Part 1 of 2: What Happened to Eagles’ Home Field Advantage?

You remember the story about Phil Simms fretting over the raised seems of the unforgiving Veterans Stadium carpet. How players dreaded the turf. How they couldn’t stand the rowdy, raucous, drunk, and often socially reprehensible fan behavior.

And when I say often socially reprehensible, I mean, I’m not judging. I see nothing wrong with taking a leak on a wall or sink, cursing at and hitting fans of opposing teams. It’s just part of the game, ya know what I mean?

Anyway…

The Eagles, though they never won a Super Bowl during their time at The Vet (obviously), still enjoyed a unique home field advantage. It was undoubtedly one of the toughest places in the league to play for visiting teams.

So when Lincoln Financial Field opened in 2003 we expected the same type of home field advantage. We were told the stadium was built in such a way to maximize noise, put the fans closer to the action, and create a distinct home field advantage for the team. And while all of that may be true from an architectural standpoint, the crowd at “The Linc” sucks.

Yeah, the Eagles enjoyed a 12-4 start over their first two seasons at Lincoln Financial Field, but they haven’t enjoyed nearly the same amount of success in recent years.

So why the change?

Soaring ticket prices and a corporate feel has replaced the raucous, rowdy and rabid crowds of Philadelphia’s football past. The Linc isn’t The Vet, and while that’s a good thing in many ways, it’s not when it comes to the atmosphere.

Gone are the days of brutally cheering for Dallas injuries. Gone are the days of drunk, pissed off, and disillusioned twenty-somethings letting out the frustrations of their disappointing lives by beating the crap out of each other in between downs. And gone are the days of the abusive language and generally obnoxious behavior from the majority of the fanbase.

Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the drunk guy taking a piss on the wall, damnit?

In all seriousness, though, Lincoln Financial Field has become just like every other cookie-cutter stadium in the NFL– the ones where end zone scoreboards urge the crowds to make noise.

When the Eagles fell to the Giants and 49ers at home earlier this year, there were an awful lot of seats left vacant late in both games by fans that consider themselves the most passionate in football.

Sure, you can argue fans were frustrated. And they should have been. You can argue that traffic is brutal after games, so it’s reasonable to get a head start. And that may all well be true. But it’s still weak.

The Eagles have been painfully mediocre at home since the start of 2010 despite fielding one of the more talented teams in the NFL. The Eagles lost their last three home games in 2010.

You may recall the Eagles lost a listless and pathetic 24-14 game on a Tuesday night to a Minnesota team led by third-string quarterback Joe Webb–a guy with absolutely no experience and a team with absolutely nothing to play for. They followed that up with a meaningless loss to Dallas in Week 17, and a loss in the NFC Wildcard Round to eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay to cap a disappointing finish.

In 2011, they proceeded to lose their first two contests at. The Eagles were favored by more than a touchdown in three of those games. Didn’t matter.

They finally broke the streak with a 34-7 dismantling of Dallas on national television in late October, but then followed that up with losses as huge favorites to San Francisco and Arizona. In fact, over the past two seasons, the Eagles are 7-9 at home. That’s simply unacceptable. And while it’s not the fault of the fans, something is certainly amiss in South Philadelphia.

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