The Eagles held their first and only public practice on Sunday night as more than 12,000 fans gathered to see their favorite players on the pitch in their first and only public practice ahead of Friday’s pre-season opener.
Cheerleaders, a band and the team’s fight song enlivened the crowd, who came from all over to cheer from the stands at Lincoln Financial Field.
Maryland native Russell Boone drove three hours to see the Eagles in action as a 40th birthday present. “There’s too much talent on the pitch this season,” Boone said. His hopes are pinned on Jalen Hurts and how his job at quarterback will take the team to the playoffs.
Like Boone, many fans seem to be focusing on the playoffs before making Super Bowl showings. Philadelphia native Stephen Buster says it may still be too early for such a screening. But coming to training camp, he thinks, is a good opportunity for fans to see how the players perform.
While all eyes seem to be on the team’s newest addition, wide receiver AJ Brown and quarterback Hurts, fans like Verona Cartier are hoping to make it to the Super Bowl with coach Nick Sirianni. “It was a long road of depression when they didn’t win, but when they did it gave us new life,” Cartier said. But “without the leader of the band, the music doesn’t sound right,” she added.
Public practice gives fans the opportunity to see the Eagles in action, but the low cost of the ticket ($10), with proceeds going to autism research, adds to the fan hype.
Mark Guilbert and Joseph Spencer have been Eagles fans for over 40 years. Even after moving to Harrisburg, the pair made the trip to see the team practice. As the players began to be announced on the field, both hoped to see “another victory parade and beat Dallas twice.”
While Guilbert saw this year’s practice as a great opportunity to enjoy the game at a reasonable cost, Spencer’s excitement went beyond the field: he has two nephews with autism.
Spencer views the team’s donations for autism research, which have been made since 2018, as proof of Philadelphia’s brotherly love. This year, the Eagles are donating more than $15 million for 63 research projects and community grants. “The team supports the community and the community supports the team,” Spencer said.