We’ve all heard about the horrible beating of Neal Auricchio, the New Jersey police officer and Marine vet who was attacked by a few idiot Flyers fans following the Flyers’ loss in the Winter Classic on Jan. 2.
Auricchio was hospitalized simply because he was rocking a Rangers jersey and the knuckleheads who attacked him took offense.
The other day on Good Day Philadelphia, the anchors posed this question: Is it dangerous to wear a rival team’s jersey in a passionate sports town like Philly?
The answer: Yes, it is.
But I’d like to talk about a different side of this issue. Namely, the kind of no-life loser willing to bash in another person’s head because he’s a fan of a different team.
To put this “Don’t disrespect my favorite team!” stupidity into perspective, let’s imagine that Flyers tough guy Zac Rinaldo is walking to Geno’s Steaks after a game.
As he orders a sandwich, New York Rangers enforcer Mike Rupp shows up.
Just hours before, the two had beaten each other senseless on the ice — and not in a sissy, Sidney Crosby type of fight. I’m talking a full-on, two-minutes-straight of wild Mike Tyson-on-skates meat hammering.
Do you think Rinaldo and Rupp, even with the hatred they shared on the ice, would start wailing on each other in the street?
No. Not even a little bit.
If anything, they’d probably shake hands.
Pro athletes, even ones who hate each other, aren’t likely to go at it after the game. It’s their job to pound on one another.
In probably the most brutal hockey fight in the modern era of the NHL, legendary sluggers Bob Probert and Marty McSorley traded punches for more than 120 seconds straight.
At the end of the fight, neither player wanted to kill each other. Before the referees pulled them apart, Probert and McSorley, both exhausted, paused to pat each other on the head.
It was as if they meant to say, “All right man, we’re cool now.”
We can go beyond hockey players, most of whom rarely, if ever, fight on the ice.
Can you imagine Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali, who had one of the most personally hateful rivalries in sports history, trying to kill each other on the street after the Fight of the Century?
Nope, it wouldn’t happen.
I want to know what drives a Philly sports fan to gang up on a dude in a Rangers jersey or chuck their beers at a few Giants fans at an Eagles game.
These people must have laughably boring lives.
They remind me of comedian Patton Oswalt’s New York football-fanatic character in the film Big Fan. In the movie, he travels all the way to Philly to assault an Eagles fan. He’s the type of moronic loser who doesn’t have one interesting thing going on in his life, so he chooses to live vicariously through wealthy athletes, taking their ups-and-downs personally.
There are people who are going to get defensive and say it’s just the media trying to demonize Philly fans, because fights between fans happen everywhere, right?
We can assume both of those points are true, but it feels like a disproportionate number of these sports-related assaults happen right here.
We, as a city, earned that reputation. We often revel in it.
Some think it’s a badge of pride.
I think it’s a sign that certain Philly fans need to get a life.
Because if anyone reading this column is the kind of jerk who would happily pound on a dude simply because he’s wearing a Cowboys hat, I want to be the first one to tell you that your favorite pro athlete probably wouldn’t give you the time of day if you met him in public.
When the Eagles lose, I sincerely doubt that Michael Vick takes the loss as hard as many who are watching on TV at the bar, cursing and slamming their pint glasses on Sunday afternoons.
These players are doing a job. When they’re finished on the field or on the ice, they happily collect a handsome paycheck and go home to their friends and family.
It’s what people like to call “having a life.”
Maybe knuckleheads like the fans who beat up Neal Auricchio should get one. ••
Riverward Rants reflects the opinions of Joe Quigley, a Fishtown resident, area native and writer of the Web site PhillyNeighbor.com, where he makes cynical (and uncensored) comments about life in the river wards while shamelessly peddling his novel, “Holdout.” He can be reached at JQuig1984@gmail.com