Tailgating for Birds & Phils

Eagles fans cheer the Birds yesterday (left) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while sporting pink hats in support of breast cancer awareness. One fan displays an interesting headpiece (below, right); and Stacey McCleary, of South Jersey, (below, left) cradles ball she caught after Bucs' quarterback Josh Johnson overthrew his target in the third quarter.
Eagles fans cheer the Birds yesterday (left) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while sporting pink hats in support of breast cancer awareness. One fan displays an interesting headpiece (below, right); and Stacey McCleary, of South Jersey, (below, left) cradles ball she caught after Bucs' quarterback Josh Johnson overthrew his target in the third quarter.

Some fans made a daylong doubleheader out of the game-schedule quirk

Posted: October 12, 2009

BEING A DIEHARD sports phanatic in Philadelphia can be a difficult task this time of year.

Having to balance watching games around a hectic work schedule and a strenuous family life isn't easy, especially on days like yesterday.

The Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers played at 1 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field, but Game 3 of the Phillies-Rockies National League Division Series was not scheduled to start until 10:07 p.m. Eastern, meaning that fans who wanted to take in both games had a long day and faced a tough choice if they had to work today:

Stay up to watch the game or go to sleep.

Twin brothers Joey and Jimmy Hoffner, 39, Philadelphia natives who now reside in Maple Shade, N.J., never even had to weigh the options.

Joey was recently laid off from his job working for Union Laborers 222 in Camden, while Jimmy, who works for Teamsters 107 at Penn Warehousing & Distribution, on Columbus Boulevard, had today, Columbus Day, off.

Before each Eagles home game for the past two seasons, the brothers gather with family, friends - and, on occasion, complete strangers - in F-Lot across the street from the Linc, tailgating and watching the game on a 40-inch Sony Bravia HD television under a party tent attached to "The Dirty Bird," their white and green RV.

They always arrive at 7 a.m., long before kickoff, cooking pork roll, egg and cheese sandwiches for breakfast, before turning to meatball and sausage sandwiches for lunch.

"It's spiritual, it's beautiful, it's comraderie, it's love, it's everything involved with sports," Joey, the founder and owner of "The Dirty Bird," said of the experience.

"It's a way of life," added Jimmy.

But, unlike other Eagles fans, even those in their party, these two weren't leaving after the game was over.

In fact, they expected to stay and watch the Phillies game - in the parking lot.

Talk about bleeding green, then red and white.

"I usually sleep in the parking lot," said Joey, who doesn't leave until 6 the next morning because he doesn't want to drink and drive.

"[After] five tailgates I woke up in the morning and there wasn't one car around me. I looked around and I was the only vehicle left."

Meanwhile, it was a packed house over at McFadden's, attached to Citizens Bank Park, as throngs of fans decided to stop by for some Birds and beer.

Lisa Walker, a 31-year-old pharmaceutical-sales representative from Philadelphia, was at the bar with about 10 of her girlfriends.

"We're here all the time," Walker said.

Walker said that she wasn't sure if she and her friends were going to stay or head over to the Field House, in Center City, to watch the game.

"We go back and forth," said Walker, whose first work appointment was scheduled for 7 a.m. today.

"But we'll be watching."

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