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Defend your fan base: Patriots vs. Eagles

Fans of the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles can be, at times, hard to embrace. For some reason, real or imagined, their eccentricities stick out. In the hopes of getting a better understanding of these boisterous groups, Yahoo Sports gave the floor to two writers who are die-hards for each team. Ben Rohrbach represents the Patriots and Henry Bushnell will voice the Eagles’ cause.

Bushnell: Don’t hate the passion  

On the morning after Super Bowl LII’s matchup was set, all the defeated host city wanted to talk about was the disgraceful behavior of Eagles fans. All Philadelphia wanted to talk about was its team. And all New England wanted to talk about was … um …

Does anybody really know? They probably fawned over Tom Brady. Or maybe they went through their morning routine as usual. Ho, hum. Another Super Bowl.

“Fly, Eagles, Fly” will ring throughout Minneapolis on Super Bowl Sunday. (AP)

A couple hours after the Eagles steamrolled the Minnesota Vikings, I was texting back and forth with a friend – about Super Bowl plans, dog masks, full-body dog suits and the like. He mentioned he was in an Uber that morning. He asked his driver, a Patriots fan, how he was feeling about the AFC title game. The Pats fan’s response: Most of us are bored of winning.

Heck, there might have been more Eagles fans celebrating in the streets of Boston that Sunday night than Patriots fans. And that, in a nutshell, is why they – eh, (expletive) it, we – are the best fans in America.

Because Eagles fans care. More than anybody else.

Because we do, the rest of the country hates us. We’re notorious. And in a way, the reputation becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Philly vs. Everybody has become part of the identity. Some fans interpret it as a responsibility to defend their turf. Throw in a little alcohol or a lot of stupidity – oftentimes both – and you get the violence; the vulgarity; the line-crossing.

Nobody is condoning that. Nobody is excusing the beer bottle throwing, egging, f-bomb hurling, middle finger waving and a-hole chanting. It’s probably time we stop kidding ourselves with the popular “this happens everywhere” defense. It does, but not this often, and not to this extent.

What the rest of the country fails to understand, though, is where the ugliness comes from. It’s passion. That’s all. It’s misplaced passion, of course, expressed in the wrong way. But it’s a natural side effect of what makes the city, and its relationship with its teams, so special.

That passion, in your eyes, makes us impossible to root for. In our eyes, and in the eyes of many athletes who have come through this city, it makes Eagles fans the kings of sports fandom.

We haven’t been the kings of actual sports in a while. Certainly not as recently nor as often as those spoiled New Englanders. Philly has had one major sports championship since 1983. But it wears the trials and tribulations as badges of honor. Not because we’re proud of them. Because we’re proud that we’ve endured them; that we’re still the most passionate fans out there despite them.

And if others dispute that claim? If they downplay the passion because a few idiots channel it into violence? All the better. Because, as fans of our soccer team would sing,

No one likes us, no one likes us, no one likes us, we don’t care,
We’re from Philly, (expletive) Philly, no one likes us, we don’t care.

(Photo illustration by Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)

Rohrbach: Apology from a Patriots fan

Sometimes I feel bad admitting I’m a Patriots fan. Then, I tear a pound of flesh from the rotting carcass of your football team, feed off your hatred and raise a glass to our handsome hero.

I assume that’s why you hate us. Because Thomas Edward Patrick Brady III is so handsome. Because he’s the greatest football player ever and he’s married to Gisele Bundchen. And he gets better with age. It’s unfair, really, that your team passed on him in the 2000 draft six times.

Or maybe you hate us because our coach wears hooded sweatshirts and doesn’t give an expletive about you. He stayed up all night studying how to defeat your favorite team for the umpteenth time, so excuse him if he gets a little testy when you ask him dumb questions.

And let’s get this out of the way: Your team cheats. For example, Lane Johnson, the Eagles’ right tackle who called Brady a “pretty boy,” has twice been banned for performance-enhancing drugs. Former Eagles quarterbacks have admitted to stealing signals and deflating footballs.

It really bothers you that we win all the time. You can change the rules so that our defense can’t be so aggressive or our offense isn’t so creative. The NFL can use ESPN as its pawn to run a coordinated attack on the face of the league and suspend Brady for four games because everyone outside New England isn’t smart enough to understand basic scientific principles.

And we still win.

Tom Brady doesn’t do losing much in the Super Bowl. (AP)

What’s going to be the excuse this time? That your teams countered Brady with Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles and Nick Foles on our way to three Super Bowls in four years … for the second time? I guess it’s our fault you can’t develop a decent quarterback, that you’re so bad at it that we actually gave away our handsome backup QB just to mix things up. Are you going to accuse Brady of being an immortal deity who is too good at football? Because that I might believe.

Sorry you don’t root for the greatest QB, coach and dynasty in the history of football. It’s just that I’m lucky enough to be from Boston. I’m sure your city is cool, too. I’m jealous of places that treat steak shavings like a delicacy and erect statues to fictional characters, because there you don’t have to defend the Pats against losers. You are the losers, and that’s a simpler existence. Plus, you don’t always have to clear your Sunday schedule through the first week of February.

I get it. Your quarterback throws up in the huddle in the face of a game-winning drive. Ours handsomely marches to a 25-point comeback. Your coach calls a pass play instead of handing the ball to a guy named Beast Mode. Ours gruffly goes about his business. And his business is winning. I’d be jealous, too, if I lived somewhere I didn’t get to root for the greatest of all time.

We are better than you, and for that I apologize.

Patriots fans wish their team well during a Super Bowl send-off rally Monday. (AP)