Update, Oct. 17: Michael McGreevy, aka Reddit user thereallosteyesight, directed us to a comment he posted 3 days prior to CrackSammiches urging everyone to adopt the phrase.
“I prefer Brotherly Shove,” he wrote.
McGreevy, a lifelong Eagles fan from Middletown, N.J., who now lives in Tampa, acknowledged he wasn’t the first to ever use the term. But he did start using it for the Eagles last season, he said.
He’s happy CrackSammiches popularized it.
“It’s a great name. It’s an obvious one, actually,” he told Billy Penn. “It’s great for the team. It’s great for the city.”
Original story below
The Eagles have had great success this season and last with a particular short-yardage play: the quarterback is pushed forward by their teammates and, on many attempts, succeeds in making a touchdown or first down.
Over the years it’s been described using different terms including the QB sneak, rugby scrum, bush push, cheek sneak, and various other buttock-themed formulations. Sportswriters and fans often call it the “tush push,” which has been accepted as fairly accurate, if somewhat silly.
To the rescue came a fan who goes by CrackSammiches on Reddit. He declared to the Eagles subreddit: “It’s called the ‘Brotherly Shove.’ Spread it.”
“It deserves a nickname that will live on in infamy. Many teams can tush push, but only the Eagles can Brotherly Shove,” he wrote. “Call into WIP. Email it to online pundit mailbags. Get Merrill Reese saying it. This OL deserves legacy.”
The phrase won instant praise. “The brotherly shove is [the] perfect name,” one wrote. “Overcoming the ‘tush push’ name is gonna be tough. But I love this,” said another.
Fans never needed to launch a marketing campaign. Within a couple days Barstool Sports was taking orders for “Brotherly Shove” t-shirts with a diagram of the play. Sports Illustrated blogged about it, and Eagles coach Nick Sirianni was asked about the phrase at a press conference.
“I kinda like that,” Sirianni said, with a grin. “Who came up with that?”
A long history of ‘shoving you back’
From his Reddit history, CrackSammiches appears to be a former Pennsylvania resident who now lives in Portland, Oregon. He didn’t immediately respond to messages from Billy Penn.
From the start, he made clear he didn’t come up with Brotherly Shove. “I read it on Reddit somewhere and don’t know who to credit,” he wrote. “Just spread it.”
When someone urged him to take credit before “some bozo on Twitter does,” he responded, “The name belongs to the team. All credit goes to them.”
Yet he was also clearly delighted when Sirianni embraced the term he had proposed, and when he was credited for it on Good Morning Football, the NFL TV show. “I have not stopped smiling for like 2 days now,” he told his fellow redditors. “You’re all watching me peak in real time.”
One commenter said, vaguely, that they’d heard the term used at Eagles games as long ago as last year, apparently by the team’s broadcast crew. But searches on social media sites didn’t turn up previous uses of the phrase as a football term.
Its only recent appearance on Reddit was in a discussion of season 7 of the 90s TV show Boy Meets World, whose best episode was arguably one titled “Brotherly Shove,” according to several commenters.
Yet the phrase is hardly new. “Philly has been the City of Brotherly Shove or the City That Shoves You Back for some time,” one Reddit poster noted.
In addition to echoing “brotherly love”—the translation of the Greek word “philadelphia”—it has long been used to describe Eagles fans and their attitudes toward various perceived enemies.
“There is something unique about the City of Brotherly Shove: Philadelphia hates team owners, especially the people who own its football team,” read an Inquirer article from 1998, referring to the city’s “ongoing loathe affair with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie.” (How times change.)
In Dallas in particular, the Cowboys and sports journalists frequently used the term to disparage Eagles fans, who were known to pour “boos, batteries, and ice” on opposing teams at Veterans Stadium, according to a 1998 Associated Press article.
“The Vet can be a bad place to play,” the article reads. “New Dallas coach Chan Gailey knows the perils of a night road game in what Cowboys players call ‘the city of brotherly shove.’”
On the Dallas sports radio station KTCK-AM, hosts “frequently referred to Philadelphia as ‘The City of Brotherly Shove,’” the Inquirer noted in 2003.
It’s also come up in other random sports contexts. Three years ago, when the Sixers fired coach Brett Brown, the Inquirer put the story on the front of its sports section with a banner headline in bold capital letters: “BROTHERLY SHOVE.”
Will the NFL respect the love?
Given how tightly the phrase binds together Philadelphia’s identity with the Eagles’ special success in executing the play and beating their opponents, it was perhaps inevitable that the effort to reclaim it would trigger pushback in the overheated realm of sports fandom.
“Iggles fans: ‘Wahhhh, we don’t like “tush push,”’’ one person wrote on Reddit, over a Mean Girls meme reading “Stop trying to make ‘brotherly shove’ happen. It’s not going to happen.”
“It’s tush push. Sorry eagle bros,” another dissenter wrote. The person posted a picture of a wasted-looked Will Ferrell thinking, “I’m not calling it the brotherly shove.”
But Eagles fans delighted in the way the phrase seemed to give a big middle-finger to the NFL as officials considered banning the play because, when used by some other teams, it has led to injuries.
That seems to have been CrackSammiches’ original motivation for urging others to spread the phrase,
“The Eagles QB sneak is so unstoppable that the larger NFL community has tried to ban it,” he wrote, in his first post proposing the term.
“The rest of the NFL hates us,” another person complained, “and they will definitely change this rule bc they hate us.”
For now, however, the league seems on board. On Sunday night, after the Eagles victory over the Rams, the NFL posted a sketch of the team executing the play on X/Twitter and wrote, “The Brotherly Shove is undefeated.”