Last weekend I traveled back to Philadelphia to be around my fellow Eagles fans as we prepared to hoist the NFL Championship trophy high and celebrate in the streets of South Philadelphia.
Yes, the South Philadelphia where Rocky and Rocky II and V were filmed.
Part of III was filmed in Philadelphia but the majority of the film was shot in Los Angeles.
IV is where Rocky fights the Russian guy and I don’t know where that was filmed but it was not in South Philadelphia.
I was to be in Philadelphia for less than 48 hours. It was a last-minute trip, planned after I learned the Philly feathered football squad had qualified for the NFL center stage.
As many of you know, the Eagles came up short of being crowned the NFL’s most elite team, which is fine because they had a great season.
However, when one takes a closer look at the impact the Super Bowl loss has on Philadelphia and the passionate fans who bleed Eagles green, the loss holds substantially more weight.
Prior to arriving in the City of Brotherly Love, I had heard from friends and relatives about the hype surrounding the Eagles’ Super Bowl appearance, but I had to see it firsthand to be able to gauge the hoopla.
Upon my arrival in Philadelphia, it didn’t take a keen eye to observe all the anticipation of the Super Bowl.
In the city and in surrounding areas, people were wearing Eagles jerseys. There were green signs of encouragement outside nearly every store, at every bus stop, on the public buses themselves and on homes and schools.
And, of course, there were Eagles signs in the local watering holes — where many Philly fans began their marathon of intoxication as early as Wednesday, February 3rd, five days before the Super Bowl.
It had been more than 20 years since Philadelphia celebrated a major professional sports team championship — the last one being the 1983 professional basketball 76ers.
The term “ripe” does not do justice to describe how ready Philly fans were to celebrate a championship.
I think borderline suicidal is more fitting.
The local news stations ate up the hype and it seemed like almost every local news station reporter had made the trip down to Jacksonville to be among the tens of thousands of faithful Philly fans, many of whom had spent literally every last penny to their name to make the trip.
One 30-something guy who was interviewed said he mortgaged his home and quit his job.
Philadelphia sports fans take their sports very seriously.
For them, it is not just a game but rather life or death, depression or serenity, marriage or divorce.
This was one of the reasons I decided to leave Philadelphia. The city is just filled with depressed sports fans who carry chips on their shoulders and let their unfulfilled dreams bleed into their behavior.
Forget about a disgruntled Eagles fan allowing you to cut in front of him on the Schuylkill Expressway.
You never hear them utter the words, “Oh, go ahead of me you only have a few items,” in the supermarket checkout lane.
If your mailman is a big Philadelphia sports fan, chances are your dog will get bit.
The parade route to celebrate the Eagles Super Bowl victory had already been mapped out and Tuesday, February 8th, would have spontaneously resulted in an unofficial city holiday.
However, now people in Philadelphia are left with those familiar feelings — lethargy, depression, and hopelessness.
Of course, they try to look for the silver linings in the loss.
“What about Terrell Owens’ performance with a broken leg?” and “Wait till next season; we’re just getting warmed up” were common fan responses.
But this loss was a letdown for a city that is used to being let down by its sports teams.
There is no silver lining.
Philadelphia needed a championship like a dog needs a bone.
But the City of Brotherly Love will just have to depend on that alone, until a sports team can bring home the bacon and transform all the hopeless fans into a celebratory city.
The chances of this happening this year are not too encouraging.
The basketball 76ers are a game under .500 with about half the season completed, and the hockey Flyers are on strike along with all the players in the National Hockey League.
So the baseball Phillies will most likely be the only shot to bring a championship to Philadelphia in 2005.