The little cat fight between the city of Philadelphia and the Eagles over secret deals, greased wheels and the small matter of $8 million just turned into another South Philly intimidation attempt this week.
The Nutter administration has decided to fight the Eagles as it tries to get unpaid luxury box revenue from Veterans Stadium, and in the process is denying the team's claim that former Mayor John F. Street or someone acting as his representative promised a cut-rate deal.
How did the Eagles respond? In the classic strong-arm fasion favored by most city gangs? With a threat that's about as well-veiled as a blackjack across the head.
"We are very disappointed that the city continues to attempt to try this case in public," the team said in a statement issued Tuesday. "We think this should concern every person doing business in the City of Philadelphia or is contemplating doing business in the city."
In other words, Mr. Businessman, we're going to badmouth the way you might expect to be treated in the city of Philadelphia, should you consider putting some of your resources there. Or, if your business is already in the city, perhaps you should take note of how upstanding folks like us are being treated right now. That should concern you, maybe enough to reconsider where you do your business."
It doesn't get much more blatant than that. You want to say nasty things about us -- things that include the non-payment of the $8 million, even though a judge ruled in 2005 that it was owed -- well, we can say nasty things, too. And maybe chase away some business from your door while we're at it. Want to keep playing this game, Mr. Mayor?
"...The city's attempt to pressure us publicly to pay an amount of money that we don't owe will serve ultimately to embarrass it and worry the entire business community," the statement added.
Not withstanding that the 2005 ruling indicates that the team does owe that amount of money, of course.
And there's that intimidation again, pointing out that the city trying to collect money owed to it should "worry the business community." You can almost see the executives hunkered behind their desks, their brows furrowed with concern. Could this happen to me? What about my skybox revenue?
The Eagles are acting like bullies, which is the organization's default setting. Maybe it will work and Nutter will back down, worried what else the team might say to foul the business waters for the city.
It's a nasty turn in the proceedings, but time-honored. Having a lawyer and a stick beats having just a lawyer any time.