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Even brotherly love has its limits

A Philadelphia Eagles fan wore a cheesesteak hat outside Lincoln Financial Stadium before the game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.JASON SZENES/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

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OK, this is going to be the longest clarification ever printed in The Boston Globe.

My paean to Philadelphia the other day — a wistful, sentimental, cheesesteak-drenched, Philly-soul-soaked tribute to the City of Brotherly Love and its insouciant denizens — has created some misconceptions.

First off, to my fellow Bostonians, in high dudgeon, accusing me of treachery and duplicity, I have not switched sides or, as they say where my mother’s people are from in Galway, taken the soup. The only Eagles I root for play in Chestnut Hill.

But, more importantly, my deep love and appreciation of Philly and its people does not extend to wide-eyed, drunken, violent lunatics in Eagles jerseys.


I do have some standards, you know.

True, I have a sneaking admiration for the City of Brotherly Shove attitude. I tip my cap grudgingly to the fierce “4 for 4!” loyalty of Philly fans to their four main professional teams, nowhere on more ferocious display than at the Linc when the Eagles are playing. (Truth be told, Flyers fans are no shrinking violets, either.) Philly is the kind of place where passion and profanity coexist as friendly row-house neighbors.

I couldn’t even get too worked up watching the chaotic scenes after the NFC Championship game, when raucous and clearly inebriated Eagles fans pelted the Minnesota Vikings team bus with beer cans and bottles as the just-vanquished and humiliated Vikings slinked off to the airport. In fact, watching that, my only thought was, why waste so much good beer on such a bad team?

But you’ve got to draw a line somewhere, and call me a prude but I’m drawing the line at where a group of drunken Eagles fans screamed “F-you!” at Vikings fans who had the temerity to dress their baby in a stroller in a Vikings hat. I was only surprised that one of those morons didn’t push the poor kid down the stadium steps, as Leslie Nielsen did to O.J. Simpson in the final scene of “The Naked Gun.” (If only Nielsen had done that in real life prior to June 13, 1994.)


And for the second consecutive week, an Eagles fan punched a police horse in the Linc parking lot. Now, maybe these guys have watched “Blazing Saddles” one too many times and are just acting out. Or maybe they think the horses asked for it, what with them leaving steaming piles of dung on — as the Boss once sang so poignantly — the streets of Philadelphia.

But, really, punching a freakin’ horse? On a side note, did Alex Karras ever play for the Eagles? Just askin’.

I understand and can appreciate that Eagles fans are a tad sensitive about the charge that they are essentially the Raiders fans of the East. They resent people reaching back decades to provide evidence of that charge. You may have seen the recent, fine story by my Globe colleague and Philadelphia native Brian White, in which he went to great lengths to argue that when Eagles fans pelted a guy dressed as Santa Claus with snowballs at the final game of the lost 1968 season, Ol’ Saint Nick basically had it coming to him.

As we speak, Brian is working on a piece that will explain how legendary Flyers enforcer Dave Schultz never actually punched anyone, but instead played during a remarkable era in the NHL when an unprecedented number of opposing players inexplicably skated unwittingly and repeatedly right into Schultzie’s extended right fist. In said piece, Brian will also explain that Schultzie’s nickname, The Hammer, referred to his extraordinary carpentry skills.


It was very nice to receive friendly e-mails and social media postings from Philly natives and expats who appreciated the tribute to their beloved city. Certainly, it was a step up from some of the stuff I got from religious zealots for a previous column that painted Pope Francis in a less-than-flattering light after he victim-shamed survivors of clerical sexual abuse in Chile. Nothing will make you see the wonder of religion than having it used to wish excommunication, damnation, death, and ruin upon you and your children.

But after the Philly column, I also got some love from a few complete whack-jobs who thought I was giving them carte blanche to get loaded and act like jerks. They are the American version of soccer hooligans, for whom the game is an excuse to get hammered and act out “Clockwork Orange” fantasies.

If I had to summarize and paraphrase those e-mails, they were essentially saying, “Yo, dude, thanks for having our back. It’s much appreciated, and if you ever come to the Linc wearing a Brady jersey, we won’t kill you, but reserve the right to beat the living daylights out of you.”


I must say, I’m fascinated by these goons. But only in the way I’m fascinated by watching “The Sopranos.” The venal and the crazy are, for lack of a better word, interesting.

But there’s a limited window for such interest, and I’m closing it right now.

To be fair, I know there are screwball Patriots fans who are just as bad, just as crazy. I even have a name for some of them: my friends.

I personally witnessed behavior, especially back in the bad old Schaefer Stadium days, when the parking lots of Foxborough were full of just as many morons as there were at the old Veterans Stadium, before the Eagles moved to the Linc.

As for Boston fans who feel morally superior to Philly fans, please remember that early on in this unprecedented championship run by Boston teams, some people rioted and some people were killed on this city’s streets. Think about that.

Sports are great. But at the end of the day, they are a fun distraction, and no more than that. It’s great to have a couple of pops and cheer on your team. But, boys — and it’s almost always boys; nobody in a pink hat has punched me or barfed on me at a game yet — let’s keep things in perspective.

There’s a wise old saying that when you score a touchdown, act like you’ve been in the end zone before. That goes for being a spectator at football games, too.


Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at cullen@globe.com.