Let's get things straight right off the bat: I've been an Eagles fan since birth. Born in Abington Hospital, raised in Northeast Philadelphia, then Bucks County and now back residing in the City of Brotherly Love. There has never been a football team I've loved more.
From the moment I left my mother's womb, I was programmed by my father, then an Eagles season-ticket holder, to love the Birds, hate the Cowboys, and watch football religiously. So I loved the game and the team at a very young age. But you can only recall so much in the early years of your life. I know I watched the games and knew the players as a young'n, but the day I truly became a fan was the first time I went to training camp.
I don't remember the exact year or my exact age, but I couldn't have been more than seven or eight years old. Back then, the Eagles held training camp at West Chester University, and one day, my dad took me along with his season-ticket-holder partner and cousin, Chuck. I recall being just about as excited as when I first got the original Nintendo on Christmas.
Honestly, I don't recall much of the practice itself. No, the thing that sticks out in my mind to this very day is that afterward, fans were allowed on the field to meet the players, get autographs, and take pictures. Naturally, I was dying to meet Randall Cunningham and Reggie White … as was damn near everyone else.
It being insanely hot and humid, and the lines for Randall and Reggie ridiculously long, I agreed with my dad that it wasn't worth the wait (even then I was an impatient boy who hated waiting in line.) However, I did get to meet linebacker Britt Hager, a player I loved until the day he retired because of that meeting, as well as seeing Mike Golic and Mike Pitts up close. But the biggest thrill of all was being hoisted on the shoulders of offensive lineman Joe Conwell. I had a grin from ear-to-ear.
It was so cool to actually meet and talk to and even get put on the shoulders of real, live NFL players, guys on my favorite team. And from that day forward, I was even more of a die-hard than I already was. Though I gotta admit, looking back, it would have been nice to meet Reggie and Randall that day too.