Every summer, in the hottest months of the year, through rain, sun, mud and heat advisories, fans file their way through the narrow roads of Bethlehem in search of the first glimpse of their beloved Birds. They come to get an up close and personal sneak-peek of what is yet to come.
More than 83,000 Eagles fans invaded Lehigh University's practice fields during the 13 days of Training Camp, showing that Eagles fans are some of the most dedicated and passionate fans in the NFL to say the least.
Some fans swear the only letters in their alphabet are E, A, G, L, E and S and insist that the blood in their veins runs greener than the color on the Birds jerseys.
We wouldn't want it any other way.
Considering this incredible amount of dedication, it couldn't have been more fitting for the Philadelphia Eagles to honor their loyal fans on the last day of training tamp by hosting Fan Appreciation Day. Photo Gallery : Fan Appreciation Day at 2009 Training Camp
Players, coaches, staff and personnel were all on hand to give a heartfelt thank you for the fans allegiance. It was a great way for the Eagles to pay back the best fans in the NFL.
To kick off the Fan Appreciation celebration, the first 7,500 fans at training camp received a magnetic schedule for the 2009-10 regular season. Eagles fans are well known for boasting their love of the birds, so select merchandise was marked down between 15%-50% to assist them in their support.
The real highlight of the day came after practice as the players and coaches put on a spectacular thank you for everyone.
As practice ended, fans lined the edge of the field, yelling out the names of their favorite players and wishing their Eagles good luck this season. Fans were spirited as head coach Andy Reid responded to their enthusiasm, leading the Eagles coaches and players in greeting the fans with high fives, handshakes and waves. The grateful players ran along the sidelines giving fans high fives and calling out 'thank you' for the many words of encouragement received from their devoted followers.
To show their appreciation, players stayed longer than usual to take pictures and sign autographs.
Scott Satell of Berwyn, PA, who was in attendance with his son and two of his son's friends, said, "Meeting Chris Gocong was definitely the highlight of the day. He waited all that time after practice to sign everything and take pictures with all of the kids. It was great. It's been really rewarding to see the kids get to meet and talk to their heroes."
Demonstrating how much players appreciate fan support was a question by quarterback A.J. Feeley.
After posing for pictures and signing many autographs in a separate tent, Feeley asked if he could keep his Sharpie with him, so he could sign more autographs on his way to the locker room.
John Matthias of Swedesboro, NJ reflected on the fan friendly day by saying, "There were so many exciting activities for the kids and everyone loved interacting with the players."
When asked about being an Eagles fan, Matthias replied: "I've been an Eagles fan my whole life and I look forward to the season every year. It's about being a part of an avid fan base that knows the game and is passionate about our team."
Matthias gave one final comment about expectations from the team, "The only thing we have left to ask for is a Super Bowl Championship."
From the support shown at camp Tuesday, the fans are in it for the long run and will be behind the team for a championship run this season.