With the NFL Draft coming to Philadelphia next week, we are certain to be reminded of the 1999 NFL Draft, when Eagles fans traveled to New York to boo the selection of quarterback Donovan McNabb with the No. 2 overall pick because the fans preferred running back Ricky Williams. (In fact, you might even find that video right here at PhillyPhanatics.com.)
The booing of the McNabb selection joins the booing of Mike Schmidt and the throwing of snowballs at Santa Claus, as well as at Jimmy Johnson, in the folklore reinforcing the negative image of Philadelphia fans.
But there is a difference between booing and being a pessimist. Philadelphia fans are proud of booing the opposition. Ask any Philadelphia fan if they are embarrassed about booing Sidney Crosby, Kobe Bryant or the Dallas Cowboy of your choice.
The last time a major professional sport held its draft in Philadelphia, Flyers fans proudly attracted international attention (Canada makes it international) with deafening boos for NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the Pittsburgh Penguins – as well as booing every other team – during the NHL Draft. We may have a repeat performance at the NFL Draft with the Cowboys, Giants, Redskins, Patriots and any of the former Cowboys-turned-broadcasters who has the misfortune of taking the public stage.
But are we truly that negative? I prefer to think of Philly sports fans as incredibly passionate. The optimism and pessimism are two sides of the same coin, which is why I sometimes consult Joe Optimist and Joe Pessimist, whom I created to represent the two conflicting views that often co-exist within the brain of the Philly sports fan, in my columns.
Are you more Joe Optimist or Joe Pessimist? Let’s find out by taking the following quiz.
1. With the 14th selection in the NFL Draft (in Philly!), the Eagles will draft:
A) a terrific starting defensive player. The draft is deep in corners. The Eagles can’t miss.
B) a solid contributor, but he won’t get an elite starter.
C) an average player … and they’ll pass up a player who will become a star.
D) a mistake. I don’t know whom they’ll pick, but I know it will be a mistake.
2. When you hear the phrase “Trust the Process,” your first reaction is to:
A) bow down in front of your Sam Hinkie poster.
B) get excited about two lottery picks in this year’s draft joining Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric on the court next season
C) worry that Joel Embiid’s and Ben Simmons’ careers will be hindered by injuries.
D) try not to throw up from the bile rising in your throat.
3. The Phillies’ bullpen will be:
A) good once Hector Neris becomes the closer and everyone settles into their new roles.
B) decent, but it doesn’t really matter right now because the Phillies are rebuilding.
C) a problem until they can find a reliable closer.
D) lit up all summer like a charcoal grill.
4. Flyers captain Claude Giroux:
A) wasn’t fully recovered from surgery this year. He will be much better next season.
B) will bounce back next season, but will never regain his peak form.
C) should be stripped of his captaincy because he’s not a good leader.
D) is on an irreversible downward spiral. The window to trade him has already passed.
5. Carson Wentz is:
A) the quarterback who will lead the Eagles to multiple Super Bowl victories.
B) going to be a long-time starting quarterback, but he won’t be an elite quarterback.
C) vastly overrated by Eagles fans desperate for a winner.
D) a flash in the pan who will be replaced by Nick Foles by midseason.
6. Maikel Franco batting .160 through the first 13 games is:
A) not important. Once he’s warmed up, he’ll be the team’s best hitter again. It’s early!
B) mildly concerning, but nothing to worry about.
C) a sign that he might not be as much of an impact player as Phillies fans had hoped.
D) a sign that he doesn’t know how to hit. Trade Franco now while you can still get something for him.
7. Ivan Provorov, Carson Wentz, Joel Embiid and J.P. Crawford are:
A) destined to usher in a new golden era in Philadelphia sports.
B) future superstars who will help make their respective teams championship contenders.
C) overrated because Philadelphia fans are so desperate for a winner.
D) destined to leave via free agency as soon as they can get out of this cursed city.
8. The Union’s next win will be:
A) this weekend
B) in May
C) after head coach Jim Curtin is fired
D) before Christmas
9. The best general manager (or equivalent front office position) is:
A) Ron Hextall
B) Matt Klentak
C) Howie Roseman
D) Bryan Colangelo
E) There a “best” general manager in this town? Really?
10. The next of Philadelphia’s major sports teams to win a championship will be:
A) the Eagles. E! A! G! L! E! S! EAGLES!!!
B) the Sixers. Trust the process!
C) the Flyers. Look at all those young defensemen!
D) the Phillies. Wait until all the kids arrive!
E) Championship? Don’t talk about championships. Let’s try to get a team into the playoffs before we talk about winning a championship. And let’s get a team over .500 before we talk about the playoffs. A championship? That’s a long, long way away.