"Don't bring the kids" to join this "loud," "passionate," and "unforgiving" crowd. "Fans are loyal," but "brutal," "yelling their hearts out for an amazing play" one moment, and letting "the boobirds fly" "the very next" "if the Eagles aren't playing to their potential." "It is an intense experience, but one that has, unfortunately, become R-rated in too many cases;" "F-bombs are common from everyone, especially when we're losing." As the "mob mentality quickly kicks in," Philly fans "border on the unfriendly" to "opposing fans" who should prepare to "have beer, soda and peanuts thrown" at them, "or worse, a fist." "If you come into our stadium wearing an opposing jersey, you're getting your face pushed in." Some caution that "there are always a couple of yahoos who have had too much to drink," but "we are not all beer-throwing, fighting cretins." "A lot of us just love the Birds, scream our heads off and have a good time." "The fans are pretty knowledgeable" and so "deeply focused on the game" that the "play on the field dictates our reaction." Though admittedly "intimidating," "the majority of the people in the stadium are completely emotionally involved in the Eagles' fate, and exude an "electricity" "from the stands [that] is quite awe-inspiring." "Until you hear 65,000 sing 'Fly, Eagles, Fly' after a score, you haven't experienced Eagles football."
8 out of 10
FOOD & SOUVENIRS
Soda (32 oz.)
Beer (16 oz.)
Expected Meal Cost
"Prices are criminal," but "the selection of food is legit and carries a strong Philly flavor." "Chickie's and Pete's roast beef sandwiches are amazing" and its "crab fries are the best in the city ... check that ... the world." There are "cheesesteaks inside the stadium [at the Liberty Grill]." Though popular, none of the local establishments offer the "bang for the buck as a sausage, peppers and onion sandwich from one of the dozen or so kiosks that offer them for five bucks." That's assuming you can pass up the "Schmitter sandwich at the HeadHouse Plaza," a 100,000-square-foot food and entertainment area that anchors the stadium's north end.
7 out of 10
"Leaving early is very important" if you hope to avoid the "standstill in both directions" on the interstates leading to the stadium, I-95 and I-76. Though "conveniently located very close to major highways and inner-city roads, which accommodates "people coming from about six different directions," the "sheer volume" of cars can make the commute "just awful." A robust tailgating scene helps "spread the stream" of arriving vehicles "over several hours." Taking the subway helps even more, dropping off fans "only a block from the stadium," "though it's more crowded than usual on game days." There seems little escape from the "gridlock" of leaving the stadium. "Parking lots are packed and unload at a snail's pace," in part "because traffic is halted in order to let pedestrians [leaving the game] cross the streets." "Since everyone is leaving at once," "plan on hanging out for around an hour or two, grab a beer and spare yourself [the aggravation]" of "at least a half-hour wait" in the parking lots.
6 out of 10
At one level, tailgating in south Philly "is a monument to excess;" at another "it is also a wonderful family tradition for many in the area." Starting at "dawn" and running "non-stop all day," the Eagles tailgate features "heavy drinking and lots of food" from "large, 100-person" groups "to two-man get-togethers." "Grilling is done everywhere" and is more than "some cheap burgers or beer-can chicken." "Ethnic classics representing all of Philadelphia's diverse populations" are spread across the "huge lots," from "Polish Kielbasa at one van" to "stuffed Italian peppers at the next;" "from lobster and scallops here to prime rib there." Fans punctuate the "raucous, drunken frenzy" by creating an "obscenely fun" "party atmosphere." "Guys dress like Andy Reid." "People sing the Eagles fight song." "Terrell Owens is burned in effigy." "Even if you don't have tickets, the party is good enough to show up for," unless "you're wearing the wrong color jersey." Indeed, "fans can be rough on opposing fans, but that's all part of the experience."
9 out of 10
Donovan McNabb :: David Bergman/SI
Record through Week 9
Players Worth Watching
Donovan McNabb (QB), Brian Westbrook (RB)
3 out of 10
The "gray steel girders" and "dark green seats make Lincoln Financial Field feel like the home of a tough team." The "state-of-the-art LCD video screens measuring 96 feet" in length, the "easy restroom access," the perfectly manicured "natural-grass field" and the "swimsuit-calendar perfect cheerleaders" have convinced many the 4-year-old stadium "is a palace." Like any regal home, there is "tons of room" at the Linc, courtesy of "wide concourses," and seating designed "so that you can see the field from anywhere in the stadium, even if someone is taller than you." "Two standing-room areas" allow fans the chance to "mingle" that the unlinked upper deck doesn't. "Access to that upper deck is poor," as the section's "steep incline" requires a hike up "too many ramps" or a wait in the "massive lines" the single escalator per side creates. The stadium's upper reaches also "tests one's ability to stay warm toward December," a function of the wind that "tears through" the facility's "three open corners." This isn't to say the Linc has the "gritty atmosphere the Vet had," nor the former stadium's odor of "stale beer;" merely, that the Linc may be "gorgeous" but still exudes some of the "vibe" that is Philadelphia.
9 out of 10
The Linc is located in an industrial park of sports stadia, with the Phillies' Citizens Bank Park "across the street" and the current and former homes of the Sixers and Flyers "across another street." In addition to the "parking lots, warehouses and Navy yard," surrounding the area is FDR Park, complete with "trees, lakes, restrooms and even a museum." Plus, it has "plenty of space to tailgate and play football or horseshoes." "Five or six blocks away" are the "quiet," "working class" "rowhouses" of south Philadelphia, the "true Philly," where "you can walk down the street and all you will see are people watching the game." "Some of the greatest delis and sandwich shops are nestled into these neighborhoods." "If need be, Chickie's and Pete's has an awesome basement hangout with beer and big-screen TVs." Guess that's just one reason many fans feel "nothing beats a fall afternoon in South Philly."
5 out of 10
There may be no more incongruous sight in the NFL than an Eagles fan at the Linc. That special blend of passion mixed with surliness that makes an Eagles fan is a product not only of so many excruciating on-field misses, but also of so many days spent at the gruff, but lovable Veterans Stadium. Would these fans be as full-throated, as protective of their Eagles had they grown up at Lincoln Financial Field? Not a chance. But you'd be hard-pressed to find any fan who doesn't appreciate the luxury of the Linc. In part, that's because they've earned it -- and are paying for it, having contributed $181 million to the stadium's $512 million cost -- and, in part, that's because it's just nice to attend a game where the seats are comfortable, where the food is decent. The downside is a fan base that could eventually go soft, but with such a long history of frustration to recall, it's hard to believe Philly fans will stop burning those Cowboys jerseys anytime soon.
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