For years, sports nation has turned a black eye on Philadelphia fans.
They’re loud. Obnoxious. Violent. Basically, insert your own derogatory term here.
Outsiders always point to the fact that we pelted Santa Claus with snow balls (forget the fact that he enjoyed every minute of it).
That we booed Donovan McNabb on draft day (forget the fact that was a lubed-up group of 30 individuals).
That a fan got Tasered at a Phillies game (forget the fact that he got his web redemption on Tosh.0).
There are countless other stories of rival fans getting sucker-punched, verbally abused, etc. in the tailgate lots and stadiums.
Hey, the Vet had an actual courthouse, stand-by judge and temporary jail, so there is something to it. Twenty-eight years and one championship does make for a frustrated fan base, after all.
But the reputation of the Philadelphia sports fan as the angriest, nastiest guy at the bar is a myth these days. A tall tale, much like Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, or Jack and the Beanstalk.
Want proof? Look at what’s going on out in California.
Remember that San Francisco Giants fan who was beaten to near-death last year by two men wearing Dodgers gear outside Dodgers Stadium? Yeah, that really happened.
Or the fans hospitalized during the Raiders-49ers preseason game at Candlestick Park in August. One man was severely beaten in the stadium’s restroom, while two other men were hospitalized after being shot in the parking lot.
The latest incidents came following last weekend’s NFC Championship Game in San Francisco.
Kyle Williams, the backup punt returner who fumbled twice, including one in overtime that led to the Giants’ game-winning field goal, was bombarded with angry messages and death threats on Facebook and Twitter.
“I’m used to the years of criticism and threats on my life from time to time, but I have to hear about threats on your son’s life while you’re watching TV and it certainly makes you question our culture of sports as it stands,” said his dad, Kenny, who happens to be the Chicago White Sox GM.
Before the game, some fans could be heard booing the National Anthem. And an estimated 110 people were ejected from Candlestick Park during the 49ers’ 20-17 loss.
All that happened, in one calendar year — in San Francisco, no less, a town once known for friendly hippies, proud homosexuals and marijuana smoke in the bleachers.
We’re not saying Philadelphia is completely innocent. The Winter Classic fight outside Geno’s Steaks certainly proved that. But we are saying that this city should no longer be the poster boy for “TAILGATING GONE WRONG,” or the first clip ESPN brings up when talking about unruly fans.
To do that, to keep heaping that moniker on Philly, is like continuing to call Andruw Jones the best defensive outfielder in baseball. Or referring to Peyton Manning as the best quarterback in the NFL. Or saying Steven Tyler can still sing. None of those things ring true anymore.
It’s time for a new John Doe in the world of “FANS BEHAVING BADLY.”
Judging by this past year, we’re voting for San Francisco.