This is a partnership in so many ways – the Philadelphia Eagles and the fans around the world who are so passionate and giving and completely into everything that happens on and off the field with this football team. The last seven days have been a prime example of the ways the connection is made, deepened, linked forever.
Last Monday, right around 3:30 AM, fans lined up to gain prime position for the opening of the Pro Shop at Lincoln Financial Field and by the time the doors opened as the 2023 Kelly Green merchandise line dropped, there were hundreds of fans lined up – patient, excited, thrilled to be there as an era of Eagles football was revisited.
Throughout the week, as the Eagles conducted practice at the NovaCare Complex, the sidelines were crowded as Season Ticket Members and invited guests craned their necks and watched the Eagles run their Training Camp paces, oohing and aahing and enjoying every moment of it.
Then there was Sunday, and a totally different, much larger, and incredibly energetic environment. The Eagles held their 2023 Training Camp Public Practice at Lincoln Financial Field and by 4 PM, an hour before the gates opened, the parking lots were filling up and the fans were streaming in to feel the vibe. When practice began at 7 PM the fans were riveted: More than 50,000 fans attended – every age, every demographic, and all brought together for the very same reason: Their love of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Such a special night in South Philadelphia.
"It's always fun to get the pre before the real stuff happens – the crowd, the noise, get some of the guys used to being in the stadium," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "You get that adrenaline going when you get into that stadium."
Oh, no doubt the players feel it.
The energy the fans bring is something that throbs out to the field, and in this instance, the intensity was very real. We're less than a week away from the preseason opener on Saturday night in Baltimore and, truthfully, tensions are high on the 90-man roster. Hours before Sunday night's practice, the Eagles made their first roster moves of Training Camp, adding offensive lineman Josh Andrews (who had been with the team from 2014-17) and releasing wide receiver Charleston Rambo and linebacker Davion Taylor. Later, the team agreed to terms with veteran linebackers Zach Cunningham and Myles Jack. Players see this and they know: I could be next.
So, the practice on Sunday night was outstanding – wide receiver A.J. Brown pulled down a contested catch in the end zone to cap off the night for the offense – and the fans gulped up every bit of it. For many in the stands, Sunday night represented an opportunity to watch the team live and up close because, as you know, tickets are hard to come by with the Eagles, so this was a special chance to sit in the seats and feel everything that Lincoln Financial Field and the Eagles have to offer. And along with that, 100 percent of the ticket sales for Sunday night went into the Eagles Autism Foundation's funding of innovative autism research and care programs.
"This is the best home-field advantage in the NFL, maybe in all of sports," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said. "There's not a harder place to play. That is because we have passionate fans that love the Eagles."
The fans loved it. The players loved it – "Absolutely, absolutely," quarterback Jalen Hurts said after practice – and it was a perfect way to catapult to the next phase of the summer for the Eagles: Preseason games and joint practices against the Browns and the Colts and then, before you know it, the roster is reduced from 90 players to 53 players and the focus turns, in total, to the regular-season opener at New England.
That can wait. Let's allow Sunday night – and, really, the last week or so – to linger.
Can you believe that more than 50,000 fans turned out for Sunday night's Public Practice at Lincoln Financial Field?!? When it comes to Eagles fans, nothing should surprise you. Check out some of the best photos from a fun night in South Philadelphia.