The spirit behind Eagles fans' rabid support of their team's underdog status is great, but those German shepherd masks are creepy. Grown men in masks scare me. But they are now officially a thing. So on Monday, Derek Lee of D&J Costumes & Entertainment in the Northeast placed a rush order for 30 German shepherd masks, 30 eagle masks, and 30 Dalmatians too. Whoa, wait: Dalmatians?
"They're buying any dog now," Lee said. "You had some people going to the game with poodles on."
Lee, whose shop is in the 7000 block of Frankford Avenue, said he's doing his best to restock.
"Outside of Halloween, it's hard to get stuff in bulk," he said. "I could only get my hands on 100 right now. And people are calling and reserving over the phone and paying for it over the phone, and they're driving in to pick them up."
Eagles fans have been unleashing their inner dog ever since offensive tackle Lane Johnson and defensive lineman Chris Long donned German shepherd masks immediately after the Eagles upset against the Atlanta Falcons earlier this month. The teammates had been discussing their team's underdog status over lunch when they got the idea to wear dog masks in homage to their underrated status.
Some fans wore them in a show of solidarity at Sunday's NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings, when the Eagles clinched their spot in Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4. Talk show host Kelly Ripa's dad and a Delaware County deacon are among those who've gone to the dogs. And now, as fever builds toward the big matchup against the favored New England Patriots, diehards are scrambling to get masks before the big day.
"It's so fitting for the underdog role for fans to do that," said Kenneth L. Shropshire, a sports business expert and the former director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative, a research and executive education think tank.
But like me, Shropshire – who now heads the Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University – added that he hoped they didn't become too widespread.
"Grown men are not supposed to be wearing masks in the city of Philadelphia," he said, laughing.
Don't get mad. You know he's right.
But in defense of the bow-wows, I have to say that if Green Bay fans can wear cheese heads, then Philly fans can sport dog heads. Let's just hope that they don't start making like the Giants' Odell Beckham, who got fined $12,000 after lifting his leg and pretending to urinate like a dog during a game last fall.
The preferred German shepherd masks are sold on Amazon by CreepyParty but are sold out. The manufacturer is producing the mask as quickly as possible and is telling wanna-be dogheads that shipments will be available before the Super Bowl.
As the big day inches closer, what to do? Where to go? Have no fear, Eagles fans. We're here to help. Although the local costume shops we checked don't have them, they are readily available on eBay. A website called KickPushSkate.com also has a limited quantity of "underdog masks" for $29.97, as does Spirit Halloween. Another site, Oldies.com, will donate a portion of the purchase price to the Philadelphia School District, Johnson's pet charity. All the sites guarantee delivery before game day. Arrivals any later than Feb. 4 would be a dog-gone shame.
On Wednesday afternoon, Lee texted me a photo of a dog mask he'd just gotten in. It didn't look at all like the ones the Eagles players wore. It was smaller and less ferocious. Kind of puppy-like. I asked my dog-loving colleague Stu Bykofsky to identify the breed and he couldn't.
What gives? I asked Lee.
"You know something? The way people are dog crazy, they are buying anything," he reminded me.
He must have noticed my hesitation because he added, "Because they look like puppies, I'll make them a little cheaper."
Lee says he'll sell them for $24.99 because "I don't want somebody to say, 'I wanted the German shepherd and he sold me Rin Tin Tin.'"