Tynes: Inside Eagles followers’ painful Super Bowl rise and fall

Rising with effort from the again of a glistening keg, shoulder pads blessed on his again and a midnight inexperienced mohawk lifting from the apex of his silver-brushed cranium, Jamie Pagliei tells me a warfare story crammed with delusion.

“I’ve been painting up for 25 years,” the 50-year-old declaims, his voice constructing into a gentle rumble. “It’s been hard work; no one’s ever done this before. I’m trying to make a living painting my face while not being on the Ringling Bros.”

He began to get acknowledged at a New Orleans Saints recreation round 2018.

“I had a video go viral and it blew up,” he says, adjusting the positive follicles of his hair. “Since then, I’ve done commercials and a production company said I had great energy. I was like ‘The Philly Sports Guy,’ they said, and I should see if that name was available.”

From there, a star was born. Jamie grew out the ‘hawk, gathered his finest jerseys and high school equipment, and adopted his persona as his full-time line of work. The face paint ain’t an act. That jawn is his wage.

“Being the Philly Sports Guy isn’t very lucrative,” Jamie says.

I figured, my man.

He was no completely different than so many males from the place the place I used to be made. He was as stuffed with fantasy as he was inspiration. Misery will try this to a person. For six generations, Philadelphia, not less than when it got here to soccer, was house to a contentious sack of pugilists. The boys who threw batteries at Santa. You know the tune. Then Ol’ Saint Nick delivered us from evil and shocked the world with a Super Bowl win in 2018. We’ve heard lots about that one too. Denizens drove ATVs up museum steps, climbed vehicles and drank the town dry in a fortnight. Everyone had had sufficient of us, and but needed extra all the identical. Stuck between Napoleon syndrome and a newfound standing of champions modified, inherently, what it meant to be Philadelphian.

“This team represents what embodies Philadelphia: hard work, dedication, everything. … We are aggressively passionate, and that’s why we get a bad rap.”

— Fan Jamie Pagliei, who is called ‘The Philly Sports Guy’

But agony nonetheless drives Jamie. It drove all of us mad; my grandfather, who bore into me the assumption once I was a boy, and all the elders across the metropolis who taught us what it meant to Bleed Green. Heartbreak littered our legacy. Rooting for the Eagles wasn’t a selection for Jamie. It was his birthright. One championship wasn’t sufficient. Winning made his greed insatiable. He needed extra, as a result of all of us did.

“And now,” he tells me, “we’re in the promised land.”

What do you suppose would occur if the Eagles gained one other Super Bowl, I requested him.

“When we do,” he corrects me. “We’ll deserve it. This team represents what embodies Philadelphia: hard work, dedication, everything. We all work our balls off and care about this team. We are aggressively passionate, and that’s why we get a bad rap.”

That all?

He sat there and thought of his selection of phrases. He nods to himself.

“We know what we’re talking about,” he assures me. “And we won’t take any smack from anybody!”

The desert winds are kickin’ my ass, yo. Gales from Blythe all the best way to Buckeye virtually blew my automotive straight off the street. Ain’t an excessive amount of in the best way of surroundings out right here, despite the fact that each Tom and Jerry in West L.A. swore {that a} experience down I-10 would change my life like a Scientology conversion.

For a person who’s by no means lived out West, accomplished meth or casually traveled by way of mud storms, let me simply say that recommendation was bullshit. Sure, I finished in Joshua Tree, however that doesn’t make these snowcapped mountains, lengthy open plains and broke-down palm timber any extra interesting. And earlier than you inform me I’m wilin’, you ask the following metropolis boy when he’s seen a tumbleweed blow throughout the interstate earlier than breakfast. I ain’t by no means heard considered one of Johnny Cash’s tunes, however I assume Laredo must be someplace close by.

Historically, Philly followers moved in packs. Some like parasites. Players have instructed me through the years how a lot they hated coming into city due to the followers. Coaches spent the postseason agonizing over what to inform their households in the event that they got here to see the sport. It was comprehensible: These individuals have been rabid. I don’t know a courageous man alive prepared to ship their mom or spouse tickets to swim in a pool of piranhas.

And little doubt, throughout Phoenix it was true. Fans have been yelling in every single place I went. They’d taken over buggies and carts close to Arizona State in Tempe. “It’s a Philly Thing” paraphernalia was strewn throughout Lime scooters in downtown Phoenix. Philadelphians have been outnumbering the pink of Kansas City virtually 4 to 1.

Eagles followers collect outdoors McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon in Glendale, Arizona, earlier than the Super Bowl.

(Arianna Grainey / For The Times)

Up and down the Salt River Valley have been Eagles followers tattooed with a beam. For a complete week, these jackals painted the desert inexperienced.

At Philly’s, an aptly named tavern in Scottsdale, a horde of followers stole the bar for the afternoon. More than 200 individuals munching cheesesteaks, gnawing wings and talkin’ Birds with an open bar. What a harmful sight. Grown males in there had their beards dyed emerald. Women wore makeshift wings that stretched round their elbows and flapped across the patio between sips of whiskey. Somebody’s grandma was within the reduce, cussin’, with a hat that contained a steady, flying Eagle. Then, take a look at that goof within the nook, he’s in a white wig pretending to appear like Doug Pederson. Even the white boys who beloved on that bum Carson Wentz got here right: They crossed off the No. 11 and left a No. 1 for Jalen Hurts, the Black gunslinger who led them to this Super Bowl. And don’t get ‘em rowdy out here or they’ll begin swinging. Just say “Gwhoooh Bwiirds” otherwise you’ll be talking sacrilege.

Read also  High college boys’ soccer: City playoff outcomes and up to date pairings

“Stuff like this does our heart proud,” Jason Avant, an Eagles receiver from 2006 to 2013, tells me. Avant was one of many grinders on the workforce over the last of the Andy Reid period. He was grasp, effectively skilled within the artwork of the catch and made fearless performs over the center of the sphere, within the fireplace of battle. Something followers, like these on the market at Philly’s, all the time beloved him for.

“The winning culture and legacy we established made it possible for this team,” he stated. “We can’t take credit for it, it’s always about Philadelphia for us. It takes a lot of years of losing before the winning.”

Eagles receiver Jason Avant catches a pass during a 2013 practice in Philadelphia.

Eagles huge receiver Jason Avant catches a cross throughout follow in 2013. Avant stated rabid followers imply loads to previous and current Eagles gamers.

(Matt Rourke / Associated Press)

After years of brutal losses, vets see an indication of change now. Philly was not the little brother of the NFL. They have been on the cusp of true greatness.

“The fans are used to a gold standard now,” Barrett Brooks, a former sort out on the workforce within the ’90s, tells me. He says it’s fueled by what they noticed within the stands as gamers. “I’ve had batteries thrown at me for not playing well,” he says. “And I’ve had fans go above and beyond for me and save my life.”

People have been partying lengthy into the afternoon, shoulder to shoulder with the lads who cried as they did each time the town flew brief. But, there’s perception on this city. Chatter of a dynasty in Philly. Maybe it’s all this desert air, however I’ve by no means heard that kind of speak earlier than again house.

Friends on the town stated all week that one thing was completely different this time, in comparison with 2018 and even 2004. It was a constant line I’d heard from the Philly trustworthy. These jokers felt like they belonged. They have been those who killed Tom Brady in his prime, the gang of underdogs who proved the soccer world was lastly sufficiently big for them too.

Sure, I stated. I believed it was merely Super Bowl hysteria.

But perception generally is a mighty factor. It can change fortunes, transfer mountains, propel or destroy careers in a single day. When Donovan McNabb blew the Bowl for us in ’04, the primary rumor that got here out was that he was drunk the evening earlier than, so hung up on nerves that he puked his guts out within the huddle earlier than the primary play. We killed him perpetually for that. Called him a punk till he walked out of city. He was by no means the identical after that recreation. I’m not suggesting empathy — he ought to’ve discovered Terrell Owens, on the publish route, for a landing on the finish of the … that’s in addition to the purpose.

Belief within the arms of followers with nothing to lose, who knew what the end result is likely to be.

And on that patio, at Philly’s in Phoenix, perception was on the market. Fans flew center fingers into the cloudless sky, a regional salute to the haters in tow. Philly would win the large recreation. Or Philly can be able to struggle within the parking zone.

Daybreak barely pierced by way of my curtains that Sunday earlier than I began listening to Eagles followers. Running down the darkish, carpeted hallways of my lodge; honking horns happening the freeway. I obtained up and dragged myself to breakfast, solely to seek out followers mocking different followers as a result of their groups weren’t within the massive recreation. I virtually felt sorry for the poor couple. Philly followers have been swarming like an infestation, a plague that wouldn’t cease destroying the whole lot in its method by way of the desert.

In some methods after the 2018 championship, the story of the plucky underdog ended for Philadelphia. How might we nonetheless be cute ragamuffins, or sensationalized variations of Eagles followers previous, if after NFC championship blowouts we run down Broad Street and climb mild poles? That was who we have been after we gained, now it was who have been caught as whereas we tried to make magic occur twice.

Take 22-year-old Ashley Marcial from uptown. She was on the market a number of weeks in the past after Philly smacked San Francisco within the convention championship recreation. Ashley took celebrating to a brand new degree. After a number of drinks with associates, she climbed towards the sky like all the opposite followers on Broad Street. Except, as an alternative of a light-weight pole, she selected to leap atop a small bus shelter enclosed with sharp plastic. When she was joined by a number of different followers it shook till it burst and she or he fell by way of, virtually breaking her neck.

Read also  Frozen Four 2023 -- Conference event schedules, outcomes

A video clip that circulated on native and nationwide information confirmed Ashley smiling with a paramedic a number of hours after she instructed me she was knocked out. She thought she simply obtained the wind knocked out of her.

“God was on my side,” she instructed me. She pops the highest of her mouth as if she was chewing gum and takes a special route. “But I don’t regret that moment at all. I had fun. That’s what people aren’t understanding, people are saying Philly fans are dumb, but they just don’t get it.” She rolls her eyes. “That’s how we celebrate our teams. And everybody else who’s complaining? They’re bored, sitting at home. When other cities win, they go home. But when we win, we go to Broad Street.”

We are sick individuals, us Americans. The coastal elites and the coal miners, the Midwesterners and no matter is left in Florida. We’ve made a blood pact with soccer and we refuse to let it go. No matter what number of protests come up, what number of illegalities the sport produces, regardless of the felons and wannabes who stroll the turf and hang around perpetually in entrance workplaces, all of us are hooked on the identical devilish delights.

Football finally will die on this nation. Or somebody will die in entrance of us. Whichever occurs first can be our selection. But yr after yr, households e-book multi-thousand-dollar holidays to have fun the crowning of our nationwide soccer king. Hotels are reserved for miles, bars are tapped for days, events turn into foreign money in per week of stilted stuntin’. Both press and gamers alike can’t get sufficient of it. But so long as soccer stays our largest athletic moneymaker, the video games will go on till they’re censored from our screens or banished to a spot a airplane can’t go.

Eagles fans take selfies and gather outside McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon ahead of the Super Bowl.

Eagles followers collect outdoors McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon in Glendale, Ariz., forward of the Super Bowl.

(Arianna Grainey/Arianna Grainey/LA Times)

It made sense, then, that by 11 a.m. on Super Bowl Sunday, a whole bunch of Eagles followers took the streets. At McFadden’s, a bar on a nook in Glendale half a mile from the stadium, greater than a thousand gathered, guided by a DJ main them in chants of the Eagles struggle tune for hours.

From up there on the sales space, it was like I might see the hope in every of them. Or, not less than, the hallucination.

“2018 felt like the football gods smiled down upon us and said it was your turn,” Erock, the DJ and Philly character, tells me. “This team didn’t ask permission. They believed in themselves and never lost focus. They never moved backwards. Every week was growth.”

Inside State Farm Arena that afternoon, there was a raucous warfare.

From the second I obtained inside, it was packed to the brim. Walkways have been blocked on the south aspect of the stadium as Eagles followers and Kansas City followers interwove. Philly followers dueled with of us from Kansas City close to concessions traces and again corridors. Any time of us in these pink jerseys howled that racist chop chant, it overtook a number of crevices of the power. But pesky “E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles” chants fought it again 3 times as loud.

Every hour obtained extra vociferous. Eagles followers have been insistent. Chanting. One after one other. At one level, strolling across the enviornment, it felt like I used to be caught on a repeating vinyl. The sounds have been hypnotizingly incessant. Every 90 seconds I used to be being waterboarded by the considered the Eagles flying on the street to victory. At the specter of a problem, they rose once more, decided to not be overtaken. Even if the decision got here from a nook of an enviornment, it panged round lengthy sufficient to seek out somebody who would maintain it going. When one aspect roared, one other matched them. One of the demented might echo the opposite, like bats bathing within the darkness.

An Eagles fan stands beside a Chiefs fan during a Super Bowl tailgate party in Glendale, Arizona

An Eagles fan stands beside a Chiefs fan throughout a tailgate get together earlier than the groups confronted off within the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.

(Arianna Grainey/ For The Times)

Old heads have been caught on digital camera texting of us from out of city that they have been outnumbered by Eagles followers within the enviornment. Some of them claimed they have been already going deaf from all of the “thumping rap music” and that it appeared like a live performance in there. All evening within the stands, Kansas City performed the unlucky pleasure of the flailing novice subsequent to a superb boxer’s jab. They have been dropping the undercard, being bullied within the stands like they performed trombone in the highschool band.

After halftime, the sector was shaking close to Section 117 the place Jamie, the Philly Sports Guy, was sitting. His brother flew him into city free of charge, and he hoofed it with a few associates by way of the week. Out of nowhere, he acquired a present: tickets to the large recreation.

All round him, the stands have been rattling in anticipation. Hurts and the boys have been up by 10 at halftime. They hardly ever misplaced in that place.

The air turned muffled and smoke nonetheless was mendacity atop the ambiance of the dome. Every second in there, for those who had a lifelong affliction coloured pink or inexperienced, it was onerous to breathe. Pop after pop, rating after rating, the air was popping out of my abdomen with every first down.

Read also  2023 NBA title odds: Updated championship futures after commerce deadline

And when the buzzer turned zero, inconceivable got here throughout the faces of each fan I’d met that week who had preached me the gospel. I’m certain my grandfather was laughing at me from above for being so foolhardy. We have been all raised as losers, however after we seemed up, by some means even we, the staunchest of believers in our personal historical past, have been shocked on the rating on the board.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts bows his head after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts bows his head after dropping to the Kansas City Chiefs throughout the Super Bowl.

(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

The recreation had been over for an hour, however there I used to be, nonetheless caught to my seat overlooking the confetti on the grass for the opposite workforce. A safety guard and I cracked a chilly one whereas we gazed on the stage for one of many best video games I’d ever seen Philadelphia be a part of.

An Eagles fan who got here to the sport in inexperienced pajamas and matching face paint trudged up the stadium stairs towards the mezzanine. His face was crushed right into a black eye of anguish and disgust. I believed he was going to have a breakdown.

I requested, You gonna be all proper?

He barely appears my course, lazily elevating a solemn thumbs up to make sure he’s really acutely aware. Ah, there’s nothing fairly just like the cocktail of gloom after a sports activities loss. It is the connective tissue between heartbreak and starvation. Rational and deranged. Some individuals resolve in the event that they need to study from it. Others discover reasoning between the crack of the storm clouds.

Personally, I couldn’t maintain listening to Kansas City followers bounce in their very own elation any longer. I walked out the stadium and hopped on the primary bus I might discover.

It was eerie in downtown Phoenix once I obtained there. The solely factor left was the unspeakable. Kansas City was virtually too shy to have fun, doubtless for concern of what the unfriendly City of Brotherly Love could have in retailer for them. There have been no celebrations outdoors. Just males aimlessly wandering the streets of the desert in inexperienced near midnight. That evening, there was no comfort in defeat, simply the stinging, unforgettable ache that got here with it.

I opened my cellphone for the primary time in hours, hoping the deluge of messages from household and associates didn’t deliver me to tears on Fillmore Street. Miraculously, it was the other. Folks nonetheless have been heading to Broad Street again house, these mild poles be damned. Maybe they nonetheless had one thing to be happy with.

Philadelphians who flew west turned nothing greater than a crew of ruthless cowboys, chattering all week, solely to be openly crushed right down to the bottom, shot within the breast and left to die. Hubris by no means tastes divine, however it all the time hits in the appropriate spot. And there was nothing fairly like a sluggish dying within the desert.

Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray as soon as wrote that “covering sports takes the fan out of you.” That felt like the straightforward method out within the hours after Philly’s demise. And whereas I’m certain that was true then, it could possibly’t be now. Not, not less than, how I used to be raised. Back house, whether or not you turned a preacher or a president, if the Birds are on, you’d higher be shouting.

Perhaps that’s why fandom is our accepted model of psychosis within the sporting congregation. It is the regularity of an agreed upon madness which — relying on what kind of man you might be — exists till the top of your life. And, by God, for those who’re fortunate, infests your youngsters’ lives too.

Three generations in the past, my grandfather taught me our sacred blood oath. And upon one other, historic, loss for Philadelphia, I’m certain one other technology of elders imbued a holy hate into their infants’ our bodies to provide them the resolve to develop into bastards who toss batteries all the identical.

Eagles linebackers Patrick Johnson and Kyzir White sit on the bench after losing to the Chiefs in the Super Bowl

Eagles linebackers Patrick Johnson (48) and Kyzir White (43) sit on the bench after their Super Bowl loss to the Chiefs in Glendale, Ariz.

(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

It could seem foolish to onlookers, however a bit of our souls stayed within the sand that week. That loss was a flicker of hope for the franchise, but additionally a flashpoint in the course of an evening the place all of our delusion died in that desert. David should’ve had the day without work, as a result of Goliath slayed the little chook in entrance of him.

Even as I awoke the following morning, I nonetheless couldn’t shake the craze. It was the inevitable, however I remained groggy after defeat. I nonetheless might hear these racist cheers from Kansas City’s followers ringing in my head.

I trudged downstairs and bathed within the Arizona daylight, hoping it will shock me out of my slumber. I stepped outdoors to smoke, solely to be joined by a hustlin’ man from Pensacola, Fla., who lit up subsequent to me, within the parking zone of our lodge.

After some chit chat, he seemed down at my hoodie — a classic ode to the Eagles — and thought he’d break the ice.

“How you feeling after last night, mane?” he requested.

Well now, and right here I believed we have been going to be associates.

Good brotha Pensacola sees the anger on my face and decides to alter the subject.

“Life can be hard,” he stated, gettin’ all philosophical.

In a method solely each of us might know, in a spot for under us to pay attention, he stated what I wanted to listen to.

“But,” he continued, “you know, anything in life worth struggle is worth fighting for.”



This was soccer we have been speaking about.

He shrugged his shoulders, completed his cigarette and headed again inside.

Like magic, a number of birds flew from a close-by tree and headed over the desert. I took a number of extra drags and flicked the zigzag into the dust.


When does soccer season begin once more?