So it’s been established, in this publication and throughout cyber space — (or by anyone who’s ever attended a sporting event in Philly) — there are some athletes who should expect to be booed. And many of them deserve the hate Philadelphia sports fans are accused of showering on players they disapprove of.
But there are a handful of (recently) former or current Philly players that are simply misunderstood. The following list contains some no-brainers (Chase Utley) and some borderline figures (Ryan Howard) on the Philadelphia sports scene.
But when push comes to shove, these guys deserve humane treatment. Tell us if you disagree:
1. Jeremy Maclin
Maclinwas a free agent in 2015, and depending on which reports you believe, he wanted to come back to the Chip Kelly Eagles. But a misunderstanding, some bad negotiating or some slick moves by Andy Reid swayed the Birds’ then leading receiver to jump ship and move to Kansas City. Maclin was a locker room leader and a fan favorite while in Philadelphia, and should be treated without contemptupon his eventual return.
2. DeSean Jackson
Jackson, a year earlier than Maclin, found himself cut and thrown to the curb by the Eagles in the prime of his career and after leading Philly in receiving in 2013. The wideoutwas cited to have had gang ties but these accusations were never really substantiated. He cried racism when he landed in Washington, but his bitterness was toward Kelly and not the fans. His third return to Philly will be this fall and the boos should be silenced — unless of course he makes a play for the hated Redskins.
3. Ryan Howard
The $25 million man (per year) has barely batted above .200 this season but he leads the Phillies in homers and is a lockerroom elder and leader. Heand Carlos Ruizare the last remaining remnants of the 2008 World Series and Howard’s glory days will be remembered fondly when he is gone. His last season in red pinstripes should be a celebration, not a critique of his over-the-hill performance.
Reid left Philly after a 4-12 campaign in 2012 and moved on to coach the Chiefs. He was welcomed warmly when he returned to Philly a few seasons ago, and fans have become more and more nostalgic for the 2000-era Eagles under Reid’s leadership. Even the current front office misses Reid, and they brought in his top lieutenantDoug Pederson to bring the Birds back to glory.
Rollins has already made a return to Philadelphia with the Dodgers last season and received a rousing ovation. Of course, in typical Rollins fashion he shrugged off talk of the days of old, saying the reception meant very little. Just wait till he retires and comes back — he’ll appreciate the special bond Philly fans have with past champions.
6. Jaromir Jagr
Jagr recently signed a contract to continue playing — at age 44. How can anyone hold a grudge against the ageless wonder that is the former Flyers forward?
7.Chase Utley/Cole Hamels
These two are no-brainers, as each defined an era of Phillies baseball and have moved on after trades to make way for the current regime of youth. Even after a hard, questionable slide forced Major League Baseball to implement the “Utley Rule,” he deserves momentous applause when he comes back to Philly in August.
8. Scott Hartnell
Hartnell has a self-admitted soft spot for Philadelphia, even tearing up when he came back for the first time in 2014 after a trade to Columbus. He was never as productive as fan or the Flyers had hoped, but he never rubbed Philly fans the wrong way and deserves a tip of the cap whenever he’s back in the Wells Fargo Center.
9. Al Golden/Steve Addazio
Both Golden and Addazioare partially responsible for the current success of Temple Owls football. However, each shed the title of Owls head coach fairly quickly to leap forward in their careers to Miami and Boston College respectively. Their contributions have become apparent during the Matt Rhule regime and last season’s incredible run, and should either return to face the Owls they deserve appreciation.
10. Joel Embiid
The No. 3 overall pick from 2014 has yet to play a minute in the NBA. But that isn’t his fault. Setbacks in his foot-rehab have caused him to sit on the sidelines (or fly to the middle east to work on his recovery). Whether he is a bust or the next Sixerssuper star, the seven-footer has said nothing to receive scorn from Philly fans.