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How to talk trash to Patriots fans (written by an Eagles fan who lives in Boston)

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Special guest post.

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Philadelphia Eagles v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

[Editor’s note: This is a special guest post by Dr. Niels Rosenquist, an Eagles fan living in Boston. You can check out Niels on Twitter: @nielsrosenquist.]


It has been well over a decade since my wife and I packed up our car in Center City and left the town I was born and raised in to head north to Boston. While inertia and opportunity may have kept me in the 617 area code and though I have come to love many people and things about my current home, my pro sports loyalties have always been and always will be with Philadelphia*. Given the Super Bowl and its tendency to engender a healthy amount of trash-talk amongst the teams’ fan bases, I thought it might be helpful to draw upon my experiences with the WEEI crowd up here and present my fellow Eagles fans some ideas to consider as they engage in the inevitable fun banter/smack talk/whatever with Pats fans**.

I’d start with returning to a few golden rules of trash talk that I picked up during the countless games I attended at the Spectrum and Vet over the years. Like many of you, I was blessed to be able to observe and learn from true masters in the art of smack talking and always return to the basic principles that they passed down to me.

1) Be concise: Don’t write/say a ton when a one-liner will suffice. For example, don’t go on and on about how Pats fans are arrogant and boastful when a simple “I didn’t realize you were a Yankees fan.” will do. It gets to the point and, no matter what Dan Shaugnessy might think, the Boston fans I know really, really hate it when you say that.

2) Don’t be lazy: This is a big one for me. Stating “The Pats are cheaters” is roughly the equivalent of “Eagles fans are neanderthals”. Yes, both of those statements are popular memes and pithily capture the common perceptions about a team/fanbase (and are not, ahem, entirely inaccurate). They are also overly broad and suggest you are likely to be a lazy and uninformed trash talker. As such, these kinds of missives are more likely to provoke more eye rolling than anger. Instead, I might try something along the lines of “I’m sure all of those video tapes the NFL officials stomped on in 2006 were just Cheers re-runs and porn.” I have found that kind of approach, where key details are included to signal I have done my homework, are more likely to elicit the desired response (i.e. no response because there is nothing they can say).

3) Know (and when necessary even state) your own side’s weaknesses. Remember Eminem in the last rap battle in 8 Mile? I try and be that person, for as it happened with the erstwhile Em in his quest to be the top emcee in a harsh hip-hop environment, when I use that approach I am usually successful in neutralizing my sparring partner’s best material. For example, you might offer: “Yes, the Eagles have never won the Super Bowl, but if they ever do I’m quite sure that Donald Trump won’t be getting one of their Super Bowl rings

With that in mind, here are a couple suggestions I have when considering what topics may be good to focus on in your friendly verbal sparring sessions.

Boston itself

I personally wouldn’t mention:

----Boston’s rep as racist

To be clear, this is not a good look for Boston. Between the school bus riots of the 70’s and the racial tensions still evident even in its flagship schools, there is a lot there. However, I do think that Philly, like most other urban areas in the U.S. has at best a complicated history on this topic itself. I’d pass.

----The accent.

I’m barely conversant in Bahstan and I know every third movie out of Hollywood is set in a neighborhood around town too rough to pronounce “a”, thus highlighting for the world Boston’s phonic limitations. The problem is that Philly, while not as famous for its lack of diction, does not have exactly a great track record of speaking the Kings English. I would not be surprised if new immigrants, upon hearing a conversation in a Wawa on Roosevelt Boulevard, asked for their TOEFL language school for a refund because they didn’t recognize any of the language that they had paid good money to supposedly be taught. As such, I don’t think that is a winner.

I would feel free to mention:

----The weather.

It sucks. It is barely compatible with human life. It alternates between winters that can best be described as reminiscent of the planet Hoth and (exceedingly short) summers that are basically a Louisiana bayou. Yes, Philly is not San Diego, but like a 90 vs. a 100 mph fastball, that marginal difference makes all the difference.

----The music.

The last well-known bands out of this town are currently entering their second decade on Medicare***. In terms of hip-hop, have fun asking Bostonians to one-up Will Smith, much less the Roots. If they can’t come up with anything, smile. If they mention House of Pain (which isn’t even from Boston, btw), laugh. Hell, even in the 80’s the Hooters were miles better than this travesty.

Boston Sports fans (and the Pats)

I wouldn’t go there:

----Bostonians as bandwagon fans.

Boston and Philly are way much more similar than either might care to admit. To this point (and for the undergraduate reader who is looking to fulfill an annoying Sociology term paper requirement) you can read Puritan Boston, Quaker Philadelphia by E. Digby Baltzell. The tl;dr version of the book: both cities were founded by folks too weird for the Brits, used to hate the Redcoats, and now hate New York. This shared history with Philly includes sports fandom as well. Boston people on the whole are very passionate and with some exceptions (i.e. the Pats), know the game and the history of their teams in a way that would not be unfamiliar to Philly fans.

----The whole TB12 thing

Is it pseudo-science? Probably. Is it annoying to have all over town? Somewhat. That being said, I think there are better things to focus on. Could it be I’m biased because I think that Brady is a good guy who works hard and plays with an intensity that Philly fans like me should respect? Maybe. Then again it might be that this glass house occupant distinctly recalls drinking pickle juice back in 2000 and in light of that fact might not want to throw any quack-medicine stones.

By all means I would go there

----- Boston’s reputation as a racist sports town

Didn’t I just suggest not to talk trash about Boston being racist? While I realize some may consider this it arbitrary distinction, I do think it is fair game to mention Boston’s outsized reputation as harboring a racist fan base. Google the interview with African-American kids in Dorchester in the 1980’s who were rooting for the Lakers. As you might guess, their rationale for being anti-Celtics was not based on differences in the Laker’s more free flowing playing style or their pretty uniforms. Between free agents of color who for decades stated their desire to avoid playing in Boston and hometown legends like Bill Russell recounting stories of dealing with racist fans, there is a lot of material to work with. I would add that, in my opinion, this critique does not apply to Philly fans. Say what you want about us being jerks, like Dirty Harry, I think there is plenty of evidence to show us being colorblind in our jerk-ishness. In fact some of my earliest memories from the Vet are seeing Mike Schmidt, a future Hall of Famer from what I would describe as a predominantly Caucasian-American family, get booed on a regular basis.

-----Bandwagonning unbecoming to their otherwise strong legacy as fans

Again, I would make a distinction between the general (how Boston fans are quite loyal, passionate, and knowledgeable) and the specific (why this doesn’t apply to their Pats fandom). Boston has been for the vast majority of its history a baseball town with hoops/hockey as a legit 1b for certain segments of the population. This legacy may explain my observation that Bostonians seemed to have followed the pre-Brady/Belichick Pats like most Philly fans follow the Flyers; they know close to nothing about Pats history prior to 2001. While a number of folks weren’t of age back then a lot were and, besides, in a town where my friend’s six year-old can (and is expected to) wax poetic about the tragedy of Tony Conigliaro, I think it’s fair to grade such knowledge on a curve even for the millienial+ crowd. Here’s a useful litmus test; when engaging with self-reported true Pats fanatics ask them about “The Great Flush”. It’s roughly the equivalent of asking Eagles fans about the 700 level at the Vet. Pats fans who are actually fans and do not believe the world began in 2001 will know what that was immediately while the rest will give a blank stare (this has happened to me a lot). For those preferring to query about on the field trivia, ask them where Tony Eason went to college. If they don’t know, subtract 2 points. If they ask who Tony Eason was, subtract 1,000 points.

-----An arrogance (karma be damned) from a fanbase that should know better

Like the nouveau riche neighbor who builds a garish monstrosity of a house on your street, the Pats fans I have come across usually bask in the reflected glory of all those Lombardi trophies without a simple acknowledgement that they are incredibly lucky (along with “possibly guilty”, but I’m getting ahead of myself) to be in their position. I saw a kid with a sign a couple of parades ago that read “11 years old, Eight Parades”. Don’t believe me? Here you go.

I can’t even take out money from an ATM without being subjected to this:

Given that Boston is a city that for years would recount, chapter and verse, the ongoing tragedy that was the Curse of the Bambino(TM); the fact that they accept, if not support, this kind of Golden calf-like idolatry seemingly engineered to piss off the karma gods astounds me. Speaking of curses; Dan Shaugnessy, given his longstanding efforts to mythologize that whole Bambino narrative, should know better than to write this. Then again, maybe he’s hoping to get lucky when the Pats eventually collapse and write a “Curse of the Garoppolo” follow-up before he calls it quits.

---- I know that sports and politics should not mix unless absolutely necessary. I do believe, however, this particular stratagem can be effective without being overtly political. If you believe the polling then many of you do not like the current POTUS or the current president of Russia. In that case, you get the benefit of feeling self-righteous about the mentioning the fact that TRUMP AND PUTIN BOTH WERE GIVEN PATS SB RINGS. Even if you are all-in on MAGA, I can assure you that given the political leanings of my comrades The Peoples Republic of Massachusetts**** this particular line of trash talk is like kryptonite for them, resulting in cognitive dissonance-induced facial contortions so profound strong that botox may be needed to correct them.

----Grievances that contain not a hint of self-awareness

(Don’t use this if either of you are in a bad mood or drinking; you might get riled up to the point that things won’t end well)

I can handle the teams I support getting beaten in big games. I have a lot of experience in that department. I also am self-aware enough to know when my disdain towards another team is based almost entirely upon ringz envy, whether it be the Celtics, the Yankees, or the rest of the NFC East. I dislike those teams, but can freely admit that my envy relates to the fact those teams were better constructed/coached/focused than the rest and I want my laundry-wearers to be like that at least once. I do believe that the Patriots status-post Spy Gate for the most part fit into that category.

Super Bowl XXXIX, however, is a different ball of wax.

Read the ESPN story about the NFL officials destroying evidence of spying in all forms during Spy Gate and tell me as an Eagles fan your heart doesn’t sink. You know, that mix of anger and depression that occurs when one of the reasons your team lost relates to the refs, or cheating, or anything else that isn’t simply because “the other team played better.” As sports fans we all deal with the fact that we can’t live the counterfactual in different ways. For some of us, the Eagles win no matter what if any of a number of calls go a different way. I am not that person. In almost every case I can easily accept that “dems the breaks” and I move on. But reading that article, and listening to Eagles players like Dawkins and others who never before (or after) ever complained or sought to foster conspiracy theories talk about how abnormal it was that the Pats seemed to know all of their calls on D and O, and then listen to Pats fans who have more Super Bowl highlight videos than they can fit on their DVR complain about how Deflate-gate was a witch-hunt? Let me beg to differ:

DEFLATE-GATE WAS A MAKEUP CALL.

I repeat, DEFLATE-GATE WAS A MAKEUP CALL.

I hate that I will never know how much the Pats cheated on/off the field in 2005 and how might have impacted the outcome of that game. As you might imagine, I get so-so-so pissed when I hear Pats fans whining about “fill in the blank”-gate. Do Boston fans feel they were “haters because they weren’t theirs” vis a vis their anger towards the Yankees when Bucky Dent potentially (likely?) corked his bat in 1978? Hell no. Would the Sox have won that year and potentially ended their World Series drought a generation earlier?

“Who knows?” the Red Sox fans always tell me; “but they might have and that’s what makes it so unfair.”

Exactly.

Fly Eagles Fly.


* While I have sought to purify my fandom in a way that my sons do not acquire my less desirable traits (I actually wrote about that goal here), I consider this brief relapse into the trash-talking space as a one-time exception dictated by circumstance. To paraphrase St. Augustine: O lord give me a desire to stop smack talking:, but do not give it yet, especially when a Super Bowl is involved.

**This only applies to “Boston sports fans”, meaning that I am assuming the Pats fan, due to filial or other ties to New England, generally roots for all Boston teams to a varying degree. If they only root for the Pats due to no other emotional tie to the team than simply their recent success and branding, they should be considered Cowboy fans and treated accordingly.

***If they bring up The Dropkick Murphys, remind the person you were talking about bands that made music.

****Caveat: this does not apply to Pats fans living in northern New Hampshire or Maine, many of whom voted this guy into office.