When I tell people I’m from Virginia and follow that up with the fact I’m a HUGE Philadelphia Eagles fan, a perplexed look immediately swoops across their faces. And for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.
Newsflash: Virginia isn’t home to any NFL team and never has been. Sure, the Washington Redskins are 200 miles north, but being as that’s my dad’s favorite team and I’m the rebellious little zealot that I am, I was on the hunt to find MY perfect team. (Note: the Ravens franchise did not yet land in Baltimore as they would have possibly been another viable close-to-home option.)
In sixth grade (back in good ole 1991), Starter jackets were all the rage (it blows my mind these same once-coveted trends now clutter the clearance racks at TJ Maxx, but I digress), so rationally, like an only child I just had to have one.
For Christmas that year I gave my parents explicit instructions via my wish list. Explicit as in the written form because my tomboyish little heart just couldn’t take any chances in not getting exactly what I wanted. In very legible hot pink ink, I wrote in my newly refined cursive handwriting:
NFL Starter Jacket. Please. Any will do. Thank you.
(I already owned a Charlotte Hornets one solely based on their team colors, so I was ready to pony up for the NFL version. It also didn’t hurt that Alonzo Mourning went to high school in my hometown so they were an easy team to like and the colors were obviously legit for any middle school girl.)
My parents, bless their little only-child-bearing-hearts, waited until the very last minute to get my beloved jacket. Luckily for them I hadn’t specified which team I wanted so when they saw that shiny kelly green jacket sitting all alone, they snagged it up. It was like the NFL-gods had willed that jacket to be there just for me. They had no idea at the time what kind of green-bleeding aficionado they were creating in their sweet little daughter.
Christmas morning that year was jubilant. I got a medium-sized men’s Philadelphia Eagles Starter jacket that was entirely too big as well as a set of Encyclopedia Britannica. My guess is that one of those door-to-door salesmen had a really good spiel and my mom just couldn’t resist, making me the proud new owner of a brand new set of research books. (I guess since I’m a writer I should say thanks mom!)
I was so excited to go back to my snobby little private school tightly bundled up in my new present, but I was dammed if I was going to let anyone question this newfound, completely out of the blue loyalty I now professed for the Philadelphia Eagles.
So I did what any 11-year-old on a religiously extended Christmas break did – I put my encyclopedias to use and brushed up on all things Eagles. Eagles paraphernalia is not all that common in southern Virginia so I had to be ready for the naysayers and spew stats at any given moment to prove my allegiance.
You know in school when you were writing a report on Ulysses S. Grant or someone equally as cool? The more you read and learned about them, the more you liked them and felt a genuine bond with them? That’s how I started to feel about the birds. It was like Randall Cunningham and I had become bestie overnight. And so my undying, unwavering, unconventional, who cares if my fellow fans hate Santa Claus love for the Philadelphia Eagles began. With a Starter jacket.
And judge me if you will that this is not an acceptable way to find love in a sport’s team. I’m sure you’re also the guy who loves the Cowboys simply because your dad and your grandfather and his father and so on loved them. Or worse, maybe you’re that girl that loves a team because your boyfriend or husband does. Way to show everyone you’re capable of making your own decisions as adults.