Eagles

Eagles

It’s difficult to capture the passion of Philadelphia sports in movies or TV shows. The closest-knit, 4-for-4 fan base in major North American professional sports is tough to crack for outsiders.

However, Philadelphians love local references and acknowledgment. They’ve seen some great recognition on the big screen over the years. 

A “Philly” Thing

The idea of a “Philly thing” has grown to enormous levels in recent years.

It’s why athletes, coaches, and executives can pander to the fan base so easily. Nick Sirianni, Bryce Harper, and others have built themselves some favor with the (harmless) strategy.

There’s something about Philadelphia pride that gets the sports fan bases riled up like nothing else. The Eagles can play Rocky clips at home games for decades. They know it invokes the identity of the city. The underdog sports narrative has been the focus of countless sports movies, but none of them can land quite the same way as the one about a Philadelphian who has to scratch and claw his way to glory.

People see It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia or Abbott Elementary, and they recognize places they go to regularly. It creates civic pride in a way that a Phillies yearbook or a documentary about an old Eagles season can’t do.

Some of the local writers and directors who have worked to create these hit shows have added plenty of great touches that only people from the City of Brotherly Love would be able to pull off.

References to Philly sports on the big screen aren’t too difficult to find. However, crafting accurate portrayals with attention to detail to capture the pulse of the fan base and the hearts of Philadelphians is a much greater goal.

How many narratives have given proper and accurate recognition to Philadelphia sports, local fandom, and the civic pride it represents? The list extends far beyond Rocky.

  • Rocky

     

    The Rocky series personified the attitude of Philadelphia sports, and it helped the mentality of the local fan base develop into what it is today. Scenes at the Spectrum, the Philadelphia Zoo, and the Italian Market make the City of Brotherly Love more central to the plot than most settings in classic sports movies.

    There’s a reason opposing fan bases insist on dressing the Rocky statue when they plan to “invade” Philadelphia for games they usually lose.

  • Silver Linings Playbook

     

    The Delco setting included scenes at Llanerch Diner, Monsignor Bonner/Archbishop Prendergast High School, and the Lansdowne Theatre. Silver Linings Playbook added the perfect touch of Eagles fandom into a story more about mental health.

    In a world full of chaos and confusion, cheering for your favorite football team can sometimes seem like the only constant. No fictional character demonstrates that idea better than Pat.

    “I love Sundays. I live for Sundays. The whole family’s together. Mom makes braciole. Dad puts the jersey on. We’re all watching the game.” -Pat

  • Invincible

    Invinicible, Philadelphia Eagles

    Vince Papale was a great underdog story. The Delco native made it onto the Eagles with a minimal professional football background. Disney might’ve stretched the truth a little bit for plot convenience, but at least the Eagles made it onto the big screen.

  • The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon

    Tony Danza

    Tony Danza playing an Eagles kicker wasn’t the greatest idea for a movie plot. Jeffrey Lurie got to make a cameo in the type of movie that can attract young fans to professional spots despite some noticeable flaws.

  • Anger Management- The Angry Philly Sports Fan

     

    Fans can relate to the “Anger sharks are swimming in my head” line. The angry Philadelphia sports fan in Anger Management was the perfect gentle jab that local fans should take in stride.

    Jonathan Loughran attended Archbishop Ryan in the Northeast. He wore Allen Iverson, Ron Jaworski, and Donovan McNabb jerseys proudly in one of the many movies he’s made with Adam Sandler.

  • Like Mike- The AI Cameo

     

    “B-Ball” Paul Reed named Like Mike his favorite movie as a guest on The John Kincade Show. It included cameos from NBA stars like Dirk Nowitzki, Gary “The Glove” Payton, and Vince Carter. The most memorable scene was his trash talk with Allen Iverson. 

  • Hustle

     

    Juancho Hernangomez played Bo Cruz, a 76ers European prospect looking to break into the NBA despite trouble off the court.

    Adam Sandler also wore sweatshirts shouting out Temple University dorm J&H and Federal Donuts in the movie. Scenes when Cruz trains in Manayunk were some of the most recognizable.

  • The Goldbergs- Big Orange

     

    Jenkintown native Adam F. Goldberg loves dropping Philadelphia references in The Goldbergs. His reference to leaving the game when Ron Hextall scored a goal introduced an excellent understanding of Flyers fandom. The show’s most unforgettable reference to Philadelphia sports is “Big Orange.”

    The main character’s older brother refuses to stop wearing his beloved old Flyers shirt nicknamed “Big Orange” despite its ridiculously beat-up condition. The show picked the most appropriate and emotional time to retire Big Orange. He stopped wearing it in the episode dedicated to franchise founder Ed Snider after he died in 2016.

  • Bones- Flyers Superfan David Boreanaz

    David Boreanaz is a Philadelphia Flyers superfan. The Malvern Prep grad has even trolled the New York Rangers fan base with Flyers gear in a charity game. His character in Bones stayed true to the roots in the Philadelphia area.

  • The Simpsons- The Broad Street Bullies

    The Broad Street Bullies loved their reputation as the villains of the NHL. Even if everyone else hated them, Philadelphia loved them. They should be okay with their spot on “The Jury of the Damned,” featuring historical villains like Benedict Arnold, John Wilkes Booth, and Blackbeard the Pirate.

    The Simpsons dropped the clever inclusion of the starting line of the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers on their vicious line of villains in the “Treehouse of Horror” episode in Season 5.

  • The Mighty Ducks- Goldberg

     

    If you’re from the Philadelphia area but live in another city, you’ve probably annoyed somebody by talking too much about Philadelphia. If you live in any other city, you’ve probably been annoyed by someone talking about Philadelphia.

    Goldberg nailed the role of the transplant Philadelphia fan in The Mighty Ducks. He wears Flyers gear in the hockey scenes throughout the trilogy. The additional references include Kelly Green Eagles gear and a solid Pat’s Steak sweatshirt.

  • This Is 40- Flyers Cameos

     

    Ian Laperriere infamously blocked a shot with his face during the 2009-10 season and returned to the same game with over 50 stitches and a makeshift cage. He decided once wasn’t enough and blocked another shot on the penalty kill during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

    A few missing teeth helped him play a role in This is 40 in 2012. Megan Fox is a brave woman for trying on Laperriere’s dentures. Former Flyers Scott Hartnell, James van Riemsdyk, and Matt Carle also had cameos in the movie.

  • Summer Catch

     

    Freddie Prinze Jr. played a prospect looking to make his climb to the majors in the Cape Cod League. Mike Lieberthal, Doug Glanville, and Pat Burrell were among the major leaguers who made cameos in the movie.

  • 42- Acknowledging History

    Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies

    Most of these references are about celebrating Philadelphia sports, but 42 acknowledged an inconvenient truth in Phillies history. Ben Chapman was guilty of severe racism as Phillies manager in 1947. Philadelphia city council formally apologized in 2016 for the events recreated in 42.

  • 30 Rock- Upper Darby's Own Tina Fey

    Tina Fey

    Tina Fey wasn’t shy about her Philly roots in 30 Rock. The Upper Darby native said it pretty well.

    “Philly rules: Cheesesteaks, Bobby Clarke, Will Smith. Your town sucks.”

  • Boy Meets World- A Relatable Problem

     

    The writers of Boy Meets World didn’t milk the Philadelphia setting as much as certain other shows. There were scattered local references, however. The best one came early in the show.

    Cory Matthews misses his bedtime because his dad lets him stay up late to watch a Phillies pitcher throw a no-hitter. The test he fails doesn’t fly with Mr. Feeny, but that’s a solid move from a dad who appreciates baseball history.

  • The Office

    Jim from The Office

    A setting in Scranton lent itself to Philadelphia sports references. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons were still a Phillies affiliate when the show started. Kevin also got excited that time he read about the Eagles winning the NFC East.

    The best Philadelphia sports references in The Office came from Jim though. His character got to meet legends like Julius Erving and Ryan Howard (and not the character named Ryan Howard).

  • Mare of Easttown

     

    Mare of Easttown quickly became a hit in the Philadelphia area because of its constant Delco references. In addition to the shoutouts to the notorious suburban county, Dylan wears a Flyers sweatshirt consistently throughout the first season.

  • Abbott Elementary

     

    Abbott Elementary is about the educational system in the city, but it’s pretty hard to portray the local culture without some sort of sports reference. Star Quinta Brunson is a West Philly native, and her character attended an Eagles tailgate and had a few run-ins with Gritty as some of her most memorable local references.

  • Family Guy- Is Stewie a Philly fan?

     

    Stewie once trolled the New York Mets flawlessly, which in itself will keep you in the good graces of Phillies fans. His throwaway comment, “The Phillies won,” was just as memorable.

    Stewie also had a run-in with Gritty in Season 20.

  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

    The commitment to local references and Philadelphia sports bits earn It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia its own category. Rob McElhenney might even deserve his own category for Chase Utley references.

  • Mac’s Big Break

     

    It started with a call to The Preston & Steve Show for a radio contest. Mac won the chance to shoot a puck on goal at a Philadelphia Flyers game. It ended in embarrassment after his first step on the ice at the Wells Fargo Center. Mac failed to learn how to ice skate and ended up on SportsCenter for the wrong reasons.

  • The Gang Gets Invincible

     

    It’s Always Sunny might’ve given a better representation of Philadelphia than the actual movie Invincible. Mac, Dennis, and Dee participated in an open tryout in this Season 3 episode. Donovan McNabb did not make a cameo in this episode.

  • The Gang Wins the Big Game

     

    The show needed to do an episode to celebrate Super Bowl LVII after Rob McElhenney attended the game. Their story of the road trip to Minnesota didn’t disappoint.

    Jason Kelce made a cameo appearance to talk to Charlie about fan superstition, and Frank gave a passionate speech about the mindset of Philadelphia Eagles fans.

  • The World Series Defense

    Chase Utley and Rob McElhenney

    “The World Series Defense” became famous because it introduced the running bit of Mac’s obsession with Chase Utley, but it included other great references to the 2008 World Series and the rowdy passion of Philadelphia sports fans.

    The most creative part was the story of how the gang missed out on the first part of Game 5, the infamous rain delay, and the World Series clincher and parade because they were trapped in a closet at the old Holiday Inn.

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