You take your life in your hands if you dare sit in Lincoln Financial Field during an Eagles game wearing an opposing team’s jersey, depending on the section. That’s obviously said in jest, but Eagles fans are nationally notorious for riding fans wearing their colors from visiting cities, or just fans of opposing teams or anyone not wearing Eagles gear.
So here, we’re going to take a serious liberty in five jerseys that should not be jeered—one of which should never be jeered anywhere—when being worn at the Linc.
It’s good coffee-at-the-hub talk as the Eagles’ count down to training camp winds down: What opposing jersey that you see worn at the Linc would you refrain from making a derisive comment about/or give a pass to?
This personal list was based on their accomplishments on the field, their overall personal disposition and their backstories, which makes this more about the name on the back of the jersey than on the front.
For example, if a player was known as a jerk, or carried an unsavory backstory, there is no way that they would have made this list.
5. Roger Staubach/Dallas Cowboys
Yes, Mr. Cowboy himself, which should churn the ire of many diehard Eagles fans, and it’s understandable. Staubach was booed during his playing days, as he should have been in any stadium that the Cowboys visited during his career. But think about this: Did anyone ever say a bad word about Roger Staubach? He was immensely respected off the field by countless Eagles fans. He was a Heisman Trophy winner, a Naval officer who chose to volunteer for a year of service in Vietnam when he could have asked for cushy stateside service. He served his full four-year military commitment.
Eagles fans hated him—as they should have—because Staubach was great. He was an Eagle killer, a Hall of Famer. Anyone who was a football fan during the 1970s was magnetized by his exploits. Dallas was never out of game with “Captain America” leading the way. He was the first of four players to win both the Heisman Trophy and Super Bowl MVP, later being joined by Jim Plunkett, Marcus Allen, and Desmond Howard
His playing days are far over, and though he was a Cowboy, Staubach was the epitome of an officer and a gentleman.
No. 12 should be remembered for that.
4. Kurt Warner/St. Louis Rams
Warner is the quintessential “Philadelphia” story, of a guy stocking shelves at a grocery store imaging Dan Marino speaking to him from a box of Wheaties. He was a back-up quarterback for former Eagles coach and Hall of Famer Dick Vermiel. Warner took over to make the Rams Super Bowl champions. The only real Eagles angst against the guy, and it is deserved, is when he led the Arizona Cardinals to the 2008 NFC Championship over the Eagles.
Otherwise, Warner’s comeback story and the Rams’ No. 13 deserves applause.
3. Walter Payton/Chicago Bears
Payton is arguably the greatest player who ever played the game. “Sweetness” did it all for years for lousy Bears teams and when he finally reached the pinnacle, the Super Bowl, his own coach, Mike Ditka, denied him the opportunity to score a touchdown in the biggest game he ever played in. During his prime, Payton ran through, ran over, and ran by tacklers that all targeted No. 34. It didn’t matter. Payton still smashed them. He played with a grit that Eagles fans did and should always admire. He could punt, pass, and if were up to him, he would have played defensive back, too.
No. 34 was amazing to watch. That legacy deserves respect.
2. Brian Piccolo/Chicago Bears
Eagles fans have the reputation for being crass, but not crass enough to give anyone wearing the Bears’ No. 41 with Piccolo on the nameplate any abuse.
For those too young that don’t know, watch “Brian’s Song” on YouTube or Google it.
And bring a big box of Kleenex with you.
1. Pat Tillman/Arizona Cardinals
No. 40 gave his life for this country in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. Tillman did not talk about service, and defending our freedom, he lived it. He posthumously received the Silver Star and was an Army Ranger who survived numerous combat missions before being killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in April 2004 at the age of 27, when he would have been playing in the prime of his career.
No one boos the Cardinals’ No. 40.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.