Column: This week is for the Birds

Take a moment to remember a few great rivalries. Yankees vs. Red Sox. Howard Stern vs. the F.C.C. Hillary Duff vs. Lindsay Lohan. Condoleezza Rice vs. Barbara Boxer.

Now forget them. Repress them. Ignore them. Do whatever you can to push them out of your brain. They don’t matter anymore.

This week, it’s the Eagles vs. the world. Not Eagles vs. Patriots. Eagles vs. the world. In a 12-round bout. No holds barred. No punches pulled. No wimps allowed.

Only the angriest, most passionate, battle-hardened fans need apply.

For the past five months, Foggy Bottom’s Philadelphia faithful (sweet alliteration, huh?) geared up for the perfect opportunity to body slam whatever opponent laid waiting. For too long, GW’s cheese steak caravan has taken a back seat to Bostonians and New Yorkers – two groups who believe the Earth ends at the western banks of the Hudson River.

Philadelphia fans are sort of like GW’s middle child – always angry and feeling slighted. And I don’t blame them, as New Jersey and Pennsylvania make up almost 21 percent of the student population, according to the University’s Office of Institutional Research. I realize not all of these people are Eagles fans, but that’s more than New York (15 percent) and Massachusetts (8.4 percent).

I’ll admit it. I still don’t quite understand the concept of being from “outside Philly.” Where is that exactly? New Jersey? Pennsylvania? Apparently, all of the above apply.

That’s the type of comment that could get me killed as a Patriots fan. I should watch out – as I’ve learned this week, Eagles fans are nuts.

“The Eagles fans are crazier than Red Sox fans,” says Katie Marden, a bartender and waitress at Rhino Bar and Pumphouse in Georgetown, a place that shows Sox games during baseball season and Eagles games during football season.

Marden says she expects 300 to 400 mouth-foaming fans this Sunday.

“The Eagles fans tend to drink more,” she says. “They out-do themselves every time I work for them. A lot of workers will be there to make sure people aren’t getting too drunk or belligerent.”

I’ll admit it. Boston fans are whiners, but we take pride in taking losses like a bunch of pansies. Philly fans, on the other hand, just take losses hard.

“They’re definitely the most passionate group,” says Marden, who has had “numerous beers knocked on her” on Sundays over the years.

It doesn’t really matter which team the Eagles are playing. “We hate all opponents,” says Alyssa Greco, a GW student from Blue Bell, Penn. who also is a student manager for the men’s basketball team.

They hate the Cowboys, Redskins, and even Santa Claus, for God’s sake. The Patriots are next. And don’t tell Philly fans they’re just happy to be there. They want to win. Would last year have been such a big deal for the Red Sox if they had lost to the Cardinals in the World Series?

Freshman Dan Klein is hoping his team will get over its second big hump in a row – the Super Bowl. He was in the stands during the NFC Championship game. Since then, Philly fans have shed their spiky shell … temporarily.

“It was amazing,” says Klein, a Cherry Hill, N.J., native. “Everyone was hugging. It was basically a relief.”

Friday afternoon, he will head to Jacksonville to attend the Big One. Klein won the ticket lottery and will join his brethren, who will probably put on their armor and prepare for battle. This is Philly we’re talking about here. “Warm” and “fuzzy” are two words most Eagles fans won’t admit to having in their vocabulary – except when they sing that bizarre fight song. You know, “Fly Eagles fly.” What’s up with that?

Klein even has the “power ballad” for his ring tone. “It hypes people up,” he says.

But what if fight song doesn’t work? What if the anger doesn’t pay off? What if the Patriots prevail and the Eagles don’t win their first Super Bowl?

Klein, rightfully so, does not really want to entertain that possibility. But if they do lose, “It’ll be a major disappointment,” he says. “Eagles fans are notorious for being crazy.”

But what does “crazy” actually mean? My psychology teacher in high school used to say that if you admit to being crazy, then you’re probably not crazy. You’re just self-aware, which is a good thing. Eagles fans are proud of who they are. And for that, the sports world should try and be thankful.

So, have no fear GW administration. If there’s a riot (win or lose), it won’t be that bad. It’s not like the city called in riot police when the Red Sox finally won the World Series.

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