Charles Barkley Reveals NFL Fandom, Says Philly ‘100-Percent Eagles Town’

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Charles Barkley played eight remarkable seasons in Philadelphia. He heard a ton of cheers and a lot of boos, but never felt the excitement reserved for the hometown Eagles.

It’s common knowledge in Philly that the professional football team runs the city. Fans live and die with the Eagles and a loss on Sunday can dramatically affect the rest of the week, especially one’s productivity in the office. Barkley lived it as a member of the Sixers from 1984-1992. He made six All-Star teams and was named All-NBA four times before leaving for Phoenix, never winning a championship and always playing second fiddle to the Eagles.

“The Sixers won a championship [1983]. The Phillies won a championship [1980, 2008]. That doesn’t even matter to Philly,” Barkley told Lane Johnson’s “Outside the Lane” podcast. “As long as I’ve been in Philly, it is a 100-percent Eagles town.

“It’s the craziest thing. Let’s see, I’ve been there since 1984 and the level of excitement — and I only live there [in Philly] in the summer, so right when all the heat is cranking up — and the level of excitement for the Eagles is unmatched in any sport in Philadelphia.”

Barkley arrived one year too late for that vaunted “Fo Fo Fo” championship team in 1983. Even so, the Hall of Famer was cognizant enough to know that nothing would have compared to a Super Bowl parade. It was something that Johnson’s Eagles finally brought home in 2018, a moment he was joyfully “cross-eyed” for.

Outside The Lane: Episode 12 Charles BarkleyPhiladelphia Eagles' Lane Johnson hosts "Outside The Lane" show with special guest Charles Barkley. Live from Philadelphia. #OTL2020-07-31T23:00:00Z

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Barkley on Philly Fans: ‘They Do Not Play’

Barkley went on to discuss just how much of an impact the Philly fans meant to him. Remember, he entered the NBA as a naive rookie from small-town Alabama and got thrown into a crazed sports town. The former Sixers forward recalled a story of a teammate — he wouldn’t divulge the name — who used to intentionally pick up three fouls to start every home game. Just to relax on the bench.

Barkley said: “I played with a guy — I’m not going to name his name — every game he would get three quick fouls and halfway through the season coach goes, ‘Dude what the hell are you doing? Why the hell do you get three quick fouls at home all the time?’ He says with a straight face, ‘Coach I do that intentionally’ … Why? ‘Some of the stuff these fans are saying to me I can’t take it and when I go to the bench, they leave me alone.’ We didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry. This is a true story.”

He also recalled a story about Shawn Bradley — the second overall pick in the 1993 NBA Draft, not the Eagles’ Shaun Bradley — and how his wife used to get into it with Sixers fans. Barkley had to call Bradley on the phone and put the kibosh on that, for his own protection.

“I told him, ‘Ahhh h*** nah, you need to tell her to cut that s*** out.’ Them Philly fans, they do not play,” Barkley said. To which Johnson replied: “The good thing about it is, as stressful as it is, it’s also a great motivator. It’ll motivate you to get out there and play well.”

Alabama Boy Becomes Legitimate Eagles Fan

One last nugget from their nearly hour-long interview had to do with NFL allegiances. Barkley hails from Leeds, Alabama where there is no professional football team. The Falcons would have been the closest when he was growing up, with Atlanta about two hours away.

But Barkley never went crazy for football — until he got to Philly. He started hanging around with guys like Seth Joyner, Clyde Simmons, Andre Waters, Reggie White, Jerome Brown, Randall Cunningham, etc. The rest is history. He quickly became a diehard Eagles fan.

“Those guys were unbelievable,” Barkley said. “I turned into a big ole’ Eagles fan and then my favorite coach of all-time, Buddy Ryan. It was so much fun becoming a pro football fan. I’m still an Eagles fan today.”

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