As bad as Mother Nature could be Saturday, Philadelphia’s notoriously rowdy fans will make life even more miserable for the Saints at Lincoln Financial Field.
If the Saints thought they were treated inhospitably in road playoff losses in Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco, their eyes — and ears — are about to be opened this weekend.
Over the years, Philly fans have earned a reputation as the some of the loudest, rowdiest and most mean-spirited in sports. GQ Magazine named Philadelphia sports fans the meanest fans in America in 2011, and with good reason.
Philly fans have booed Santa Claus and their own star players. Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels received the “South Philly Cheer” when he had the gall to lose his first start of the 2011 season — after the Phillies had started the year 3-0.
In 1999, they booed Matthew Scott, the first person in the United States to receive a hand transplant, after he dribbled the ceremonial opening pitch at a Phillies game with his weakened new hand.
Philly fans once cheered Michael Irvin … after he suffered a season-ending neck injury.
Stories of fans throwing snowballs, batteries and empty liquor bottles at players and coaches from the opposing team are legendary. A few years back one drunken Philly fan intentionally vomited on an 11-year-old girl.
“Fun” isn’t the word that immediately comes to mind when I think of Philadelphia’s hospitality to visiting teams and fans. In fact, I can’t think of a more hostile environment for the Saints than playing the Eagles on the road in the playoffs.
My lasting memory of covering a football game in the City of Brotherly Love came in the 2002 NFC Championship Game. The game between the Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the final event at infamous Veterans Stadium, and no one in Philly gave the Bucs a chance that frigid afternoon.
By sheer happenstance, the pregame media shuttle buses merged with the caravan of buses transporting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers players and coaches to the stadium. As we exited the highway and circled the parking lots outside Veterans Stadium, every green-clad fan saluted us with his or her middle finger.
One elderly woman, an adept multi-tasker, turned bratwursts with her left hand and flicked us the bird with her right — never once looking up from the grill.
It’s funny, but my biggest problem with this – besides the, you know, ridiculous hyperbole and loosely-sourced tales – is that there’s no way an elderly woman in South Philly was cooking brats. They were Italian sausages.