The sentiment was profane, but who cares? It was cute.
Jason Kelce, the Eagles’ center, took the stage at the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory parade on Thursday and immediately became the most popular person in Philadelphia. He ranted about everyone who doubted the Eagles, then closed with a song.
“We’re from Philly, fucking Philly… No one likes us, we don’t care. We’re the Eagles, fucking Eagles… No one likes us, we don’t care.”
It was a catchy song, originally sung by Millwall FC fans (to a different tune). Kelce likely picked it up via the Sons of Ben, the Philadelphia Union supporters’ club, which adopted the song to the tune of “Oh My Darling, Clementine.” It’s a cute sentiment. But it wasn’t true.
Of course it wasn’t! Jason Kelce preceded the song with a list of grievances. And many Philadelphia sports fans are not sitting back and resting on their laurels. They are going after anyone who dares to claim the Super Bowl win was tainted in some way. Jason Kelce cares. We care.
Complaining about national media coverage of Philadelphia is a time-honored tradition—witness the shitstorm at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. Philadelphia sports fans are particularly sensitive. After the NFC title game, any bad behavior by Eagles fans was washed away because it was our team doing the bad behavior.
The sensitivity makes some sense. One of the greatest events to ever happen in the city of Philadelphia took place in 1968: Eagles fans, depressed that their crappy team went on a two-game winning streak at the end of the season to cost them No. 1 draft pick O.J. Simpson, threw snowballs at a fan dressed as Santa who paraded around Franklin Field. I could maybe see getting angry about it at the time. But 50 years on? It is one of the city’s finest moments. And the national media treats it as if it is some sort of horrible incident. It was amazing!
But the whining from Philly sports fans is frequently over-the-top. Someone gets shot at a non-Philly sporting event, and Philly sports fans rush to Twitter to gloat that it wasn’t us. You might think winning a Super Bowl—something most Eagles fans thought was never possible, certainly not with Cement-shoes Nick Foles under center and and The Dairy King calling plays—would change Eagles fans.
It hasn’t. Mike Pereira, the NFL ref turned analyst, said the Eagles were in an illegal formation on the Philly Special play. The responses to Pro Football Talk’s tweet are a series of Eagles fans bashing Pereira. (Also, Alshon Jeffery checked in with the ref before the snap. It was fine!)
Tedy Bruschi, the ex-Patriots linebacker, is in a war of words with Lane Johnson over the Patriots’ and Eagles’ varied approaches to the workplace. Here’s an example of some commentary on that (okay, I specifically picked it because it’s amazingly over-the-top):
The Eagles won the Super Bowl! My thinking is that you should enjoy it for a week or two before telling Mike Pereira and Tedy Bruschi to fuck off.
Of course, I am a lifelong Philadelphian myself, and I exhibit this type of behavior as well. I love reading national takes on the city I love, and eviscerating them. Fortunately, we’ve had a few bad ones in the last week.
Take The New Yorker. After the Eagles parade, John Seabrook called it “beautiful, melancholy, profane, and utterly Philly.” Sounds about right. But not only does Seabrook not accept the Santa incident for the glorious moment it truly was, he also has weird thoughts on the Mummers parade:
Instead, year after year, we watched the vaguely creepy Mummers on TV. It was what you did on New Year’s Day in the greater Philly media market.
Mummers, who figured in yesterday’s festivities, though not in a way they may have appreciated, are among the oldest folk groups in America. Their colorful shimmery and feathered headdresses, stringed instruments and distinctive dance moves are thought to derive from the Swedish and Finnish settlers who preceded the British to the lower Delaware River, in the sixteen-forties. The reason that the city started having Mummers parades in the first place was to prevent drunken Mummers from turning up at peoples’ doors on New Year’s Day, demanding free drinks. A parade, it was thought, would contain these disruptive forces in a public spectacle and performance, and it seems to have worked.
Seabrook’s history is correct here: The original intention of the Mummers Parade was to control the New Year’s Day revelry of the working class. But as a yearly attendee of the parade, I can assure you that it did not work. It is rowdy as hell. Open container laws aren’t enforced. As someone who carried a magnum of champagne on Broad Street for many years, people definitely demand free drinks.
The New Yorker’s sins pale in comparison to those of the Washington Post. A few days after the Super Bowl, Justin Wm. Moyer wrote a column titled “Philadelphia finally won a Super Bowl. Why does it feel like a loss?” Per his Linkedin page, Moyer graduated from Cheltenham High School. Since Cheltenham is literally across the street from the city, he gets to say he’s from Philadelphia. (Also, he might’ve been born in the city, back when you could have a baby in Northeast Philadelphia.) But his take on the Super Bowl win is odd and angry.
Starved of victory so frequently, one builds an identity around famine. Philadelphians became lovable — or not so lovable — losers, and were proud of it. Sometime after the Constitutional Convention, our city, the nation’s sixth largest and once its capital, became just another stop on the I-95 corridor, like Wilmington, Del. More recently, we suffered the indignity of being called New York’s “sixth borough.” Philadelphia wasn’t a place you chose. It was a place you landed. Years ago, I asked my father why people move to Philadelphia. He said he’d never heard of anyone who moved to Philadelphia.
This is not the first time Moyer has referenced the 2005 New York Times article that jokingly suggested so many New Yorkers had moved to Philadelphia that it felt like the “sixth borough.” He apparently didn’t read past the lede, since that article was literally about an influx of people to Philadelphia. Moyer then resorted to the dumbest take when criticized for an article: All the criticism proves my point.
As silly as Philadelphians’ constant chip on their shoulder is, I do think these articles do prove something. The Washington Post got someone who learned everything he knows about Philadelphia from a satirical New York Times lede 13 years ago to write about how the city’s doing after a Super Bowl win. The New Yorker got someone who’s only seen the Mummers on TV to write about the parade. Is this really the best these two fine publications can do to cover Philadelphia? How will we ever trust them when covering important issues about the city? Not that the Eagles’ Super Bowl win isn’t in the top five moments of my life, but you know.
Maybe it’s simply impossible to ignore this kind of stuff. I tried to write a column about how Philly fans overreact to national media coverage and ended up spending half the article complaining about two things people wrote about the city. I guess it really is true: The Eagles are Super Bowl champions, but it won’t change much.