Outside the Linc, a sea of frozen jubilation after Eagles victory

aftercolor14-amy
Thomas “Fattz” Walker and Derrick “Big Derrick” Simmons celebrate in their tent outside the Linc after the Eagles victory.

Philly, you survived to tailgate one more time.

Was there ever any doubt?

“One more time, we’re doing it!” said an ecstatic “Big Derrick” Simmons, 43, who manned the grill, basked in the glow of the propane heater, set up the antenna for the TV, and hosted a cozy tailgate for friends and strangers alike who wandered into Lot M7, including a couple in their 70s who showed up in his tent late in the fourth quarter from their seats in the stadium when they couldn’t find their car. “Game next Sunday!

“They won?” said Jan Grant, 71, trying to warm up. “Finally!”

Yes, like conquering heroes, frozen yet jubilant Eagles fans spilled across acres of parking lot outside Lincoln Financial Field after the Eagles’ 15-10 victory over the Falcons, dancing and hugging, returning triumphantly to the home fires of their tailgates kept burning by those who, well, didn’t have or didn’t want any tickets to be inside.

John Kennedy of Wallingford denied that it was even cold inside the Linc. Not for a fan like him.

“No,” he said. “It was not freezing. Because the energy in there was so freaking superb. Everyone was freaking on top.”

Never mind the oddsmakers’ who foretold, cruelly, a sour ending to a winning season, making the Eagles underdogs despite being the No. 1 seed on  home field. Hey, who needs tickets to experience the full measure of Philadelphia Eagles jubilation in South Philly?

Just show up for one more party, one more trip to the outer circle of home-field playoff advantage.

“I feel like we’re the champs already,” said a frozen David Proctor, leaving the Linc.

Never underestimate home-field advantage in South Philadelphia, where dreams die hard, and fans, and the defense, keep them alive, even without Carson Wentz. (Though, truth be told, Nick Foles made fans nervous.)

But they kept the faith.

“We’re gonna win, without a doubt,” said ironworker Chucky Rhoads, 43, watching in another tent outside the Linc. Why not watch from the comfort of home? “I came for the experience,” he said, which included a loopy afterparty that lasted hours.

Kickoff was 4:35 p.m., but Eagles fans started pulling into FDR Park minutes after sunrise.

It was the playoffs. At least seven hours of quality South Philly tailgating is practically a necessity in these situations.

“We’re the worst around. For 1 p.m. games, we’re usually here by 7,” said Jeff Cucci, who rolled into the park on Pattison Avenue towing a 45-foot, custom-painted Eagles trailer with a fully stocked bar and kitchen to serve a crowd of 200.

Farther into the park, John Grasillo was already hammering canopy spikes into the ground at 8:20 as his brother Anthony expounded on the benefits of prolonged tailgating. The tradition goes back to Veterans Stadium.

“It’s just the fun of hanging out and getting pumped,” Anthony Grasillo said. “And see how many times we can do shots and the Eagles chant. By the time we spell it wrong, it’s time to go in.”

But back inside Simmons’ tent, Ted Curson, 57, Harry Miller, 51, and Big Derrick all said they prefer to watch the game on television from their regular spot in the M7 parking lot.

“You can feel the crowds cheering,” said Simmons, of Philadelphia. “You can’t get that at home.”

“We used to go inside the Linc, but the party’s out here,” Curson said. They could still see the Linc, hear the cheers (about three seconds before their broadcast). Mostly, they had warmth, food, spirits, and one another. Their friend Marcus Upsher drove up from Delaware with cupcakes, arriving in the second quarter.

Their tailgating neighbor, Chuck Aquino, 44, of Edgewater Park, Burlington County, says the elaborate RVs “are not real tailgating.”

“Whenever you have to build your own bathroom, that’s tailgating,” he said, showing off the piece of cardboard known as “the pisser,” when propped up near a bush. He had a ticket but approved of the dedication of his neighbors in the parking lot.

“They can sit in their living room and watch the game, but they want to be with the people,” he said.

On Saturday, the people earned one more good time at the Linc.

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Load comments