They came from all over the country -- from California, from Illinois, Virginia, Philadelphia, Delaware. They came because they love the Eagles and live the Eagles and wanted to spend a day at Lincoln Financial Field at the 14th Annual Eagles Carnival rubbing elbows, slapping palms and wishing their favorite team the best of luck in 2008.
"I was born an Eagles fan. It's all I know. Maybe I'm a little bit crazy, but I bleed green," said Frank, who brought his son, Sam, from Illinois. "Eagles fans to me are different than anybody else. We're more passionate than any other fans. We may boo and get carried away with things at times, but we do it because we care about the Eagles. All we want is a Super Bowl. Just one. Give me a Super Bowl."
On a sun-drenched day in South Philadelphia, thousands came and spent a late afternoon and early evening playing games, collecting autographs, exchanging E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES! chants and enjoying themselves immensely. It was an enormously successful event that annually benefits the many great things that the Eagles Youth Partnership program touches, and the Eagles are deeply grateful for the support.
It was also a reminder of who drives the game, the NFL and the Eagles. The fans are the backbone of any franchise, and the Eagles are fortunate to have such a deep, caring, never-die base. Philly fans get a bad rap; we all know that. The national media talks of Eagles fans and brings up the tired stories of snowballing Santa Claus and booing Donovan McNabb and, the truth is, those are such bogus stories that are truly not reflective of what matters .
Eagles fans care. They care if a player plays well. They care if a player appears to loaf. They care if the domain of Philadelphia is threatened. The general tone is this: Say something bad about one group of fans and you've insulted everyone.
Days like the Eagles Carnival are special. They are events, and everyone wins. The players have a chance to meet those who spend their hard-earned money providing the every-day support that helps carry the fortunes of the franchise. The fans spend a day in a sea of Midnight Green having a blast with the players, the coaches, the cheerleaders.
And Eagles Youth Partnership raises much of its annual operating budget, which is the grand purpose from an organizational standpoint.
"I've been coming here for six years," said Renee, from Philadelphia. "I don't miss it. I love seeing the players and seeing all the fans and it's just one of the best days of the year for me and my kids. Go Eagles. I'm here to support the team, win, lose or draw. The Eagles mean so much to me, so this is a day to share with them and wish them good luck for the season.'
NEWS, NOTES AND THIS AND THAT
- I'm guessing that Shawn Andrews will play at least a few snaps on Friday night. He needs to get into the flow of the action right now. Andrews seemed to be in good spirits on Sunday, and agreed that meeting the fans was important for him. "I love them and I've gotten all kinds of support," he said. "I know that not every fan is going to be this nice, but I have to focus on what I have going on and get better."
- Will Reggie Brown play against the Patriots? I don't know, but one of the keys of this preseason for me was getting Brown into an early groove. He is in danger of not playing in his third preseason game, and that is a concern. Stay tuned.
- I'll be interested to see how the Eagles play the kickoff return game this week. The opinion here is that Quintin Demps will get a shot as the return man first, but that Lorenzo Booker will get another look. The Eagles really need to get the kickoff return game in gear. DeSean Jackson is making progress on punt returns, and is giving every indication that he has a chance to be special.
- The latest at fullback? Not much has changed. It's Jed Collins right now. I know the word out is that the Eagles promoted Collins as a "wakeup call" for Jason Davis, but the fact is that Collins has played really well in every phase of the game. He is the guy at the moment.
- In years past, Andy Reid has given the third quarterback the second half of the third preseason game. So if history repeats, A.J. Feeley would see the most action in the second half of Friday night's game. But Kevin Kolb has thrown 48 passes in two preseason games, and it's obvious the Eagles want to give him as much action as possible to get him ready to play. I don't know which way Reid is leaning on this one.
- The first cuts are due a week from Tuesday, when the roster is reduced from 80 players to 75 players.