By Andrew Porter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Blue-collar, demanding, passionate, and at times, harsh. Philadelphia would agree, even brag, if that’s how you described their sports culture.

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After playing 15 seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies, which included winning a World Championship and a National League MVP award, Jimmy Rollins is now in Los Angeles.

“I loved playing there,” Rollins said of Philadelphia in a candid Q&A with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. “There is no doubt about that. It made me who I am. Playing there — I don’t know — but it prepared me for this. This is so loose in comparison to Philly. I know how to go about my business. I know the boundaries. I won’t cross ‘em.”

However, when Rollins—an Oakland native—was asked how he feels being in LA now, his answer struck the chord of Philadelphia.

“Free,” Rollins told Rosenthal. “I feel like I’m free to be myself without someone on my shoulder. Obviously, everyone has parameters and limits. You have to play within the boundaries.

“The general area, the city [of Philadelphia] being blue-collar, it’s not conducive for a superstar. You can be good, but you’ve got to be blue-collar along the way, keep your mouth shut, just go and work. Where obviously, this is LA. It’s almost like it’s OK to be more flamboyant. You kind of appreciate that the more you’re out there. Because LA loves a star.”

Approximate 85-percent of fans voting on Tuesday’s 94WIP Morning Show Audio Roadshow poll, said the city was not too demanding of Rollins, the Phillies’ all-time hits leader.

Keith Jones, now a co-host on the 94WIP Morning Show and NHL TV analyst for NBC, played the final three years of his successful NHL career in Philadelphia. Jonesy appreciates the way Philadelphia holds their athletes to a higher standard.

“It’s the great thing about this city, there’s accountability for the way that you play,” Jonesy said on Tuesday. “No matter how great you are, if you don’t do things that fans feel are putting effort and energy into the game, they’re not going to endorse what you are doing. They still love Jimmy Rollins. He’s an extremely popular player, but there is accountability with the fans here in Philadelphia.

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“It bothered him the whole time he was here.”

Al Morganti, Rhea Hughes, and 94WIP Morning Show host Angelo Cataldi gave their opinions as well.

“He wanted to be a guy that could go on late-night TV a lot,” Morganti said. “He was always with Quest Love. Jimmy Rollins is one of the coolest athletes in all of sports. And if you talk to other athletes, his—I don’t know what a cool level is considered—but his cool level is off the charts. But he couldn’t be like that. He was, but he couldn’t revel in that. He couldn’t truly enjoy it.”

“Jimmy Rollins was my favorite player on that team,” Hughes said. “And he can say all the stuff that he wasn’t allowed to be—the Phillies have that 2008 World Series title because of his outspokenness. Because we’re the “team to beat.” He created that swagger, he was happy to take it on himself. Now that it’s all kind gone to hell, he’s free to be in LA. He’s free to be a fading star. That’s what he’s free to be. He’s not it anymore.”

“He really only got criticism about one thing,” Cataldi explained. “And that was the fact that he didn’t hustle all the time. It was clear to everyone. And I think his reference to blue-collar has something to do with that, in that, this city requires you to work hard all the time. That’s blue-collar. He didn’t like that. Maybe I’m just damn old, I can’t compute, I can’t understand a player who chooses to be an athlete and wants to compete, but only on his own terms. Only when he feels like it. When he wants to take a play off, when he wants to not play full out, he thinks it’s fine and no one should call him on it. I don’t understand that thinking.”

 

 

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Read the full Q&A with Jimmy Rollins and Ken Rosenthal here.