HEISER: For the moment at least, York County has been transformed into Eagles Country
- Philadelphia Eagles fans have long felt like third-class fans in York County.
- The Eagles fan base has long been overshadowed by Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens fans.
- Now, however, local Eagles fans are celebrating after their team's Super Bowl triumph.
Welcome to Eagles Country.
At least for this week.
The long-suffering, but fiercely-loyal York County “Iggles” fans should celebrate while they can. After a nearly six-decade wait since the team’s last NFL title, they certainly deserve to revel in the team’s Super Bowl championship.
This is not a fair-weather fan base, by any means, and they've expressed their pride by storming local stores to snap up anything with an Eagles logo — shirts, hats and other memorabliia.
Eagles fans overshadowed in York County: It’s no big secret that Eagles fans in this neck of the woods can feel a little disrespected at times.
You can hardly blame them. They’re often treated like third-class fans around here.
Philly, after all, is just a 100-mile drive from York. Pittsburgh, in contrast, is more than 220 miles from York. Still, any objective observer will tell you that Steelers fans in York County far out-number Eagles fans.
That probably has a lot to do with the fact that, before Sunday, the Steelers owned six Super Bowl titles, while the Eagles had zero.
Fans love a winner.
Area Eagles fans, however, don’t get overshadowed by just the Steelers’ followers. Since 1996, they’ve also had to deal with the shade cast by an ever-growing flock of Baltimore Ravens fans.
To a degree, that's understandable. Baltimore is just more than 50 miles from York, and when the Colts were in Baltimore, they were indisputably the most popular NFL franchise in York County. When the NFL returned to Baltimore, a lot of the former Colts fans naturally transitioned into being Ravens fans.
A couple of Super Bowl titles helped cement the Ravens fan base in the York area.
Now, Ravens fans almost certainly outnumber Eagles fans around here, too.
Dealing with a bad reputation: Then there’s the matter of the national reputation of the typical Eagles fan. To call it unfavorable would be a rather large understatement.
Fair or not, boorish and obnoxious are some of the adjectives routinely used to describe the Eagles faithful. That reputation, however, should really be reserved for a small percentage of Eagles season ticket holders who wear their propensity for thuggery, and even violence, as a badge of honor.
Your typical York County Eagles fan is a far different breed. Yes, like any NFL fan, they can become a little overbearing at times, but for the most part, they’re a pretty friendly bunch who just happen to have an unwavering love for their “Iggles.”
Inferiority complex: Add that all together, stir vigorously, and add nearly six decades without a championship, and it was enough to give York County Eagles fans a serious inferiority complex.
Not surprisingly, they’ve long carried around a chip on their shoulders the approximate size on the “Rocky” statue and a monkey on their backs the size of “King Kong.”
Now, they’ve both been shrugged off during a carthartic celebration of historic proportions.
Suddenly, the local green-and-white faithful no longer feel like third-class fans in York County — and they shouldn’t.
Getting support from Steelers, Ravens fans: Heck, on Sunday, there were undoubtedly a fair number of local Steelers and Ravens fans standing shoulder to shoulder with Eagles fans while rooting against a shared enemy — Bill Belichick's evil empire known as the New England Patriots.
It kind of gives you a warm-and-fuzzy feeling just thinking about it.
That feeling won’t last, of course. Come next fall, local Steelers and Ravens fans will likely go back to despising the Eagles, and local Eagles fans will again have to deal with the realization that they’re still significantly outnumbered around here.
That’s months into the future.
Right now, however, the Philadelphia Eagles stand astride the football universe, and the team’s hard-core local fan base can revel in the fact that, for the moment, York County is Eagles Country.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.