Philadelphia Eagles fans, who are fervently awaiting their team’s Super Bowl rematch with the New England Patriots in two weeks, have been known to commit their own brand of unnecessary roughness.
After the Eagles defeated the Minnesota Vikings Sunday to capture the NFC title, video footage went viral of Philly fans pelting the visitors’ team bus with adult beverages, in a scene that made it clear that Patriots fans have no monopoly on football fever.
The bus incident came hours after another Eagles devotee, Andrew Tornetta, 19, of North Wales, Pa., was arrested during a pre-game tailgate for allegedly punching a police officer and the officer’s horse, among other offenses.
Tornetta refused a State Police corporal’s commands to leave an area, city police said in a statement, and then “struck the Officer’s horse (2) two times with his fist on his right front shoulder. The offender then struck the Corporal on the right side of his face, below his eye, causing redness and swelling.”
Video footage of a shirtless, bloodied Tornetta being led from the stadium parking lot in handcuffs also made the rounds on social media.
“Stop recording me,” Tornetta said in the video, shot by NJ.com. “What the [expletive].”
Not even infants were sheltered from the acrimony.
“I witnessed, in real life, a group of eagles fans scream ‘[expletive] YOUUUUUUUU’ to a baby in a stroller wearing a Vikings hat,” one woman tweeted.
Her post had been liked and re-tweeted 8,100 times as of Monday afternoon. Several people rebuked the child’s parents for bringing a baby to the game in enemy colors.
Sunday’s raucous atmosphere was nothing new for a fan base that chucked snowballs at Santa Claus during a halftime show in 1968 and hurled batteries at Doug Pederson, the team’s current head coach, when he briefly played quarterback for the team in the late 1990s.
“Those big ones,” Pederson told the Philadelphia Daily News in 2016. “Those ‘D’ ones. I was spit at. Beer. But hey, listen, whatever.”
What may look like unhinged aggression to an outsider is viewed differently among the Eagles faithful.
“I think it really comes down to ‘what is a real fan,’ ” said Thilo Kunkel, an assistant professor at Temple University in Philadelphia who studies consumer attitudes in sport. “The identity of Eagles fans is to be a little more rough around the edges. To represent Philadelphia.”
It’s a city, Kunkel said, that has historically chafed at playing second fiddle to New York and Washington, D.C.
“That underdog mentality really plays a big role in how Philadelphians see themselves,” he said. “That plays a role in how they approach their fandom.”
They watched in horror as the Pats defeated their Eagles 24-21 at Super Bowl XXXIX. On Sunday night, the hashtag #avenge2004 was trending on Twitter among Philly fans, who posted combative messages aimed at their brethren to the north.
“I will tar and feather a Boston [expletive], this will be a Colonial-style retribution,” one woman tweeted. “#avenge2004.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney was a bit more gracious.
“As a person who has lived here my entire life and loves our Eagles, this is emotional,” he tweeted Sunday. “I’m happy to be here, but want to climb over that mountain. All of us, past and present, deserve it! #FlyEaglesFly.”
His later call for fans to celebrate safely and show “the same pride in our City that the players have shown” was met with mockery by some fans.
One man responded with a video clip of a fan in an Eagles jersey crashing into a stanchion on a subway platform while sprinting toward a moving train.
Above the video, the man tweeted, “Mayor, we got it covered!”
Philadelphians, let’s celebrate in a safe and respectful way—and with the same pride in our City that the players have shown throughout this incredible season.— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) January 22, 2018