176.

Under anyone’s sense of the word it was cold… brutally cold in Philadelphia. It was unpleasant to be outside. For those improperly prepared it was dangerous!

The game shouldn’t have been postponed!

Speaking on KYW-TV in Philly former Philadelphia Mayor and current Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said,

This is football; football’s played in bad weather. I think the fans would have gotten there, the subways work and the major arteries are still open, and other fans would have stayed home – but you play football regardless of the weather.

He’s right even though the current Mayor had declared a State of Emergency in the city.

If I was broadcasting in Philadelphia I would have encouraged viewers to stay home. People would have anyway! The game would have still been available on TV staffed by a crew ready for bad winter weather.

I’m an Eagles fan. This delay probably benefits the Eagles. It makes no difference.

It’s unfair to the other NFL teams who’ve had to suffer through pass deflecting winds, frozen fields and limited visibility.

Why Am I a Philadelphia Eagles Fan?

They were all professionals. They were all grown-ups. Many already had the responsibility of a family. I paused a moment.

There was a little chatter over on Facebook after the Eagles victory in Dallas. One commenter asked, “How are you an Eagle fan? A kid from NY and live in CT. Shame on you. Lol!” Good question.

I lived in Philadelphia from 1975-80. This was a very important period of my life because it was during those years in Philadelphia I realized I was a grown-up!

Is that how it normally works? Probably not. Most people ease into being grown-ups. Not me.

I had my cathartic moment at a poker table full of friends. We were at Louie and Gloria Wuhl’s house in Cherry Hill playing our usual Thursday night game. It was just a bunch of guys having fun. Poker was necessary, but secondary. It was an incredibly good time.

Anyway, one Thursday I looked around at the other people at the table. They were all professionals. They were all grown-ups. Many already had the responsibility of a family.

I paused a moment.

They were treating me as an equal. Therefore I was an equal. If they were adults… holy crap I was too!

Seriously, it all came to me at the poker table at Lou and Gloria’s house.

Since that moment Philadelphia has taken on more importance than just the nearly five years I spent there would imply.

During my time in Philadelphia I was invited to attend an Eagles game. My friend Marlene’s father Frank had a bunch of seasons tickets. He didn’t want to lose them, but the Eagles sucked and not many people wanted go.

Marlene and I drove to the Vet in my little Triumph Spitfire. It was one of those days that still felt like summer though the calendar showed fall. The Sun was shining. I remember puffy clouds overhead.

We climbed the ramps at Veterans Stadium to Section 614 (around the 30 yard line, but on the shady side of the field). As we passed from the concession area to the seats I looked down. An American Flag was being held aloft by a small army of people. It covered the entire field! A chill went up my spine.

Though the Eagles went on to lose that game I became hooked!

Frank sold me two of his seats and I began to attend religiously, staying the entire game no matter what the weather or score. Trust me, both were often ugly.

Here’s the funny thing. Today a stadium is probably the last place I’d want to go to see a game. The view is better at home. The bathroom is closer. The food is more reasonably priced. Helaine can turn the sound down if things aren’t going right.

I’m still an Eagles fan!

World Series Game Three With Helaine

As you can imagine, tonight is pretty special. The Phils are in the World Series and Helaine is hanging on every pitch.

“IT’S LIKE TRYING TO TELL A STRANGER ‘BOUT ROCK AND ROLL” – John Sebastian/Loving Spooful

Sebastian knew there are certain things in life that are indescribable–you talk about them anyway. Such is Helaine’s love of sports. She will watch any NFL game and most baseball games. She roots Philadelphia exclusively and the Eagles and Phillies religiously.

She understands the minutiae that goes on–the game within the game. I’m not sure any other friend has ever had her deep grasp. She’s always ahead of the announcers on strategy–always.

As you can imagine, tonight is pretty special. The Phils are in the World Series and Helaine is hanging on every pitch. It is very intense.

Being with her on a night like tonight is a lot of fun. Her love of sports is one of her most endearing qualities.

Why She’s The Perfect Woman

Helaine is the ultimate sports fan. When we married, it was her subscription to Sports Illustrated that started coming to the house. Her ‘perfect Sunday’ is sitting home, in her pajamas, watching NFL football – especially the Eagles.

I’m still very much in love with my wife. It’s OK to say it in the blog. I say it to anyone who will listen.

Helaine is beautiful and smart and puts up with (most of) my crap, but there’s more.

She is the ultimate sports fan. When we married, it was her subscription to Sports Illustrated that started coming to the house. Her ‘perfect Sunday’ is sitting home, in her pajamas, watching NFL football – especially the Eagles.

This time of year she’s following the Phillies.

I got the call tonight around 10:45. I answered, but Helaine said nothing. All I could hear was crowd noise. Loud, happy, excited crowd noise.

“Un***kingbelievable,” she finally said.

And then, she asked me to say the phrase. I knew what she wanted.

“Put another one in the win column for the Phightin’ Phils.”

After blowing a lead, then going down by a run in the top of the tenth, Pat Burrell’s walk off homer won the game. Helaine will sleep happy tonight.

She’s a helluva find.

Blogger’s addendum: A regular blog reader somehow got a copy of the radio aircheck from Burrell’s homer. Enjoy!

Eagles Win!

The Eagles beat the Giants on a last minute field goal. It was not their best game. It was good enough.

At halftime, Pam Oliver asked Andy Reid what he thought this game would come down to. Reid answered, “The wire.”

Toward the middle of the fourth quarter, the three of us, sitting in the family room, got very quiet. There was the unspoken undercurrent of the Eagles snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. And we were feeling this way while the Eagles had the ball!

Even as the Eagles took a time out with under 20 seconds to go, we worried the Giants would be left with too much time. The Eagles must have figured that out too. They called one more play. Garcia plunged up the middle and the clock was stopped at 00:03.

David Akers. Good. The final was 23-20.

Next Saturday the Eagles go through this again. Helaine and Steffie will be here. I’ll be in New Jersey with some friends. Thank heavens for cellphones.

How strange is this game of football? Unless you’re in the Super Bowl, the season has been a disappointment. Sadly, every team but one exits the playoffs with a loss.

Waiting For A Win

Steffie’s wearing a McNabb jersey. I have an Eagles sweatshirt on. Helaine’s in pj’s. We’re on the family room sofa.

In just a few moments, the game begins. Eagles vs Giants in the first round of the playoffs.

The pre-game analysis couldn’t have been more positive toward the Eagles. So why are we sweating? As Eagles fans, we always expect the unexpected and unwelcome.

One more week. We want one more week.

Is It The Kiss Of Death?

Have you seen the cover of Sports Illustrated? Of course you have. There it is over to the left.

That’s Jeff Garcia, Philadelphia Eagles fill-in quarterback. He is here because Donovan McNabb is not. Jeff Garcia, a discarded quarterback well past his peak, is our savior. He’s amazing every second he’s on the field. If this is my football dream, I don’t want to wake up.

But now he’s on the cover of S.I. Oh no!

You see, being on the cover of Sports Illustrated is an honor, but it comes with the world famous SI cover jinx. No, I’m serious. Even lesser sports fans, like me, have heard about it. Sports Illustrated itself, in a true exercise in navel gazing, has written about it.

Whether it’s true or false… it had better be false this time. From here on out, as the Eagles start the first round of the playoffs, it’s win or walk.

I wish they would have put someone else on the cover. How about Tiki or anyone named Manning? Don’t the Giants deserve a little additional attention?

Busy Sunday

Another beautiful winter’s day in Connecticut.

Sure it’s Sunday, but it’s also the third night of Chanukah&#185 – the Jewish Festival of Lights.

It is not ‘our Christmas’ – though I sense the hoopla over this lesser holiday is our defense mechanism. It’s tough to compete with Christmas.

Trust me – growing up Stef never objected to eight nights of gifts. She probably still doesn’t!

Every year around this time, our friends Harvey and Sandy throw a Chanukah party. We weren’t able to go to the last few, but said yes tonight.

Then we saw the calendar. The Eagles would be playing the Giants in a meaningful game right as the party was getting underway.

Hey, a commitment is a commitment. We went and had a great time.

There’s a special tradition that goes with this party, though we only knew a few of the 50 or so adults and children there. Along with the people and the food and the being incredibly jealous of whatever new adult toys Harvey has acquired in the past year, there is the lighting of the menorahs.

Each night during Chanukah, at sunset, one additional candle is lit on the menorah (One the first night, two the second, and so on), accompanied by a few Hebrew prayers. I’m not particularly religious, but this is tradition worth keeping, especially with all the kids this year.

Before we left our house, Helaine and I decided we’d record the football game and then try and avoid any mention of it. But seriously, how could a Giants game be ignored here in Giant’s territory?

As it turned out, no one said a word about the game. We were stunned. Does this speak to the athleticism of Jews, or Harvey and Sandy’s friends, or did we just luck out and avoid discussions that were ongoing, but out of earshot?

When it was time to go home, we headed out with the radio off. By the time we picked up this 4:00 o’clock game, it was nearly 9:00PM.

If you’re a football fan, you already know, the Eagles won. If you’re not a football fan, you don’t care. This entry will no game details.

There is one observation I must make. Helaine and I were surprised… no, astounded, to see the Eagles win. This was especially true, since they were their own worst enemy with stupid penalties at crucial times. The Giants didn’t take advantage and the Eagles didn’t quit.

I believe this Sunday was a total success.

&#185 – Chanukah, being a Hebrew word, is only approximated in English. This spelling is one of many. I am of the personal opinion that if you say it right, people near you will get wet.

Enjoying Football

Earlier today, the very sad Philadelphia Eagles beat Washington. it wasn’t on TV here. Disappointing.

Tonight Helaine parked herself in front on the TV to watch Dallas vs New Orleans.

My guess is the Cowboys could easily be named the most beloved and most reviled team in professional football. Neat trick.

The game was close early, but New Orleans poured it on to rack up a big lead. My friend Farrell, originally from New Orleans but now living in Palm Springs, sent me an email.

How bout my ‘Aints?

The fourth quarter has just begun and New Orleans continues the blow out. We couldn’t be happier.

I know it seems petty to root against a team year-after-year. We can’t help ourselves. It feels so good.

T.O To Go

A few minutes ago, Helaine yelled to me upstairs. “Are you going to write about the Eagles in the blog?”

That was her way of saying, “Write about the Eagles in your blog.” OK – who am I to resist, especially after such an emotional victory.

If you’re not a football fan, let me get you caught up in about ten seconds.

The Eagles are Philadelphia’s football team. They used to have a player… a star player, named Terrell Owens. Though he was a pain in the ass, he was our pain in the ass. At least he was until he became such a pain he threatened to create dissension within the team.

T.O. was let go.

A guy’s got to earn a living, so Terrell to his number 81 and went to the Dallas Cowboys. In Philadelphia, the Cowboys are tied with the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Kim Il Jung at the bottom of the popularity polls.

To make things a little juicier, T.O. was involved in some sort of incident with the Dallas police. Whether he attempted to commit suicide or just had an accident – who knows? The next day he was practicing on the field and smiling. It was weird.

Today the Cowboys came to play the Eagles for the first time since Terrell left. Fox saw fit to make it their marquee game, shown nationwide at 4:15 PM EDT. Anyone even peripherally connected with sports was talking about it. There was no end to the hype.

Quickly, the Eagles went to a 10-0 lead. Helaine and I pinched ourselves. Then we remembered, this is football the king of non-linear games. Ten points in the first quarter means nothing.

We were so right.

The game seesawed back and forth. Donovan McNabb, Eagles quarterback had a pretty good game. T.O. was ineffective. Still, the game was close.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Eagles were up by seven, when a missed tackle, long pass and offensive pass interference penalty (all on the same play) moved the Cowboys eighteen feet from tying the game.

We had seen this before. So close – yet so far. When the Giants tied the Eagles in week two, they went on to win. Would the same fate befall the Eagles again?

Simply – no.

With the Cowboys charging, Drew Bledsoe threw to the end zone. The pass was caught, but by the Eagles Lito Sheppard who scampered 102 yards for an Eagles touchdown. Case closed.

Here’s the one awful part of this game. We were on an emotional roller coaster, as if it were meaningful in our lives. It’s only a game, but we allow the football season in general and the Eagles in particular to stake a claim on our lives.

Already, in the Eagles loss to the Giants, we took an emotional hit that lasted a few days. We were depressed as if something really awful had gone on.

Even though I can intellectualize the real meaning of football, that’s not strong enough to overcome my emotional attachment. It’s just as bad for Helaine, maybe worse.

The Eagles were picked to finish last in the NFC East. Now they’re leading the way. The emotion has just begun.

Invincible – The Movie

Invincible, the story of Vince Papale, opened this weekend. There was no chance I wasn’t going to see it. As the former owner of Section 614, Row 11, Seats 19 and 20 at The Vet, how could I not see a movie about a former Philadelphia Eagles player.

And, of course, there was Helaine. It was pretty much decided she’d see this movie when it went into pre-production. She too is an Eagles fan, plus at one time she knew Papale&#185.

Surprisingly, a lot of other people felt the same way. We went to the 3:00 PM show at Showcase Cinema in North Haven and found the theater nearly half full. That’s pretty good for a summer’s day – even one with mainly cloudy skies.

Are there that many Eagles fans? We watched a few groups of girls come in. Probably Mark Wahlberg fans.

Invincible is the story of Vince Papale, a 30 years old South Philly bartender with no college football experience who walks into a Philadelphia Eagles open tryout and makes the team. Imagine Rocky as non-fiction.

Though the movie claims to star Mark Wahlberg, it really stars Philadelphia. The city is portrayed as gritty and downtrodden. Papale’s South Philadelphia neighborhood is cramped with narrow streets and smaller homes. The Eagles are the one salvation to men who see no salvation or future in their own lives.

Wahlberg did a nice job, though I suspect the real Vince Papale was a lot more ebullient. The Papale seen on the screen was a self doubting moper.

Coach Dick Vermeil, played by Greg Kinnear, also seemed to lack the incredible enthusiasm… maybe naive enthusiasm… I saw in him as a Philadelphia resident.

It’s seldom you see a movie with a nearly wall-to-wall soundtrack of mid-70s music. This one did, and I loved each and every one.

Some of what’s portrayed, specifically Papale’s failure during his first pro game and his amazing turnaround in game two (calling a special teams audible which enabled him to make a tackle, creating a fumble, which he carried to the end zone, setting up an Eagles win against the Giants) seemed too contrived to be real. I checked, but the detailed game-by-game stats you find today just aren’t available online.

Papale is credited with one takeaway fumble in ’76 – so maybe.

It was nice to see names on uniforms and know they were really there. Harold Carmichael and Bill Bergey – these guys were big deals in Philadelphia. My bet is, back in 1976, backup quarterback Mike Boryla never thought his jersey would be featured in a movie, but it’s there too.

There was little suspense. You know he makes the team and how the movie will end.

What was there was lots of passion. That’s what made it worthwhile in the theater and what made it acceptable to be a fan in that 4-10 season.

&#185 – I was thinking Jessica Alba or possible Hillary Swank as Helaine, but somehow she must have been written out. Damn Hollywood!