Forget red vs. blue: Harrisburg bipartisan green for Eagles

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — Junior lawmakers typically leave key decisions to their senior executives. But newly appointed Senator Frank Farry (R-Bucks) couldn’t help writing a memo for the Legislature on the cost of sporting event tickets.

“We wanted to literally throw in that we understand that my colleagues from the western part of the state may not be facing the same challenges as those in the eastern part of the state right now,” Farry said.

A joke, of course, although three months after a Phillies World Series appearance and two weeks before an Eagles trip to the Super Bowl — look at how the Pirates and Steelers did this year if you need to check that — Farry lies not wrong.

Majority Leader Joe Pittman (R-Western Pa.) “kind of gave me a look that showed it probably wasn’t a good idea for the newly minted senator to do that,” Farry said. “But it was all just a joke.”

And for what it’s worth, Farry noted, it’s easier for fans of the Eagles and Steelers — in separate conferences — to half-heartedly cheer for each other’s teams than it is for hockey fans of the Flyers and Penguins, a rivalry that’s been hotter in recent years years was dominated by – well, never mind. Back to the eagles.

State Senator Nikil Saval (D-Philadelphia) may find himself on different sides of political debates from Farry, but is deeply involved in football. One piece of evidence: His son, who was in the back seat of Saval’s car, suddenly started singing “Fly Eagles Fly.”

Sure, lots of kids too. But this kid is only a year and a half old.

“He only has a few words, but three of them are ‘Fly Eagles Fly,'” Saval said.

“There’s a real level of — and I mean it in the best sense — indoctrination that I think happens at every level of education in Pennsylvania,” Saval mused.

His four-year-old son has lots of words, lots of Eagles garb and lots of enthusiasm. But is it fair that, like so many young fans, he will never know the decades of suffering that preceded the 2017 team championship – and so many other heartbreaking seasons for the city’s other professional sports teams?

“You’re growing up in a slightly misleading era where we always win,” joked Saval.

Farry said Eagles’ mania permeated even completely unrelated events, such as a check-giving ceremony at St. Ephrem Catholic School in Bensalem. The pastor wore an Eagles jersey and the event ended with children and adults singing “Fly Eagles Fly.”

Farry and Saval both spoke from their district offices.

Back in Harrisburg — where NFL allegiances are split between the Eagles, Steelers, and even Ravens (Baltimore is closer to Harrisburg than Philadelphia or Pittsburgh) — Mr. G’s, a sports bar, is unabashedly an “Eagles Nest,” like a sign outside announces .

These are good times for the team and the bar that takes reservations for the Super Bowl — the bar phone rang multiple times with inquiries about it while CBS News was visiting. There will be 75 inch TV screens inside and outside – yes, outside too, in Harrisburg in February.

Michael Gustin, a Mr. G’s chef who grills cheesesteaks — provolone with onions — recalls the challenges the Eagles faced during his years facing other challenges. Gustin retired from the army.

“When we were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, we had these heartbreaking years, especially in 2004,” Gustin said.

But that made the team’s performances of 2017 all the sweeter, he said.

Farry said it’s especially fun to support the 2022 team, even if it’s the local team.

For example?

“The story of Jalen Hurts is a great story because he was drafted in the second round. He wasn’t drafted as her top guy,” Farry said. “And he worked and earned it.”

Attacking tackles “Lane Johnson has a pretty serious injury which he’s playing through in a really difficult position, a very physical position,” said Farry. “Trainer [Nick] Sirianni is doing a great job and is now earning his place in history too.”

Expectations are higher this time than for the 2017 team that stunned the heavily favored New England Patriots.

“If you told me Nick Foles was going to face Tom Brady, I’d be like, ‘You’re crazy,'” Gustin said.

This year’s Eagles are preferred over the Kansas City Chiefs. Could the mood among Eagles fans right now be another kind of victory?

“Things are so divided politically and for other reasons. So if there’s something we can agree on, that’s a good thing,” Farry said.

“Philly is a great city that has so many places for people to come together,” Saval said. “It’s also an expression of the community spirit in the city.”

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