Welcome to the refreshed Bleeding Green Nation! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts [link here] to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories [here] and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
I can distinctly remember the moment I became a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Prior to that, I only had a passing interest in the team.
The truth is the Eagles were not my first love. As a young child, my parents were really big into the Flyers. And therefore so was I. Eric Lindros was my guy —- 88 is still one of my favorite numbers. I loved playing NHL 98 on my computer after my uncle gave me a disc to the game.
But my interest in hockey waned as I grew up. For whatever reason, my parents stopped watching the Flyers as often. And so did I.
You see, my family doesn’t consist of a ton of die-hard sports fans. Some relatives have some casual interest and general knowledge of what’s going on, but it’s nothing hardcore at all.
So until about fifth grade, I didn’t really follow the Eagles at all. I had a general understanding of who they were. I remember seeing old photos of myself as a young kid wearing that Eagles shirt with Bugs Bunny on it. I remember my parents buying my cousin Justin an Eagles hat one year for Christmas.
I also remember one of the kids in my class, who was randomly a Buccaneers fan, making a 25-cents bet with me that Tampa Bay would beat the Eagles in the 2002 NFC Championship Game. I think I took the bet just because I wanted him to be wrong. Again, I really didn’t even know anything about the team at the time. I don’t think I even watched the game. But of course, I ended up losing that bet, and I’m sorry in advance for reminding you about Ronde Barber.
Following that extremely disappointing loss, I started to gain a better idea about football (thanks to buying a copy of Madden for my Game Boy Advance at a yard sale) and the Eagles. But it wasn’t until after the 2003 season — following Philadelphia’s third straight NFC Championship Game loss — that I decided I was all in on the Birds.
There are two words that explain why I became an Eagles fan. Well, two letters, actually.
I instantly found myself so much more drawn to the Eagles after they got Terrell Owens. As my understanding of football was maturing, I simply loved the idea of getting a huge wide receiver with an even bigger personality. I understood he was the missing piece that was going to put the Eagles over the top. I remember first seeing him on the news cooking up cheesesteaks (and he wouldn’t eat one because he was a health freak) and I couldn’t have been more excited.
My immediate reaction to the T.O. signing was that I NEEDED an 81 jersey. My parents — likely surprised by my sudden Eagles fever — took me to Dick’s and bought me that jersey that I so much desired. The store had barely gotten done stocking them before I purchased it. I remember wearing it to school the next day and everyone was so surprised that I already had one.
The Owens hype was certainly worth it. T.O. had a great year in 2004, which was my first full year watching Eagles games. (Except for the Steelers game, which Philadelphia lost and then I blamed myself for that because I missed it.) It was awesome to see him dominate each week. I was really looking forward to him reaching the 15-touchdown mark on the season because the television commentators would always point out T.O. had made a bet with Andy Reid where Reid would have to wear Spandex if Owens got there. Unfortunately, Owens only got to 14 touchdowns before getting hurt.
But at least the Eagles were still good enough to get to the Super Bowl without him! And then he returned for the big game. But it wasn’t enough. The Eagles lost, and I once again blamed myself a little. I was eating chicken wings in that game, and I thought that was a bad idea in hindsight because the Eagles are a bird and birds have wings.
Despite the Super Bowl loss, I was still very much interested in the team. My superstitions only became more intense as I started to watch the team more closely. I stopped wearing Eagles gear on game day because I felt like that was bad luck. I told myself I needed to watch every game (or at least listen to the call on the radio). My passion for the Eagles grew and grew.
And that why it was so difficult and so frustrating when the T.O. drama happened that ultimately led to his release in Philadelphia. He was my hero and all of a sudden he was becoming a villain before my eyes. It sucked. I had a poster of him, along with some other prominent Eagles players, on my door. I remember take a sheet of paper and taping it over his picture on the poster and writing “MY HERO?” over it.
Again, despite the disappointment, I stuck by the Eagles. I continued to watch them. I started to buy more jerseys (Donovan McNabb, Jevon Kearse). I started to collect Eagles mugs, bobbleheads, calendars, wristbands, and so on. My interest grew and grew. I’d wear my gear to school and get crap from Cowboys and Giants fans. I also earned the favor of some other Eagles fans, but I probably annoyed them because I liked talking about the team in-depth way too often (some things never change).
The Eagles started to reward my obsessive interest again. After being spoiled with a Super Bowl run in my first season watching them, the Birds eventually made it back to the 2008 NFC Championship Game. And then they lost because the refs missed that pass interference penalty Kevin Curtis should have drawn late in the game. But once again, the losing did not dissolve my interest. If anything, it only made it stronger.
One of the most memorable nights in my life is marked by a big event in Eagles history. It was a hot August night when I got a phone call from my mom that the Eagles signed Michael Vick. I was in total disbelief. I was convinced she was joking with me, but then I eventually realized she wouldn’t do something like that. I was so excited but also felt weird given Vick’s history.
Much like the T.O. signing, the Vick addition sparked my fan interest even more. It was around this time that I started to follow the team even more closely. I remember checking out PhiladelphiaEagles.com a lot. I’d read every Dave Spadaro article. I’d refresh the news section of the site multiple times a day to keep up with the latest transactions. This is when I learned I could regularly keep up with the Eagles through more than just the games.
Through my online interest of the Eagles, I eventually stumbled across an article that one of my high school friends posted on Facebook. It was from some site called “Bleeding Green Nation.” Never heard of it. But the headline of the article really drew me in: “Tom Heckert Would Have Given Eagles Two First Rounders For Kolb.”
My reaction: WHAT?! Why didn’t the Eagles do that trade?!
You see, I really didn’t like Kevin Kolb. He seemed like a nice guy or whatever but I HATED that pick. I remember watching that draft — I think it was the first or second draft I ever watched — and waiting for the Eagles to make their selection. And then they trade out of the first round entirely — WITH THE COWBOYS?! — to only move back and take ... Kevin Kolb. After being angry for a few minutes, I went outside and walked around my grandparent’s driveway. The anger shifted to confusion and depression. But I digress.
So that was my introduction to Bleeding Green Nation. At first I just lurked on the site. Then I signed up for an account and started commenting. I had a lot of free time that summer since I had just graduated high school.
My relationship with BGN grew as I went through some tough times in college. I actually withdrew from the four-year school I was going to because it just didn’t feel like the right fit at all. I wasn’t happy and I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I just knew at that point my calling wasn’t Computer Science.
After withdrawing, I went to a two-year school. I filled the free time that I had with BGN and the Eagles. I started writing FanPosts. Then I started writing for the front page, thanks to Dan Klausner prompting JasonB to give me a chance (after I spent some time writing at Liberty Ballers thanks to Michael Levin).
Then I became the third-ever manager of Bleeding Green Nation. JasonB had stepped down and Jimmy Kempski had only been here for a short period. It came at a very convenient time in my life for me because I had finished community college and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next.
Writing about the Eagles was my passion, but I never believed it was really worth pursuing. I thought it wouldn’t be possible to get a job doing that. But credit to my awesome mom who always encouraged me to stick with it. And here I am today.
So, as you can see, the Eagles have been a huge part of my life. It’s more than just fandom at this point; they’re the basis off my career.
But while getting credentialed to games and getting to watch practices and talk to players is very cool, it’s not the best thing about my job. The best part is the community here at Bleeding Green Nation that I get to share my fandom and experiences with. Without you, I wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in today. I’d just be some guy talking to himself about sports.
I honestly can’t thank you all enough. I’m constantly blown away by the support that we have. It’s been so awesome to interact with you. It was truly an honor meeting those of you who stopped by to meet me and the BGN Radio crew at the NFL Draft in Philly this year.
Speaking of this year’s draft, I think the record-breaking attendance results are just another reminder of how Eagles fans are truly the best. We’re more passionate than anyone. We’ve stuck by this team despite all the disappointment throughout the years. Yeah, the Eagles have no Super Bowl rings, we get it. But guess what, it’s easy to be a front-runner. It’s hard to do what we do. Still, we’re loyal and dedicated. We’re not fake bandwagon fans (looking at you, Dallas).
I couldn’t be any more proud to be part of this awesome community of Eagles fans. I hope you feel the same way, and I encourage you to share your story of how you became an Eagles fan in our FanPost section. As noted at the top of this post, the entry with the best story earns a $500 gift card. In addition, BGN is competing with all the other SB Nation team sites to see who can get the most FanPosts entries.
Let’s show everyone that we’re the best fans. Let’s kick every other site’s ass.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. SB Nation Why Are You a Fan Reader Sweepstakes starts on 8:00am ET on May 25, 2017 and ends at 11:59pm ET on June 8, 2017. Open only to eligible legal residents of the United States, 18 years or older. Click here for Official Rules and complete details, including entry instructions, odds of winning, alternative method of entry, prize details and restrictions, etc. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. Sponsor: Vox Media, Inc.