The NFL Draft has been a remarkable commercial for the city of Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love (TM) has become something of a derisive term, at least in sports circles, given Philly fans’ traditional boorish behavior. But this week, outside of a few small incidents, the city has been all smiles.
And those incidents? They all involved the Dallas Cowboys.
The fan who put his butt on top of a uniform cutout? It was the Cowboys uniform. Red splatter to look like blood on the jersey? (Or maybe it was blood…) Yep, the Cowboys. The loudest boos outside of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell? You guessed it, the Cowboys, every single time they made a pick over the three days, with none louder than when former Cowboy great Drew Pearson cut a wrestling promo in front of the crowd Friday night.
The rivalry between Eagles and Cowboys fans is incredible, and — at least up here — maybe the best rivalry in the entire NFL. Eagles fans hate Cowboys fans, and while Cowboys fans say they don’t care about the Eagles, they so much do, or there wouldn’t have been so many of them walking around the NFL Draft Experience Saturday parading their star-laden jerseys for all to see.
There were hundreds of Cowboys fans on the Parkway Saturday, and probably a few thousand over the course of the three-day event. Of all team gear seen over the course of this NFL Draft, the Eagles far outnumbered every other team, followed by the Giants, which makes sense given their proximity, and Dallas. No other team came close to those three. Which got us thinking…where are all these Cowboys fans from?
During the season, we talked to some local Cowboys fans to find out why they rooted for the Eagles’ most hated rival. Saturday, the pool was larger, and after talking to some actually very nice Cowboys fans during my walk around the event, I set out to see if I could find any Cowboys fans actually from Dallas.
I spoke to 50 Cowboys fans Saturday afternoon and 23 — nearly half — were from Philly.
Two of those 23 live in Maryland currently, but consider Philly their home. I met two Cowboys fans from Lancaster, two from Somerdale, two from Cherry Hill and three from Delaware. There was one Cowboys fan I spoke with from Reading, one from Swedesboro, one from West Chester and one from King of Prussia. I didn’t ask if he got his jersey at the mall, but we all know the answer to that is yes.
I met fans from New Mexico and Long Island and Virginia and a woman originally from Louisiana who converted from being a Saints fan because her husband (in the bathroom at the time) is a Cowboys fan. She turned him into an LSU fan (from cheering for Notre Dame) and she adopted the Cowboys as a compromise. Her husband’s not from Dallas either. He’s from, as she put it, “New Jersey…one of those beachy places.”
Maybe the beach?
Of the 50 Cowboys fans I spoke with, just three were actually from Dallas, and just one will be going back there after the draft.
It actually didn’t take too long to happen upon a young couple from Dallas, Priya and Kshitij, who were wearing Cowboys gear to support their home team. Only, it won’t be Priya’s home team for much longer, as they came up to the draft because she’s moving to Philly for school and they were looking at places for her to live.
I met another Cowboys fan and his buddy who are both originally from Texas — one Dallas and one San Antonio — but they live in Wilmington, Delaware now. They said they’ve been lightly heckled this week, but cautioned that having two big guys walk around together usually stops people from going too hard on the trash talk.
Most of the fans admitted they’ve taken varying levels of smack talk from Eagles fans. Two guys from Connecticut rocking a Witten and a Romo jersey said the worst trash talk they got was from Philly cops. “We almost got arrested,” one said before telling a story that did not sound at all like they were almost arrested.
“We were walking outside the fence and we walked by some cops,” Aaron from Connecticut excitedly told me. “ We were wearing Cowboys with guys wearing Jets, Eagles…A cop looks at them and says ‘innocent, innocent,’ then points to us and says, ‘guilty! Guilty!”
Several fans either thanked or blamed their parents for their Cowboys fandom. “My dad forced me,” one woman said. Another pointed to her son wearing an Ezekiel Elliott jersey and said, “his grandma scarred him for life.”
Another Cowboys fan said he’s cheered for Dallas, “since I came out the womb,” and one woman, relaxing on the curb in the crazy Philly heat, said she loved Dallas since the 1960s because they were the hardest hitting team she’d ever seen. “You could hear the crunch,” she said. “Ain’t nobody hit like they hit.”
Not everyone was a lifer. One woman is from Houston and grew up rooting for the Oilers, but when they left, she switched to Dallas. Another guy, from Philly, said he rooted for the Oilers too because Warren Moon was the only black quarterback in the NFL at the time. He said when the team moved, “I decided to stay in Texas, I love blue, so now I ride with the Cowboys.”
Is that better or worse than the Cowboys fan, also from Philly, who said, “Emmitt Smith changed my life,” or the guy who proudly said he was from South Philly with a crystal clear ‘yeah that’s where the Iggles play come at me, bro’ sound in his voice.
So I came at him. Why in the world would a kid from South Philly root for Dallas? “My dad is a lifelong fan and he passed it down to me. I can watch the fireworks from the Eagles stadium in my bathroom, that’s how close I live.”
Only a Cowboys fan would watch Eagles fireworks in his bathroom.
Most of the Cowboys fans at the draft Saturday were with Eagles fans, either reluctant best friends or families yet to disown their wayward sons, daughters and siblings. Angel from Lancaster said he was actually afraid to wear his Cowboys shirt to the draft today, because of what Eagles fans might do to him, but his wife told him she was wearing hers and ‘she said nobody’s going do anything to her, so I have to wear mine too.’ He said he got some friendly jeers, but nothing nasty.
Another pair of pals eating some fries under a tree disagreed on how the day was going for them. When asked if he got any crap, the Cowboys fan definitively said he did, to which the Eagles fan sitting with him replied, “that’s horseshit. I’ve been getting more shit for being friends with you!”
And then there’s Jordan, the stand-up comedian from Florida who became internet famous when he got the Cowboys Super Bowl tattoo before they even got to the Super Bowl.
He was there. Of course he was there. And he said the only time he got any flak from Eagles fans was when a group of middle school kids accosted him. He said the kids were verbally attacking a young Giants fans and when he stepped in to help the kid, they went after him. After the ordeal, Jordan said, he gave the kid $20. “And a bunch of other people started giving him $20s too. Kid probably made $800 right there.”
No, I don’t believe the story either.
I do believe this one, though, because I was there. I was interviewing a couple from New Jersey asking why they were decked out in Cowboys gear. His grandma was from Dallas, the guy said, while her dad is a Cowboys fan, but her mom is an Eagles fan. “I’d never seen my parents fight until after a Cowboys-Eagles game,” the woman said. “They watch the games in separate locations now.”
Just then, after the guy said he got a few “Romo’s a homo” chants but before I could ask either of their names, an Eagles fan walked by us and yelled, “Fuck you! But still have fun.”
That’s pretty much how the whole experience went, Saturday. Fuck you, Cowboys fans who have probably never even been to Dallas. But we hope you had fun at Philly’s draft.