My final stadium visit of the season didn’t get off to such a great start.
Last night, while cooking dinner I sliced the tip of finger pretty frigging badly on a mandoline slicer. I bandaged it up the best that I could but given that I already had at least 2 Moscow Mules when this happened, I didn’t do such a great job. So, between the nightlong loss of blood and the nightlong Moscow mule consumption, I woke up today feeling less than spectacular.
First action of the day was to head to the urgent care clinic and have the finger looked at and properly dressed. I got out of there around 9:45 with the temps in the high teens and the skies grey with a forecast of snow. But backing out of the game never crossed my mind.
Around 10:15, I hopped on the NJ Turnpike South towards Philly. As soon as I crossed the Ben Franklin bridge into the city onto I-76 , the traffic was insane. If driving into Philly on Eagle game day is not your thing, an alternative would be to take their mass transit system’s (SEPTA) Broad Street line which will leave you a few short blocks from the stadium. I wish I had thought of that.
Lincoln Financial Field (aka “The Linc”) is part of the huge South Philadelphia Sports Complex, which also houses the Wachovia Center (76ers and Flyers home) and Citizen’s Bank Park. Along the way from the street to the gate, I passed a virtual sea of tailgaters who didn’t seem the least bit bothered about the freezing weather or grey skies.
The outer gates open 2 ½ hours before kickoff and give you access to the plaza where there is lots of activity (food trucks, live bands, etc.) before game time. The main gates for stadium entry open up an hour and a half before kickoff.
My first impressions of ‘The Linc’ were quite positive. It’s a nice looking structure highlighted by brick, glass and steel with lots of green and white. The lines through security moved pretty quickly. The concourse inside is wide and clean and easy to navigate and finding your seating area is easy. There were lots of displays and murals around the concourse and aisles recognizing Eagle greats from the past — Ron Jaworski, Donovan McNabb, Chuck Bednarik, Reggie White, Harold Carmichael, Randall Cunningham, etc.
The Eagles are one of the older franchises in the NFL (founded in 1933) and have had some success in the pre Superbowl era winning 3 league titles and later making it to 2 super bowls (1980 and 2004). Prior to moving to The Link, they played their home games in the hideous Veteran’s Stadium which used to be across he street before they finally imploded it. They shared this park with the Phillies. The Linc also has a very nice (enclosed and warm) team store on the main level. A nice vantage point to watch the game from is up on the Miller Lite ‘Phlight’ Deck?
With some time still left before kickoff – I went to grab something to eat before the lines got too crazy.
There are some really nice food options here (compared to the other football stadiums that I’ve been to so far). This wasn’t a surprise given that Philly is one of the better food cities in the US. Some of the better options included – Brent Celek’s “Prime Stache,” Bassett’s – One of America’s oldest Ice Cream companies, McNally’s Tavern and their famous “Schmitter” (also available at Citizen’s Bank Park), Tony Luke’s for great cheesesteaks (my choice), Quick & Carmichael, named after former Eagle receivers Mike Quick & Harold Carmichael and of course, Chickie’s & Pete’s and their legendary crab fries.
Prior to the Eagles coming onto the field, a Rocky themed introduction video is shown on the videoboards to rile up the fans. This is followed by exploding bursts of flames and the players charge through the tunnel.
The game was a close contest throughout.
The Eagles took a 22-21 lead when Caleb Sturgis hit a 41-yard field goal with 4:59 left but they couldn’t hold the lead as Chris Thompson’s 25-yard touchdown run with 1:54 remaining lifted the Skins to a 27-22 lead.
Carson Wentz drove Philadelphia to the Redskins 14 in the final minute, but Ryan Kerrigan sacked him to force a fumble and seal the win for Washington.
Kirk Cousins threw two touchdown passes, including an 80-yard toss to DeSean Jackson, and had a pick-six.
But I wasn’t there to see the winning score. Between the cold, my throbbing finger and the snow picking up with a forecast for several inches, I decided to call it a day about 5 minutes into the 4th quarter leaving right after the Eagles grabbed a 22-21 lead. I also wanted to get a jump on the crowd and avoid the same nightmarish traffic I faced on the way in – especially considering I had a 15 minute walk back to my car. I was tempted to hang out and hoist a few at Chickie’s and Pete’s, but I know it would have been a dreadful idea given the circumstances. I also promised my friend I’d go to her son’s Christmas play! The drive home wasn’t bad and I made good time and stood ahead of the snow.
It was a good day overall – despite the cold and the finger pain. A nice way to wrap up year 1 of my 5 year plan of football visits.
I have plenty more planned for next year – after what I hope is a long and enjoyable baseball season.
Fans – C – Philly fans are always enthusiastic but not always very civil
Features – B – All of the displays of the great players. The wind turbines outside the stadium (a very green stadium), the ‘Phlite’ Deck
Location – B – A downtown setting … sort of. Not close enough to walk to anything meaningful, but not a very far drive. In the middle of a huge sports complex.
Food – A – Lots of great local Philly food choices – including Tony Luke’s
Game – A – Close contest. Well payed game. Kept the fans interest throughout.
Overall Experience – B+ – If not for the cold temperatures and my throbbing finger – and the pain in the ass traffic – I may have given this an A rating.