When I got out of college in Philadelphia in 1983, I had a vague yearning to “do something with sports,” as the aimless George Costanza once put it.
That led to a job with Pop Warner Youth Football that sounded fantastic but wasn’t, and I left about a year later without another job, or prospects.
A day or so later, one of my roommates was laid off and times were lean.
That’s how I ended up taking a date out for ice cream with rolls of pennies — and how I came to “work for” the Philadelphia Eagles.
Never miss a local story.
That is, if you count as working there a not-for-credit, unpaid internship in the ticket office for a few months. Realizing I’ve already used my allotted Seinfeld-reference limit in any given column, picture Kramer just showing up at Brandt-Leland.
My contributions, I was recently reminded, consisted of having a certain knack for thrusting pencils upward to stick in the soft drop ceiling, performing head-handstands at random and singing Springsteen songs.
I also evidently shared my album of NFL stamps (NFL Action ’72) because it featured Ken Iman, the husband of my colleague, Joyce Capriotti Iman.
At least I can say I wore a tie to work.
Joyce and her sister Jayne, who also was with the Eagles, are the ones who reminded me of this nonsense a few days ago.
And I bring this all up not because it gives me any shred of a sense of affiliation with the Eagles beating New England in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
It’s by way of explaining what the victory does mean to me as someone who grew up in the area and went to college and worked there a few years before finally finding some direction by going to grad school at Missouri in 1986.
I don’t want to speak for other sportswriters, but I largely believe this to be true:
The job takes you inside so much but also instills a certain buffer from what and who you cover, and if it doesn’t, it should.
It’s the Spider-Man thing: great privilege, great responsibility. Because you’re not working as a fan but as someone striving to tell it like it is and take people where they don’t get to go — good, bad or wherever in-between.
In short, in many ways it drains the fan out of you.
That being said, you never forget the joys that sports can bring people — especially to ones you care about the most.
Like the way it felt to cover the Royals winning the 2015 World Series and in a sense be embedded within all that was uplifting a city and a region and so many people you love.
That same feeling overtook me on Sunday night and Monday morning, living vicariously through so many people I know and cherish back home.
People like Jayne and Joyce, who is retiring from the front office this year after being with the Eagles since 1972 and just deserves this great going-away gift.
People like Kelsey Hansen, a teacher and daughter of two of my closest friends, Becky and Cris.
Kelsey wept after getting the news on Friday night that her fiancé had won an all-expense paid package to travel to the game. (Kelsey comes in just before the 4-minute mark of the Q102 video).
Then there’s Kelsey’s younger sister, Kristen, a student at the University of Connecticut who now has a Patriot friend fan obliged to wear an Eagles jersey for the next month.
Their mother reveled in all this, of course. And their father died in 2008 and would have been “over the moon,” Kelsey wrote me on Facebook.
Watching her tears of joy over winning the trip and thinking of how Cris would struggle to reconcile the Eagles actually winning it all left me choked up for a few minutes.
Like a lot of my friends back home, Cris wasn’t big on then-Eagles coach Andy Reid as the playoff losses mounted — a sentiment that seems to be growing here, with Reid now 1-4 in the postseason with the Chiefs.
Not that Eagles fans and Chiefs fans necessarily have a lot in common.
For starters, there’s no courthouse (as far as we know) in the basement of Arrowhead Stadium, a la “Eagles Court” back in the days of old Veteran’s Stadium (although Judge Seamus P. McCaffery says 95 percent of those arrested were not from Philadelphia).
Recalling working with Dick Vermeil in Philadelphia, former Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson said their first season there ended with Vermeil lamenting his team and saying, “I saw more contact in the stands today than I did on the field.”
But Peterson sees similarities, too, in the ache of fan bases of franchises that have waited forever for a title: Since Super Bowl IV for the Chiefs, and since 1960 for the Eagles … until Sunday.
“That (hunger) resonates with players and coaches and everyone involved,” said Peterson, who reminded that the Philadelphia Stars had been USFL champions in the 1980s — and that he still has the trophy.
In a phone interview last week, Vermeil, who like Reid coached the Eagles to a Super Bowl only to lose, said “both cities have an intense passion and appreciation of their teams and the desire to win.
“But I think Kansas City is not quite as intense as Philadelphia. In Kansas City, when they lose a tough game, they say, ‘Tough game.’ In Philadelphia, they say something much worse. They still love you, but it’s expressed much differently.”
I started learning about those differences when my family moved from Austin, Texas, to the Philly area in the early 1970s, settling in Swarthmore, Pa.
At the time, the Eagles trained at nearby Widener University, where I gathered autographs I still have — including from receiver Harold Carmichael, who signed it “Hal Carmichael” and later admonished me to “know your ballplayers, son,” because in my 12-year-old hyperventilation I circled back to ask him for a second one.
The Eagles weren’t good then — and neither, for that matter, were the Phillies (59-97 in 1972) or 76ers (9-73 in 1972-1973).
But that didn’t keep me from wanting that green Eagles coat with white sleeves I’d wear out — or still having an Eagles T-shirt, circa 1980, that my wife wore on Sunday.
Things got better for all in a few years, but in the meantime at least we had the Flyers. On their way to the first of back-to-back Stanley Cups, I listened to one game on a newfangled earpiece to a transistor radio I smuggled in to my brother’s play.
Gene Hart’s call of the Game 6 win over Boston still gives me chills: “The Flyers win the Stanley Cup! The Flyers win the Stanley Cup! The Flyers have won the Stanley Cup!”
And I treasure the memory of my mom driving us up and down MacDade Blvd., just honking the car horn.
Yeah, you build up certain walls over time in this job. Then again, all these memories are part of becoming a sportswriter, and certainly part of lifelong relationships.
So I’m not singing the “Fly, Eagles, Fly” song.
But maybe I’ll try a handstand in tribute — not so much to the Eagles as to Joyce and Jayne and my other colleagues when I “worked” for them.