YOU could tell he wasn’t joking when he said it. “You and the rest of these flea-bag Eagles fans would turn on this franchise in a heartbeat if they moved.”
A woman in Shop-rite had just walked by, wearing a t-shirt that read “I bleed green no matter what!” For whatever reason, that set off the Ravens fan in the deli line beside me. He just started talking shit to no one in particular. “You and the rest of these flea-bag Eagles fans would turn on this franchise in a heartbeat if they moved. If there’s one thing Philadelphians don’t understand, it’s loyalty.”
He looked like he was in his 70’s or 80’s, so no one wanted to look like they were bullying an old man. I know I didn’t want to be “that guy”. So since nobody stopped him, he just kept trying to get killed.
I mostly just ignored him when he talked about the Colts leaving Baltimore, and how he can’t ever forgive that. But then he said the same thing would happen to us.
He said that Lurie’s first love was the Patriots; that Lurie is from Boston; and that Lurie tried to buy the Patriots before he “settled for” the Eagles. All of that is true, and I’ll admit, it got under my skin a little. (I’m still not sure why, but it did.) He also said that Lurie was trying to move the team to Boston.
I’m not worried about the team leaving because the Eagles have a stadium lease deal that runs through 2032 (18 years from now). Lurie is 62 already and the idea that he’d wait until he was 80 to uproot and start over, doesn’t add up. So it’s really nothing to worry about, but it got my blood boiling just the same. And I realized that it was because he’d struck a nerve in me, and he’d struck it damned hard. Because he’d made me, just for an instant, afraid.
As a native Philadelphian, Eagles football is part of my birthright. It was here when I breathed my first, and with mercy, it’ll still be so when I breathe my last. Until that coot opened his mouth, I’d never thought of it any other way. Then for an instant we were as vulnerable as Cleveland and Baltimore, Oakland and Houston. In an instant, he’d made us, made me, mortal.
As of now all the facts say that we have nothing to worry about. That it was just some old crank ranting in a supermarket deli line, who bailed on his team years ago, and who was reminded of his shame by a t-shirt. I know all this. I get it.
But just for a second, let me ask you:
What if Lurie did move the Eagles?
Would you root for the Eagles regardless of what city Lurie moved them to? (The Boston Eagles? The L.A. Eagles? The Las Vegas Eagles?)
Would you gravitate to the Ravens? The Redskins?
He didn’t ask it, but the old fart in the supermarket brought up an interesting question: Is it the Eagles team or the city of Philadelphia that we’re actually rooting for? To this point it’s all been one convenient package. But what would you do if that stopped being true?