Yo Adrian, Rocky Balboa turned 73 years old on July 6, some 43 years after Sylvester Stallone first portrayed the fictional Philadelphia boxer. Stallone was quiet on his social media channels Saturday, but that didn’t stop a slew of Eagles fans from posting birthday wishes for the city’s favorite adopted son.
Stallone famously predicted the Eagles would win “by knockout” over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. The actor who played Rocky Balboa, in his new role as a soothsayer, was right as the Birds flew to a 41-33 victory. “Yo Eagles, keep punching” was his rallying cry throughout the team’s Super Bowl run. He has been a constant supporter of the Philadelphia Eagles, even showing up at the home opener in 2003 to help christen Lincoln Financial Field.
Stallone was born in New York City before moving to Northeast Philadelphia in 1957 after his parents’ divorce where he attended Notre Dame Academy and then Lincoln High School. He has confessed his allegiance to the Eagles on several occasions, tracing his fandom back to the age of 15 when running back Timmy Brown caught his attention. Known as the greatest all-purpose back of his time, Brown accumulated 3,703 rushing yards and 3,346 receiving yards in his eight seasons wearing Eagles green. Stallone has often appeared on Instagram wearing his No. 22 Brown jersey.
While the actor wouldn’t respond to comment for this story, he did speak with Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times in 2018 to pull back the curtain on his love affair with the Eagles.
“What Rocky has represented to the city is really extraordinary, but also kind of understandable,” Stallone told Farmer. “Philadelphia has always been an underdog city. It started out at the top of the food chain; at one point, it was the capital of the United States. Then that went out the window. Then they were the No. 1 seaport in the United States. Then that went out the window. Then, the jokes started.”
He has spent a substantial amount of time in Philadelphia between attending high school in the area and filming the Rocky movie series. The actor was most recently in town in April 2018 while shooting Creed 2 and swung by the stadium to proudly hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Stallone watched Super Bowl LII comfortably from his home in Beverly Hills, California. He had thought about contacting Jeffrey Lurie to sit in the owner’s box and watch the game in Minneapolis but dismissed it because he didn’t want to be too much of a distraction. After the final whistle sounded, Stallone posted an instantly viral photo with Al Pacino, fist clenched and Eagles hat on.
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“I thought, you know, they’ve done so well this year,” Stallone told Farmer, “that if I happened to be invited and sat in the owner’s box and they lose, you know every head’s going to swivel in my direction and they’ll say, ‘Who invited him?’ I’m serious. I’ll be burned in effigy in every neighborhood in Philadelphia. So I said, you know what, I’ll sit this dance out.”
Stallone will forever be a national treasure in Philadelphia, a fictional boxer who embodied the grit and determination of the city. Yo Rocky, Happy Birthday!