Eagles fans love Philly's 'Dump'



Sunday's NFC Championship Game will be the last football game played in Veterans' Stadium.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The concrete bowl is a dump, as Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is fond of calling it. But it's Philadelphia's dump, and rabid Eagles fans have made it one of the toughest places to play in the NFL.
Veterans Stadium's days are numbered. The Vet -- loved, hated, and sometimes both at once -- will be demolished after the upcoming baseball season, with separate stadiums for both the Phillies and Eagles rising up nearby in South Philadelphia.
Before it comes down, though, there will be one last football game. The Eagles play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday for the NFC Championship and the right to go to the Super Bowl.
"I'll miss it, because it was like another home for me for 25 seasons. It was like an old shoe. You don't want to throw it out because it feels good on you," said former Eagles publicist Jim Gallagher, who worked for the team from 1949 to 1995.
Mystique
"It has a certain mystique," said defensive end N.D. Kalu. "I wish they could've refurbished it."
These are minority views. The Vet's uninspired architecture, harsh playing surface, dingy amenities, and unsavory tenants -- not the Eagles and Phillies, but gigantic rats and stray cats -- have made it an object of ridicule.
The fans gained a reputation as some of the NFL's rowdiest, rudest and most passionate, and the cacophony of 65,000 screaming voices disrupted many an opposing offense. They'll be at their most frenzied Sunday, and hundreds of police will try to maintain control -- and prevent fans from ripping out seats as souvenirs.
"It's a dump, it's a toilet and the field is horrible, but it was our field, our dump and our toilet. And we had to do the best we could with it," said former Eagles linebacker Bill Bergey, part of the 1980 squad that went to the Super Bowl.
NFL players annually ranked the Vet's Astroturf field the worst in the league. It claimed numerous victims, including Chicago Bears receiver Wendell Davis, Eagles linebacker Byron Evans, and Cowboys safety George Teague and receivers Rocket Ismail and Michael Irvin, whose career-ending neck injury was cheered by fans.

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