Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow, the Eagles and Santa: Where'd You Think This Was Going?

I leave this to those at for edification:

Nothing has continued to eternally damn the reputation of Philly sports fans more than their behavior on December 15th, 1968. On halftime of the Eagles' game against the Vikings, a 19-year-old in a Santa Claus suit came out to greet the fans, and was greeted with a shower of boos and a probably much-harder-to-ignore shower of snowballs. Despite occurring over 40 years ago, the incident continues to get brought up in almost every indictment of Philly Fans Gone Wild, as the primary evidence of the cold, black heart that apparently beats inside every one of us.
Naturally, there's more to the story than would appear. In their Great Philadelphia Fan Book, WIP radio hosts Glen Macnow and Anthony L. Gargano relate that Santa was not treated so rudely "for no reason other than we're mean people," but rather that it was Eagles fans venting their frustrations for a number of worthy reasons. Namely among them was the state of the Birds franchise at the time, which saw the team accrue a 2-11 record (on the way to 2-12 with their eventual loss to Minny) in the middle of a dismantling period, including a trade of future-Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen to the Redskins for the interception-prone Norm Snead.
What's more, Santa's presence was an underwhelming one to Philly fans who were expecting a full Christmas pageant, a planned celebration nixed by Eagles brass due to the lousy weather and mucky field conditions. Instead, Santa was trotted out as the lone representation of holiday merriment, and after a few seasons of downgraded expectations and disappointment, you can see how the situation would quickly become so highly volatile.
Interestingly, though while the fans' reaction was less reflexive [stupidity] than the general media thinks, no one tries to deny that did in fact occur. Also interesting is the fact that Frank Olivo, the man in the Santa suit at the time, doesn't seem to take the abuse personally. "I'm a Philadelphia fan," said Olivo. "I knew what was what. I thought it was funny." 

 if you can call it that, that second win cost them the right to draft inmate #2648927 of the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.  You may have known him better as Orthanal James Simpson, and they had to settle for Leroy Keyes.

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