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Kincade & Salciunas: Weekdays 6am – 10am

Kincade & Salciunas: Weekdays 6am – 10am

National media members never fail to rile up the local fan base when they criticize the treatment of Donovan McNabb and other star Philadelphia athletes. The brutal, unforgiving attitude in the City of Brotherly Love constantly draws criticism from outsiders.

However, most simply don’t understand that the relentless passion of the best fan base in sports includes a unique level of accountability for their athletes in good times and bad.

Philadelphia Athletes and Passionate Fans

Star players experience the highest of highs when local teams reach the pinnacle of their sports. Just ask Jason Kelce and Nick Foles about fan reactions after the Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII.

Some players bring a hard-nosed attitude that appeals to fans in pretty much all circumstances. Chase Utley and Brian Dawkins built a reputation for the constant hustle and intangible skills that helped their teams throughout their respective careers.

This is the same city that glorified the Broad Street Bullies in the 1970s and Macho Row in 1993. The attitude has persisted into the new generation. 

Complicated Legacies

The age-old cliché of the “blue collar” fans who bring their lunch to work in a pail has important roots. No matter how overstated it’s become, it’ll always have some influence on the way people react to situations in Philadelphia sports.

Throughout the history of Philadelphia sports, incredible passion has led to complicated relationships between fans and star athletes.

People still want to see more anger and strong will from Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Questions about Aaron Nola’s ability to perform in the clutch have crept their way into conversations throughout his career with the Phillies. 

Some former players, like Mike Schmidt, have seen the big picture after retirement. Others still have the same reputation among the fan base regardless of the benefit of hindsight.

All of them still have complicated legacies in the city of Philadelphia.

Related Content: The John Kincade Show

  • Donovan McNabb

    Fans booed the second-overall selection at the 1999 NFL Draft, and McNabb had a hard time recovering for the entirety of his 11 seasons in Philadelphia.

    McNabb’s persona didn’t indicate the quintessential Philly tough guy (which is strange considering he once threw four touchdowns on a broken ankle). His air guitar routine before his final game with the Eagles, a playoff loss against the Dallas Cowboys, became the lasting image of a player who never resonated as the beloved face of the franchise that dominates the attention of the city.

    However, there’s one real reason why McNabb has such a complicated legacy. Frustration within the Philadelphia fan base stems from disappointment, and the tenure of McNabb and Andy Reid had more heartbreaking losses than any other era in Philadelphia sports history.

    There’s a simple reason why people laugh off any corny statement made by Nick Foles and hammer McNabb if he does anything similar. One has a Super Bowl ring, and one doesn’t.

    Eagles fans shouldn’t have ill will against McNabb. He became the best quarterback in franchise history through a long body of work that included six Pro Bowls and starts in nine playoff victories. His relationship with the fan base was never that simple though.

  • Carson Wentz

    Wentz requested a trade after the Eagles limped to a 4-11-1 finish in 2020. Fans now look at him with serious venom because of how things ended.

    However, Wentz developed a killer instinct that’s hard to replicate during an incredible 2017 regular season. His dominance put the Eagles in position to clinch home-field advantage, and he was a key part of enabling the team to reach Super Bowl LII. The North Dakota native showed shorter flashes of the same incredible ability in 2018 and 2019, but the tendency to play “hero ball” ultimately sunk him.

    Philadelphia fans should also consider that there’s a lot of revisionist history when it comes to Wentz. In the immediate aftermath of the 2020 season, most fans blamed the Eagles for their failure to surround him with enough talent to succeed. If you want to criticize him for (clearly present) flaws, it’s necessary to consider the whole story.

    Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles

  • Terrell Owens

    T.O. was the most celebrated offseason acquisition in the history of Philadelphia sports. He came exactly as advertised during an incredible 2004 season and an unlikely return from injury to play in Super Bowl XXXIX.

    The adoration put him on track to join the ranks as one of the all-time fan favorites in Philadelphia.

    It fell apart even quicker than it came together. His behavior during a contract dispute leading into the 2005 season proved he was a loose cannon, which he confirmed through similar behavior as the common denominator of complete chaos with other organizations.

    Some fans still blame the Eagles for not giving in to T.O. and paying him the money he asked for. It’s certainly complicated trying to separate the 2004 wide receiver from the 2005 teammate.


  • Bobby Abreu

    Abreu finished with a batting average over .300 in 1353 games with the Phillies. The consistency earned him a great reputation around the majors.

    He certainly wasn’t the most aggressive outfielder Philadelphia has ever seen, however. His last season with the Phillies in 2006 happened to be the same year that Aaron Rowand fearlessly ran into the center field wall to make an incredible catch that saved a regular-season game. The hardnosed attitude shown by Rowand contrasted the approach of Abreu in a way that fans pointed to constantly.

    Pat Gillick shipped Abreu to the New York Yankees in 2006, which ultimately led to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard taking over as the centerpieces of the greatest era in franchise history. The luster of Abreu’s consistency during a forgettable era in Phillies history simply isn’t there.

    Abreu played over 150 games in all eight of his full seasons in Philadelphia, whereas Rowand missed significant time after the heroic catch. Fans criticized Abreu’s lackadaisical mannerisms, but he stole 254 bases in red pinstripes. It doesn’t sound like a player who never hustled for his team.

    Philadelphia fans will never look at him as a Phillies legend, but he deserves a lot of credit for a long body of success in a sport that requires reliability on a daily basis.


  • Mike Schmidt

    He was McNabb before McNabb. Mike Schmidt is the greatest third baseman in the history of Major League Baseball, yet he wasn’t always beloved in Philadelphia.

    Michael Jack was a smooth, graceful fielder who stood right next to the scrappy Larry Bowa on the Veterans Stadium turf during the most memorable years of his career.

    However, Philadelphiaa fans should have nothing but love for Mike Schmidt. During his Hall of Fame induction speech in 1995, he spoke candidly and honorably about a long and complicated relationship.

    “My relationships with Philadelphia fans has always been misunderstood. Can we put that to rest here today?” -Mike Schmidt


  • Cole Hamels

    The California kid didn’t click in Philadelphia right away. Winning the MVP of the 2008 World Series at age 24 certainly helped smooth things over. However, in the years that followed, a lot of Phillies fans celebrated Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee much more vocally.

    Hamels outlasted every star player from the era of dominance from 2007-2011 as a key contributor to the team. His 295 starts with Phillies solidly outdo a combined 221 combined starts for Halladay and Lee.

    Professional athletes don’t usually know what game will be their last in a particular uniform, but Hamels left Philadelphia fans with a lasting memory that is as good as it gets.


  • Eric Lindros

    Lindros at peak form played at a level unmatched by any member of the Philadelphia Flyers before or after the tenure of #88. However, he only played 486 regular-season games in orange and black.

    His drama off the ice with Bobby Clarke unfortunately overshadowed the best years of his career.

    A gruesome string of concussions caused major health concerns during an era when knowledge and research of concussion issues wasn’t nearly as prevalent.

    Without the saga between Clarke and Lindros, arguably the two best skaters in franchise history, public perception probably would’ve been much different. Lindros has recovered from a ridiculed castoff that briefly joined the New York Rangers, however.

    His work with the organization after retirement allows Flyers fans to remember the good times with a sense of maturity that keeps mistakes of the past in the past.


  • Claude Giroux

    The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2010 after Giroux’s first full season in the NHL. After they transitioned to a new cast without stars like Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Chris Pronger, Giroux became one of the only high-caliber players on the roster.

    His tenure as the captain of the Flyers, a romanticized title in franchise history, began in 2013. The team’s success plummeted afterward, but the correlation was oversimplified.

    Fans pointed to the easiest player to identify as the reason for the mediocrity. However, the rosters behind Giroux lacked scoring depth or high-caliber goaltending and defense.

    The fan base eased up on the Giroux criticism towards the end of his time in Philadelphia, when it became brutally obvious that the organization had failed to build a winner while their captain posted consistent offensive numbers.

    Giroux had an unusual exit from Philadelphia, however. He used his no-trade clause to block all destinations in the NHL except one. Chuck Fletcher made arguably the best move of his tenure by squeezing Owen Tippett and a first-round pick from the Florida Panthers, lessening the scrutiny of Giroux’s decision.


  • Allen Iverson

    “The Answer” personified the underdog mentality during his time with the Philadelphia 76ers. It was easy to love the MVP of the 2001 season and the player who dominated the NBA Playoffs for the Eastern Conference champs.

    During Iverson’s career at Georgetown and with the Sixers, he faced serious legal issues off the court. That element of his career doesn’t always come up when Sixers fans (justly) glorify him as a player.

    Iverson’s legacy proves the magnitude of the “Philly Guy” mantra. Philadelphia fans celebrate his career more than most players who won a championship.


  • Charles Barkley

    Barkley spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Sixers. They regrettably traded him in 1992 for Jeff Hornacek, Tim Perry, and Andrew Lang.

    “The Round Mound of Rebound” had appeared in six consecutive All-Star Games. The Sixers had made the playoffs in six of his eight NBA seasons and won five series. The trade bombed badly. Philadelphia missed the postseason the next six seasons in a row.

    Even after a controversial exit, Barkley has changed the perception with a career as one of the most recognizable sports media personalities in the world.


  • Markelle Fultz

    The Sixers got less out of Fultz than almost any other organization in NBA history has gotten out a first-overall pick. He was a draft bust, unquestionably.

    Ben Simmons, one of the most hated figures in Philadelphia sports history, outperformed Fultz significantly in Philadelphia. Fultz isn’t nearly as ridiculed by Sixers fans.

    The modern perception of mental health has shaped the perception of Fultz in Philadelphia. While Lindros didn’t have the benefit of the doubt related to concussion concerns, Fultz played for the 76ers in a different era.

    Fans don’t criticize the worst busted pick in franchise history all that often.

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