PHILADELPHIA (CBS)- You couldn’t miss them decked out in their No. 20 midnight green jerseys, wearing their Eagles’ hats, and letting anyone within earshot know who the reigning Super Bowl champions are. Legions upon legions of Eagles’ fans filled Canton, Ohio, on Saturday to commemorate the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction of Eagles’ all-time great Brian Dawkins.
Back here in Philadelphia, you couldn’t help but hear them, cheering for the 2008 World Series champion Phillies, and giving a rousing applause to even Jayson Werth, a key member of that team. And yes, the same Jayson Werth who in 2012 said it was his mission, while a Washington National, to make sure Phillies’ wouldn’t line Broad Street again for a World Series celebration, after fans cheered as Werth left Citizens Bank Park with a broken wrist.
On Sunday, Phillies’ fans gave Werth a standing ovation.
The two events actually say just how genuinely appreciative Philadelphia sports fans could be for their heroes. Both ceremonies showed how actually great it can be to play for this demanding fanbase. Can the Philadelphia fan be hardcore? Yes, there is no about it that they can be. But once you win, which is why they play the games, you’re eternally embraced and never forgotten.
Is this something that the national sports media wants to hear? Not really. They prefer instead to focus on the lazy, easy stories about boos and snowballs pelting Santa Claus and Jimmy Johnson, or throwing batteries at J.D. Drew.
Philadelphia sports fans have unjustifiably cornered the market on disruptive, boorish behavior and, regrettably, it’s an image that won’t go away anytime fast.
Because it’s far simpler to pound home embarrassing fan behavior with a city like Philadelphia, which has that tarnished reputation from years of losing in the 1960s and 1970s. Maybe some need to notice, but those decades are dots in the rearview mirror to today’s Philadelphia sports fan.
Dawkins embraced the fanbase here, and the fanbase hugged back. Why? Because he was genuine, and passionate, and it seemed almost everyone he met off the field had the same reaction of meeting a humbled star, who it was his pleasure to meet you, rather than the other way around. Werth was remembered for being a vital cog in a Phillies’ machine that had its best era when he played for them.
That’s what fans recalled on Sunday when they stood for him.
What somehow gets lost is that the real Philadelphia sports fan, the droves of fans who today truly get it, those are the ones who make up the real Philadelphia sports fanbase.
It’s too bad more national media doesn’t notice, nor care to notice.