One of the NFL’s happier story lines this season has been a trend of NFL fan bases raising thousands of dollars for charities linked to opposing teams. The latest to engage in such admirable altruism are fans of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Yes, Eagles fans have been demonstrating civic virtue and consideration for others. You read that correctly.
Well, a few Eagles fans, anyway. As it turns out, not all of them are the kind of people who will pelt Santa with snowballs. Or who, in a much more recent example, will gleefully hurl full beer cans at fans of a rival team heading toward Philadelphia’s stadium.
In fact, the generous Eagles fans in question have been donating to the charitable foundation of Vikings Coach Mike Zimmer as a gesture of atonement for the way their brethren treated Minnesotans who dared visit Philadelphia for Sunday’s NFC championship game. One couple said some fellow fans had their Vikings hats pulled off and thrown into urinals, which were then used for their original purpose, in addition to sightings of “random acts of violence.”
It might be worth mentioning that the Eagles actually won the game, punching their ticket to a Super Bowl matchup with the Patriots. How ornery would their fans have been if Philadelphia had lost?
In any event, ESPN reported Wednesday that Zimmer’s foundation had received thousands of dollars in donations from Eagles fans since that game. “The donations keep rolling in,” said Corri Zimmer, daughter of the Vikings’ coach and the foundation’s administrator.
“They started coming in yesterday morning, sent with messages from Eagles fans apologizing for the bad apples and wanted to donate to show that they all are not like that,” Zimmer said. “A lot of them also congratulated us on our season, complimented our team and said they look forward to competing against us next year.”
“We may not have gotten the warmest welcome in [Philadelphia] or the outcome that we wanted, but it’s cool to see when football fans from different teams come together to do some good,” Zimmer recently told the Vikings’ website. Of course, in a less surprising development, Minnesota fans had already shown the same generous spirit, and then some, by donating more than $180,000 to the charitable foundation of Saints punter Thomas Morstead.
While Minnesota was defeating New Orleans in a divisional-round playoff contest, some Vikings fans noticed Morstead gamely playing through an injury, only to suffer a heartbreaking loss, as did his whole team. In honor of his toughness, Minnesota supporters showered What You Give Will Grow, which supports children battling cancer, with financial gifts.
Fans of the Bills kicked off this trend by donating to Andy Dalton’s charity earlier this month, after a late-game touchdown pass thrown by the Bengals quarterback knocked the Ravens out of playoff contention, allowing Buffalo to reach the postseason for the first time since 1999. Within a week, more than 15,000 donors gave more than $350,000 to the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation, leaving the Cincinnati player in stunned gratitude. Bills fans also gave generously to a charity favored by the Bengals wide receiver, Tyler Boyd, who caught Dalton’s fateful pass.
Suitably inspired Bengals fans then began donating to the charity set up by Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, by way of saluting his role in knocking the archrival Steelers out of the playoffs.
“Fans are at the core of the football experience and it’s truly exciting and rewarding when they band together, regardless of the team they cheer for, to make a positive impact in the lives of others,” Bortles said last week. “I greatly appreciate the support displayed by Bengals fans and they should know their support will make a difference.”
An administrator for Bortles’s foundation, which helps children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as first responders in the Jacksonville area, told SB Nation recently that many donations from Bengals fans were of $45.42 and $7. Those amounts reflect, respectively, the score of the Jaguars-Steelers game and the number of Super Bowl titles that Cincinnati fans don’t want to see Pittsburgh reach.
All in all, this is a most heartwarming case of NFL fans paying it forward, and it would not be a surprise if various Eagles players saw their charities get financial boosts, should Philadelphia do what many would like to see and deny New England yet another championship.
In the meantime, not all Vikings fans are letting bygones be bygones — in anticipation of all the Eagles fans set to descend on Minneapolis when it hosts the Super Bowl, some Minnesota supporters are reportedly signing up as Uber drivers, just to drop visitors from Philadelphia off in the wrong locations.
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