For Vikings that have never experienced a road game in Philadelphia, former Eagles Lito Sheppard and Lorenzo Booker are giving them a quick tutorial. Both were interviewed by Viking Update Wednesday on their feelings about returning to Philly and were asked about playing against their former team.
In both cases, the conversation turned to discussing the raucous (some would say thuggish) fans that have become such a part of the Eagles lore and legendary reputation for toughness. These fans threw snowballs at a moth-ridden Santa that didn’t meet expectations. They cheered when Michael Irvin lay motionless and potentially paralyzed on the rock-hard turf of Veteran’s Stadium. They’re vicious. There are so many arrests during a typical home game that a judge is stationed in the bowels of the stadium to fine some and send the rest downtown to lockup. This isn’t Boys Town and they let their own team have it as bad as their opponents. Booker said that may play into the Vikings’ favor.
“All you have to do is make it a close game,” Booker said. “Charles Barkley said it best: “They’re the best fans if you’re winning.” I can remember games where we were up by like 35 points and we punted and they booed. If they start making mistakes, it will actually work for us, because they’ll start booing. They’re that crazy.”
Some of the venom of the fans may be directed toward Sheppard. Although his exodus from Philadelphia was a contract issue with the team and not a desire on his part to leave, Sheppard said he hopes the Eagles fans will cut him some slack, especially given the teams’ respective positions in the NFC pecking order.
“I gave Philly some good times and some memories, so I hope they appreciate that,” Sheppard said. “I think I’m a little overlooked right now, considering what they have going on. They know we’re not in the place where we want to be right now, so I don’t think they’ll beat me up too bad.”
To the outside observer, the Philly fans come off as little more than soccer hooligans, they’re beloved by their Eagles heroes because they don’t sit on their hands. When the Eagles are good, you won’t find better fans. When they struggle, under the bus they go. Sheppard said the players and the fans wouldn’t have it any other way. Are they great fans?
“Yeah, especially when you’re winning – then you find out that they love you and they show it,” Sheppard said. “Philly was one of the best cities I’ve ever played in fan-wise – being a football town. You have to love it. You love the passion behind it and they will fight for their team … literally.”
Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, Madieu Williams and Tyrell Johnson all missed Wednesday’s practice.
In some good news, Jamarca Sanford participated fully in practice as he is recovering from a concussion.
Eagles linebacker Stewart Bradley has already been ruled out of Sunday’s game. Four other players, DT Mike Patterson (knee), RB Jerome Harrison (personal), CB Jorrick Calvin (back) and LB Keenan Clayton (hamstring), all missed practice Wednesday.
Roger Goodell hasn’t set a timetable as to any decision being finalized on the Brett Favre-Jenn Sterger imbroglio, which many thought would be announced early this week after Goodell was in the Twin Cities as part of the Vikings’ 50th season celebration. With only two games remaining and Favre not expected back, even if the commissioner brought the hammer down, it would likely be a moot point unless he finds that Favre was guilty and fines him some serious cash.
The NFL runs commercials promoting that fans can get anything printed on a customized jersey, showing several takes on using Drew Brees as the subject of their different names. The problem is that the league’s website prohibits hundreds of suggested jersey names. A cleverly-worded profanity, sexual reference or rap star (no kidding) are on a long and growing list of jerseys banned by the league. Fans still can’t get a Mike Vick jersey that says “Mexico” – a reference to a pseudonym Vick used during his Falcons days that was banned by the NFL. Of all things, fans couldn’t buy a No. 77 Vikings jersey that said “Stringer” because of his death. Rae Carruth jerseys were also banned, But, in the NFL.com ad for the league’s merchandise, a dog is seen wearing a ridiculous tube-shaped jersey. One can only wonder if they sell Vick jerseys in dog sizes.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.