That’s the thing about this city…you can get robbed, stabbed, shot, or murdered any day of the week, but if you’re wearing green on gameday, you may as well be everyone’s brother or sister. Whether you’re from Philadelphia, outside of Philadelphia, or just visiting Philadelphia, an Eagles jersey is your all-access VIP pass to the City of Brotherly Love and will protect you better than a bulletproof vest. Even if the Eagles are having a bad season or just lost a huge game, you could wear an Eagles jersey anywhere in Philadelphia and find yourself getting high-fives and “Go Birds” shouted at you from strangers everywhere.
Wear a Cowboys jersey, though, and you might wish you had a bulletproof vest.
But that’s just the thing about this city…our Eagles are our everything.
Let me take you back to 2018 when those beautiful boys FINALLY won the Super Bowl and FINALLY brought the Lombardi Trophy home to Philadelphia. That entire season was probably the friendliest Philadelphia had ever been and everyone’s worries just seemed a little less important.
I live about forty-five minutes outside of Philadelphia and honestly avoid going into the city like the plague. My only exceptions for travelling into Philly are usually for Eagles games (obviously) and concerts if I absolutely cannot catch the band anywhere else. And it’s not exactly that I hate Philly as a city as much as I hate the idea of transportation inside of Philly.
Driving is a nightmare in the city if you don’t do it every day. I’ve done it a few times, I usually find at least one way to screw up while using Google Maps, and someone always feels the need to honk their horn at me as if I don’t know that I’m lost and ruining their night as well as my own. I don’t need that kind of pressure and added anxiety in my life. It’s too much.
So, there’s always public transportation like trains and buses. Oh, how reliable! Do you want to know what happened the last time I went into Philly with a guy I was seeing? We both met at the train station near his house, and both paid for parking. Then we both paid to take the train into the city where we walked around for a few hours and had dinner before taking the train back. But guess what?! The train wasn’t going back to our stop any longer, so we had to get off the train a few stops early and take a Lyft back to our cars! Are you kidding me?!
I just…I don’t understand why it’s so hard to get in and out of Philly. Which leads me back to the Eagles winning the Super Bowl and the day I dragged my best friend Lauren into Philly for the Championship Parade.
Thursday, February 8, 2018 was a cold and bitter morning. I would’ve gone alone instead of dragging Lauren into the below freezing depths of Broad Street, especially because Lauren couldn’t have cared less about the Philadelphia Eagles or even football, but nobody wanted to send me into the huge, rowdy crowd alone. I don’t blame them, but I don’t think Lauren knew what she was getting herself into with a day of standing around and waiting in a high of thirty-three degrees.
Even I wasn’t prepared to be that cold, but that’s what you get for February in Philadelphia. Why couldn’t I be a Miami Dolphins or a Los Angeles Chargers fan?
Anyway, my dad dropped me and Lauren off about a dozen blocks from the parade route because that was as close as he could get us. It was super early, before sunrise, but we weren’t the only ones with the same idea. There was a small group of us taking the same walking trail to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where the parade would be ending, and the players would be speaking. If you’re not familiar with the art museum, it’s the building Sylvester Stallone runs up the steps in the famous scene in Rocky. I wanted to be near the museum because I wanted to see Nick Foles speak.
Man, I love Nick Foles. But I won’t get into that now.
It was a brutally long morning without anything to do with not wanting to give up our spots on the lawn in front of the art museum. Lauren and I had brought snacks, but we were too damn cold to eat. We just stood in one spot in the grass like two frozen popsicles waiting for the most perfect sports team in the world to show up, or death to claim us…whichever came first.
As the day progressed and more and more people showed up, things got crazier. The majority of the crowd was being respectful of each other’s space and just enjoying the event as a whole. It was the handful of groups who had begun drinking at dawn, hadn’t slowed down, and weren’t capable of being respectful by that point that were causing problems. And Lauren and I were right next to a group of about six of them who kept insisting on taking turns walking in front of us, trying to weasel their way into that small space. I wasn’t having it, though, and I was getting ready to say something because we had been there hours before them, and we deserved to keep our spot. If they wanted to be closer, they should’ve gotten there before sunrise like everyone else in front of them. And there was no reason to be that drunk before noon, especially when there wasn’t anywhere to go to the bathroom without getting lost in the sea of people and risking getting into a fight with more drunk people.
Eventually that group of six found somebody else to bother and Lauren and I didn’t suffer from any more drama…until we tried to leave…
For some reason, probably because of people just like those drunken jerks from our area, people thought we were trying to get in front of them when we were just trying to leave. Even though we were going the complete opposite direction, people were rudely blocking our path and trying to stop us from getting past them and getting out of the grassy lawn in front of the art museum. Not only that, but the frozen ground had started to thaw out, so it was soft and muddy, and Lauren and I had a difficult time making it uphill when we kept sliding back down it in the mud.
It was scary, but we eventually broke free from the crowd of what was reported to be around 700,000 people. Lauren and I weren’t the only ones to leave early so we followed the only other party-poopers while I brought up the nearest train station on my cellphone. We all seemed to be heading to the same place anyway.
But if things were bad before, they were about to get worse.
When Lauren and I got to that first train station, we headed inside while the people we’d followed got into a line for their destination. There were a few lines designated outside for different areas of the city, which was the first red flag. Where was the line to get out of the city?
My fears were justified once we were inside and met with an empty train station. There was no one inside, no one to help us, and nowhere to buy a ticket to get out of this hellhole. Lauren and I were stuck in Philly without any place to go.
Before I could begin hyperventilating, Lauren grabbed my arm and pulled me out a side door where there were even more lines waiting for trains, or buses, or whatever it was that Lauren and I were clearly missing out on. We went up to a girl about our age and Lauren asked her how we could find out which line we were supposed to be in. The girl removed a printed-out ticket from a computer and explained that it would say it on our day pass.
My face fell, burning with shame as Lauren turned a hateful glare on me. We walked quickly away from the line so Lauren could yell at me without making a scene, standing around the corner of the train station.
“I thought you had everything figured out!” Lauren yelled. “You said you had everything taken care of so there was nothing to worry about!”
“I did!” I yelled back, defending myself. “I followed all the advice and even signed up for their stupid texting updates! I did everything right!”
“Then why are we stuck in Philadelphia?!” Lauren screamed at me.
As tears started to well up in the corners of my eyes because I really didn’t like being scolded, I spotted a police officer moseying about by the waiting lines of people. If anyone would have any information on how to help us out of the city, it would be a member of law enforcement. Wouldn’t it?
Lauren, still mad, stayed back while I approached the cop without her. The officer was an average looking guy, taller than me, and wearing his winter patrol jacket. But he seemed slightly startled when I got his attention, which I thought was weird for a cop.
“I’m sorry,” I said to the officer, always intimidated by authority. “My friend and I are really confused about how to get out of the city.”
“Where are you trying to go?” the officer asked me, and I frowned. That was a difficult question because there weren’t really any train stations near us, so we really just needed to get to one of several areas outside of Philly.
“Uh, North Wales would be ideal, but King of Prussia would be just as good,” I stammered, knowing I sounded like a child who shouldn’t be left alone to travel. This is why I avoid Philly!
As I sputtered out the two acceptable towns, the cop looked around at the signs of where people were lining up as if he were expecting one of those names to be on there. When he couldn’t find either, he turned back to me with a solemn look.
“Did you try the bus schedule?” the officer asked me.
“Uh, no…no, I didn’t,” I told him. “Is there a bus stop around here?”
“Head back towards the parade and go two blocks over,” he explained.
I thanked him and then dashed back to Lauren, wanting to get away from him as quickly as possible. There was something definitely off about him and he left me feeling very uncomfortable, which I brought up to Lauren as soon as we were on our way to the bus stop.
“He was more confused than I am!” I exclaimed after I described the entire exchange with the police officer to Lauren. “And he’s supposed to work for the city!”
“This probably isn’t normally part of his job,” Lauren suggested, always being logical when I wasn’t. To be fair, I often did the same to her.
Lauren didn’t seem as concerned about the shady cop as I was, so I dropped it while we walked the rest of the way to the bus stop. Finding a way home really was the more pressing matter so I couldn’t blame her for not wanting to have to worry about something else as well. Especially when that something else was just something I was creating in my head as a distraction to keep my mind off of our current stranded-in-Philadelphia situation.
And when we got to the bus stop, our situation didn’t get much better.
At the bus stop, a large man who worked for the city transit explained that the buses were only running inside of the city that day. But, having already been trying to find the bus schedule online on our phones and having a difficult time finding any information whatsoever, we weren’t really surprised. The part that was a surprise to me, though, was that the officer from the train station should have known that.
“So, what now?” Lauren asked as we skulked away from the bus stop, which until that moment had been our last hope. Now we were out of hope.
“Maybe my dad can pick us up where he dropped us off. Head back that way while I call him,” I told her. “I’m going back to that train station to see what that cop’s up to.”
“Are you insane?!” Lauren called after me as I’d already begun to walk away from her. “Even if you’re right about him being up to something, what are you going to do about it?”
“I don’t know, but it doesn’t hurt to see,” I responded.
“I swear to God, you watch too much Die Hard,” Lauren mumbled as she sprinted to catch up to me, I guess deciding to come along.
On our walk back to the train station, Lauren questioned me about what I could possibly think the Philadelphia police officer was up to. Since she mentioned Die Hard, she opened up a whole new list of theories ranging from terrorist attacks to bank robberies. I wasn’t entirely sure what I believed he was up to, but I was almost ninety-nine percent positive that he wasn’t a real police officer.
Back at the train station, the lines for transportation had only gotten longer and my mysterious cop was no longer at his post. As I spun around where he had once stood, cursing myself for letting him get away, someone called out from one of the lines. He had what sounded like an Irish accent, which wasn’t something you often heard in Pennsylvania, and he was about my age if not a little older.
“You lookin’ for that cop that was jus’ here?” the Irish lad yelled from his spot in the long line.
“Yeah! Did you see which way he went?” I asked desperately.
“He went down into the subway,” someone else replied. “There’s a stairwell right behind you.”
I shouted my thanks at the crowd before dashing for the stairs, but Lauren caught my arm to stop me. Stopped two steps down from her, I looked up and saw worry in her eyes.
“I’m just gonna go check it out,” I tried reassuring her. “I’ll be right back.”
“But he has a gun, and you don’t,” Lauren argued.
“Well, I’m not going to give him a reason to shoot me,” I told her. Then I pulled my arm free from her hold and disappeared down the remaining cement steps.
The subway tunnel was dimly lit with less than a quarter of the amount of people that were awaiting transportation above ground. I wasn’t even sure if the subways were running that day. Man did I not do enough research!
Most of the people seemed to be waiting and not really paying attention to their surroundings so they were useless to me in my hunt for the police officer. But I had to look closer as I looked harder for the cop and I quickly realized I was missing a very important detail. I had seen nothing but green jerseys and Eagles logos all day long. But down in that subway tunnel, the small gathering of people were wearing New England Patriots jerseys, which was the team the Eagles had defeated in Super Bowl LII.
“Hey! Green jersey!” someone shouted and suddenly all eyes were on me.
“Uh, what’s going on down here?” I asked cautiously, trying to play super dumb and innocent.
“The subway won’t be coming this way anytime soon,” one of the Patriots fans told me sternly, taking a step toward me.
These people were obviously up to something, but they obviously weren’t going to tell me what that was. But I saw the faux police officer right before I turned to walk away, and I knew exactly what it was that he was holding. He was heading my way, so I pretended to go back up the steps and hid in the stairwell about three steps up with my back to the cement wall.
As soon as the fake cop rounded the corner and took the first step up, I shoved him hard in the chest, forcing him into the wall opposite me. His jacket was half unzipped and I saw the #12 of his Patriots jersey peeking through as he swung his arms over his head. Bringing his arms down, he struck me in the back of the head with the weapon in his hands then took off running up the steps while I remained dazed for a minute.
“This is for Tom Brady!” the phony officer hollered as soon as he breached the ground level, shedding his jacket to reveal his New England jersey.
My head had recovered by then, so I took off after him, needing to stop him. But he had a head start on top of already being faster than me, so I needed to recruit help as soon as I was above ground again.
“Stop him!” I screamed, pointing at the Patriots fan as I continued my chase. “He has a bomb!”
But no one even blinked. Of course, what was I thinking? This is Philadelphia.
“He said Wentz sucks!” I screamed, louder this time, and before I knew it, a flock of twelve Eagles fans had jumped the pretend policeman and stripped him of his weapons and his dignity.
But that’s the thing about this city…we’re not afraid of guns or even bombs…we bleed green for our Eagles all day every day.