For years, we've all heard how dispicable sports fans are in Philadelphia. After all, it's the same town that booed Hall of Famer and lifelong Phillie great Mike Schmidt. It's the same town that pelted a guy dressed as Santa Claus with snowballs in the 1970s, so badly that the poor soul needed a police escort to get out of the building.
It's the same place where an impromptu jail cell, complete with a municipal court judge, was placed in the bowels of the old Veterans Stadium to deal with the unruly fans. Get drunk and act like an ass at a Phillies or Eagles game? No problem. You got locked up right there and had to post bail right there. A novel concept.
It's a place that I personally saw a group of drunken men physically attack two women because they wore Dallas Cowboys jerseys. Yes, one of these hooligans actually socked the woman in the mouth, then ran away like a scared teenager was chased by myself and a friend.
It's a place where I saw someone wearing a brand new St. Louis Rams jersey, embroidered with name and number on it, just out of the Christmas box, get pelted with some concoction of beer, mustard and paper towels. No, it wasn't me. I knew better than to wear a Rams jersey in Philly.
Yes, it's a place that actually had security guards taser a drunken fan who ran on the field. Take a dash on the field? How does 3,000 volts of electricity through your body feel?
And yes, it's the place where another drunken unruly idiot got into a verbal dispute with another fan and then this drunken clown actually stuck his fingers down his throat to vomit intentionally on the guy he was fighting with _ and yes, that guy's 11-year-old son.
City of Brotherly Love? Please, that's a disgraceful moniker when it comes to Philly and its sports fans. More like the City of Drunken Tasers and Vomit.
Philadelphia may be a nice place with its museums and the Liberty Bell. It's where Doctor J played while he was making illegitimate tennis players. It's where Pete Rose bet on some really big games. It's where the Philadelphia Flyers, who singlehandedly kept Pennsylvania orthodontists in business in the 1970s, terrorized anything that didn't wear orange and black -- including jack-o-lanterns.
And Philly's fans have always been top notch, as proven with the comments listed above. Hell, the team's mascot is called the Philly Phanatic. He had to get fanatical over something because he drank a case of Genesee Cream Ale and had a cheesesteak.
To call Philly fans morons would be like giving them a title of distinction. It would be a word of praise.
Two summers ago, I went to CitiField to see the Mets play the Phillies in my season tickets. I was wearing a very obnoxious Mets tie-dyed T-shirt and was obviously cheering for my team.
But by the third inning, I found myself surrounded by six of these members of MENSA, liquored-up Phillies fans, taunting me with an assortment of fat comments that I first heard in third grade and how the Mets sucked (gee, like I didn't know that already).
And then they did what they do best, threatened to kick my ass, all because I was a Met fan in a Met shirt in my Met seats in the Mets' ballpark.
Guess what happened? I was instructed by the Mets security staff to move my location, that I was causing a problem for everyone else. All because I was dressed like a Met dormitory, a 6-foot-8, 400 pound monstrosity. I had to move, not the Phillies fans. I was livid. I tried to tell the security people that these were MY seats and they were seated in a ballpark that I regularly visited.
No such luck. I had to move. The drunken, obnoxious, moronic, physically-threatening Philly fans had won again. They always somehow manage to get their way. People think hooliganism only lives in soccer pitches in Great Britain. Guess again. We have our own location. It's called Philadelphia.
Well, Philly jackasses reared their ugly, infantile, moronic and idiotic heads again last week, when a group of criminal hooligans ambushed a guy outside Geno's Steakhouse after the NHL Winter Classic, simply because he and his friend were wearing Rangers jerseys.
And someone actually videotaped the vicious beating, stood there and watched these five morons pummel this soul and his friend to no one, then put the video on YouTube as some sort of moral celebration.
Well, the guy these Philly morons brutalized was Neal Auricchio, Jr. And Mr. Auricchio is already my nominee for Man of the Year in 2012.
Auricchio is a veteran of the United States Army, a hero who earned a Purple Heart in 2007 for being wounded in Iraq, shot by a sniper. He's been labeled a hero in his hometown of Woodbridge, N.J., where he is a police officer and volunteer firefighter.
The 30-year-old Auricchio received tickets to attend the Winter Classic from his wife as a Christmas present and took his friend to the game. His wife gave birth to their first child in November, so she stayed home to watch the baby and Auricchio went to the game in Philadelphia with his friend.
Auricchio was beaten so bad that his eyes were closed shut and he required more than 40 stitches to close his wounds.
Ready for this? It gets better. Some total jackass named "Edward Neary" claimed on Facebook that he was one of three Flyers fans to beat the stuffing out of Auricchio.
"Me and my friends had to do something about it, so we beat the c**ksucker," Neary wrote on Facebook, a post reported by Travis Hughes of the Flyers' fan website, BroadStreetHockey.com.
Bravo. Let's give this Neary moron a Congressional Medal of Honor or the Nobel Peace Prize or something, such a warm, kind bastion of geniusness.
On Neary's profile page on Facebook, it lists his interests as getting drunk and punching people in the face. Hey, he fits right in with the Philly fan mentality. Sounds like he's a regular card carrying member. Maybe he's the charter member, who knows?
So a guy goes to a hockey game with his friend, a once-in-a-lifetime game in Philly because it was outdoors, goes to get a bite to eat with his friend and ends up getting his face rearranged because he simply wore a Rangers jersey?
Sure looks that way. Chalk it up as just another incident involving the best sports fans in the world. Bravo, Philly fans. You've outdone yourselves this time. Be proud. Go out, drink about 54 cans of Schmidt's Beer and throw up on each other as a salute.
There was one clown on television Wednesday, some Philly jackass writer, who claimed that the "incidents involving Philadelphia sports fans get blown out of proportion" and that it's the "New York-based media" that fuels the fire.
Yeah, that's a good one. This, like the other reported incidents over the last 50 years or so, was totally blown out of proportion. Let's see if a Purple Heart recipient who almost lost his life fighting for this country _ and yes, fighting for the lives of Philly fans in the process _ thinks that this was blown out of proportion.
I'm part of that New York-based media and this story made me so sick that I wanted to throw up on a Philly fan.
I had to cover an indoor track meet Wednesday and on the way there, I received word that an athlete I once covered, Steve Berstler of West Morris Central High School, was dead at the age of 22.
Steve was a student at Salisbury University in Maryland where he was competing in cross country and track and field. He was a kid who was beloved by everyone who knew him and was a credit to the West Morris athletic program.
When someone dies tragically at such a young age, it causes everyone to stop and wonder why events like this occur. There are no words to describe the empty feeling. It's a tragedy of the largest variety, one that will linger for the weeks and months to come.
You can read more of my work at www.hudsonreporter.com, www.theobserver.com and www.dailyrecord.com.