Falcon sightings in Philly have happened before. Remember the pair of peregrines who gained local notoriety for their perch atop City Hall?
If those intrepid nesters are still around, a word of advice: Stay away from South Philly this weekend.
As the Eagles take on the Atlanta Falcons in a NFC Divisional playoff game Saturday, the streets will be flooded with Birds of a different kind. For at least a day or two (and maybe even a week or two…), it’s once again fashionable to wear a Nick Foles jersey.
But what if instead of bleeding green, you’re more into a different color — like, say, red and black? Do you don your Falcons gear, knowing you’re in enemy territory?
That’s the dilemma Paul Baillif and his 19-year-old nephew Chris Parodi face. The South Jersey natives are lifelong Falcons fans. Baillif turns 40 on Sunday, and as a birthday present, his wife scored him a pair of tix to Saturday’s tilt at Lincoln Financial Field.
“This will be my first Eagles game,” he said, adding that the only time he’s tailgated at the Linc was “by myself with a warm beer at a Bon Jovi concert.”
That he’s never attended a game doesn’t mean he’s oblivious to the reputation of the fans. Far from it. Which is one reason he decided to play it safe.
“No fucking way,” he said when asked if he’d dress in Falcons colors Saturday.
The second reason? Fear of jinx. “Whenever I wear Falcons gear,” Baillif said, “they lose. The last time I wore [it] was 1999, when we lost the Super Bowl against Denver. “ He’s also convinced the reason they lost last year was because he used a Falcons napkin at Big Game watching party.
At half his uncle’s age, Parodi is a bit braver.
“I plan on wearing Falcons gear to the stadium,” he said, adding quickly that it would be semi-hidden under a jacket or sweatshirt.
He gives Eagles fans more credit than some. “I have heard from others that they are vicious or angry,” he said, “but I think they’re just very passionate, and get upset if anyone else makes a comment about their team.”
Baillif plans on showing plenty of passion himself.
Despite being raised in New Jersey, he fell in love with the Falcons in the ‘90s, taken with the up-tempo, run-and-shoot offense and aggressive, swarming defense — aptly known as the “Gritz Blitz” — that the mercurial Jerry Glanville ran as head coach. Guys like Deion Sanders, Michael Haynes, Andre Rison, Tim Green and Jessie Tuggle were rising stars. They were flashy and controversial, a young kid’s dream team.
So Baillif said he plans to run his “big mouth” for all four quarters when they face the Eagles Saturday. He intends to keep it clean and fun, although he said he might have to break out into a rendition of the “Dirty Bird” dance if the Falcons make it into the end zone.
As for Parodi, he fell into the Atlanta fold via a name Philly fans all know — Michael Vick — by way of Madden NFL. As a kid, he started using the Falcons on the popular video game, picked up a Vick Falcons jersey, and never looked back.
“I have been told by friends and family to not instigate anything,” Parodi said, “[and] that Eagles fans can be a rough crowd so be ready to get yelled at.”
That might be putting it mildly.
“You should STRONGLY advise them to not wear Falcons gear and to keep it down at the game,” said Andy, a diehard Birds fan who’ll also be there Saturday. “People are going to be very, very aggressive at this game, with very short fuses. This is the playoffs. I legit would advise against fans of opposing teams to go to playoff games at the Linc.”
Baillif is not deterred. He’s cheered his Falcons through disappointment after disappointment, and is not about to miss them now.
“This year, the Falcons are peaking at the right time,” he said.
Fair enough. As long as he keeps that sentiment to himself, he should have a great time.