sports

Suddenly the Philadelphia Eagles are America's sweethearts

Julia Terruso, Anna Orso, Staff Writer

Updated: Monday, January 22, 2018, 3:22 PM

Dana Shaeffer, from Delran, New Jersey, shops for Eagles apparel at Modell's Sporting Goods on the 1500 block of Chestnut Street, in Philadelphia, the day after the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship, Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, in Philadelphia. JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer

It makes Virginia Montanez sick to admit it: Her heart was a little bit warmed Sunday night when she saw Philadelphia fans climbing on greased-up poles after the Eagles won the NFC Championship.

Montanez, 43, is a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan and avowed Philadelphia hater. But come the Super Bowl, she said, she’ll temporarily be a Birds fan, even though, as she put it, Pittsburgh typically hates the Eagles “like they personally said bad things about our moms.”

But, here’s the thing: The Steel City hates the Patriots — “they are Satan’s team and they are cheaters, and they are never ever called for holding” — a lot more.

“We would personally like to melt down in a blast furnace every Super Bowl ring and trophy the Patriots have,” said Montanez, a former Pittsburgh blogger who lives in North Huntingdon, Pa., and is very much aware that a New England victory would mean Pittsburgh would have to share its record of six Super Bowl wins. “Adding one more to tie us would be a gut punch.”

SIGN UP: Get our Early Birds newsletter for expert analysis as the Eagles set their sights on Super Bowl LII

The Eagles-Patriots matchup is putting cities across the country in a strange spot. Some will be rooting for the Eagles for maybe the first time ever. Maybe it’s the Birds’ underdog complex. Maybe it’s the humility that comes with a backup quarterbacking a blowout win. Or maybe it’s just that everyone outside Boston has a bit of problem with the Patriots’ (and that “pretty boy” quarterback) dominating the AFC for so long.

Whatever the reason, having a large contingent of outsiders pulling for Philadelphia is a game-changer for this city, whose reputation for unruly fans has long given foes an easy target.

Since they are playing the most hated team in America this will be the first time all of the country is rooting for Philly since either the battle against Apollo Creed or The British Army. cc @GPassarellaTAL @swischnowski @danielrubin

For the next two weeks, many in Western Pennsylvania are going green.

Take Noah Strackbein. He’s a lifelong Steelers fan. But he’s about to buy a Nick Foles jersey. The 21-year-old, who lives in downtown Pittsburgh and runs a Steelers fan site, said just about everyone he knows is doing the previously unthinkable: rooting for a Philadelphia sports team to win a championship.

“Steelers fans don’t want to see Tom Brady win at this point,” Strackbein said. “Six Super Bowls from him alone would kill us.”

Reuben “Big Rube” Harley grew up in West Philadelphia but has been a lifelong Steelers fan.

“I wanted that turnpike Super Bowl, but Pittsburgh didn’t hold up their end of the bargain,” Harley said. “I’m looking forward to that Broad Street parade.”

Posted by NFL Memes on Sunday, January 21, 2018

But if social media’s any indication, that little red dot in the above meme over Dallas is probably right.

When you really don't wanna see the Patriots win but then realize the Eagles are going to the Super Bowl pic.twitter.com/jLe0Wc2KA6

Apparently Dallas fans have less of a problem with the Patriots’ winning a sixth Super Bowl, surpassing the Cowboys’ five, than they do with the Eagles winning a first.

Krystal Spencer, 28, of Fairmount, has been a Cowboys fan her entire life. She relishes using the fact that the Eagles have never won a Super Bowl against them.

“It’s more fun to make fun of a losing team then to say, ‘Oh, I’m going to hate a legend who’s obviously going to be in the Hall of Fame,” Spencer said. “I’ll be labeled a hater, but you know what, I don’t care. I’ll be bitter until the day’s end.”

Spencer said she’ll be watching the game indoors and in “neutral territory somewhere in New Jersey.”

“I live in the city, and it’s gotten a little unbearable. I mean, seriously, I’m scared. As much as I’d love to see some of my friends celebrate, just for their safety I think it’s a better idea if they don’t win one.”

The Eagles ALWAYS having 0 Super Bowl wins is MUCH more important than the Patriots getting their 6th. https://t.co/qLv0ZQRdcn

I would rather Tom Brady win the next 5 straight than the Eagles win one…

Of course, there are exceptions to every rivalry.

Charlotte Clymer, 31, is a lifelong Cowboys fan who will be rooting for the Eagles come Super Bowl Sunday. The Washington, D.C., resident, who is transgender, said that for her, it comes down to politics. Patriots owner Robert Kraft has had a longtime friendship with President Trump, whom she does not support.

“Look, I grew up in Texas, where I was taught to hate anyone in our division,” Clymer said. “But I also believe in equality, and for me, I feel like the Patriots have been pretty shameless in their support of Donald Trump. So yeah, I’ll say it, I think this is Philadelphia’s time, and I really hope y’all bring it home.”

The Eagles bandwagon is picking up fans of other division rivals.

I cant stand the Eagles cause im a Skins fan, but i cant lie im happy for em. Now go shock the world #Eagles and upset the #Pats for your first ring

Naturally, not everybody is ecstatic about the choices.

�� Rooting for the Patriots
�� Rooting for the Eagles
✅ Rooting for the asteroid https://t.co/8cli8tfUBS

Have a particularly conflicted fan story? Tell us about it: jterruso@phillynews.com or aorso@phillynews.com.

Julia Terruso, Anna Orso, Staff Writer

Read full story: Suddenly the Philadelphia Eagles are America's sweethearts

More Coverage:

Reviewing spring workouts: What was learned, what's unanswered, what's next

The Eagles got their Super Bowl rings last night. Here's a close look

Betting the Eagles will repeat as Super Bowl champs? A trip to Monmouth Park might be worth it

Eagles podcast: Carson Wentz looks sharp at minicamp

As he enters the final year of his contract, Darby admits 'there's a lot riding' on his 2018 play

An Eagles Super Bowl becomes a gift for dads this Father's Day

An absurd afternoon at the White House with Donald Trump, and without the Eagles

'I think we deserve so much more respect than we actually get': How Eagles fans reacted to Trump

Eagles dominate national conversation without saying much, get sympathy and advice from LeBron

What Eagle Chris Long was doing while he wasn't visiting the White House

Eagles aren't the only team to have had a White House invite rescinded

White House celebrates without the Eagles, while Philly fans hold rally at City Hall

White House: 'The vast majority of the Eagles team decided to abandon their fans'

Dear President Trump, leave the Eagles and their long-suffering fans out of your political theater | Solomon Jones

Will Philly's other championship team go to the White House?

Trump absolutely correct to rescind Eagles' White House invitation | Opinion

Seven biggest takeaways after Eagles disinvited to the White House

Eagles vs. POTUS? I don't care, as Trump fatigue sets in | Stu Bykofsky

LeBron James and Steph Curry agree: NBA champs aren't headed to the White House

I wanted Carson Wentz to go to the White House to teach Trump about leadership | Will Bunch

5 reasons Trump should fear how Eagles fans might respond to canceled White House visit

You can't ruin this for us, Donald. Go Birds | Mike Newall

Fox News apologizes after Eagles players blast misleading segment

Trump cancels Eagles' White House celebration; fewer than 10 players planned to attend today

Rendell, Kenney, other fans react to Trump disinviting Eagles

Analysis: In nixing Eagles visit, Trump again plays divider-in-chief

What Eagles players, local politicians and others are saying on social media about the rescinded White House invite

Lurie stays ambiguous about Eagles protests during anthem

NFL's anthem policy change making Malcolm Jenkins reconsider his actions

New Eagles OC: 'It certainly is not [my] offense. It's Coach Pederson's offense, it's the Philadelphia Eagles' offense'

'Impressive' Nate Sudfeld will try to show Eagles what he can do

Eagles' Mack Hollins looking to get his freak on with new WRs coach