Stepping away from what the Eagles are doing on the football side of things, it’s again time to send out a word of deeply appreciated thanks. Eagles fans have created an environment that has driven New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning to point to Lincoln Financial Field as his most difficult stadium in which to play in the NFL. For this, you’re deserving of a gigantic and collective “THANK YOU."
Manning made his remarks at a New York Institute of Technology Center for Sports Medicine/Head Injury Association panel discussion recently, saying that Philadelphia “is a different culture. … It runs in the families down there.” Manning, who has a career regular-season record of 6-9 in South Philadelphia and a postseason record of 0-2 against the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, hasn't had much success against the Eagles at all, really.
Philadelphia is 20-10 against Manning, including the postseason, and has won 10 of the last 12 games against Manning and the Giants the last six seasons.
And that’s in large part due to you, the fans.
Lincoln Financial Field prepares for its 17th Eagles season and it has, indeed, been a homefield advantage for the Eagles. I’ve been to all of the stadiums – except now the new stadium in Atlanta – and Kansas City and Seattle have the loudest noise factors on a consistent basis. What I experienced on the sidelines during the 2017 postseason, when every Eagles fan stood from start to finish, yelling from the bottom of his or her lungs, was incredible. Last year’s up-and-down season produced a 5-3 record at home and some tough times, and Eagles fans stuck with the team as the Eagles turned the campaign around in December with key wins against Washington and Houston to help reach the playoffs.
Loyalty and perseverance have never been questioned when it comes to Eagles fans, but the national perception has always been bothersome and, in fact, not fair.
Eagles fans, since the time I started covering this football team in 1987, have been nothing if in love with their football team. They are passionate, they are invested, they are beyond loyal, they are educated, and they have opinions. And they aren’t afraid to express themselves. Eagles fans are loud, yes, and thank goodness for that, because we’ve seen for decades how Eagles fans take over road stadiums and turn it into a pro-midnight green venue.
And now it's out there for everyone to digest, thanks to Manning: The Linc is a tough place for opposing teams. That's just a fact.
“I know that we go out on the field in a road game and it feels like we’re at home, that makes a huge difference,” tight end Zach Ertz said last season. “At home, it's crazy every week. We love it. We appreciate the way our fans support the team. We know how special these fans are. I talk to guys around the league and they wish their fans were like Eagles fans.”
EaglesEverywhere. It's never been more of a fact. The trip to London last season, meeting fans from, literally, around the world, was eye-opening. It was remarkable to hear the stories of how fans from all reaches of the world fell in love with the Eagles and what this football team means to them.
When veteran safety Andrew Sendejo signed in free agency with the Eagles, he recalled the tough times his former team, Minnesota, had played at Lincoln Financial Field, particularly in the NFC Championship Game in the 2017 playoffs. And Sendejo genuinely expressed happiness that he’ll now be on the favored side of the crowd in South Philadelphia.
“Obviously being an opponent coming here has always been tough, so I’m looking forward to being of the good side of that now,” Sendejo said. “I’m excited to just be here and have the fans cheering for me as opposed to screaming at me.”
It is more than just being loud and proud and passionate that separates Eagles fans from the rest in the league. Manning is correct in that “it runs in the families” with Eagles fans. Generations of families have shared their love of the team. That’s admirable. That’s strong family love. That’s great parenting. I’m not sure there are many other NFL teams that can point to the bond that exists between the fabric of their cities and every aspect of the football operation.
So, in a very unusual way, Eli Manning deserves some thanks, too. He pointed out what’s been true for so long, and what bears mentioning: Lincoln Financial Field is a great homefield advantage for the Eagles and the fans deserve so much of the credit. I know what the team is doing to prepare for the draft is what everyone is talking about, and I’m excited, too. But in this moment, I just wanted to make sure that Manning’s comments did not go unnoticed and that they were put in the correct context to appreciate.
Eagles fans, you rise above the rest. For that, the Eagles are eternally thankful. Keep up the great work.