NFL: An all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl looming
By Tom Barnes
PHILADELPHIA ó Jumping offsides in a way that would seem to tempt fate, a lot of Philadelphia Eagles fans are already anticipating a cross-state Super Bowl matchup between their quarterback, Donovan McNabb, and the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger.
Of course, there is still this little matter of both Pennsylvania teams getting past their opponents Sunday, Pittsburgh facing Baltimore for the third time this season and Philadelphia facing Arizona for the second time.
Both Keystone clubs are favored to win. A dozen Eagles fans randomly contacted along busy Market Street earlier this week didn’t have any doubt their green-and-white crew would be in Tampa for pro football’s biggest game.
A Steelers-Eagles matchup “would be awesome,” said Malcolm Jones, wearing a green Eagles jersey as he ran a popcorn shop in a Center City skyscraper’s food court. “The whole state would be excited.”
“That would be great. It would make the whole state look good ó especially Philadelphia when we win,” agreed Obra Kernodle, who works in the register of wills office at Philadelphia’s famous City Hall.
“I’m a Philadelphia native and an Eagles fan, but I think it would be fun to play the Steelers,” said Philly native Bill Morlok, in the lobby of the city’s tallest building, the 975-foot-high Comcast Center. “I’ve always liked the Steelers too, since they’re a Pennsylvania team.”
He said he probably should have rooted for San Diego last weekend “because obviously it would be easier for the Eagles to beat them. We beat Pittsburgh once this season but we’ll be lucky to beat them again.”
There was a surprising lack of animosity in evidence between the two fan bases, perhaps because the clubs are in different conferences and don’t play regularly.
Jake Reese, 39, of Bucks County, grew up a Steelers fan in Lewisburg, Pa. and 15 years ago married Leanne, an Eagles partisan from Cherry Hill, N.J. They have three kids: one daughter is an Eagle fan, one a Steeler, and a 4-year-old son has both Troy Polamalu and McNabb jerseys.
“It’s a lot more fun out here when the Eagles are doing well. I’m happy to root for them through this coming weekend,” he said. He wore his Roethlisberger jersey to the Eagles 15-6 win over the Steelers in September and was hardly bothered.
“I’ve gone to Eagles games against other teams where they’re merciless. For the Steelers, there is grudging respect,” Reese said.
Should the fan bases converge in Tampa, they would both draw from across the country, not just Pennsylvania. Both travel well and when home often share the same sports bars on Sundays.
“God bless (Steeler fans). They’re probably the number one sports fan club all over the United States,” said Mike Kline, who co-founded Tampa’s leading Eagles fan club.
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