As the Eagles broke camp Tuesday afternoon, they went through what has become a ritual on Fan Appreciation Day under Andy Reid over the past few years. One by one, led by Reid, the Eagles walked the perimeter of the fields, shaking hands with the faithful fans that have come to support the team over the last three and a half weeks. To a man, the Eagles expressed their gratitude for the energy the fans provided them throughout the dog days of Training Camp.
"The Philly fans do not compare to anywhere else," said Evan Mathis, who has played for three other NFL teams. "Their level of support blows everyone else's out of the water. They're very passionate. It's an incredible thing to come out here an hour, hour and a half away from Philly, fill up these stands, show us the support when, you know on a day like today, we didn't even know we would have practice with the potential of having a rainout. But they showed up and packed it out, and we really appreciate that."
"That doesn't really surprise me anymore," said eight-time Training Camp veteran Todd Herremans. "I kind of expect it now just because I've been here for so long. I talk to guys around the league, and they don't have this much of a fan turnout at their training camps and stuff like that, so it's just special. It's awesome for the fans to be able to have this opportunity and then to have this much support from somewhere as far away from Philly as this is awesome."
For newcomers like DeMeco Ryans, the immense fan support comes as a bit of a surprise.
"They're out here every day, even in the walkthroughs," Ryans said. "That was surprising to me and unexpected. For them to show the support they showed us, we have a lot of people behind us. It's encouraging to come out in these tough Training Camp practices and have the fans yelling and giving us energy. That was very important."
"The fans, I've never been a part of this in college," said the bebearded Jason Kelce on the heels of his second Training Camp. "In college, we were lucky to get fans at our games, much less our practices. So coming out here for Training Camp, those days when you really don't feel like coming out here, and then you see that you're still playing in front of thousands of people, generally speaking, that gets you amped up because then you know, 'Alright, these people came all the way out here just to watch me practice,' reinforces how important it is you're doing this for a lot of people."
As Nate Allen says, the fans' impact is felt on the field "because we see how amped up they are and feed off them a little bit."
Of course, the Eagles also know that the best way to show their appreciation for the legions of Eagles fans is in their performance on the field.
"Just having all the fans come out from all over the state to come watch us practice shows support," said Brian Rolle. "It shows that people believe in us regardless of the year that we had last year. We look forward to giving them the season they deserve this year."
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