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.”
Met up with @Vikings fans arriving home @mspairport from Philly early this morning. The two takeaways…they're sad about the team losing and they're disgusted with Eagles fans. pic.twitter.com/2aLdYScZ8L
— Ellery McCardle (@ElleryTV) January 22, 2018
Eagles fans pelting a Vikings bus with bottles, cans, whatever they can find to throw (la410rod_official/IG) pic.twitter.com/CmOWV5iZA2
— Busted Coverage (@bustedcoverage) January 22, 2018
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.”
— MZFOUNDATION (@ZimFoundation) January 23, 2018
While we may have our differences, we give credit where it's due…@eagles fans have donated nearly 11k to MZF with heartfelt apologies for how SOME of their fans treated @vikings in Philly. This is amazing! We promise we will change some lives with this money! Thank you!
— MZFOUNDATION (@ZimFoundation) January 24, 2018
“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.
I’m matching 10% of donations for https://t.co/UML4MSeMwR in Louisiana
$100K raised means I give $10K
$500K raised means I give $50K
— Thomas Morstead (@thomasmorstead) January 21, 2018
Overwhelmed by the support from @saints and @vikings fans! Since Sunday I've heard that @eagles fans have been donating to the @vikings Foundation. I encourage you all to keep supporting https://t.co/Zw1jMKZJla and https://t.co/ZMRfi4xGB5. Pay it forward and it will pay off!
— Thomas Morstead (@thomasmorstead) January 25, 2018
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.
Update: 1600 donors, $37,000! #BillsMafia we can’t thank you enough! This money is going to make a huge impact for seriously ill and physically challenged kids and their families! Keep it coming!!
— Andy Dalton (@andydalton14) January 2, 2018
Update: 14,000 donors, over $315,000. Thank you! pic.twitter.com/uKHgF6uqS1
— Andy Dalton (@andydalton14) January 5, 2018
We are getting 25 donations per minute right now. THANK YOU!
— Andy Dalton (@andydalton14) January 7, 2018
You guys are donating to a youth football organization that I grew up playing in and would mean so much to me if I can help improve structure new equipment, travel arrangements etc. Not only the football organization where I grew up but many more
— Tyler Boyd (@boutdat_23) January 3, 2018
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.
— BB5Foundation (@BB5Foundation) January 17, 2018
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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