Monday, May 17, 2010

The Eagles Book Club

***

Today we veer off track a little bit.  We're going to set aside the current Eagles team to talk about a book.  I'm sure most of you would love to know my thoughts on the latest Danielle Steele novel, but that will have to wait.  Instead we're talking about a brand new book called Bury Me In My Jersey:  A Memoir of My Father, Football, And Philly.  The author happens to be a friend of mine, Tom McAllister.  He is a regular poster on the Eagles Message Board.  You may know him there as swamistubbs.

Some of you may wonder why you should care about Tom's book.  Tom is a gifted writer.  I've read a couple of chapters and it is excellent.   His story involves 2 of the 3 keys to a good life - family and Eagles football (PBR is #3).  The book isn't about his take on the team, but rather what it is like to be an Eagles fan, something we can all relate to.  There are a few long distance Eagles fans who read this blog.  I'm in that category.  This book offers a glimpse into what it is like to be an Eagles fan growing up in Philly.  Color me green with envy.  Kelly green, preferably.

As for the family aspects...that is just as interesting believe it or not.  Let me tell you a quick story.  I grew up watching Mazda Sports Look with Roy Firestone on ESPN in the mid-80s. Roy is the best sports interviewer I've ever seen. I loved watching his show.  Back then we didn't have the glut of sports coverage that we do today.  Getting to hear athletes talk was special.  I absolutely loved watching Roy every chance I got. 

One day in June I turned on the show and was greatly disappointed to see that his guest for the day was his dad. Father's Day was coming up that weekend and Roy wanted to honor his father.  Boring. Who cares about Roy's dad? I wanted an interview with someone famous like Robin Yount, Reggie Theus, or Todd Christensen.  Give me any successful athlete.  I was not happy to see an episode wasted like that.

Then something funny happened.  Roy started the interview and I was blown away. Listening to father and son talk about their relationship and sports was mesmerizing. They told the greatest stories. I was only a high school kid, but learned a great lesson. People are what makes sports special. That is true of the players who play the game. The people who coach the players. The people who cover the games. The fans who watch the games.  If a good writer can combine family and football, I'm all ears. 

I conducted a Q & A with Tom so that you can find out some more about him and his book.  Here goes: 

Q:  Let's start with some basics so people can get a feel for you.  How long have you been an Eagles fan?  Who is your favorite player?

The first season I really watched was 1991, the year Bryce Paup broke Randall's leg.  I'd kind of been on the periphery during previous seasons, half-watching games with my brother and my dad, but I didn't begin to understand what was happening until '91.  That year wasn't bad, but the Randall injury made it feel like a bit of a lost cause from day one.  The '92 season, though, is still one of my favorite seasons, since that was the first time I followed a team from preseason all the way through a playoff win.  I must have watched replays of that Eagles-Saints playoff games a hundred times growing up.

Favorite players:  I've always been a defense guy when it comes to favorite players.  Seth Joyner is one of my favorites all-time.  Loved William Thomas too.  Since sometime in '04, Sheldon Brown has been my favorite Eagle; I really admired the way he carried himself on gameday, his reliability, his candidness with the media, the whole package.  Now I'd say my top two are Trent Cole and Jason Avant.  The perfect attitudes for football players.

Q:  Your book is partially about what it meant to grow up in a family of Eagles fans.  Watching games was about football, but was also a family bonding experience, whether that was good, bad, or a mixture of both.  That makes me so jealous.  I grew up in a family of non-sports fans or passive sports fans.  Watching games was and remains an afterthought. Tell us about some of the "rites" of watching Eagles games with your family.

The routine has definitely evolved over the years.  Growing up, we didn't do anything special, necessarily, but we all had our assigned seats (Dad in the recliner, me in the couch nearest him, my brother next to me, then mom next to him) and wore our Eagles gear.   But there wasn't a big production like some people do, with the home theater, the big gameday meals, and everything else.  All my dad cared about was watching the game, which meant there wasn't a lot of talking, and when we did talk, it was to analyze a play.  My dad was a very analytical guy, not prone to the kind of emotional outbursts that I am. 

Now, I watch most of the games with my in-laws, which usually means seven or eight people, great food (we're all into cooking, so there's some competitiveness with the gameday menu), and more superstitions than I can list.  Last year, my father-in-law printed up the House Rules for Eagles games, and they're on display wherever we're watching.  My favorite rule: if something good happens for the Eagles when you're out of the room, you have to stay wherever you are until something goes wrong.  Once, this led to someone sitting in the bathroom for about forty minutes, until Matt Bryant hit that 62 yard field goal. 

Q:  You have referred to yourself as "obsessed with the Eagles".  Does your family think there is something strange about how much of a fan you are?  What about your wife?  Does she embrace your love of the Eagles or is that ever a point of contention between you two?

My wife and I have been dating since freshman year of college.  Back then, we had a mutual friend whose girlfriend hated sports, to the point that the girlfriend would actively root against Philly teams because she hated him watching the games.  I made it very clear to my girlfriend/wife then that I thought that was a pretty awful way to live.  She didn't have to love football the way I did, but she had to at least understand and not try to undermine it.

Thankfully, she's a sports fan too-- baseball and football especially.  She doesn't get nearly as intense as I do, but she watches every game as closely as everyone else in the room.  She has two sports-crazy brothers, so she's had a lot of experience with the emotions of game day.  In the past, we did have a few contentious moments, when I was admittedly going overboard, spending 8-10 hours a day on the Internet looking for Eagles info, breaking my toe kicking a table after the loss to Oakland in '02, leaving drunken voicemails for Drew Rosenhaus, that kind of stuff. 

Q:  I know that I've changed quite a bit over the years.  I used to live and die with each game in a way that would dictate how I felt for the coming week.  That's not healthy, but it is how strongly I felt about the Eagles.  With time I've learned to "just relax" a bit more.  I now see the big picture and I don't get too high or too low.  Has anything like that happened with you or do you still live and die each Sunday?  Have you changed at all as a fan?

Absolutely.  I started to hint at this one in the last answer; through high school, college, and even grad school, I had a lot of moments that, in hindsight, are pretty embarrassing: self-inflicted injuries, holes in drywall, fights during games, hurling beer at an opposing fan.  Dumb stuff.  I think it would have become a big problem between me and my wife, actually, if I hadn't grown out of that a bit.  But I've become much better at managing my emotion, especially on game day.  A loss used to ruin me for an entire week; a losing streak made me unbearable.  I still hate the losing, and some things will drive me crazy during the games, but usually I'm much better at talking myself off the ledge now. 

Q:  You and I first "met" on the Eagles Message Board (EMB).  I've had a hard time getting friends and family to get beyond the notion that a message board is more than a chat room of devious freaks and/or venomous fans.  Those types are certainly present, but there are also many good fans eager for discussion and an exchange of ideas.  Have you had the same experience in terms of people wondering why you care so much about a message board?

I joined the EMB about 10 years ago on a whim, looking for rumors on free agent visits, and never had any intention of posting, let alone becoming a part of the community for a decade.  But now there are people on that board who know a lot of personal details about my life (and I know about theirs), and who have been there with me through some important years in my life-- roughly age 17 to now, when I'm 28.  I'm sure if you could track down my old posts, it would be a pretty good way to chart my maturation and personality changes over the years.   

Still, there's that old stigma about meeting people over the Internet, and I get it, to an extent; it seems unnatural, maybe.  But the EMB is a way for 100,000 like-minded people to congregate and to know that, no matter what, there are other people out there who care about the same things as you, and who understand why you feel the way you do.  There's a lot of value to something like that.  Everyone's looking for a place where they feel like they belong; for me, for a long time, the only place where I felt that was the EMB.

Q:  Let's talk about the city of Philadelphia.  Many people are shocked to learn that I'm not from Philly.  Heck, I've only visited a few times.  I have loved the little time that I have been up there.  Tell me about Philly, as you see it.

Philly is a vastly underrated city.  For much of my life, I underrated it too.  It's easy to overlook its virtues, because, for such a big city Philly can really feel like a small town.  At times, that small-town feeling can be charming, because you always feel like you know somebody, but it can also make you feel claustrophobic and the city can seem pretty small-minded when everyone gets tunnel vision.  But that's a familiarity breeding contempt kind of situation.  If you let yourself get lost in that mindset, you can miss that Philly has a great independent music scene, a thriving arts culture, a lot of excellent restaurants, and really good beer.  And don't forget that fact that it's a living, evolving museum, with some of the most important landmarks in the country's history.  

I'm gushing a bit.  Philly's been home to me for most of my life, so I'm obviously biased on this, but I do love the city, and sometimes get irrationally defensive when people point out its flaws.  The way I see it, the imperfections -- the dirty and sometimes ugly streets, the occasional overt rudeness, the weird public transportation system, the violence, etc. – make the place more authentic.  There's an honesty and a shocking earnestness about this city.  Philadelphia is a place that wants to be loved and respected, and when it gets spurned (through failed sports teams, the mocking of the media, the dismissive waves of New Yorkers, etc.) it reacts bitterly, with a gargantuan chip on its shoulder.  I can see why people would focus on the ugliness that sometimes accompanies this attitude, but I think that's what gives us our charm. 

Q:  Was there any particular moment or event that led you to write the book?  What was your inspiration?

Two things:

1. I went to grad school for creative writing in Iowa City, IA.  One of my first nights there, I met a classmate who happened to be from central NJ and was a huge Philly sports fan.  This was back in August 2004, so we spent all night drinking cheap pitchers of beer (Tommy, I know you'll like this:  $1 pitchers, any beer, just about every night in Iowa City) talking about how amazing the season was going to be, how great TO was, etc.  The next time I saw him, he gave me the book Fever Pitch, which is Nick Hornby's memoir about being an obsessed Arsenal soccer fan.  He said something along the lines of “you should read this, and you should write your own version of this about Philly and the Eagles.”  I didn't take his advice then, but he'd planted the seeds.

2. Three years later, I saw Tra Thomas buying oranges in the supermarket, and semi-stalked him through the store.  Afterward, I was thinking about how weird it was that—while I was with my wife-- I followed this football player and looked into his cart to see what he was eating, then watched him to see what his car looked like.  It seemed pathological and sad and disappointing.  My life had come to being a part-time instructor at a couple colleges, not writing anything, and stalking football players in the produce aisle-- what a letdown.  So I decided to write an essay about it.  The essay was kind of a mess, but the friend who gave me Fever Pitch read it and insisted that this was exactly what I had to be doing all along.  He isolated the parts about the EMB and Philly and my dad and showed me how I'd just laid the foundation for a memoir really exploring why I care so much about the Eagles and what being a fan means to me.


Q:  The process of writing the book must have been one heck of a trip down memory lane.  What were some of the good memories?  How about the bad?

One thing I haven't really mentioned yet is that this book, in many ways, is an elegy for my dad, who died of cancer when I was 21, and who has had an enormous influence on me.  One of our great bonds was watching and talking about football, and so this book evolved from a reflection on my obsessions, to trying to unravel the roots, meanings, and effects of those obsessions.  All of which is a long way of saying that early in the process, I realized that this book required that I really analyze my relationship with my dad, so the most interesting part of this process was digging through family stories, photos, and documents to learn more about my dad, who he was before I was born, and how other people viewed him. 

The remembering really was an act of re-learning my own history, and better understanding our relationship, so that was all very revealing and interesting and rewarding.  It's impossible to undertake a project like this and not learn about yourself.

More directly, one of the best memories: going to my first game with my brother and my Dad and seeing the Eagles dismantle the John Elway Broncos, 30-0. In piecing together the details for the book, I learned that my Dad had worked a lot of overtime to be able to afford those tickets, because I'd been begging him for months to take me to a game.

Worst: the scenes where I'm in the hospital with my dad, naively thinking he's going to get better, but everyone else around us knows he's dying.  Had I realized the gravity of the situation, I'm sure our last conversation would not have been about Jerome McDougle.

Q:  What was your families reaction to the idea of the book?  Have they read the finished product?  Any reaction from them?

My wife is very reserved, and so the whole concept of being a character in a book terrified her a little bit.  But she read it (she proofreads the final drafts of everything I write) and saw that she had nothing to worry about; no one looks better in the book than she does, and I'm the one who stars in the lowest points.  Overall, though, she was extremely supportive.  I'd gotten an MFA in creative writing, but this was the first time I wrote anything I really cared about, so she was glad to see me finally doing something, instead of just talking about how someday I'm going to be a writer. 

The rest of my family hasn't read it yet, so I'm waiting now and hoping they think I did everyone justice in there.  The whole family, though, has been amazingly supportive of the project from the day I started until now when we're in the promotional process. 

Q:  Do you consider yourself somewhat of a typical fan and thus think the book is something that the families, girlfriends, and wives of fanatical Eagles fans should read to help them understand who they are dealing with?  We Eagles fans are a strange group at times.  Some would argue 24/7/365.

If this book does nothing else, I hope it gives people an honest look at what it means to be a devoted fan.  Sometimes it's entertaining, sometimes terribly sad, sometimes joyous, and often a mixture of all three.  Writing it made me really grapple with my reasons for caring so much about the Eagles, and I hope it translates onto the page; fans should enjoy it because sometimes they might see themselves, and friends/family of fans should enjoy it because they'll get an unfiltered insight into the mind and life of someone who cares way more than he probably should about football.
______________________

You can pre-order the book if you like.

-Link-

It is due for release on Tuesday.  Might make a good Father's Day gift. 

I have 2 requests.  First, buy a copy of Tom's book so we can show support for our fellow Eagles fan.  Second, please don't start calling me Oprah.  Unless I get her paycheck. 

Feel free to share your own stories in the comments section.  I didn't grow up in an Eagles family so all I can offer are some good sports bar tales. 
_

20 comments:

The Mullett Falcon said...

Swamistubbs wrote a book? Fair play to the man. I'm sure it's really interesting.

I remember reading his post about what was in Tra Thomas' shopping basket. At the time I thought 'wow, how cool is it that I'm an Eagles fan living in Scotland and I can find out things like that?'

Time to re-assess my priorities in life :-)

Cliff said...

This thread makes me miss EMB. I quit going there after I got frustrated with the influx of shallow topic trends. Thank God this blog was started to satisfy my fix.

I'll probably buy the book. I can relate because the Eagles are how I bond with my dad, too. During the seasons in the past, we began every day with an argument about the Eagles. These arguments could get pretty heated. Haha. Now, we rendezvous at Training Camp every summer and then again at the Eagles-Skins game in DC. Good times.

So Cal EaglesFan said...

Hey Tommy,
I saw that Cory Procter is going to be released today and has played both center and guard. I know that he is not the most dominant player but do you think it would be smart to bring him in for a look as a possible one yr deal for more competition at center with cole mcglynn and shipley?

Tommy Lawlor said...

I'd be lying to you if I said I had a strong opinion on Cory Procter. I know Cory started 12 games in 2008, but I think he mostly played OG. In the season finale that year Bunk ate his lunch and got the guy benched.

Without studying tape on him I'd rather stick with Cole/McGlynn. I think Nick can be a solid OC. Mike is the guy I think has really good potential.

roconnor said...

I just got the notice that my pre-order shipped, greatly looking forward to it.

I'll skip your interview until after I've the book. I usually read prefaces, forwards and reviews once I'm through a book.

Your point on sports and people is right on.

These teams build unbreakable intergenerational connections. I still imagine my grandfather listening to the Eagles radio call whenever I hear Merrill Reese. He'd send me out for a Black Cherry Wishniak soda and a corned beef sandwich at halftime.

Sometimes these are the only connections made with other people, and they are connections that make us human.

Cliff said...

Yeah, which is why fans have a right to get really upset when teams price them out of tickets or the NFL decides to create its own network that cable companies won't provide or when games are blacked out.

People who are not sports fans shrug and say "it's just sports," but it's much more meaningful than that. Sports are part of our culture and culture is everything.

That's why I always find the World Cup fascinating. Football is relatively new in its hold on our country's collective conscience. But soccer... think about the "intergenerational connections" created when you combine national pride and love of sport.

Tommy Lawlor said...

Soccer borders on religion in quite a few countries. That is especially true of the World Cup.

I've always found that the group dynamic can make sports more fun. Sometimes the group dynamic can make the mundane more fun. I remember being a Junior in college. It was my first ever apartment. I had 3 roommates and we each paid a whopping $125 in rent. We're talking cheap. We'd watch Supermarket Sweep together and get fired up about that show. We'd be screaming at the TV for or against which ever group we liked or didn't like.

You can only imagine what it was like when an actual sporting event came on the TV. Things went a little nuts.

I am jealous of those of you who got to grow up in a family that embraced sports. That is something I never got to experience. I'd love to know the feeling of sitting around the TV with your dad/mom and siblings and watching the game while all of you cheered for the home team.

A local radio host down here is from Philly, Dave Glenn. He told a story this afternoon about getting together with his family on Friday night to watch the Flyers in Game 7 vs Boston. It sounded like he and his family had a great time.

Pitmanite said...

This topic of fandom makes me a little sad that I chose a college that didn't have big sports. My friends that went to schools with big football and/or basketball have so much more school pride because rooting for their team after graduation keeps them tied in.

I live in NYC now and I have friends living here who went to Michigan, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Florida, etc, and on any given Saturday they can go to a bar designated for their school and watch games with other alumni. Then they plan trips back every year or two for big games. I'm close to jumping on the bandwagon of my two friends from Ole Miss and making it my adopted team.

Prem Prakash said...

I grew up in Philly. Some of my earliest memories are watching the Eagles on Sundays with my Dad, too young to even understand the rules of the game, but enjoying every minute of it. I can still see my Dad jumping out of his chair and screaming at the tv, then storming off and announcing to my Mom, "I will never watch those bums play another game!" Until the next week.

I live in Vermont now, and I've hooked up with a couple guys from Philly who are also big sports fans. Our families get together every week to watch the Eagles games. There's three generations of us sitting around the tv.

My son started joining us two seasons ago, just after his 6th birthday. His first game was the 44-6 blowout of the Cowboys. Is the boy lucky or what? Being a kid, he's facinated with cursing, but my wife and I don't allow that kind of language. The one exception is when we watch the Dallas games, then he's allowed all the "potty talk" he'd like directed at the Cowboys. It's music to my ears to hear his sweet, little voice yelling, "Dallas Sucks!"

Jason said...

For me and my family, I was the first person to get into the Eagles/football. My parents are both from Turkey, so they really had no idea about football. In fact, I didn't really know much about it until fourth or fifth grade.

I was born in Virginia and while I was there, for elementary school kids, soccer was the sport people played year round. When I moved to Philadelphia in fourth grade, some of my friends would play pick up football during lunch and I started getting into it then. In fact, I picked up a few books on it to learn more about it. I also started paying attention to the Eagles around then, particularly because of Ricky Watters.

My parents on the other hand really didn't pick up on the game for a long time. I don't think they really picked up on it until I started playing on the middle school team. My dad, although he now understands most of the rules, still is not really into it. However, my mom has become a pretty passionate fan so it is definitely fun watching with my mom and my younger brother, also a huge Eagles fan. The other great thing about watching with my mom is that when she gets nervous or anxious, she cooks, so there is constantly great food during Eagles games when I am at home.

My favorite moment involving witnessing my mom becoming a fan was when I was in college. The Eagles had a bye week the same week that Dallas was playing the Redskins. I got a call from my mom asking, "Are you watching this game?!" Because I didn't think she typically watched non-Eagles games, I was sort of confused and responded, "What game? The Eagles have a bye." She got offended that I assumed she didn't know the Eagles schedule and tells me that she's watching the Dallas-Redskins game, then says, "I'm loving this game! The Redskins are winning (as you can imagine, Dallas had a better record at the time), and the Redskins players are getting injured in the process!" That moment proved to me that she was a true Philadelphia fan.

Cliff said...

@ Tommy

My college roommates and I had a similar response to The Price is Right. Haha.

Steven said...

@Tommy

I feel your pain when it comes to not having a family that cares about sports. My family makes fun of me because of the way I watch the game, and they don't care at all if their plans interfere with a game that I want to watch. My parents are Indian immigrants so they don't understand how I can watch a game for 3 hours and get a sense of accomplishment i get when my team wins.

@Pitmanite

I chose to go to a college that doesn't even have a friggin football team. I would kill for division 3 team that was 0-13.

chris said...

I have vague memories of the Eagles winning the Championship in 1960, I was 4 years old. I remember my father, brother and uncles listening to the game on the radio (it was blacked out in Philly), and they all got excited after the Eagles won. I do remember my father letting me have a sip of his Schmidt’s beer.

My niece used to have a Christmas party on a Sunday in December but after a few years of the family all gathered around the TV in her bedroom watching the Eagles, she moved the parties to Saturday night. One of my favorite memories was blowing out Detroit in 1995. My sister always has a Holiday party between Christmas and New Years and the whole extended family, 4 generations of Eagles fans watched the Eagles destroy Detroit. That game made the Holidays for me that year. Another year at my sister’s we watched the Jets beat the Packers so the Eagles would have home field for the playoffs. From living in North Jersey for a while I warned my family not to celebrate until the game was over because I’ve seen the Jets blow a lot of big leads over the years.

A non football memory was watching the Flyers win their second Cup my freshman year in college. I went to college in North Jersey and watched the game in the college pub (drinking age was 18 back then) downing 25 cent beers. I watched the game on the big screen in the pub (21 inch COLOR TV was big screen back then) surrounded by Ranger fans, nothing sweeter than the looks on their faces when Bobby Clarke was skating around the Aud in Buffalo hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Dan said...

I'll never forget the fist time my pop took me to the Vet for an Eagles game. Must have been '89 or '90. We played the Lions. They scored on the opening kickoff, so we were down 0-7 by the time be got to our seats. It was cold and was amazed with the ferocity people were chanting and cheering. The Eagles played catch-up the whole game, and finally took the lead in the 4th quarter when Cris Carter caught a fade pass in the end zone from Randall. So sweet.

I live across the country from my family now, but it's always a special time when I get to catch a game on TV with my dad.

One more tidbit. My parents often watch the game with their neighbors. One is the prototypical sweet old lady that knits sweaters for your baby. She curses like a sailor throughout the entire game, even during routine 1st down plays.

Tommy Lawlor said...

Those are some great stories guys. I once got to chug beer from the Stanley Cup, but it came after the Hurricanes won so it wasn't the same thing as celebrating a Flyers win. I did make sure to look for the '74,'75 Flyers names on the cup. Very cool.

My best sportsbar memory came in the middle of 1996. I watched games with a few regular fans. Jen was beautiful, smart, and friendly. Dan was just smart and friendly. We had fun. We played at Dallas in mid '96. We had a 24-21 lead late in the game. Ty Detmer and Irving Fryar had been brilliant. Dallas drove inside the 10. By that point the entire place had come over to watch the end of the game. Eagles fans and Cowboys haters formed 90% of the crowd. We're now down to the end of the game. Troy Aikman dropped back and threw a pass over the middle. James Willis picked off the pass in the end zone. He ran the ball out to about the 20 and lateraled to Troy Vincent. Troy ran it all the way back for a TD. We won 31-21. The bar went nuts. There were guys jumping up and down on pool tables. I have never been part of an atmosphere quite like that. Those moments were awesome. The year before we had the 4th and 1 stop. I also saw that at the sports bar. That was a great atmosphere, but nothing topped 1996.

The funniest memory came in a 1995 game against the Giants. We won 17-14. Both teams played poorly. Ugly, ugly game. Tommy Maddox played QB for the Gmen and stunk up the joint. At the end of the game me and my fellow Eagles fans looked at the Giants fans and started chanting "We suck less! We suck less!". Good times.

@ Prem...

I'm pretty sure you should be nominated for Father of the Year.

Nathan said...

I grew up in a football family. My parents were/are not extremists, but every Sunday during the fall we would rush home from church and turn on the pregame shows and get ready for an afternoon of football. I'm from the Midwest and grew into being an Eagles fan. I've never been to Philadelphia, but am planning a trip soon to watch the Eagles. My mom is a huge Colts/Steelers fan. We can never get her to commit to one or the other, but we had to get the NFL Sunday Ticket package when we got DirectTV several years back so she could watch the Steelers play. My dad is a huge Packers fan so I can remember watching Brett Favre throw to Sterling Sharpe and watching some guy named Reggie White wreck havoc on defense.

I loved watching football growing up and I went from rooting for one team to another. My first "team" was the Kansas City Chiefs. I was around 6 years old and loved watching Neil Smith and Derrick Thomas on defense and Joe Montana and Marcus Allen on offense. As those players left I became a journeyman fan, rooting for whatever team was winning. I claimed the Titans in the late 90's and was depressed for a month after they lost to the Rams in the Superbowl. I loved watching Steve McNair hand off to Eddie George and watch Blaine Bishop, Samari Rolle, and Javon Kearse on defense.

Then in the early 2000's I watched a game between the Rams and Eagles and the Eagles had this QB named Donovan McNabb who was pretty good and I was hooked. Not just because of McNabb, but because of Brian Dawkins, Deuce Staley, etc. As I've gotten older I've became a more die hard fan and have latched onto the Eagles as "my team" even though I had/have no real connection to the city or the organization. I loved the blue collar style of play and the passion of the fans.

My fiance and I's second date consisted of dinner and the Saints/Eagles playoff game in 2007. I told her a few days before I would be more than happy to take her to dinner, but we had to be done in time to watch the game. Even though she's not a huge football fan like I am she grew up in a sports fanatic house and knows how important sports are. During the game she cheered with me when Sheldon Brown destroyed Reggie Bush and screamed at the TV with me when Scott Young jumped off sides. She knew early on how important the Eagles were/are to me. She still sits and watches most of the games with me and still talks about Scott Young jumping off sides.

Stephen said...

Preordered the book, I love Swami's posts.

I became an eagles fan at a very young age, but not because of family influence. I was 4 years old and I had decided that green was my favorite color and the eagles jerseys were green so they were my favorite team. Its one of my earliest memories. I followed the team until my early teenage years where I went through an anti-society phase (I decided that sporting events were "stupid" and stopped following any teams). Fortunately that passed after I got to college and I rediscovered my love of Eagles football, during the 2003 season. I wish that I had kept up with it now, since theres a gap between the Cunningham era and the 2003 season that I know nothing of. I only know players like Na Brown through reputation, I never had a chance to experience it.

I wish I had a great sports bar story to tell, but it seems like every time I go out to watch a game the Eagles stink up the joint (the last one I saw at a bar was the first of the two dreadful Dallas losses at the end of this past season). I was watching with several Cowboys fans who made my evening pretty miserable.

I think one of the things that really drew me back into being an Eagles fan was feeling the connection the fans had to the team. It's one of the most tangible things you can experience, even watching on TV. I still remember the 2004 championship game, the intensity of the fans and players, Trotter screaming on the sidelines, Dawk spiking the end zone pylon, the fans roaring the fight song. The energy was so electric it was a special experience even watching at home.

Those were special times, the last few years seem hollow in comparison.

Steven said...

The first Eagles game I ever watched was against the cowboys in 2000. I was pretty lucky.

My favorite game so far in the past 10 years has to be that divisional game against GB.

The worst moment was the TAM game in 02'. It was the first time I cried after a game. I couldn't get over it for a while

Adam S. said...

Living in Canada my exposure to the NFL was fairly limited when I was younger. As a matter of fact I distinctly remember that my favorite hat growing up was a Cowboys hat that my dad gave me. The only reason he got it was because he had gone on a trip to Texas. I didn't care about what team it was, but more about the fact that my Dad had given it to me. I adopted the Cowboys as my favorite team after that.

Then something happened, I actually started watching football in the late 90's. Once I finally learned about the Cowboys and being "America's Team", I immediately decided I needed to find a new team. While my Mom was American, I just couldn't cheer for America's team. It was until Donovan McNabb was drafted that I decided to follow the Eagles. I remember seeing him booed at the draft and my first thought was to keep a close eye on him. I love it when a player succeeds in a place nobody(or so it seemed) wants him.

I was a casual fan until about 2003, that's when my obsession started to grow. Also in that time my older brother became an Eagles fan. Being my only sibling this was a great opportunity for us to spend time together and share another similar passion. We drove 15 hours to Minnesota in 2007 to watch them play.

Every weekend we watch games at my house. What was myself and brother in 2004-2007 watching has grown to the two of us, my wife, and 5 year old son (i have a 1 year old as well) all decked out in Eagles jerseys watching intensely.

My wife HATED how obbsessed I had become with football a couple years back, which led me to step back and take a look at how immersed I had become. If I had PVR'd a game because I had to work she would check the score before I watched the game to see if I was gonna be bearable that night or not. Like Tommy said I now look at the bigger picture, I still get upset when they lose and maybe will be grumpy for the night but it doesn't affect me the entire week anymore.

The greatest thing about all of this is how much she has grown to like, maybe even love, football. 2 years ago I couldn't get her to watch a game no matter how hard I tried. Now I get text messages from her telling me how badly she wants the Eagles to trade McNabb and give Kolb a chance(she doesn't think McNabb takes the game seriously enough because he is always smiling).

My son is an aboslute nut when it comes to sports, hockey in particular. He is up at 7 in the morning watching sportscenter everyday. He knows who scored, what period, and in order of the previous nights games. It's actually quite freaky how well he knows it. I always say to people he is going to be the next Tony Kornheiser, only entertaining and not vomit inducing to look at. One of my favorite things he says on a regular basis is "I can wear any jersey i want in this house except for two, the Dallas Cowboys( accompanied with a thumbs down and disgusted face) and the Toronto Maple Leafs". He actually points out people we see on the streets that have Cowboys gear on so we can both yell boo as we drive by (while my wife hides her face and shakes her head). That's my boy!!

Tom said...

After answering your questions, I realized, shamefully, that I'd left out William Fuller on the favorite Eagles question. I loved watching his battles with Erik Williams.

Also-- I've really enjoyed reading everyone else's stories in the comments. Thanks for sharing, everyone, and for taking the time to read about my book.