It was approaching 7:30 AM as we drove last ten miles in I-95 and approached the Linc. The area was very industrial and very ugly. I kept thinking this is just an area, but the whole region seemed to be -- just ugly and run down. It was foggy and dreary and it was just eerie.
"We're entering the depths of hell", I told my daughter.
We took the Exit 17 Broad street ramp and I needed gasoline badly, so I drove past the lot a few blocks and found gas. I pumped it in, then put the Redskins car flags on my truck and got ready to leave. My 17-year old daughter said "Dad, look!" There was a window on the second floor of this run down building next door, it must have been an apartment building. This guy in an undershirt behind a dirty stained window was giving us the finger.
We got to the Wachovia lot early. They have a great tailgate setup. You can get there as early as you want, even 5 AM if you want to. The lot is always open, an Eagles fan told me. They're not allowed to close it, for some reason, he said.
Macs-a-Skins-fan beat me there. He was there by 7 AM and there were already hundreds of Eagles fans in the lot, set up, and cooking. It was amazing that there were so many of them so early. I got there around 7:40 or so. I came in and it was peaceful, not like when I arrived around noon last year.
It started off very nice. I had some genuinely nice conversations with a number of Eagles fans early in the morning. They were warm and friendly and hospitable. It was a little strange, because it wasn't like this in 2005.
Everything was nice and civil until about 10:30 or so, when the Eagles fans started getting liquored up. Then an egg hit my camp stove. It seemed to drop out of the sky. This continued, rougly about every fifteen minutes: One egg would drop out of the sky. We never saw one in flight. Just, SPLAT! It was frustrating and intimidating.
A cop drove by during the tailgate, and asked if we were okay. "No", I said, "Somebody's throwing eggs at us." We didn't know who exactly, they were sort of falling out of the sky like mortars. The cop just laughed. "Don't worry about that", he said. "When you see guns and bricks, call me."
He drove off and we never saw him again.
Things started to go downhill fast. Guys were coaxing us into fights by pushing buttons. Most of us let it role off our shoulders, some of us didn't. No fights actually started, but the whole in-your-face angry yelling with fists clenched thing went on for a long while. Twice I took off my jersey in preparation of defending (i.e. breaking up the fight) one of my Redskins brothers. Thankfully, it never got to that point.
This never happened last year.
"***-****, ***-****, ***-****...", started up (rhymes with "bass" and "whole"). It's said in long syllables and chanted in unison. And it comes from all directions anytime a Redskins fan leaves his camp. It is extremely intimidating because there are hundreds, thousands of them. This chant, loud and omni-directional, became a regular part of the tailgate.
Items were stolen. We're all standing around cooking and talking and minding our own business. This Eagles fan walked up and tried to steal one of my car flags. I think it was Donita who stopped him, so he reached in my truck and grabbed a Redskins folding chair case thing. He picked it up, smiled. Started walking away, then jogging, then running through a sea of Eagles tailgaters and was gone. I never saw it again. That was uncalled for and it pissed me off.
If you leave your camp for whatever reason, you become vulnerable. What they do when they see you, an opposing fan in their "turf", they size you up and look for something they can use to insult you. In one Redskins fan's case, they saw he had a young daughter, I think she's nine years old. Therefore they insulted her using the loudest and foulest language possible. They also saw Mac's hat, saw he was a military vet, and therefore insulted the military and America, for no other reason but because they knew it would push his buttons.
In Donita's case, she's African-American. So out come the racial slurs.
If you're a little heavy, if you have crooked teeth, if you have a mole on your chin, out come the insults, loud and vulgar and in your face. It's all about taunting and intimidation and coaxing you into a fight that's impossible to win. And understand, you're just walking across the parking lot, doing nothing but walking to an NFL game to support your team!
Regarding the Linc's rules in the stadium as far as no vulgar language will be tolerated, that's an outright lie. There was no enforcement of that what-so-ever. That rule is a joke. You can take that rule and throw it right out the window.
During the game, there were very very few visible Redskins fans. I know for a fact there were more than what we saw, because more than HALF (probably a whole lot more) of the Redskins fans in the Linc don't wear their colors visibly. I remember that from last year.
The first ten minutes, the Redskins actually played okay. The Redskins made a first down. I stood up, as I do, and signaled first down.
"YOU GODDAMN ****** (disparaging word for male homosexual), SIT YOUR ******* ASS DOWN, YOU ******* *****." Etc.
During the game, the Eagles have their fight song "FLY EAGLES FLY, ON THE ROAD TO VIC-TO-RY", etc., and they have various videos on the big jumbotron showing the words to the song as the song played. The song is sung by what sounds like an Army: A thousand deep-voiced men -- it sounds like a military marching song being played on the speakers. No musicial instruments, just a battalion of men singing. At one point, one of the videos was a black and white video showing German WWII-type gothic fonts with the words to the song, and the video had speckled spots and imperfections in it like they were trying to make it look like an old 1940s news reel. To me, it was like they were trying to mimic the 1939 Nazi party. It was obvious to me that this is what they were trying to do. And there is no doubt in my mind this is EXACTLY their intention. And I have to admit it was powerful. You could feel the power and the unity all around you. Again, the intimidation. I wonder if Snyder noticed this and what his thoughts were?
There's something else, and this is a little weird, but I noticed this early in the tailgate, and later on the way home, I talked to my daughter, and she noticed the same thing independently, as did Donita who I've talked to in PMs. Donita saw ONE (1) African-American Eagles fan the entire day. Where are all the minorities? The WHOLE STADIUM and lot is filled with whites! I don't remember seeing one minority Eagles fan in that stadium anywhere. In fact, not only were they all white, but they all had these bright blue eyes! It was blue-eyed city everywhere. And we're talking about thousands of people. Tens of thousands. What is that all about? I don't understand this.
Edit: Thinking about it, I do remember one African-American woman: She was working the ticket booth at the lot gate.
I've been to over a hundred Redskins games, but I had never been so ashamed to be a Redskins fan, as during that walk back from my stadium seat to my truck in the lot in the rain. Just my daughter and I, alone, walking among a sea of green. It was truly humiliating.
I also felt betrayed.
If that wasn't bad enough, the taunts still rained down, loud and vulgar and in our faces. You'd think 3 + touchdowns would be enough. There is no such thing as sportsmanship in that town.
"GET THE **** OUT OF MY LOT! GET THE **** OUT OF MY TOWN! REDSKINS SUCK! YOU SUCK! YOU ******* *****!", etc. This is being yelled at the top of their lungs at you from five feet away while you're walking across the lot with your daughter with your head down in the rain.
I forgot to take off the magnets on my truck. My fault. Of course, they were gone.
To be fair though, I will admit that most of the Eagles fans were passive towards us. It was a minority of Eagles fans that made all the noise and used all the vulgarity. But it was a LARGE minority. And when they're all chanting like that, it seems like everybody is doing it.
There's no real way to repay them. That's because, like it or not, Eagles fans are 100x more hardcore than Redskins fans. That's the way it is, and nothing will ever change that. I don't know if it has to do with economics or race or their recent SB appearance or what. The Eagles fans will run over FedExField on Dec 10th and they will seemingly dominate the stadium. No Eagles fan will wear his jersey underneath a neutral colored jacket. If they win, they will sing loudly on the ramps and laugh in our faces and nothing will quiet them.
Stooping to their level, though, will accomplish nothing. I think the main thing we (they) need is enforcement of their own rules and laws in and around their stadium. That would help a whole lot. They have a long way to go in that area.
In the end, no blood was spilled, and no vandalism to our vehicles, both of which amazed me. One fan had the air let out of his tires, but no damage.
On the way home, I felt bad for my 17 year old daughter. We were beaten badly in every way imaginable, except being personally physically assaulted.
I asked her if she was at all interested in going next year.
"Absolutely! You bet! We're there!!!", she said, grinning ear-to-ear.