Thursday, July 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Waiting for reviews on Eagles fans' latest snowball incident

Jimmy Johnson was in a television studio in Los Angeles. Gov. Rendell was in a television studio across the street. Santa Claus did not make a halftime appearance on the field. And, truth be told, the job the Eagles did with clearing 23.2 inches of snow out of Lincoln Financial Field was just this side of amazing.

However.

At an Eagles game that featured several fourth-quarter minutes of snowballs raining out of the stands on the west side of the stadium, there really is only one question: Will this become a note among the national commentariat or a cause celebre? In other words, will this be laughed off or will it become another count in the ongoing indictment of sports fans in Philadelphia?

You know:

* 1968: Near the end of a terrible season, Santa Claus gets hit by snowballs at halftime of a game at Franklin Field. It receives little mention until Howard Cosell plays up the story.

* 1989: The worst scene, when snow was not cleaned out of Veterans Stadium and the Dallas Cowboys, the officials, the television crew in its open booth and even the Eagles were pelted all day. One particular target was Johnson, the Cowboys' coach. And Rendell, at that point the former Philadelphia district attorney, before he was mayor of Philadelphia and then Pennsylvania governor, got caught betting a guy $20 that he couldn't reach the field with a toss.

* 2009: Now, again. This time, though, the incident was shorter and mostly benign. But you wonder how it will be painted.

"There was one that was close," coach Andy Reid said, when asked if he had been hit. "We probably don't need to throw snowballs. We're a classy crew in Philadelphia here and we need to save that for the parking lot, I think."

It is hard to imagine how much snow the Eagles managed to get out of the stadium in so short a time. The field itself was pretty pristine and the stands were, well, let's just say they were more pristine on the east side of the stadium than they were on the west side. The west side, behind the Eagles' bench, is where almost all of the snowballs came from.

It all started with 11 minutes, 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter, after LeSean McCoy scored the touchdown that gave their Eagles their final, 27-13 lead. It began as snow being thrown straight up in the air in celebration but then degenerated into snowballs being thrown from the upper deck. For several minutes, the rain of snowballs was pretty consistent.

Most were delivered without malicious intent, although you have to wonder if the people getting hit could tell. However, there was one brief stretch when some people sitting in the lower stands, dressed in 49ers garb, were the targets - and they did have to weather a fusillade. Another time, the officials were the target after a flag went against the Eagles. Seeing as how the officials were standing among Eagles people near their bench at the time, this wasn't exactly the smartest act the citizenry ever perpetrated.

And now, as they do in Broadway, we will wait for the reviews.

RICH HOFMANN hofmanr@phillynews.com
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