Engulfed In Green: Life As A Giants Fan In Eagles Territory
A brief look at my day-to-day life being an outsider living in the midst of an Eagles Super Bowl run
The time is 7:50 a.m.
It’s Thursday, January 18 and I roll over to turn off my phone alarm and check my notifications — as I do every morning. I notice there’s one unread text.
The message is from a co-worker, who’s sent me a text about Lane Johnson’s dog mask. It’s the fourth such text in the span of less than a week. He’s a die-hard Eagles fan, and knows I live and breathe New York Giants football.
That’s perhaps the easiest way to explain what my life as a Giants fan living in South Jersey, better known as Eagles territory. I figured with the Giants being as bad as they are, it’s apropos to give a little insight as to what it’s like living among myriad Eagles fans.
I should’ve known what I was getting myself into.
After all, when I moved down to South Jersey, it wasn’t my first time being a Giants fan in hostile territory.
As a freshman in college, I went to a school in Philadelphia. I had always heard horror stories of how rough Eagles fans can be, and growing up, I had a number of friends who were Eagles fans. The part of Jersey I come from is probably 45 percent Eagles fans, 45 percent Giants fans and 5 percent Jets fans. All my friends were passionate about the Birds when I was in high school, but since we were friends I never got a glimpse of the worst of it.
We got into arguments and things like that, but it was, for the most part, civil.
And then I wore my Giants jersey in the city during Week 1 of the 2013 season.
“You ain’t wearing that garbage right now. Tell me you’re joking,” some random Philadelphian said to me as I walked down the street. That’s where I got my first experience of truly hostile Eagles fans.
This year is more of the same. It’s eerie how similar this season mirrors the 2013 season, where I got first-hand experience of Philly sports.
Unfortunately, seeing Eagles green is literally a part of my day-to-day life.
I was subjected to seeing Jake Elliott’s 62-yard field goal the Monday morning after he had kicked it through the uprights. Most of my co-workers are Eagles fans. I’ve heard the Eagles fight song more frequently than I’ve heard myself think. I see a host of people walking around my town in Eagles garb. The priest at the church I go to has worked the Eagles into his homily on more than one occasion.
This is my life.
Following the Eagles’ NFC Championship win over the Vikings, I felt like I was back in college. I could hear muffled yells of people right outside my apartment, as well as fireworks being set off. In Center City Philadelphia, that would be commonplace. But I live in a small town in South Jersey, where the loudest noise heard on a typical basis is my car blasting music to and from work.
It’s not just super fans who have become addicted to Eagles fever, either. Recently, the response to any message sent to someone on a dating app (yeah, sometimes people swipe right on me — what’s so unbelievable about that?) has something to do with the Eagles.
“This weekend I’m just watching the game.”
“Honestly, I’m just so excited for the game.”
“Bird gang or die.”
I wish I was kidding about that, too. It seems like the only thing people in this neck of the woods want to talk about is Nick Foles.
It’s impossible to move more than 50 feet in this area without spotting something regarding the Eagles. Dive bars have generated signs congratulating the team, and other local businesses are making the most of the opportunity.
Truthfully, the entire city has united behind this football team.
While I have you here, let me address the fans in Philly.
The long-standing notion is that Eagles fans are the absolute worst sports fans to every walk the face of God’s green earth. Yes, Eagles fans can be overly aggressive sometimes. And unfortunately, their track record makes it easy for recent outbursts to fit the narrative perfectly.
I will say engaging with Eagles fans so frequently has allowed me to see the glaringly obvious similarities between New York and Philly fans. Ironically, neither fan base likes being compared to the other.
Take Carson Wentz, for example. Eagles fans are protective of him, and essentially pseudo-worship the ground he walks on. New York fans have the same treatment of Odell Beckham Jr., Kristaps Porzingis and Aaron Judge.
And as someone whose fandom is split between New York and Philadelphia, I feel like I’m coming from an unbiased viewpoint.
Like every single fan base that exists, there are good fans and there are bad fans. And I’ve met some bad Eagles fans. But for the most part, most of the people I know who are Eagles fans are just like Giants fans — passionate, while being braggadocios when their team is doing well, and entirely morose when they’re doing poorly.
It reminds me of when the Joker tells Batman they’re more similar than they think.
Long story short, being so exposed to the Eagles on a daily basis has made me mostly apathetic to a team I used to hate.
For instance, living where I do and being engulfed in so much Eagles fandom has made me considerably numb to the concept of the team winning the Super Bowl.
Would it make me happy to see them win?
Not at all.
Would I throw my phone at the ground, as hard as I could, and break it like I did when LeSean McCoy cut back on Antrel Rolle to seal the game in 2011?
But at this point, an entire city is probably going to burn down whether the Eagles win or lose against the Patriots.
Sometimes the fight song no longer pierces my ears like it once did, and some times I no longer vomit at the sight of a forest green jersey. Sometimes I feel happy for my friends who are Eagles fans, getting a chance to enjoy this run.
But those feelings subside incredibly easily. They are overtaken by stronger feelings of envy. It really does suck seeing the Eagles enjoy the season many thought the Giants would have.
Truthfully, if the Eagles do win Super Bowl, it’s preferable it happens during a year like this — one in which the Giants were nowhere near playoff contention.
The silver lining to me is that the Eagles came out of nowhere to get to where they are today. It makes me hopeful for the future, and makes the eventual Giants resurgence even better to imagine.
But until that day, I, as well as the other Giants fans in Eagles territory, just need to eat dirt and like the taste of it.
And if you don’t see me tweeting after the Super Bowl, it means I’ve been trampled during the celebration. Or worse.
Talk with Ryan on Twitter: @ryandisdier