26 September 2005


When the NFL first released their schedule for the 2005-06 season, one game jumped right off the page. Raiders/Eagles. I got excited for two reasons: Firstly, I used to work with two huge Philly fans, and never got the chance to trashtalk, since I was an AFC West guy. Second, I knew I could go with them to the game.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go to the game with Gary, who opted to stay home and hang out with his son. Fortunately, I was able to go to the game with my roommate. Here is a running diary of the events that would befall us in the city of brotherly love:

7:30 PM ET, New York: Roommate and I board the NJ Transit train that will ultimately take us to the SEPTA train that will ultimately take us into Philly. SEPTA? Is there a more apropriate name for public transportation in Philly? It's like they actually found the word Septic and found a way to make an acronym for it!

10 PM ET, Philadelphia: The plan was simple enough: get off the train, walk 20 minutes to Jim's, grab a cheesesteak, and then meet up with my friend Greg and get over to his house in Manayunk for the night. (Still amazed by these names I find on the Eastern Seaboard.. I guess growing up in California I became accustomed to names like Pacoima, Avienda de Cortez and Tierra del Fuego. Here it's names like Manayunk, Ramapo, Mahwah... cities that were imagined by 3 year olds who just learned how to speak.)

10:20 PM ET, Jim's: I knew about Pat's and Geno's, but this is the one that I heard was "legit." Like, the tourists went to the first two, but the hardcore folks went to this one. I don't know if I was right or not. I also have no idea if Philadelphians really DO love cheesesteaks, or it's just a tourist thing.. Now, I love a good cheesesteak as much as anyone, but I think, unlike a steak, or a burger, they're either good or they're not. There's not much variance in a cheesesteak.

Anyway, this place was decent enough, but for a spot that was "the place the tourists didn't go", they really knew how to "jump the shark" on a restaurant that was supposed to be legit. Putting up pictures of celebrities and their signatures seems to indicate that your legitimacy has become a parody of itself, and yes, you are a tourist attraction. Katz's Deli can get away with this, however.

10:40 PM ET, the 'yunk: Greg and his girlfriend pick us up and whisk us away to the merry land of Manayunk. We find out that Greg's girlfriend has 8 brothers and one sister.

Me: "Obviously you're a Catholic."

10:45 PM ET: We wander into the house and find a stunning 52" DLP television that glowers over the room like the monolith dropped in front of the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey. No, I did not club Andy over the head with a bone... yet. But, I sure would have once I found out that that the TV doesn't work! It gets worse. He had an original Nintendo Entertainment System, complete with Mike Tyson's Punch-Out, and Double Dragon! (No Tecmo Bowl). So, we were left with conversation... how does that work, again?

10:46 PM ET: I tell him that I am going to fix the television. What the hey? I've got experience with broken televisions. Hell, when I first moved to NY, I had a TV that wouldn't turn off unless I unplugged it. Surely this couldn't be much harder.

10:46 PM ET: I stand up and start banging on it.

Yup, this was my bright idea. I try the left side, then the right side. Then a few buttons on the TV. See if you can guess how this turned out?

11:30 PM ET: We accept that the TV is gone, and it ain't coming back. I manage to get the sound working, and for some reason, they actually like the idea of staring at a blank screen listening to South Park. I totally vote this idea down. But that gives way to an argument about whether or not it was possible whether or not to live in a city and be totally unaware of one or more of its sports franchises. My argument was that it was totally feesible to live in Los Angeles, and know who the Lakers were, and have no clue what a Clipper was, much less realize that they were an NBA team. Andy said there was no way.

However, all this was prompted by the line from Major League when Jake Taylor is asked "The Indians? Here in Cleveland? I didn't know we still had a team!"

Now we're trying to figure out how it was possible to know of a team, once, only to have forgotten about their existence. (This is how cable and satellite companies make money, folks). I'd replay the rest of this argument, but I'm about to go ram Q-tips into my eyeballs.

12 MIDNIGHT ET: The prank calls start. I can't believe it took this long. I throw a *67 before a phone number, thereby blocking mine, and let it roll.

12:01 AM ET: The prank calls are over. I might be the last one standing at the age of 24 who still gets a kick out of this. (*note: I find out the next morning that the *67 trick does not work anymore when I get a very confused voice mail. That could have been much much worse. I ducked karma on that one, big time).

12:30 AM ET: Time to sleep. There's one couch and two very tired people. Andy is on the couch, and just decides that he's sleeping on it. I challenge him to a game of rock, paper, scissors; best 2/3. He is very very hesitant, but realizes that there is no way he can just claim this space of land without a fight.

12:31 AM ET: Andy takes rock, Dave takes rock.

12:31 AM ET: Andy takes rock, Dave takes scissors.

12:31 AM ET: Andy takes rock, Dave takes paper.

12:31 AM ET: Andy takes rock, DAVE TAKES PAPER!

12:32 AM ET: I take a victory lap around the house, as Andy lays dejected, slamming the couch screaming obscenities.

12:40 AM ET: ME : "Hey Andy, remember when you took rock and I took paper?" Andy: "GREAT JOB!"

12:41 AM ET: ME : "Hey Andy?" Andy: "GREAT!!"


10:30 AM ET: Wake up time. Breakfast is on our mind, and Greg has returned from his own breakfast to assist us in our decision. He throws a few things around, and then I say "BOOEYS?!" Andy is instantly engaged. "Bui's" is a lunch-truck that sits right outside of the UPENN campus, that, for some reason, has developed a cult following. I can't think of another situation where someone would ever be this excited about food from a foodtruck. But Greg says "Well, it's not exactly on the way. But, it's not exactly out of the way either. Fuck it, let's go." You know how some people will fight you if something isn't exactly tailor made to be the easiest way from point A to point B? Not Greg. God bless him.

11:15 AM ET, Bui's: Yum. Good truck, good times.

11:45 AM ET, The Link: We arrive, tickets in hand, team allegiance in disguise.

12:15 PM ET: We see a group of people wearing construction outfits handing out items promoting another new Adam Corolla show; seriously, did this guy just change agents or something? The woman hands me a tape measure with the show's tune-in info on it, and I tell her I'm going to throw it at Donovan McNabb's head. (I was genuinely shocked these words came out of my mouth, and... let's just say, she was too)

12:45 PM ET: Section 243. Riiiiiiiiiiiight up there with the crazies. Great seats, perched right over the 35 yd line. No Raider fans anywhere near me. Shit.

12:50 PM ET: I never want to go to another game at the Meadowlands ever again. This is the most amazing football facility I have ever seen. Spacious, state of the art, easy on the eyes, great view, great food. And this was all before the pre-game proceedings!

12:51 PM ET: The Eagles cheerleaders come out. For my money, they're the best in football. You can forget the Cowboys cheerleaders, they're a cliche by now. These ladies are something else. And, they're performing for minutes on end. A camera on my face would have revealed some sort of euphoric glaze, watching scantily clad women, dancing on a football field, beer in hand, about to watch my Raiders. Life is good.

12:55 PM ET: They've got a pre-taped piece with Swoop, the Eagles' mascot, in Swoop Wars. Where this bird, dressed as "Swoop Skywalker" comes out to slay the evil Darth Raider. It's genius. (I'm now wondering how Eagle fans can be all bad when they're doing cutsey things like this... *note: I never do figure this out).

1:00 PM ET: Pre-game introductions. Every Raider player's name/college is followed by an extraordinarily loud "SUCKS!" from the crowd. When they announced Woodson, I joined in. That's okay, right? He is an overrated jerk***...

1:05 PM ET: Kickoff. All the good natured Raider booing has turned into a sea of evil. Anyone wearing silver and black appraoching our section was showered with cheers of ASS-HOLE! ASS-HOLE! Women wearing Raider shirts/jerseys are told "Your shirt sucks! Why don't ya take it off!"

1:07 PM ET: I managed to keep my partisanship a secret right until, oh, about two minutes into the first quarter when the Raiders scored and I turned into a shreiking lunatic… before I realized what I had done, it was too late. The late-40's-lunatic insurance salesman sitting next to me slowly turned his head to me, jaw wide open, giving me a look of death, realizing he had a Raider fan sitting next to him. These guys are the worst to sit next to in ANY ballpark; they've already given up on their lives, their only joy left are their sports teams, and have seen too many horrific things happen to their team to forgive anyone other than an Iggles fan sitting next to them.

To add to the "hilarity", the Eagles came out wearing their alternate home uniforms, that are in black. They started the game by botching three kicks in a row, and having their kicker limp off the field, giving way to their back-up Tight End making their kicks. After that, some yahoo behind me kept yelling at the team about their unfortunate choice of jerseys: "HEY! WHY ARE YOU GUYS WEARING RAIDER-BLACK? GET BACK IN THE LOCKERROOM AND PUT ON GREEN!"







(He said this way more than three times, but you get the idea. I think he was the 5th Queer Eye member to be this disturbed about their uniforms)

1:xx PM ET: ME: "Hey Andy, remember when you took rock, and I--" ANDY: "GREAT!!!!!!"

1:xx PM ET: Crazy insurance broker man starts rolling a joint. Man, he is weird. Then, I thought he was about to punch me after this exchange:

HIM: Man, your team really _______ ________ sucks.
ME: We suck? Really? I guess I'm not that smart, but maybe you can tell me why my 0-2 team is making your defending NFC championship team look so bad? Can you tell me that?!

I was a very popular person is Sec 243 that day, even without the silver and black on.

2: xx PM ET: Finally, two other Raider fans show up, and I tell them I was getting lonely without them. Now, just remember that I'm NOT wearing any Raiders gear at this point.

So, you're you, and you show up to a football game, and someone in the section tells you that they were getting lonely without you.

Sound good?

(We cleared things up sooner rather than later).

3:xx PM ET: By now, Janikowski has missed two field goals, and I'm wondering if we can trade him to the Eagles for their kicker whose leg is about to fall off.

4:xx PM ET, 4TH QUARTER: Tie game! Tie game! Oh my...! I am standing up and screaming at this point. Less than a minute to go, and the Raiders tie it up. I don't give a good goddamn what Eagles fans are in my section and what they want to do to me; I was hollaring like a brute. I even stood up and said "Oh, they scarrrrred now!" (I don't know who I think I am, or what I was doing... maybe I just wanted to die that day.)

4:xx PM ET: They drive down the field. We commit penalties. We play like, well, the Raiders. And, Gimpy McGee, the Eagles kicker who is practically wheeled out in a wheelchair BARELY splits the uprights to give the Eagles a victory.

Maybe it's just my way of thinking, but I was happier to be in my shoes than day than an Iggles fan. True, we just lost, but we lost tough. They won, but they won ugly. We already know we're not going anywhere this year, and we have to scrape for silver lining. They've got a lot of rationalizing to do, after this ugly win against an 0-2 (now 0-3 team) as they try to preserve the optimism that they're going back to the Super Bowl... which they ain't.......

No, that's bull. I was furious. I wanted that win so badly, I could taste it. We had 'em. We f'ing had 'em. And I don't care if it was the last game we won all year (No, I would have cared), but we should have won that game, and the two games before it. Which reminds me...

What in the world is the NFL doing giving a 5-11 team a schedule wherein they play the two Super Bowl teams within the first three weeks of the year?!

Anyway, that was my trip to Philly. I'll be back on Thursday for Week 4 picks!


Anonymous Greg said...

OK, a few things. First of all, this is my first comment. Sweet. Dave, you clearly don't post often enough. Your writing is fantastic. I got excited to read the rest of the blog after reading the latest couple of posts, because after seeing that there were several mothns' worth of posts, I thought to myself "this will provide entertainement during boring periods at work for weeks on end!" Turns out, I read the whole thing in three days. Bummer. The last thing I want to say is that the one post about apartment hunting in NY scared me. I'm planning on moving up from Philly next summer and buying a place. I hope my real estate broker is a little more helpful than that D-bag you described. That's all. Peace. G-d bless.

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