Hours before kickoff in the NFC championship game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings, things got chippy as a brawl broke out in the Lincoln Financial Field parking lots.
Six policemen, mounted on horses, were called to the scene and at least one fan was bloodied in the melee, which occurred around 3 p.m. Eastern. It appeared that the fight was between officers and fans, NJ.com reported, with no Vikings fans involved. Philadelphia police officers and Pennsylvania state troopers were required to restore order.
One observer posted video he claimed showed Eagles fans throwing full, unopened cans of beer at Vikings fans approaching the stadium.
- Steve Politi (@StevePoliti) January 21, 2018
Eagles fans also spent some time fighting with each other in the stadium's parking lot, to judge from a video posted to social media. For their part, Vikings fans weren't perfectly behaved, either, with one woman in team apparel shown spitting on others in the stadium as she was being escorted away from her seat.
Regardless of the game's outcome, the city of Philadelphia was making preparations for raucous activity. Good thing, too, given that Philly fans have been known for their outrageous behavior, going back decades.
Most notoriously, Eagles fans booed and pelted with snowballs a man dressed as Santa Claus during a game in December 1968. Just last week, during Philadelphia's home playoff win over the Falcons, an Eagles fan was ejected for being inebriated and not having a ticket, after which he began punching both a police horse and the cop mounted on it.
Eagles and Vikings fans seem to be getting along GREAT pic.twitter.com/hhmAwsQ39B
- Laces Out (@LacesOutShow) January 22, 2018
In between, there were enough incidents of unruly behavior at Philadelphia home games that a makeshift "Eagles Court," complete with an actual Municipal Court judge, was set up in the basement of the team's previous facility, Veterans Stadium. "During 1998 - it was the 'Monday Night Football' game against the San Francisco 49ers - there were 60 fistfights in the stands," the judge, Seamus McCaffery, said in a 2011 interview. "That was the evening a guy from Delran, New Jersey, fired a flare gun."
Earlier in the week, a Minneapolis-based ticket broker offered a warning to Vikings fans traveling to Philadelphia for the game. "If the Vikings win, yes, I would take off any sort of colors," Ticket King's Drew Baydala told Fox 9 (via NJ.com).
Good morning from Philly where crews from the city are greasing the light poles with Crisco to prevent #Eagles fans from climbing after the #NFCChampionshipGame tonight. #Vikings pregame coverage starts at 3 on FOX9. They call themselves the #CriscoCops pic.twitter.com/w1ZkYWZhYG
- FOX 9 Sports (@Fox9Sports) January 21, 2018
"I know it sounds ridiculous, like we're almost talking about gangs here," he continued. "But it's no joke down in Philly. It really isn't."
Whatever Sunday's result, Eagles fans were set to let off plenty of steam, but the city was determined not to let shinnying up light poles be among their postgame activities. Armed with cans of shortening and dubbing themselves the Crisco Cops, municipal staffers greased up the poles.
Now comes the time in the night where we must warn everyone about the dangers of Saturated Fats. Cheers for #Foles! Jeers for #Poles! It's a long way down, baby. Celebrate responsibly! pic.twitter.com/mES5MpPTY4
- Philadelphia Police (@PhillyPolice) January 22, 2018
Not surprisingly, Eagles supporters simply took that as a challenge. Following their team's 38-7 rout of the Vikings, sending Philly to a Super Bowl match against the Patriots, there were predictable sightings of elated fans climbing up light poles, Crisco be darned.
Elsewhere, as revelers ran amok in Philadelphia, a large sign was displayed profanely disparaging 99-year-old celebrity Vikings fan Millie Wall and someone drove a dune buggy up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
- DG (@Danny_Giro) January 22, 2018
Story by Cindy Boren and Des Bieler.