This morning I was talking with a friend of mine who is a Baltimore Ravens fan. He told me about attending the celebration in Baltimore, and we discussed the upcoming seasons for our respective teams. I told him that I was excited to see the Philadelphia Eagles take the field with a new energy and life. He said to me that he would never come up to see a game at Lincoln Financial Field because he “has heard too many stories.” This element, the passion of the fans, was sorely missing last season and will be a vital part of the 2013 effort.
I remember watching the last games of 2012 and seeing empty seats. This was a valid reaction to the product on the field, but it also made a point about “home field advantage.” I grew up watching the games at the Vet, the field like concrete, with injured players carted off often during the four quarters. I remember seeing the fights in the 700 level, knowing a judge was waiting in the stadium for anyone who needed legal action. This energy was missing last year, and new Eagles head coach Chip Kelly will need to harness it in the new season.
Earlier this week, the Eagles said they gave out over 200,000 tickets to the five training camp sessions at the Linc, with 50,000 expected for the first camp on July 28. This is a good sign. You cannot underestimate the importance of a loud stadium and fans screaming over the opposition’s huddle on third down. Too many times last season the momentum was lost to a dead crowd, fans cringing at the result. The team will need extra this year, and if that means living up to the “stories,” then so be it. The opposition needs to be scared to play in Philly. They need to not be able to hear play calls and get harassed from the stands when they are on the sideline.
This energy recaptured will be an important part of the 2013 season. We are the most passionate, knowledgeable and intense fans in the league, and Kelly can use this to his advantage. Philadelphia is the Eagles’ city, and it is time to take back the stadium and truly be the 12th man.