Super Bowl Fan Fare: Joy, Tears

Fire and smoke rises from the wreckage of a passenger plane which has crashed at The Margalla Hills on the outskirts of Islamabad on July 28, 2010. GETTY IMAGES

Wearing a Philadelphia jersey with a beach towel in the Eagles' green and silver colors wrapped around his shoulders, Woody Harris turned to the petite woman in the New England Patriots jersey and asked "Do you have a song? Patriots, sing your song!"

Lea Sonmese answered that she didn't know if the defending Super Bowl champions had a fight song - and Harris quickly cued a dozen nearby Eagles fans, "One, two, three!"

"Fly Eagles fly," they sang at the top of their lungs. "On the road to victory!"

Ultimately, the singing wasn't enough to derail the Patriots.

New England's fans were the victorious songbirds Sunday night, after their team beat the Eagles 24-21 and claimed its third Super Bowl title in four seasons.

"Three titles in four years is amazing," said Robert Clewley, 29, a waiter from Boston who bought a celebratory beer and readied to party moments after New England quarterback Tom Brady kneeled down to end the game. "I can't wait to get back to Boston for the parade."

Super Bowl XXXIX brought more than 100,000 people to the River City - and that meant at least one-fifth of the visitors lacked tickets; Alltel Stadium held 78,125 people for football's championship game.

And as expected, the fans had plenty of passion - sometimes too much. Shortly after the game ended, a small group of Eagles fans hurled plastic beer bottles at a contingent of Patriots fans celebrating at Jacksonville Landing, an outdoor downtown entertainment hub. A bit of pushing and shoving ensued; it was quickly broken up with the help of pepper spray used by police officers.

Some visitors from the City of Brotherly Love apparently didn't live up to that standard.

"We'd walk around town and they'd call us names," said Pats fan Joe Everett, 42, a contractor from Boston. "We got our just due, right here."

All over Jacksonville during this weeklong Super Bowl celebration, Eagles fans outnumbered Patriots fans in numbers and exuberance. They donned Philly cheesesteak hats, dressed in Eagles costumes and led impromptu chants of the Eagles fight song in the lobbies of luxury hotels.

"Eagles fans have dominated," acknowledged Sonmese, 30, a manager for a Boston pharmaceutical company.

Among the throngs of Eagles fans were Scott Turner, 23, and his uncle Doug Turner, 34, who watched on two movie-sized outdoor screens at Jacksonville Landing. And when the Eagles scored the game's first touchdown, the Turners broke out in song.

"We've been waiting for this for so long," Scott Turner said.

Alas, the wait continues. Philadelphia, which played in the Super Bowl for the first time in 24 years, hasn't won the NFL championship since 1960.

Championships are now commonplace for Patriots fans - most of whom have been spoiled of late not only by their once-moribund football franchise, but also the successes of the Boston Red Sox and Connecticut's men's and women's basketball teams, both of whom claimed NCAA titles in 2004.

Meanwhile, Eagles fans dreamed of this chance for years - especially after their team lost the previous three NFC title games, falling one game shy of playing in the Super Bowl.

"We're kind of used to being here. For them, they haven't been here for so long," Sonmese said.

Still, Patriots fans took advantage of their chances to exult: Mark Griswold of Knoxville, Tenn., a die-hard Pats fan, held both his hands out for nearby Eagles fans to see - and happily pointed out that his fingers, much like those of the Eagles, lack a Super Bowl ring.

Griswold and his three friends who flew in from Maine, Massachusetts and New York for the game were among the lucky ones: They had tickets. Many hopefuls came up short.

Demand created by the Eagles fans created a tight secondary market for fans still hoping to get tickets in the final hours before kickoff. Scalping tickets for more than $1 above their face value is illegal in Florida.

Patriots fan Joe Consolini, 45, brought an unusual prop in his quest for a ticket, and succeeded.

Consolini was sold one seat for $2,000, after a group of other Patriots fans - who noticed his blowup doll, dressed in black go-go boots, a red-lace padded bra covered by a white see-through shirt and red shorts, had a sign above its head that read "I need one ticket real bad."

"If you don't market yourself and do something crazy, then people aren't going to look at you," said Consolini, 45, of Costa Mesa, Calif. who was repeatedly stopped by other fans seeking pictures. "She drew a lot of attention."

  • Chris Hawke

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