Tensions are high between Eagles fans and Saints fans on the eve of the highly anticipated Wildcard matchup at Lincoln Financial Field. So high in fact that a planned event scheduled for Saturday at the famous “Rocky steps” has been cancelled due to safety concerns.
Saints fans originally planned a “Rocky Run” at the Philadelphia Art Museum steps on Saturday around 11 a.m. Members of the New Orleans media organized the event, which was to feature Saints fans dressed up in their team’s gear running up the steps.
After NBC10’s John Clark and others reported the news, many people chimed in on Twitter with some warning that such an event could draw violent reactions from Eagles fans.
— NR Garrett (@NR_Garrett) January 3, 2014
— Bruce (@sirfundrickboyd) January 3, 2014
@johnclarknbc10 some idiots will start fighting with them thus making national news and then we look like horrible fans again
— Craig (@CraigP17) January 3, 2014
@johnclarknbc10 I hope they have police presence!
— sleepylover215 (@sleepylover215) January 3, 2014
Not wanting to take any chances, Michael DeMocker, of the Times-Picayune announced that the event was canceled.
— Michael DeMocker (@MichaelDeMocker) January 3, 2014
It’s well documented that Philadelphia fans have a long history of treating both fans of opposing teams and their local brethren poorly.
In 2012, following the Winter Classic, a man wearing a New York Ranger jersey was allegedly beaten by a Flyers fan outside Geno’s Steaks. A man was also killed in 2009 following a fight in a parking lot outside Citizens Bank Park.
The now-defunct Veterans Stadium used to have “Eagles Court,” in which a Philadelphia Municipal Court judge presided over unruly fans who had been arrested during games.
Tickets for Saturday's primetime game sold out in three minutes earlier this week, with seats being sold on secondary ticketing sites like StubHub for thousands of dollars.
The Philadelphia Eagles Fan Code of Conduct prohibits “fighting, taunting or threatening remarks or gestures” as well as abusive or foul language, among other things. The policy, which is clearly displayed and shared at Lincoln Financial Field, says violators will be ejected or arrested.
Philadelphia Police spokesman Lt. John Stanford said on Friday that the department has deployed plainclothes officers, as well as uniformed patrols, at Eagles games for the past several years. He says some officers wear the opposing team's jersey, others wear Eagles gear and some wear neither.
"We do it just to make sure that people can go out and have a good time," he said. Stanford added that the patrols are not meant to target one group of fans, but to prevent trouble.