New Cornerback Hopes for ‘Exception’ on Fan Ban at Eagles Games

Eagles fans

Getty Eagles fans

The rumors have finally turned into fact. There will be no fans in attendance at the Eagles’ home opener.

No E-A-G-L-E-S chants erupting from the stands. No high-fives from strangers in bird costumes. No joy in Mudville. Not this year. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia confirmed on Thursday that hosting fans at Lincoln Financial Field will not be permitted until further notice.

It was the exact scenario the Philly mayor had predicted in controversial comments made over a month ago. The question looming now is, will it be a one-game ban? Or will the Eagles be playing in a quiet stadium all year? The team said it would “continue discussions with state and local officials” before deciding.

“Eagles fans are incredible,” Eagles president Don Smolenski told Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. “They fill the stadium and the support they provide, the energy, the passion, we know how much our players feed off of that. We know how much as an organization we feed off of that. While we know that in the start of the season that those seats may be empty, we know that they’ll be with us in spirit.”

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The Best Home-Field Advantage in Sports Gone

Nickell Robey-Coleman signed a one-year deal with the Eagles this offseason after seven years in football exile. Kind of. He spent his first four seasons in Buffalo — truth be told, Bills Mafia is a legit fan base — and then three years in the barren football wasteland of Los Angeles with the Rams.

The veteran nickel cornerback was really looking forward to hearing the hometown crowd in Philly. He’s heard all the tall tales and crazy stories. The Eagles arguably have the best home-field advantage in sports when the Linc is rocking. He was hoping the city might make an “exception” to allow fans in.

“It’s a big advantage to have your own home fans in the stadium cheering,” Robey-Coleman told reporters last week. “I really hope Philadelphia can come up with a plan to have fans in the stadium. I hear all the whispers about how the Eagles fans are, when fans get rocking at the Linc, so I hope they make an exception and try to get some of our fans in the stands.”

Not happening, much to the chagrin of Eagles fans everywhere. Look, the organization and city are trying to do the right thing, the safe and healthy thing. Robey-Coleman wasn’t disputing or arguing against any of that. He just wanted people to know how much of an impact 70,000 screaming fans can have on a game.

“Me, personally, I’m a defensive guy so I need fans. I love my fans,” Robey-Coleman said. “That’s a big edge. People don’t know how much that affects offense. It affects receivers especially with the momentum that’s on the offensive side, it becomes a mental game. Fans yelling, crowds going crazy, people are just raging and you can get caught up in that and it can lean toward the defense sometimes.”

The main takeaway from all this is that the NFL needs to come up with a uniform policy. The NFL has left it up to franchises and state governments to make that call. That’s not fair. ESPN has compiled a running list — spoiler alert, the Cowboys are the only NFC East team allowing fans right now — and the majority of teams have decided to go without fans for at least the first three home games. It’s a fluid situation as the COVID-19 pandemic calms down. Stay tuned.

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