#WWBDD

“The beauty of the Philadelphia Eagles fans is a split between their passion and their knowledge.”

Agreed!

I agree wholeheartedly because I know my friends will dissect and pick apart games, drafts, coaching decisions, player Tweets, and anything that falls under the purview of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Our discussions are heated and rarely end in every person feeling like their opinion matters.  We tell each other off and then laugh about how maniacal we are for our team.

It feels good to have a passion that is shared by hundreds of thousands of people.  It is comforting to know that I’m not the only person that feels dread after a loss or will damn near hug strangers wearing Eagles paraphrenalia after a big win.  We boast a strong “family” and are all aware that being part of a family does not guarantee you are going to like everyone and certainly reminds us that we will not always like someone’s opinion.

Enter the world of social media and the pride and respect that I have for my fellow Eagles fans is quickly absorbed by an overwhelming feeling of awe and disgust.  I am in awe over how quickly a person (or people) will destroy a fellow fan for wanting or not wanting Sam Bradford to return.  I am disgusted by the internet commandos that love to slam their sausage sized fingers across keyboards in order to let someone know how “dumb,” “stupid,” or “retarded” someone is for sharing their opinion.

My favorite exchange occurred just a few days ago.  When a “fan” spent the equivalent to an hour dumping all over someone for having a pro-Bradford opinion, I jumped in and informed the person being attacked that it wasn’t worth it.  Speaking in similes and metaphors, the “attacker” could not keep up with multisyllabic words and resorted to claiming I was a pedophile.

As a father and someone that taught children for years, the claim upset me but I ignored the intention and continued to talk about the Eagles.  Unhappy that someone employed the same methods of “fast and furious” responses, the thread became nothing more than  a game of insult slinging.

What’s my point?

#WWBDD

While many of us are guilty of responding to Tweets and Facebook posts with acerbic retorts, the outright bashing of an individual on social media is the same stuff “Anti-Bullying” presentations are made of, no?

My point is that if Philadelphia fans want to protect the sanctity of our “character,” then if the “Snowballs Thrown at Santa” story is old and tired, wait until the masses decry how ignorant and aggressive Eagles fans are towards each other.  Devolution is clearly at work and before I succumb to the numbskullery that floods social media, I need to remind myself of something:

The Philadelphia Eagles are and will always be MY team.  Just as I hope any current Eagles fans see things the way I do; my conviction is not diminished by subpar performances.  If how the Eagles played dictated my support of the team, I would have thrown the towel in dozens of times.

I love the Eagles because I love football.  While I do not live in the city of Philadelphia, I claim it the same way fans from Delaware, New Jersey and every suburb in the area claims the Eagles.  I’m no Ray Diddinger, nor am I that guy that can rattle off every draft pick from the last three decades or tell you how many yards Correll Buckhalter had at the end of his career.  I can reminisce with the best of them and what I want from social media is to see the best of the Philadelphia Eagles fans that have the back of their fellow Eagles fan.

We all have that one (or sadly more) family member that just does not “fit in” with the rest of the family.  Perhaps they have made mistakes or proclaimed something outlandish or absurd that leaves them living under the Black Sheep moniker.  In the end, it’s still family, right?

The next time you find yourself reading a tweet or scrolling through an Eagles post on Facebook, please keep in the back of your mind that it’s still your Eagles family.

**Ironically, it should be noted that an absolute fan-favorite for most Eagles fans is Brian Dawkins.  If you really believe that the player and the man is a reflection of the Philadelphia Eagles as an organization and the city it represents, ask yourself #WWBDD?

 

 

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WTF Face

When I first heard the term “Resting Bitch Face,” I immediately started to think of people I knew that had one of those faces that when you looked at it, even if they are in the throes of excitement and happiness, still look like they could not be bothered.  My wife, ironically, pointed out that when I am thinking, my look of consternation comes off brooding and somewhat in the realm of R.B.F.  Therefore, since I’ve accepted that I have a brooding face, I thought I should highlight some faces of sports players that when I see them or even hear their name, I immediately envision their face and cringe.

We encounter W.T.F moments all the time and occasionally, those moments are influenced by the simple presence of a certain type of face.  Oh, and suck it “BuzzFeed,” this list isn’t for hipsters or the easily offended so just go sit in the corner somewhere drinking your PBR, twisting your terrible mustache, and denouncing professional sports as “the bane of American culture; ripping from its fabric the essence of art, culture, and humanity.”  I recently heard one of these skinny jean wearing, sprout worshiping ne’er-do-wells drone on and on about the simpletons that kneel at the altar of professional sports.

1.)  Sidney Crosby:  First and foremost, I hate his face because he plays for the Penguins.  I’m not going to lie.  However, have you ever seen “Sid the Kid” during the playoffs with his alopecia riddled face? (By the way, a cute nickname when you’re actually a kid, but eventually you hit your 20’s and 30’s and the moniker comes off sophomoric at best.  Unless your name is Billy, drop the Kid.)

Seriously though, I hate his playoff facial hair attempts.  It has to be a shame that one of the most popular sports customs, the hockey playoff beard, is something clearly well out of Sid’s reach.  The peasy mustache looks more like the 12 year-old Italian kid you grew up with that had a faint little mustache tuft that all the other boys either admired or envied.  Cool mustache to have when your baby makers haven’t descended, but terrible when you’re a grown man playing for the Stanley Cup.

2).  Shannon Sharpe:  This one is quite simple.  Shannon Sharpe played for the Denver Broncos.  Shannon Sharpe looks like a horse.  A Bronco is a horse and I think it is incredibly wrong to have a player on your team that resembles your mascot.  Shannon had quite the career and obviously had an impact on the teams for which he played.  Nevertheless, Shannon Sharpe’s equine face seemed more fitting for the Belmont Stakes than a Super Bowl Sunday showdown.

3).  Kevin Durant:  Respect the hell out of this guy.  When he’s healthy, he’s dangerous.  When he’s injured, he’s still better than half of the NBA players when they are completely healthy.  Would I want him in Philadelphia?  Damn right I would.  But…

That eye!  I know it’s horrible to say and I feel truly terrible for people with lazy eyes but it is so difficult to watch a game when they do a close up on Durant and he’s got one eye on the basket and the other one is all like, “Ohhhh, that kid sitting directly to my right is eating cotton candy.”  I know, I’m terrible but the dichotomy of my awe is split between admiring Kevin Durant and his abilities on the court and his eye that looks like it’s doing everything in its power to get off the court.  (Or at the very least, go all Tony Hawk and do a 360.)

4).  Pat McQuistan:  When you look like Rocky Dennis made a love baby with himself, there’s just nothing you can do for a person.  Most people do not even know who this man is because he’s never really stayed with an NFL team for very long.  He8e8dd1db405d87c5775e9e0f62c2427e was drafted by the Cowboys; coupled with the fact that his doppelgänger is a character from the movie Mask (no, not Jim Carrey’s The Mask), there’s nothing endearing about his mug.  The only thing that would make Pat McQuistan’s face an even sadder story would be if he had attractive parents.

5).  Robert Griffin III:  I’ve seen the stories about him befriending a young girl that had cancer and how he’s always reminded of her.  Seems like a pretty decent dude off the field.  In the realm of football, RGIII has the kind of face that makes me want to turn away.  His eyes and play on the field makes him look like a fish that fell out of the bowl and his over-bite, I’ll bet, affords him the opportunity to eat fruit placed on the other side of a fence.  No worries for RGIII and his stalled career; impersonators make a lot of money and I’m sure people would pay decent money to hang out with Wiz Khalifa.

6).  Chris Bosh:  What…in the literal….fudge…happened to Chris Bosh.  When I was five years old, had I known E.T. would one day come back as a 7′ basketball player, I would have called you a liar.

7).  Alexander Ovechkin:  I know hockey players do not always have the greatest teeth and it is expected in such a brutal sport.  However, I do not know if we can blame the brutality on the game as the reason behind the brutality of Ovechkin’s face.  He hails from Russia but looks like he was raised in an offshoot of the Amazon.  No human being should look like an ogre with the mouth of a piranha.

8).  Takeo Spikes:  Can someone possibly explain if Takeo Spikes ate and swallowed a wine cask as a child?  When fitted for a suit, the tailor uses a tape measure to get physical dimensions.  If you have to use rope and a yard stick to get your measurements, you may want to skip your shoulder workout for the next decade.

9).  Antonio Silva:  MMA fighter and the owner of a chin that is eerily similar to the shape of Takeo Spikes’ neck, I often feel the need to watch an episode of the Munsters after I watch a Silva fight.  MMA fighters are known for their ability to take a punch; unfortunately, in Silva’s case, it looks like he took two fists to the chin and refused to give them back.  Hey, Antonio, while I know you could crush my skull in a dozen times over, I have an overwhelming desire to put you in a Washington Bullets jersey and to get you to star in a reboot of My Giant with Billy Crystal.

10).  The Manning Brothers:  Eli and Peyton Manning look like they inspired the two characters from the television cartoon Phineas and Ferb.  While my daughters crack up at the antics of these two characters, I can’t help but stare at the television, hoping for an episode where the pair come out dressed in Giants and Broncos jerseys.

I give credit where credit is due and I will not take away from their abilities on the field (although, can we also stop with all the Manning idolatry.  If one more person around me sings “Chicken Parm you taste so good,” I may beat you to death with a bean bag chair and a wiffle ball bat.  Regardless of whether you agree that the two look like Phineas and Ferb, methinks that Archie and Olivia Manning may have set next to each other as kids during family reunions.  It’s just a theory…but I think I’m right.

Judge Not, Tilghman

I know that I look like the Brawny Man and Drew Carey had a lovechild.  I’m certainly not a gem of a human but I’ve been staring at this face for thirty-five years and I’ve grown accustom to my low dipping eye, gnarled baby teeth that are still in my mouth because it turns out when your parents engage in full-blown meth usage when they conceive you, meth screws up teeth that haven’t even formed yet.

I embrace my face, accept that my breasts may be puffier than that of a woman with an A-cup, rock a pretty impressive man-muffin top and overall have nailed down average.  I’ve accepted it.  However, if you really ask yourself about athletes or celebrities that force you to proclaim, “W.T.F,” you will find that there is a history of ugly in every sport.

Remember, you can check out Tilghman Harpel (a.k.a Chris Smith) on Twitter at @TilghmanHarpel and be sure to check out his clips on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RInHlebwb-c

 

 

Football Imitating Life

Some of us live under shadows, while others thrive in the spotlight.  Impassioned fans of a singular football team draw strength and inspiration through the stewardship of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Though to some they may only play football, to innumerable others, they become warriors of metaphors and allegories; they are the keepers of a family bound together without a second thought of all the daily caveats scrutinized by media and the masses.  Race (for most) becomes almost ethereal, bound only by the green blood we all swear we bleed. Gender and sexual orientation almost seems like a silly thing to worry about when grown men hug like families united after a long separation.  Life imitates football in so many unique and interesting ways; finding influence in the essence of the Philadelphia Eagles can be a profound journey that so many of us make.

Sam Bradford: The Broken Renaissance

Do you know hard it is to make it in comedy?  You’ve got a family, isn’t it hard to support them?  Yes, it’s incredibly difficult to become a household name in comedy.  However, it’s what I have always wanted to do and nothing will deter me.  I mean, I know I’ve got something which is why I will never acquiesce to the haters.  If I give up because it’s hard, what message does that send to my family and to myself?

Enter Sam Bradford.  This kid’s been broken, right?  Everyone kind of holds their breath every time he appears to pass the ball because all we can imagine is a big hit and a career ending ACL blowout.  (Come on, we’re all thinking it.)  That does not mean it is going to happen.  Here’s a football player that at one point contemplated retirement and now has an opportunity under the tutelage of Chip Kelly to become the premier quarterback everyone predicted him to be.

Sometimes things happen and we cannot live up to what others expect from us.  Sometimes our mind, body and soul can feel so broken that we turn on Sunday football and cheer on a guy that reflects the story of our own life.  Sam Bradford may only play football, but he serves up a story too perfect to ignore.  When the world expected so much and things did not pan out the way we hoped, that does not mean we cannot redeem ourselves.  We have just as much of a right to be successful as the next person and that’s why Sam Bradford could become an epic metaphor to one day provide the perfect literary device exemplifying redemption in this here City of Brotherly Love.

DeMarco Murray: The Limits of Loyalty

Ten months ago and the mere uttering of DeMarco Murray’s name would force me to cringe.  He worked his ass off in Dallas, won the rushing title, and when it came time to work a contract, the Jones family drew a definitive line in the sand, fortifying a staunch stance between money and loyalty.  Something about it smacks familiar to the case of Brian Dawkins.  Not even the most pragmatic fan that talks Eagles football like Ray Didinger and a TI-83 had a lovechild could truly justify losing B-Dawk.

A new team, a new system, a new workload and a new philosophy thrust onto a man who should have never had to prove himself in regards to a contract that would keep him in Dallas for an appreciable amount of time.  Those of you that have ever worked harder than you’ve ever worked, only to be let go or “downsized,” you feel cheated in some way.  All you put into making wherever you worked a place that represented success has disregarded and forgotten you.

We can approach whatever is next as a way to prove to all of those people responsible for your being let go why it was a bad idea.  Or, you can shake it off, push your head up so you can see what’s coming next and do the same damn thing only better because it’s about you.  You do not settle for second best.  You handle criticism with poise and diplomacy; I can speak more effectively if I show you what I can do, rather than talk about what I can do.

We can grind our axes until the blades are razor-sharp, preparing for a showdown to prove how wrong all of those other people were, or we can keep looking forward and remember that your own individual success is about proving your worth to yourself and no one else.  Whatever day the Eagles play this season, I’ll be begging for DeMarco to “Rumble, young man, rumble!”

Kiko Alonso: Replacing Great

When I started working a college in one of the administrative buildings, I served as a replacement through a staffing agency.  While everyone in the office offered up boundless help  and welcomed me, not an hour would go by when someone wouldn’t reference the person I filled in for all of those weeks.  “Oh, Joy would just tell it like it is.”  Reminiscing over her like she died, it is really hard to fill in for a person that has the love and adoration of an entire office.

Sweet mother of crap; can you imagine being Kiko Alonso?  “Hey, Kiko, you’re going to Philadelphia.  The Eagles are sending one of the best running backs they’ve ever had to Buffalo for you.  Pack your stuff, kid.”

Meanwhile, Philadelphia fans immediately asked, “who?”  Those that knew him broke down every element to his game, making sure to point out the ACL because, well, I think ACL may be the most used word in Philadelphia.  (Okay, except for expletives, ACL is definitely up there.)  The fans absolutely lost it.  It felt like you just heard Jay Z dumped Beyonce and was now shacking up with the Mom from “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.”  You don’t get rid of Shady!  The trade is finalized, our beloved Bird is now a Bill, and then he opens his mouth and ruins it for a lot of people.

Amazing running back, turd farmer of a human being.  Sometimes we are asked to fill in for someone beloved.  Date a person whose family absolutely adored the last significant other and speak about him with the kind of reverence usually saved for people with the word “Saint” in front of their name.  Regardless, we have to feel the scrutiny of others because of something you have no control over.  Kiko is not going to become Shady of the defensive side of the ball.  Should he play up to potential, our memories of Shady will slowly fade.  Kiko can only be himself and hope that eventually, through his actions, receives Philadelphia love because he did it the Philadelphia way: he worked for it and it was earned.

Byron Maxwell: From Under the Shadows of Giants

Every major news outlet talked about Richard Sherman to the point where it stopped feeling like news and seemed more seventh-grade crush.  I get it!  Richard Sherman is a premier corner back.  I absolutely think his presence on the field makes quarterbacks second guess themselves.  Somewhere in all the Richard Sherman media orgy that ebbs and flows into the life of Richard, Byron Maxwell joins the Eagles.  A damn good corner, this guy is stepping out from under the shadow of a giant.  Now is the time to see if his statements regarding just how good he is actually play out.  I appreciate the swagger.  He’s bold, yet relatively quiet.

When we are pigeonholed into one expectation and quietly exist under the fanfare bestowed upon others is a humbling experience.  It can either affect you negatively, providing an excuse so you may not have to try as hard because it’s like giving up without actually giving up.  Then there’s Byron.  Go be Byron.  Don’t we all have a little something to prove to ourselves?  The play of a man on the field and how he carries himself off can always speak volumes.  Methinks it may be time to truly listen and react accordingly.  We do not have to exist under shadows.  We must only be willing to put in the work that deserves the attention of others.  Get out of the shadow and you damn well better shine!

A Wilde Summation

“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life,” penned by none other than famous Irish author, Oscar Wilde, obviously influenced the title of this article.  Ironically, Wilde would mock my writing for being too obsessed with something so barbaric or use some literary dig to mock me.  Nevertheless, football does imitate life.  When the Philadelphia Eagles kick off next Monday, what may only be stitched leather emblazoned with the NFL logo to some, is the genesis of our pilgrimage. What commences that night are seventeen weeks of investing our hearts and our souls into a team led by individuals that mean so much more to us than the difference between winning and losing, they are our metaphors, poised to represent who we are through a team and a game we love without boundaries.

Scumbag Tendencies: Profiling Philly Born Cowboys Fans

The following exchange is typical for most Eagles fans. For the sake of saving space, the part of Dopey Cowboys Fan will be referred to as D.C.F’s.

D.C.F:  Yo, the Eagles ain’t sh*t!  (I don’t know why I took out the “i,” but let’s just pretend I have a tinge of couth and class.)

Eagles Fan:  Where are you from?

D.C.F: I grew up in Mayfair.

**And now the conversation SHOULD end.  This is a public service announcement for the mass of Eagles fans that know that Cowboys fan that loves to count off Super Bowl wins, pontificate on the presumed awesomeness of Tony Romo, and reminds Eagles fans that somehow “we” are the worst fans and Cowboys fans are the best.

Huh?

Let me get this straight, Cowboys fan: You’re the example of what a “REAL” fan is and Eagles fans are “fake.”  Does your cell phone have a 215, 610, 484, 609, 856, or 302 area code?  Do you know how to pronounce Schuylkill?  Did you jump up and down when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008?  You did?  Sit down, shut up and allow me to explain why you’re insignificant.

All Thunder, No Lightning

There’s nothing worse when a thick Philly accent that would do poetic justice to “Da Iggles,” sounds like gargled cat shit when they say, “Da Dallas Cowboys!” (I apologize for using a bad word but I did say earlier in the article to pretend that I had couth and class.)

The same human dingleberries count off Super Bowls but can’t name the starting offensive linemen for those winning Super Bowl teams.  You meet an Eagles fan that’s in his sixties and he can still rattle off nearly every player from the 1970’s to the present roster.

Seriously, you blow hard asshammers think that a few knuckleheads on sports talk radio saying the Birds are going to the Super Bowl is enough of a reason for you to respond in equally derelict’ish ways.  You could win the NFC East.  However, I think you’re gonna struggle a bit along the way.  Now, since we’re talking about NOW….hey…pssst…over here…you still with me?  As I was saying, your team may struggle.  I know losing DeMarco Murray was a kick in the nuts.  I know, your offensive line and anyone can run out of the backfield.  Wait.  Was that anyone or nobody’s?  Good luck and tell me more about Michael Irvin ya scumbag turncoat.

Move to Dallas where you’d be King of the Dopes.  Sorry, Texas;  your state has produced some seriously questionable ass people.  Take a gun, shoot it out!

Easy Come, Easy Go

I think many football fans have their “other” team that they hope does well IF the Eagles are out of contention.  I think J.J. Watt is an impeccable human being and an even more impressive football player.  Do I want the Texans to beat the Eagles in those seasons where they are matched up?  Absolutely not!

Therefore, when I meet those “que sera, sera” individuals that talk about how incredible Brian Dawkins was but then lauds the Cowboys for their players and proclaims indifference to both teams, then you are by default a Cowboys fan and your lack of any intestinal fortitude is disconcerting to say the least.

PhillyFan_rich-rysWho the Hell is Orlando Scandrick?

If you ask that question in my presence and then proclaim that the Cowboys are your team, I recognize you as the ultimate scumbag Dallas Cowboy “fan.”  You made me use quotes!  I only reserve quotes for words I like; however, now I am forced to use them because you, sir or madam, are fugazzi.  You should not be allowed to wear a jersey of any team.

You know what?  On second thought, keep wearing your Cowboy jerseys.  You’re nothing more than the suburban rednecks that descend upon Camden with your shitty Target cowboy hats and your terrible, terrible hammy legs stuffed into cowboy boots that look more Walmart aisle three than they do, ride a horse, chew some tabacca’ and get in a shootout.  What’s the terrible concert that they have?  Some white guy playing a guitar talkin’ bout lovin, or hatin, or ‘Merica.  You’re that person and the only other people who have respect for you are the same shallow gene pool swimming derelicts that do the same thing as you.  Hail to those Dallas Cowboys fans, we hate you!

I Married a Cowboys Fan

You’ve terrible decision-making skills and all of your true friends and family have secretly abandoned any hope for you. Looking at the divorce rate in America, there’s still hope that you’ll get it together someday.

America’s Team

“When I was growing up, the Cowboys were always on television.  I mean, they’re America’s Team!”

Nope, no, nuh uh, no way, F.O.H., awwww hell naw, sorry!  America’s team?  How does a city established in 1839 earn such a title when I can think of four distinct cities on the eastern seaboard that, from an importance to America standpoint, crushes the cultural and historical relevance of being “America’s Team.”

When the dullards and troglodytes scurry out from under the shadows that scumbags tend to linger under, they do so while beating their chests and zipping up their ridiculous Starter jackets that make them look more like they are waiting for the school bus than doing anything remotely adult-like.

Twenty-something’ers claiming America’s team?  Shut up!  You’ve been watching football since there was a yellow line on the television screen indicating the first down marker.  Those in their thirties and older that claim “America’s Team” are really saying something far more poignant and frightening:

“I follow America’s team because of several reasons.  When I was growing up, football did not have the coverage that it has today.  There was no YouTube or ESPN.com for me to go and watch highlights.  My only option was, well, a newspaper.  That involves reading so you understand I’m pretty much shit-out-of-luck.

My parents were heavy drinkers and I was often left to my own devices.  I tried to play football with my friends but when they would all claim a different player from the Eagles, I’d say, “I’m Roger Staubach” and they would all laugh at me and hit me.  I developed an inferiority complex that my therapist says stems from Eagles fans making me feel like less of a person because I followed the Cowboys.  My therapist, an Eagles fan, told me to stop being such a baby and to pull my head from my ass.  That hurt my feelings, too!

I love the Cowboys because they are really good.  They do everything bigger in Texas and that includes winning. I also….”

Shut up, shut up, shut up!  You hurl excuse upon excuse onto the back of a subject that cannot be debated: You are from Philadelphia and use superfluous reasons explaining why you support a team that is in direct competition with a team from the city that raised you.  V-I-O-L-A-T-I-O-N!

The Final Verdict

You grew up here, which means you ARE here.  That’s what Philadelphia based Cowboys fans do not get.  You have absolutely no merit in your argument.  You’re the person that no one truly trusts because loyalty is by far one of your biggest character flaws.  You may be the Godparent to your best friends first-born, but I assure you somewhere written in a last will and testament are clearly laid out instructions that preclude you from being around the child during the football season.

You’re traitorous.  No, seriously, if you have not picked up on the tone of this article, you’re just not a good person.  If you hailed from Dallas, even if you lived there for a few years as a kid, a majority of Philadelphia Eagles fans would respect your loyalty and enjoy the rivalry.  When you sat next to the same guys all throughout school, hung out together, shared your lives with each other, you’re still the one guy on the outside no matter how “in” you think you may be.

If I’m out with friends and stuff goes down, I’m not looking to the Cowboys fan to have my back.  I don’t care if you’re Connor Barwin’s doppelganger; I still question your character a bit.  If you were in the military and someone from the side you were fighting against claimed to have your back, would you want to share a foxhole with them?  You have no one to blame but yourself.

Ultimately, the slithering spinelessness of Cowboy worship is like crabgrass.  Sure, you treated the lawn, but you’ll be damned if two days later one of the more caustic and belligerent strains of crabgrass does not rear its ugly, misshapen head for the world to see.

Do you get it, Philadelphia based Cowboys fans?  You eat soft pretzels, you house cheesteaks by the handful, know every line from every Rocky movie, have the numbers “215” or a liberty bell tattooed somewhere on your body, have referred to Philadelphia as “Illadelphia,” and hang from the jock of Will Smith, Kevin Hart, Jill Scott, the Roots, and/or Bill Cosby.  (It’s cool, you can actually have Bill.)

There is a cultural thread woven into the fabric of your character that feels, in some ways, genetic.  You adopt teams from other cities and use your geographic birthright to defile what hundreds of thousands of fans live and breathe each day.  While your individual character is called into question, the hostility and anger that the rest of us have for you is rooted in tribal like instincts.

You sold the rights to authenticity for the rights to a superficial existence.  When the Cowboys won their last Super Bowl, if you were a fan then, got to jump up and down in your living room.  All of your friends were jumping up and….wait, no they weren’t, because your friends aren’t scumbags.

It must be hard having to abandon your birthright and continue to defend your decision.  Hey, no worries, Scooter; we can just call you Brutus, Judas, Aaron Burr, or Benedict Arnold.  It makes no difference to the rest of us because you’re just another lost soul with scumbag tendencies.

Just a “Girl”

When my ex-wife and I decided that we wanted to know the sex of our first-born, the ultrasound technician maneuvered her wand back and forth, projecting a look of consternation as she battled to identify the sex.

“The baby’s legs are crossed so I’m having a hard time,” she admitted.

“Oh, then it’s a girl.  She’s crossing her legs like a “proper lady,” I joked.

My ex-wife and the technician had a laugh and then, she confirmed what I already knew.

“It’s a girl!”

The story my Mom told me growing up was that my Dad wanted a little girl in the worst way.  Of course, when they placed me into his arms, he didn’t care what was between my legs; he counted my fingers and toes and the rest is history.  In the moment of finding out the gender of my first-born, I had no idea that eleven short years later I would have to reassess the notion of a “proper lady.”

My youngest daughter wants to play tackle football.  Considering the violent nature of the game, the idea of being the punisher as opposed to the punished made my youngest come alive with excitement.  “Daddy, even if those boys did try to hit me, they’d have to catch me first.”  (My little one is a bolt of lightning and I really cannot argue with her sentiment.) images

Gender roles and even gender identity contains as much fluidity as the term “gender fluid” could ever hope to possess.  Yes, I play dolls with my daughters.  We also play tackle football.  We love to draw cartoon characters and learning new words is a passion we share collectively.  My oldest hates jeans and would much rather rock a pair of gym shorts, basketball sneakers and a t-shirt than confine herself to the expected apparel of a ‘tween girl.  (I hate the term “tween” but I will acquiesce to her constant reminder of where she falls on the nouveau timeline for age labeling.)

My youngest wanted to play tackle football and the compromise turned into flag football.  The only girl on her team, she now has to contend with a gaggle of boys that scoffed at her during their first practice.  “You’re….a girl,” proclaimed the future detectives of the world.  “Girls don’t play football.”

Interestingly enough, in a few years the same boys that do not think girls play or should play football will catch wind of the lingerie football league and suddenly their opinions will change.  Ahhhh, the world we live in.  Girls do not play football unless their boobs are forced into the cups of a frilly bra and the nether regions are covered by an eye patch worth of material and some fishing line sandwiched between their butt cheeks.

Ahem, but that’s not the only kind of football girls can play.

“Would you be okay with your daughter trying to play on the High School football team?”

Truthfully?  I have no idea.  I will not speculate.  Eleven years ago I made the point that I was having a girl because she acted like a “proper lady” whilst in the womb.  Would I jump at the thought of my little girls getting hit by a kid with collegiate and professional football expectations?  Absolutely not.  However, I suspect Ronda Rousey’s parents weren’t thrilled at the thought of her becoming a professional fighter.  (I know, the argument is that Rousey fights other women and it is not the same.  The only issue that I have is that the idea of a woman fighting professionally and for the entire world to see is a rather new concept.  Therefore; if I am to speculate about how I would feel if my daughters wanted to play tackle football, I would be nervous but I would also support them.)

I want to raise feminists.  Yes, I want to raise feminists that not only believe they are equal to men, I want them to know that they are equal to men.  No, I doubt my daughters will ever develop the ability to bench press a Buick, but the last time I checked, no one ever questioned Einstein’s sexuality or masculinity because he did not boast a superior physical prowess.  For the record, when I hear women that bemoan the existence of feminism as if standing up for equality is a bad thing, I laugh at just how misinformed they are about their own identity.

When my daughter has her first game, I will be that Dad watching the faces of those parents that I know steadfastly disagree that girls should play sports designated as “male.”  I will laugh if my little running back leaves the sons of helicopter parents hovering over their little future princes, scratching their heads and wondering how and why a girl is playing on the opposing team.  Regardless, I will scoop up my little girl and be proud of her not because she played a game typically reserved for “boys,” I will celebrate her wanting to be part of something, anything.

I can tell my girls how unstoppable they are and laud them at every turn, regardless if it is in the face of success or failure.  I can encourage them to try, to be, to feel undeterred because of another person’s expectations.  No, my youngest daughter will never run the football as a Philadelphia Eagle.  That does not mean that I have the right to push them towards something else because it seems more fitting of their gender.

The idea that somehow girls cannot do something because they do not have the “right” genitals is preposterous.  “Girls lack the strength to…(blah, blah, blah).”  Perhaps, instead of the world expecting women to adhere to the antiquated musings of Emily Post, they acknowledge that 9.5 out of every 10 guys they know could not hold their own against people like Lt. Shaye Haver and Capt. Kristen Griest.  images

“Oh, you almost went into the Army Rangers?  Cool story, bruh!”

Raising children in 2015 is definitely a lot different from when my parents tackled the task in the 80’s.  As we become more and more absorbed in technology, we must work harder to counteract the negativity that social media injects directly into the minds of people each day.  Children need the guidance to know that, while nothing is guaranteed in this world, just because someone says it cannot be done does not mean they are right.

My little girls, though they are not as little as they once were, deserve the chance to hear their Dad’s encouragement over the bloviating that monopolizes social media today.  I will find the greatness in the nuances of my daughters and will do so without ever having to consider, “Hmmmm, is this something reserved only for men?”  If peeing standing up is what they want, I’m afraid they are out of luck.  Something else?  Anything else?  If X and Y chromosomes dictate how you see the world, just be prepared to one day to come across one of those radical females that will never buy into the archaic nature of gender roles.

Twelve years after proclaiming my daughter was a proper lady, I now know that I’m helping to raise proper humans.  Imagine.

Admitting Your Philadelphia Eagle Man Crush

You can be heterosexual, homosexual, pansexual, bi or tri sexual; it matters to me not.  I am a heterosexual man, married with three children, and a fire burns inside of me for certain celebrities and sports stars.  No, I’m not talking Charlotte Johansen or Rhonda Rousey.  (Although, yes, please!)

keep-calm-its-man-crush-monday-1Nope, I’m talking about good old-fashioned man crushes.  The unwavering affinity straight men develop for other men and if you are anything like me, you couldn’t give a damn who knows about it.  Bradley Cooper and his azure pools of ocular splendor could gaze on me for hours and I would never break eye contact.  Shemar Moore, from the television show “Criminal Minds” could be my forever bromance and I would not think twice about it.

Why the “Man Crush?”  I think it boils down to me accepting the fact that I look the way I do and if I could get a do over, I kind of hope I’d come back as a Bradley or Shemar look-alike.  I think hanging out with either of these guys would be pretty cool and instead of pouting that I look more like Drew Carey and the Brawny man had a baby, I should appreciate what they have instead of obsessing over what I lack.  (Also, Bradley is a Birds fan and I’m pretty sure he could afford the best seats at the Linc so I’m simply keeping my options open in case Bradley decides his real soul-mate is a tattooed dude that enjoys pizza more than treadmills.)

However, my ultimate man crush is a particular Philadelphia Eagle.  It is much simpler to admit a man crush on a football player because of what he does on the field.  An actor’s work is a final edit of dozens of scenes where the “best” scene makes the film or show.  A football player does not get a “take-two.”

connor-barwin.vresize.1200.675.high.10This is nothing more than an extension of being a kid and playing any sport while claiming the identity of your favorite player.  When I was a kid, I would occasionally keep baseball cards of players whose position I was playing in my back pocket during Little League games.  (My apologies to Von Hayes and Darren Daulton for sitting on their face for all those years.)  A pick-up basketball game?  Please, ya’ll better watch out for Sir Charles.  Football?  You may call me Reggie White.  I never played hockey but if I had, I’m sure I would have claimed Dave Brown.

As an adult man who rarely plays pick up games of any sort, I cannot go throughout my day pretending I’m someone else.  I mean, I could do that but then I’m pretty sure I’m traversing down a slippery slope of lunacy I’m not quite prepared to adopt.

Yet, Connor Barwin IS my man-crush.  There, I said it.  Damn, it feels good to just get it off my chest.  This crush does not involve me standing outside of Connor’s house with a boombox over my head like I’m in the movie “Say Anything.”  I do not know his favorite food, his favorite musician or his favorite movie.  What I do know is that I love his style of play.

Attitude is everything for me.  When I cycle through the Eagles roster, I identify those players that stand out because of how they carry themselves.  A player that is a warrior on the field and an all around good guy off the field is precisely what I need to develop a man crush.  I fall for the player that will detach body from soul on the field and stop traffic to help an old lady across the street.  (My only gripe are those SEPTA radio ads where Connor tells everyone why he takes SEPTA.)

Connor, I know about your bonus; stop acting like if we were ever to become besties that you or I would be cool with you picking me up on a bus. 

The ladies reading this should know that while you may have one of those manly men that could never in a million years admit to having a crush on another man; it is imperative that you watch him closely during an Eagles game.  Is there a player whose name comes up more often than other players?  Does your man make excuses for a certain player even when his mistake could be disastrous for the team?  Does your man have an indisputable glimmer in his eye when a certain player is mentioned during a game?  Does he reel when his player earns an accolade like “Player of the Week?”

Pssssst, he’s got a man crush.  It’s okay.  Does he rock a certain players fashion?  Similar hair style?  He has the Connor Barwin (a la Kramer from Seinfeld) hairdo?  Well, tell your man that’s my hairdo and I already called dibs on Mr. Barwin.

Seriously though, football is an escape; for men and women alike.  If along the way a person does not develop an affinity for certain players, then they are more than likely pedestrian type fans.  The die-hard fans, the ones that know inordinate amounts of information regarding one player but subsequently forgets wife’s birthday is more than likely crushing hard on one of his favorite players.

Again, it’s okay!  Somewhere in the midst of all of our football fan’dom, we develop the occasional affinity for players that stand apart for whatever personal reason.  The football man crush may seem silly but it is real.

I know I’m not the only one.  I wonder if Connor will read this?  O….M…..G…could you imagine?  Seriously, now I’m nervous.  What if he doesn’t like what I wrote?

Maybe I’m not even Connor’s type?

That’s okay, it’s not like he has Jason Kelce’s beard.

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Catching What We Chase

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” -Benjamin Franklin

The uncertainty of sports is what makes following any and all of them so wonderfully exciting.  The idea of a Bill Murray-esque existence from the movie Groundhog’s Day terrifies me more than snakes, clowns and the thought of dying during coitus.  Certainties and guarantees are great for services and items we purchase, but in the pantheon of professional sports, there are few other absolutes.  Trade for a marquee player and there are no certainties that he will ever play up to contract.  Draft a top prospect out of college and he could just as easily decide he wants to become a professional macrame artist.  In the 2001 MLB draft, the Philadelphia Phillies drafted, unbeknownst to them, a future certainty.

Jul 30, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (26) throws to first base during the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Giants 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Jul 30, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (26) throws to first base during the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Giants 7-3. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Cameron Utley, the Phillies starting second basemen for the last decade became a certainty for our team and for our city.  Bogged down under the presence of Placido Polanco early in his career, Utley is the kind of ballplayer that in his first major league at-bat, belted a grand slam.  Welcome to the majors, kid.

Twelve years after Chase started his career in Philadelphia with a grand slam accompanied by the dulcimer tones of Harry Kalas taking a three syllable name and turning it into the preamble, we say goodbye to a player that loved baseball the way Philadelphia loves its sports teams; with nothing less than everything that we have.

The statistician fans will rifle off all the accolades and numbers, highlighting and detailing the argument of why Chase should end up in the Hall of Fame some day.  Why should Chase be in the Hall?  That’s an argument for another day; today is about respecting the career of one of the best second basemen baseball has seen in the last thirty years.  This is the guy that contributed to the Phillies becoming “World F&*$#’ing Champions.”  The quietly peculiar second basemen with a penchant for stoicism on the field and a tight lipped approach post-game proclaimed the unforgettable quote that is, for all intents and purposes, a page ripped out of the “How to be a Philadelphian” handbook.

The hard-knocked gristle of the Philadelphia narrative draws from the aura and mystique of sports players that make us proud.  Tiptoeing on the precipice of idolatry, Chase Utley quenched the thirst of sports fans that appreciate different elements of a baseball player’s acumen.  A smart player that understands the game, Utley satisfied the baseball fundamentalist.  Unafraid to lean into a pitch or to run out every hit regardless if it looked like a routine out or not, Chase satiated the hunger of Phillies fans that longed for a tough, no-holds-barred player.

When the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series in 2008, those of us born in 1980 or later had very little to remember in terms of a Philadelphia sports team winning a championship.  We were close a few times for those of us thirty-five years old and younger.  The 1993 World Series left one person I know (me) crying in his bedroom closet after Joe Carter crushed a homer and the dreams of the entire Phillies nation.  Allen Iverson, a consummate Philadelphia sports warrior, took the Sixers to the Finals in 2001 and the emblematic aroma of wafting cheesesteaks found itself replaced by the faint smell of a possible championship.  Again, we came up short. 993c82859c70b55f43b329c48e7a1f9a

2008 will be the defining year for the career of Chase Utley.  All the accolades, all the records and acknowledgments, and all of the highlights and All-Star appearances are trumped by the winning of the World Series.  Sure, Chase Utley tied Mr. October for the most home runs hit in World Series games, but Mr. October never won a World Series for the Philadelphia Phillies.  Chase was ours for more than a decade and in that time, Philadelphia had that player.  Chase, now a Dodger, can put on that uniform for however long, but he will, regardless of the outcome of his stay in LA, always be a Phillie.

In a city that finds part of its identity in our sports teams, the players are brand ambassadors.  Their play on the field, at least for many everyday Philadelphia sports fan, is part of the Philadelphia mystique.  Chase Utley, for many years, remained a silent and sometimes aloof player that rarely spoke up or out about anything.  His declarations and responses to questions took place on the field.  The 90 feet he shared between first and second base with the oft-ridiculed Ryan Howard is where Chase held his press conferences.  The tough, unanswered questions were answered at the plate.

Statistics aside, Chase Utley is the guy that kids today will talk about when they have children some day.  Greatness exists in two realms; stats and character.  When we reflect upon our sports fanaticism through the years, we often find that the players that stand at the top of our own pantheon are those that had the “numbers” but did so with the kind of character the City of Brotherly Love reveres.

Decades passed as all Philadelphia sports teams pursued a championship.  We longed for the jubilation, the elation of finally earning the chance to proclaim, “We are World “F’n” Champs.”  In our chase for our championship, we learned to appreciate and value the thrill of the Chase. World+Series+Tampa+Bay+Rays+v+Philadelphia+09rnn8jQD3vl