This weekend, the New York Giants return to the City of Brotherly Love for their annual trip into Lincoln Financial Field. And as a Giants fan fortunate enough to have family in the Philadelphia area, I once again have the privilege of attending the game in person and risk both mental and physical safety at the hands of thousands and thousands of bullies known as Philadelphia Eagles Fans.
My first experience with Eagles fans came on December 1st, 1996 at the old Veterans Stadium, a game where I sat in the pouring rain with my Dad and watched the dynamic tag team of Danny Kannell and Dave Brown lead the offense to 121 total yards and a 24-0 drubbing. But the most vivid memory came as I was coming from the bathroom, wearing my Giants jacket, and was greeted by a few overserved Eagles fans and shoved into a neighboring garbage can.
I was 10. Barbarians…
Admittedly, it’s not nearly as perilous for a fan of an opposing team to attend a game at Lincoln Financial Field. The new stadium generally either priced out the more unruly fans, or pushed them all the way into the nosebleeds. But if you’re not self aware or, frankly, just being a total jerk, it’ll be you that gets beaten down by half of section 312 and led away by the yellow coats down to the drunk tank underneath the stadium.
As this is now my 14th trip to Philadelphia as a supporter of the enemy, here’s how you can come away unscathed and, hopefully, still have a great time cheering on the Giants:
Don’t Go Alone
Strength in numbers, and bonus points if they happen to be Eagles fans. There’s some upside to this. One, if you’re paling around with other Eagles fans, it gives the illusion that at least someone can put up with your company. Two, your friends and family will be doing so much scream singing of “Fly Eagles Fly” into your ears it gives any third parties less of an incentive to harass you.
Eagles fans love to pick on other fans, but it’s more fun to take ownership as the sole source for your misery. And three, in dire situations, hopefully they’re good enough friends not to let you get your teeth kicked in. Granted, they’re Eagles fans and can’t be trusted by anyone, so maybe they’ll wait for a few stomach punches before breaking it up.
Don’t Go In Hangry
You know those Snickers commercials where they give a washed up actor like Danny Trejo a candy bar and he turns into a normal person? Well they have a point. You’re already going to be on edge the whole game being called expletive this, or nervously waiting for one of the five ill-advised double coverage throws Eli Manning does. No need to compound the risk you’ll mouth off or give someone a hairy eyeball that you probably shouldn’t be messing with.
Go get a cheesesteak or two and crush it before the game. My recommendation – Tony Luke’s. You could go to Pat’s Steaks in South Philly (I refuse to mention its cheap, Mickey Mouse imitation across the street), but it’s a pain to get there and the line is normally wrapped all the way around the building. Tony Luke’s is right near the stadium, the line isn’t nearly as long and, frankly, the steaks are just as good. That way you’ll be in and out and maximize your tailgating before heading into the game.
If You’re Confronted by a Few Hostile Eagles Fans, Stay Calm and Try to Find Something to Relate to
Just remind yourself that if you’re feeling the heat, beneath all that arrogance and bravado Eagles fans are some of the most insecure fans on Earth. They’re just trying to make you feel as miserable as they do. However, the situation can turn quickly if you shoot back with barbs of your own. Instead, try and find common ground.
A few years back during a pretty tense Sunday night game, I went to grab a beer and started to get harassed by a few Eagles fans to the point I was getting little uncomfortable. Luckily, I’m pretty quick on my feet so I turn around to them and said “hey, at least we broke Tony Romo’s collarbone back in Week 7, right?”. That ended the tension and we all shared a good laugh. I even got in a high five! Because there’s nothing that brings together Giants and Eagles fans more than saying the Cowboys suck and calling Tony Romo a sissy.
Read the Room and Keep Your Head on a Swivel
Are you sitting around a bunch of fans who look more like investment bankers and at worst will lob a few zingers hoping to impress their equally rich friends and wives? Or are you around guys that look like they’ve been drinking since Wednesday and wouldn’t hesitate to crack you across the jaw if you’re just a hair out of line. Get a gauge of who’s in your section and be aware of your surroundings (especially when you go and sit down so you don’t plop into a nachos landmine some guy with a faded Brian Dawkins jersey placed for you). This will give you an idea of how you can conduct yourself during the game, which leads me to my next tip…
It’s Perfectly OK to Cheer for the Giants, Just Don’t Go Overboard
The narrative that opposing fans have to sit like they’re in church at the Linc is a falsehood. It is much more civil for a Giants fan to take in a game at the Linc than it was at the Vet. Just don’t be Rick James scuffing up Charlie Murphy’s couch while you’re in there. Cheer when you’re supposed to, but if it’s close in the 4th quarter, button it up a bit. And if the Giants do crap the bed, don’t be afraid to express your frustrations. Eagles fans love it when Giants fans turn on their own team. You’ll even get a few laughs when you make fun of Ben McAdoo’s stupid haircut or call Ereck Flowers a human turnstile.
If the Giants Win, Keep Your Celebration Muted Until You Get to a Safe Zone
Eagles fans will already be aggravated about their own team, so don’t give them a reason to take out their frustrations on you. Make them wait to complain to Angelo on 94WIP the next morning. Save most of the boasting until you get somewhere like Xfinity Live, where then you can needle your cousins how badly Andy Reid bungled that final two minute drive over several victory shots of Crown Royal. Then watch them puke into a Doritos bag in your Aunt’s car and toss it out onto the Pennsylvania Turnpike on the way back (sorry Aunt Brenda…).
If the Giants Lose, Don’t Go Picking a Fight Yourself
Grit your teeth and calmly walk back to your car past all the garbage, broken bottles and tire fires illuminating the parking lot. This wasn’t the first time you walked out of the Linc disappointed and it certainly won’t be the last. There’d be nothing a bunch of victorious Eagles fans would love more than to cap off their evening roughing up a bitter Giants fan and bragging that they won twice that night.
Instead, have a few post game beverages and comfort food ready for you on the drive home. Trust me, a few IPA’s and Wegmans Chocolate Chip Cookies can soothe your deepest depression after another soul crushing loss. And as you pound your 11th cookie and solemnly look out the window past the Valley Forge exit, remind yourself of this last silver lining…
You’ve Seen Enough Games At the Linc to Know to Bet on The Eagles
Because during the Eli Manning era I have personally witnessed some horrible, atrocious football by the Giants at the Linc. Where shall I begin? How about that 31-17 destruction in 2004 where Eli was properly greeted to the NFL by Jerome McDougle and nearly decapitated. Or 2009, where it took the Eagles only seven plays and an Eli interception over two possessions to go up 14-0 before I could finish my first beer.
Or 2010, when Eli was driving for a game tying field goal, dove face first untouched and fumbled the ball off his face to end the game. That’s not bad enough for you? How about back to back performances from 2014-2015 when the Giants lost by a combined 54-7, Victor Cruz’s career ended after his knee exploded in the end zone, and was the last straw for my Dad, who swore off attending another Giants/Eagles game again (which was for the best, that stent he has is one more drive killing sack away from being permanently dislodged).
(Why do I drive six hours for this crap again?)
So do yourself a favor. As you make that long walk from FDR Park to the stadium, don’t forget to pull up your phone and put a bet down on the Eagles. That way, at least there’s a good chance you’ll walk out of the stadium a winner regardless.