Alright, so I'm writing this knowing I don't really have a snowball's chance against that really moving first story that got posted, but I think it's an experience that deserves retelling. For the record, I'm not planning on dipping into anything particularly emotional, just trying to recount some pretty funny stories about a really excellent day.
I should start off by saying I grew up on the eastern shore of VA, about 4 hours from Philly. My extended family all lives in the area, and I spent a very solid chunk of my youth up there, but I can't rightfully claim Philadelphia or even Pennsylvania as home. Between living a significant distance away and not being from a particularly wealthy family, it was kind of tricky for me to make it out to games. That's why I never got the chance until I was fifteen, and my friend Clayton's dad somehow wrangled up four tickets to Skins-Eagles at the Linc, only the third game played there the first year it was open. So we invited our friend Traise, and the four of us (Clayton, his father, Traise, and myself) set off for Philly early on a Sunday morning.
Now, Clayton and his dad are fairly intense Skins fans, and Traise is a Steelers fan who just wanted to go to a football game. Despite having been told my entire life by ESPN about how Eagles fans are nothing short of godless cannibals who set fire to opposing teams' fans and throw batteries at their kids, and seeing the shade of white Clayton's mother turned when he informed her that he would be wearing a Sean Taylor jersey to the game, I knew better from talking to relatives who'd gone to games, being told something like --"No, after you set them on fire, you throw beer at the kids, and besides, that stuff only happens when the opposing team wins." So I figured Clayton and his father (being my ride back to VA and all) would be fine, because the Redskins were AWFUL at this point, and the Eagles were fresh off an NFC Championship appearance. Also, I'd known them my whole life and didn't really wanna set either of them on fire, but I was prepared to do what needed to be done, if necessary.
Even though none of us had ever been to an NFL game before, we had just as much an idea of what was going on at the stadium as a lot of the people there, as it was such a new facility. It was sort of surreal watching people who clearly had been to dozens of games, or even season ticket holders, looking around for which gate they were supposed to go in. (I would later realize that a lot of these people were actually just drunk.) One guy called out to me as the four of us walked by their tailgate, and asked what I was doing bringing Redskins fans to the game, since I was the only one wearing Eagles stuff. (I was all-out, too. I spray-painted some old shoes midnight green, was wearing an Eagles hoodie with a James Thrash (!) jersey underneath with an Eagles tee under that). I answered, "I live in Virginia, I'm just happy to be here." He answered with, "Watch this," then shouted to Clayton: "Hey Taylor, go long!" as he picked up a Nerf football. After Clayton got about 20 yards away, the guy dropped the ball and shot him the double bird. I don't know if I've ever laughed so hard. (Bear in mind, I now know this sort of thing is by no means remarkable, but I had never been exposed to it before, and it was AWESOME.) This also kicked off an "Ass-HOLE" chant that lasted a good part of the way to the gate, which I was loudly participating in.
You'll recall that in the offseason one J. Trotter, then one of our best defensive players, and to this day one of my all-time favorite Eagles, had signed with the Redskins. I saw a guy wearing a 54 jersey, with the name duct-taped over and the word "TRAITOR" scrawled across the back. (Another first time thing for me that was the best thing ever.) When player introduction rolled around, they introduced each Redskins player to a sea of boos, but when they called Trotter out, I swear the place went deadly silent for a second or two, before unleashing the ultimate mixed reaction. I remember they showed a closeup of Trot on the scoreboard, and he was crying. Yikes. (He would go on to have an interception later in the game, which made it close.)
The game itself was extremely competitive, which was frustrating given the badness of the Redskins. After a close first half, sometime in the second we scored an INT TD, I can't remember who it was, but I remember going absolutely apeshit. Also, I remember watching Westbrook and thinking, "He might be really, really good at some point soon." He scored a TD in the game on a pretty nasty run, as I recall. The Eagles were winning by around 7-10 points all along, but near the end, the Redskins made this terrible, gut-wrenching comeback sparked by the Trotter INT; it came down to a two-point try to tie the game. The moment Patrick Ramsey's pass hit the ground and the stadium-wide sigh of relief (and also Clayton and his fathers' sighs of disappointment, maybe with a little relief mixed in) will live with me forever. As we shuffled out of the gates, Clayton and his dad received probably a lot more pushing than was necessary from everyone. It only added to the experience for me, as it was nothing serious, and no one was hurt.
It was a fairly unimportant early season game against a team the Eagles should've beaten by 30 points, but it was also the first game I ever attended. Had I watched it at home, I would've carried away negative feelings about such a game being so close, and the Eagles not looking too good in the win (except maybe Westbrook.) But I was there, dammit, and it was one of the best games I've ever seen.