How I Became A Fan Of…The Philadelphia Eagles.

My years as a NFL fan are relatively young. To put into context my roots in the sport, lets look at the NBA briefly. Basketball is not hugely popular this side of the pond, but the greatness of a few players means that some names we recognise over here, however little attention we pay. Currently, the biggest of those names is arguably LeBron James. The sheer audacity and talent of that man is starting to spark some interest in the sport worldwide. I was playing a basketball video game recently with a friend, and he remarked “OH, THATS WHERE I KNOW LEBRON JAMES FROM!” He’d heard the name on the wind but wasn’t exactly sure why.

For me & the NFL, that name was LaDanian Tomlinson. The year was 2005, and echoes of this great ‘LT’ reached my ears somehow. I’m not sure what it was that suddenly sparked an interest at this point. I’d watched bits of games late at night before, and I’d not been hooked, but hearing talk of this great “Halfback” kicked something off. Not too long after I found myself in HMV buying a copy of Madden 2006 for Xbox. I sat in my room browsing through rosters, barely understanding any of the positions other than ‘QB’, ‘RB’ & ‘WR’, but I launched myself into a game anyway, determined to pick up on things as they happened.

Now, other Madden nuts out there may remember who was on the cover for 2006…Donovan McNabb. With the Eagles being the franchise of this edition, they were the first team up on exhibition mode. “Eagles…thats a cool name” I thought to myself, and set off. Won the toss and chose to receive first, still unsure of what I was doing. I stumbled through the kick off return and had to select a play…”one with lots of lines and arrows, that looks fine.”

Being on the lowest difficulty, anyone could have done what happened next, but even so…McNabb to Terrell Owens. Touchdown. 6-0. “I LOVE THIS GAME!”

Just like that I was hooked. I learnt the rules, learnt the players, learnt the positions, all from from mooching about on Madden, but I stuck with the Philadelphia Eagles all the way. Thinking about it, if I had gone looking for LaDanian Tomlinson’s team for that first game, I could be a Chargers fan instead…an odd thought.

When I started watching actual games & highlights, I’d see McNabb, T.O & Brian Westbrook making plays, I’d get to know the rest of the players & I just got more and more hooked into the team, and with that began to take a hand in the inevitable disappointment that comes with being an Eagles fan. I’d always enjoyed sport, but never before had I been so emotionally invested in one team. To be THAT disappointed when we lost, but THAT excited when we won was something I hadn’t felt before.

There was one player, however, who drew me in more than anyone else had.

Brian Dawkins

The 8 time Pro Bowl Free Safety, and one of the greatest Eagles of all time. I don’t believe anyone in the last 10 years has approached football with as much passion as Dawkins. The energy and spirit that he brought to every game is the stuff of legend for Birds’ fans, and he’s sorely missed by the vast majority of us. Even if he is a Bronco these days, if you asked me to give one reason why I love the Eagles, it’s him.

How I became a fan could be seen as so fickle. It could so easily have been the Chargers, or any other team with a good ‘overall’ rating on Madden 2006. But it was the Eagles. And nearly 6 years later, it’s still the Eagles. Long may it continue.

Andy Stuart

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