Last year, when the Philadelphia Soul celebrated winning the Arena Bowl Championship at City Hall, the party was set up in the hot sun, and Mayor Kenney stood on the stage, sweltering with the team. This year, though the Mayor’s Office declared August 30 “Soul Back-to-Back Championship Day” or something to that effect, Kenney wasn’t actually there. (They even put the stage in the shade this year, Mayor!)
But Kenney didn’t show, instead sending city representative Sheila Hess to, well, represent the city. Granted, he was busy suing the Attorney General of the United States or some other business more important than celebrating this city’s only winning team. And so, Hess proclaimed this day Soul Day, or Soul Back-to-Back Day or whatever words they ended up deciding on.
The crowd was pretty much the same 100 people as were there last year. Yes, I was there again, too — and this time I brought Billy Penn’s photo intern Sydney Schaefer, who took some of these amazing photos below. (The snark, however, is mostly mine.)
But before we get to all that, let’s be clear about one thing: This is in no way a knock on the Soul. Winning a title is a big deal, and the players work tirelessly day in and day out for this. It’s their job, and not a very highly-paid one at that. The team deserves our respect. And yet, they won a trophy for a championship in a league with five teams. And one of their owners — the always fired up Cosmo DeNicola — just said to a group of people at City Hall, “forget about Green Bay, because Philly has become the new ‘Titletown.’”
So, yeah, this back-to-back rally deserves some perspective. And snark. Here is some of what you probably didn’t see because you most likely weren’t there.
In all, probably a hundred or so fans showed up for the rally, and at least a dozen media. The rest of the people in the courtyard were just passing through. One woman stopped to watch for a good three or four minutes before asking, “Which team is this?”
There were, however, some superfans. Like the guy who yelled out “They just won the Super Bowl!” And the guy above in the blue cape.
Or this guy, with the Soul hat and matching sunglasses that are actually pretty awesome (please feel free to send us some, Soul).
There’s this guy, who also has a blue wig but didn’t bother getting a new SOUL 17 jersey this year. He’s an old soul.
Speaking of which, that’s a Jon Bon Jovi jersey. He hasn’t been the owner since before the last time the league folded. (Note, there was a lot of talk about a three-peat at this event, but with just five teams in the league, Soul fans better hope there’s even a season next year.)
The superfan above brought a championship belt with him. And it actually has AFL markings on it. (The players get rings.)
The dapper fellow in the photo above is Soul Man, who is probably the second-best mascot in town.
This superfan is…oh, that’s Deadspin writer Dan McQuade, formerly of PhillyMag. Hey Dan!
All the players were there, and it was a nice event for them. Soul Kicker Adrian Trevino even brought his son. (His son is already cooler than Soul Man and I hope with that hat they call him Soul Boy or Soul Baby. Please?)
Soul owner Ron Jaworski was there and got very fired up about his team, lauding the players, the coaching staff, the administrators and the fans for giving the team so much support. Truth be told, the Soul is the best-run franchise in the league, and Jaws made sure to boast that TV ratings for the championship game were better in Philly than the NFL game that was on at the same time. No, it wasn’t the Eagles, but it didn’t stop Jaws from using it to excite the crowd, yelling, “Don’t tell me people in Philadelphia don’t care about the Soul. They do!”
Say hi to Clint Dolezel, above, who was far more subdued that Jaws, but did thank the first responders in Philly for their help in his home state of Texas this week. Dolezel is a class act, and is probably the best coach in Philadelphia history and I’m not even sure I’m joking.
There was music and dancing and smoke and a lot of excitement, smattering of people that showed up. Oh, and there was confetti.
There was a lot of confetti.
Who is going to clean up all this confetti?