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UMass QB Andrew Ford stands alone in rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles

  • UMass quarterback Andrew Ford, right, shown against Hawaii last season, will be rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday. The Eagles plays the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROLINE O’CONNOR

  • ANDREW FORD



@MattVautourDHG
Friday, February 02, 2018

AMHERST — Andrew Ford has heard the jabs both in the locker room and around town. The UMass junior quarterback is an Eagles fan on a campus with a heavy concentration of New England Patriots support.

The Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, native is, for the most part, withholding any rebuttal for now.

“Hopefully the Eagles can pull it out so I can start talking trash a little bit. I’m biting my tongue. It’s Tom Brady. It’s the Patriots organization. You don’t want to say anything because it can backfire real quick,” he said. “My whole life I’ve watched Tom Brady and the Patriots organization win every single year. I’m not going to go out there and start talking like the Eagles have it in the bag. Patriots fans have seen five championships. I’ve seen zero. I really can’t say too much til I’ve got at least one.

“I have some stuff ready to go if they pull it off, but I’ll keep that to myself,” he added. “I don’t know if there’s a word for what it would mean to that city if they can pull it out on Sunday. I know they’d been waiting for it for a really long time. If they play well and find a way to bring that trophy home, it’s going to be a really unique experience for people living in that area. A lot of people are invested in this team in that city. People won’t forget it for the rest of their lives.”

Ford has never personally booed Santa Claus or thrown batteries, two of most notorious times that the City of Brotherly Love abandoned its tendency for sibling-style affection. But he embraces the fandom’s reputation.

“I don’t think the perception is necessarily wrong. They’re an aggressive fan base. If you’re not playing up to expectations, you’re going to hear about it. They’re going to boo everybody,” he said. “I’ve been to Philadelphia Flyer games when they’re on a five-game win streak and if they don’t score a goal in the first period they get booed off the ice. They’re passionate. You can’t question that. This means a lot to them.”

Ford was in third grade on Feb. 6, 2005, when the Eagles last reached the Super Bowl.

“I remember everyone was wearing Eagles stuff to school and everywhere you looked there was Eagles stuff,” he said. “Now it’s different. In the dining hall and everywhere, there’s Tom Brady and Bill Belichick wherever you look.”

Like now, back then Ford was a quarterback and idolized Donovan McCabb, but like most of that region he embraced Brian Dawkins.

“Being a quarterback I looked to Donovan McNabb given how successful he was. I really loved Brian Dawkins. He was kind of the emotional leader of that city and still is today,” Ford said. “Throughout that playoff run, he’s been the spokesperson on hype videos. It’s been kind of cool to see him back in Philly being an emotional leader. Being so far away has made me appreciate it a little more.”

With Adam Breneman gone, Ford doesn’t have a lot of fellow green-and-white supporters in the UMass locker room. Wilmington, Delaware, native Taylor Edwards is the only player on the UMass roster who roots for the Eagles year-round, although several players have adopted the Eagles because they aren’t the Patriots. Even UMass’ two Philadelphians aren’t Eagles fans as Charly Timite roots for the Giants and Ray Thomas-Ishman Jr. supports the Steelers.

Ford planned to watch Sunday’s game in his Amherst apartment.

“It’ll be a small group of people and I’ll be the only Eagles fan there,” he said. “I’ll probably be watching it by myself in my room if it’s not going the way I want it to. Hopefully they’ll find a way to pull it out.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage