Joel Heitkamp had a bad experience in Philadelphia.
The North Dakota radio host and ex-state senator was in town last week for the NFC Championship Game, and turned his disgust into a letter titled, “Dear Amazon…Anywhere but Philadelphia.”
The reason for my letter is to explain to you what I, and numerous other Vikings fans, experienced in Philadelphia as supporters of the visiting team. I have never seen such a display in my life . We had full beer cans thrown at us. We were shoved and spat upon. I was headbutted by a drunk Eagles fan. My wife and sister feared for their lives. Another North Dakotan was beat up in a stadium bathroom. Just watch the videos. They’re not hard to find.
Where were the police, you ask? I am asking myself that same question. Well, I did see some law enforcement officers. I saw one cop walk up to an Eagles tailgate and ask for a “soda.” He left with a red solo cup filled with beer. I saw another cop witness someone being thrown to the ground, and he didn’t so much as flinch. “Keep moving,” he said.
The 56-year-old talks about his visits to Lambeau and Soldier Field, as well as his experience traveling to different stadiums as a college football referee. He talks about the passion that “the game produces” but says that Sunday’s behavior was criminal, with total neglect from the city of Philadelphia and law enforcement.
That’s why, Heitkamp says, Amazon should steer clear of the Delaware Valley:
This brings me to my plea of you, Amazon, and your CEO, Jeff Bezos:
Anywhere but Philadelphia. Do not build your $5 billion second headquarters in the “City of Brotherly Love.” Do not bring the stimulus of 50,000 new jobs there. As an Amazon customer, I want to continue to do business with your company. Please, anywhere but Philadelphia.
It was a window of opportunity for hater-in-chief Victor Fiorillo to get Heitkamp on the phone for an interview with Philly Mag, the outlet that published an appalling article on Monday titled “The Eagles Won Big on Sunday Night, and so did White Privilege.”
Fiorillo sees NFL players as “future rapists, domestic-assault suspects, and drunk drivers,” just to provide some context on his feelings towards football.
Anyway, from the follow-up interview:
Fiorillo: You come from North Dakota. Your station is based in Fargo. Some might wonder if you just can’t handle the big city.
Heitkamp: I do just fine. I’ve been a state senator. My sister is a U.S. senator. I’ve been to Moscow. I’ve been to every big city in the U.S., out and about at night. I’ve done Mardi Gras. I’ve been to celebrations in San Antonio and New York. I’ve been to Yankees games in the Bronx.
I’ve never — ever ever — seen anything like this. I travel all the time. I’ve walked into Soldier Field in the other team’s jersey. The South Side of Chicago isn’t exactly the best place to be. People razzed and teased, yes. But there were no full beer cans thrown at us. There was no “I’m gonna rape your wife.” There was no ten-year-old kid flipping you off while the dad goes “Attaboy.”
I just can’t describe how repulsive it was. What if the Vikings had won? If the Vikings had won, if they won, shit, we could be dead.
In Philly? I don’t think so.
But it happened in Los Angeles, where Dodger fans killed a Giants fan a few years ago. We’ve seen bad behavior in Vancouver and Boston and State College. There’s been worse in Rome and Bursa and Marseille and Port Said.
Things have even happened in… Minnesota:
You can go down the list and find all sorts of scenarios where idiots from every state and every country do idiotic things.
It’s not exclusively a Philly problem, nor is it a Philly vs. opposing fans problem. Nor is it an American or Canadian or European problem. It’s a humanity problem.
Nothing explains that better than this group of scummy Eagle fans fighting EACH OTHER before the game:
Trash will be trash, no matter the time, place, location, or skin color.
And according to Mayor Jim Kenney, it’s Delco’s fault!
Well he doesn’t mention Delco specifically, but you know he wants to while shading the suburbs in this package put together by a Minny TV station:
Yes, the behavior is embarrassing.
Yes, it makes Philadelphia look bad.
Yes, law-abiding, tax-paying, decent locals don’t want to be represented by morons who blare “Trap Queen” while throwing cheap shots at each other.
And a lot of those locals put their money where their mouth is, literally, by donating $7,000 to the Mike Zimmer Foundation in an apologetic display for the actions of our subhuman neighbors. The foundation benefits Minnesota children through scholarship efforts and youth program administration. It was created in memory of Zimmer’s wife, Vikki, who passed away in 2009 and spent most of her life working with the homeless and volunteering in the community. It’s a great cause, and you can donate by visiting MikeZimmerFoundation.org.
Hopefully those charitable efforts can do a little bit to help edit the narrative being used to describe Philadelphia sports fans, because it’s not all of us. It really isn’t, even though we do have a lot of bad apples.
But so do other cities in other countries on other continents. You can’t say it’s a Philly thing, because losers will be losers, no matter what.