By Dylan MacKinnon
This week’s narrative has seemingly been one to knock down Philly fans. Danny Green’s comments on John Clark’s podcast, accusing Philly fans of turning on the team have dominated the discussion. And that has spilled into the National conversation, with one ESPN host even accusing Sixers fans of booing the team in game 1 of the 2019 series vs the Raptors (even though that game 1 was in Toronto). But lets move on from the negativity from now. Instead of focusing on a quote that puts Philly fans down, here are some quotes from Philly sports legends that give Philly fans some love.
There may be no stronger fan player relationship in Philly history than the one with Brian Dawkins. Philly loved B Dawk, and he returned that love in equal measure. Here is what he said about Philly fans in his Hall of Fame speech.
“And, finally, let’s talk about these Eagles fans. I know some of you drove all the way from Philly here. Hey listen, I have a good understanding that you don’t have money just to waste, so that means you put hard-earned money that you could be saving to come out here and celebrate with your boy. So thank you! Thank you for loving me the way that I love you. I love you back. And I thank you. Thank you for everything.”
He loved this city so much, that even after his retirement he would recruit players in other sports to come play for the city. This is what he did with Bryce Harper. And when people responded to Dawkins Tweet recruiting Bryce Harper by attacking Philly fans, Dawkins was not having it.
Utley never had the flare B Dawk had, but there was a similar love between him and Philly fans. Here is what he said about Philly fans when he was retiring in 2018.
“Whether I was going to continue to play another few years or not, this city was an experience that I’ll never forget. We had some great success here and the way this city supported this team over those years is pretty remarkable. I’ve said this a number of times over the years but fans in this city really elevated our game and made us focus a little bit more. It added a little bit of intensity and adrenaline. In my opinion, those are things that can make a team better.
It obviously makes me feel good that they’ve been so supportive of me over the years. It’s a blue-collar city. It’s a city that respects guys that play hard, guys that want to win. I feel like I did that when I was here. I still do that. I think the success that we had, the team that we had, really helped that. It wasn’t just me over those years. It was a number of guys. And we fed off the energy here in this park.”
The relationship between J Roll and The Phillies fans was not always perfect. He occasionally criticized the fans when he felt it was warranted. But he still went down as one of the most beloved Phillies of all time. When he retired as a Phillie, he had nothing but praise for the fans.
“All the cheers, all the energy… you pulled the best out of us. You pulled the best out of me… For us, we established that we’re right up there with the Birds. They care about us, just as much as they care about them. The good thing is that we get to see that everyday and not just once a week.”
The last 3 examples are of all time players in the organization. But you don’t need to be among the best players ever in your jersey to earn the love of Philly fans. Scott Hartnell is proof of that. Hartnell was a good player, but he wasn’t a perennial All Star. But his play style, and his effort, still earned him the love of the fans. Here is what he said after he was traded to Columbus, and his 7 year stint with the Flyers came to an end.
And now he has come back to Philly to be a broadcaster. Because Philly is the type of place you come back to.
And finally we come to AI. AI’s relationship with Philly fans may be the only one that rivals Brain Dawkins. No moment encapsulates that more than his speech at Fan Fest in 2019. He did not hold back his feelings, and got emotional discussing the love shared between him and the fans.
“I always gave you all everything I had and the thing I love about you all is that you all appreciate that [expletive]. When I walk in that building, I always hear your voices. I always wanted to give you all everything I had. I think when it comes to Mike (Jordan) and Chicago, I think that relationship is built, but it ain’t nothing like us. This [expletive] legendary!”
Here is the full video.