So this past week, there was a fan who showed up to an Eagles practice wearing a Donovan McNabb Redskins jersey. This fan was asked to remove his jersey to stay at the practice. I have a big problem with this and I will explain why.
I am a Phillies & Eagles & Flyers fan living in Arlington, TX. I grew up in Arlington and the only connection I ever had with Philadelphia was that I knew that Will Smith was raised there. I knew I hated the Cowboys, and the Rangers were that fat kid in the 40-yard dash you knew wasn’t going to do anything. We got the Stars in junior high and that was fun, but most Texans, you lose us at the ice.
So the Eagles were public enemy number one in Texas. And I fell in love with that defense they had and Randal Cunningham, Herschel Walker and Ricky Watters. I grew up idolizing Barry Sanders and being a Lions fan. But one can only take so much, and the Eagles ended up being where I sunk my heart into.
And the Rangers, while they have been fun to watch and are responsible for some of my most intense childhood memories, they never really gave me a reason to watch. I fell in love with the Phillies of ’93 and then in 2000, I had my first experience at the Vet and I was hooked for life.
So I am a Phillies & Eagles fan raised raised in Arlington, home of the Rangers & Cowboys. I still enjoy going to Rangers events. One time I went to the Rangers Winter Carnival wearing my Phillies hat and t-shirt (I think it was my Utley “shirsey.”). I enjoyed it. I got punched by the Rangers mascot. (First of two mascots to attack me in baseball) Ellis Valentine looked at me and said, “Philly?!? That’s where I had a 5-hit game.” I didn’t do it maliciously. That’s just the shirt and hat I chose to wear.
Here’s what I would do in the situation of a Redskins or Donovan McNabb showing up to practice in McNabb’s ney jersey. You don’t make the fan take it off. You bring him in to the locker room. Pay a seaful of fans to show up in Redskins garb. Have a locker room talk with the team. My speech:
“Do you see this fan? This is how everyone is looking at us. This is how they doubt us. Our fans are wearing jerseys of the other team to our practices. This is the disrespect our own fans are giving us. Take a look at this jersey. Take a look at every jersey that comes into our practice field, at the game, when you’re eating at a restaurant. Remember the images of those fans in the opposing jerseys when you line up against the other team.”
Coach Reid, I love you, but you don’t tell fans what they can and can’t wear.