Philadelphia sports fans and boos: it's unfortunately a tale as old as time.
Philly fans hate when outsiders chide them for booing their own teams, but they also hate watching bad (or lazy, or disinterested) teams. This time, the boos rained on a listless Sixers team, and in return Joel Embiid, the face of the franchise, shushed fans and told them to shut the f*** up. Cool!
Embiid's saga is just the latest in the city's long, contentious relationship with booing its own guys. Often, players either ignore the boos or dip into the "I love the boos, they drive me to be great" well until things get better. But every once in a while, Philly fans receive some pushback.
Here's a look back at some of the more notable instances of Philly athletes rebuffing the city's boos.
Fresh off a World Series title isn't normally when players and fans duke it out, but Rollins got into it with fans in the media after he called Phils supporters "front-runners" largely unprompted.
Perhaps feeling the pressure to repeat, Rollins' numbers dipped a bit from his exceptional MVP season in 2007, but he was still playing in front of packed crowds at Citizens Bank Park.
It was an odd comment that largely fell by the wayside when the Phils went on yet another deep postseason run, falling to the Yankees in the World Series, and Rollins is beloved to this day by Philly fans. Had that season shaken out differently, perhaps something else would be true.
Before "You want Philly Philly?", a different four-word phrase connected Eagles fans, but in a very different way. Ricky Watters, at the time making his Eagles debut, drew boos for coming up short on a pass to avoid a walloping hit. After the game, he explained the decision with "For who? For what?", a pair of rhetorical questions that followed him for the rest of his time in Philly.
Watters had a great three seasons in Philly, making two Pro Bowls and racking up 31 rushing touchdowns, but his legacy in green and white is forever tainted by basically saying he wasn't going to take a big hit on a catch just to make Eagles fans happy.
Frankly, it's hard to blame either side.
A short-lived member of the Phillies, Sean Rodriguez had quite an up-and-down summer of 2019. Four months after making his debut with the Phils, Rodriguez went to bat for teammate Rhys Hoskins and the team at large after a round of boos rained down at Citizens Bank Park.
Rodriguez, displeased with the treatment, implied that Phillies fans looked bad when they booed, calling them "entitled", which is ... obviously not going to go over well anywhere, especially in hard-scrabble Philadelphia.
Rodriguez received more boos the next day, and eventually apologized for his word choice. The rest of his tenure with the Phils was largely unremarkable, which means he'll be remembered for the "entitled" jab. Rough.
Another recent example, and perhaps more fodder for the off-base portion of basketball fans who believe younger players are (to borrow a word from Sean Rodriguez) entitled or soft: Embiid's teammate, Ben Simmons, got into it with booing fans early in the Sixers' 2019 playoff run.
After a Game 1 home loss to the Nets in the first round, during which the Sixers were booed for a bafflingly poor effort, Simmons said he hopes fans who booed "stay on that side" when the team comes back around. It was a fair take from Simmons, though he sort of forgot the support he and the team received all year long leading up to the postseason.
In Game 2, Simmons cajoled the crowd with a "I can't hear you"-style motion, and it became clear he was leaning into the boos. The Sixers eventually turned things around, topping the Nets 4-1 in the series, before losing to the Raptors in seven, and things have been smooth between Simmons and the fans since.
Jonathan Papelbon. A more divisive name may not exist.
The fiery closer, who signed a sizable contract with the Phillies in 2012 and reached an All-Star Game in his first year, wasn't necessarily having a bad 2014 season, but it wasn't up to par with his 2012 year, and Phillies fans were restless in September, so they booed Papelbon after he blew a save. It happens.
Papelbon's response, however, was far more unique: as he approached the dugout, he grabbed his crotch, a gesture that certainly seemed directed at Phillies fans' boos.
He later apologized and said he didn't mean to offend fans, but the damage was done. The Phillies traded Papelbon a year later, and his name is uttered only in disgusted tones.
Though he was mainly a fan favorite known for making clutch catches on third downs, Jason Avant sparred with Eagles fans who booed the Birds during an uninspired 1-4 start to the 2011 season.
Avant said the Eagles started treating home games like away games that year because of the treatment they received from the home fans. As the team started to turn things around a bit in late October, Avant said he didn't want fans jumping back on the bandwagon. (They were 3-4 at the time, so it was bold.)
The Birds finished 8-8 that year, never really making a true turnaround. Avant is remembered as a serviceable, if forgettable, wide receiver. No harm, no foul.
We end the list with the weirdest memory. Mike Schmidt, one of the best Phillies of all time, stoked flames during a down year when he told the Montreal Gazette that Phillies fans were "beyond help," and that his career would've been longer if he'd played "somewhere where they were just grateful to have me around."
Unsurprisingly, Schmidt knew he might alienate his home fans, and apologized, but he couldn't take the words back. So he decided to show up for his next home game in sunglasses and a long wig, for protection. Instead, he received a standing ovation, because Philly fans are nothing if not interested in some humor.
Schmidt is remembered as a legend, who once wore a wig at The Vet.
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