All of us, as fans, have that little nagging in the back of our heads. During the season we tend to ignore it that is, until playoff time comes around. Then that voice gets louder, it makes us nervous it gets us anxious and makes us question the safety of our team’s championship run.
That nagging feeling is the superstition that all Philly fans know and that has been well established. We are right to be afraid of the Philly curse, otherwise known as the “Philly Choke” we have been justified in our nervousness around playoff time. Whenever a Philadelphia team has made a playoff run, doing amazing in the regular season, they somehow find a way to put on the shittiest performance possible to get themselves eliminated.
But what exactly is the Philly choke and why does it happen? Well the most well-known Philadelphia curse is the Curse of Billy Penn.
What, you say, is the Curse of Billy Penn? Well the blame for the curse goes to 1 Liberty Place. Back when City Hall was built there was a “gentleman’s agreement” which stated that the Philadelphia Art Commission would not approve a building in the city that was higher than the statue of William Penn, and all was well in Philly sports with the Phillies winning the 1980 World Series, the Flyers winning back-to-back Stanley cups in 74 and 75, the Eagles getting to the super bowl in1980 and the Sixers sweeping the finals in 83. Up until March of 1987 when just 3 blocks away 1 Liberty Place was built.
The highest point on Penn’s statue is 547ft tall, 1 Liberty trumps that by 397ft at 945ft tall. Obviously that makes 1 Liberty a bit taller than Penn, breaking the gentleman’s agreement and dooming our sports to failure. After 1 Liberty opened Philadelphia stared a string of championship failures. The Flyers lost the Stanley Cup Finals twice, in 1987 to the Edmonton Oilers in seven games, two months after One Liberty Place opened, and in1997, in a four-game sweep by the Detroit Red Wings which was considered a collapse as the Flyers had dominated the previous three playoff series. The Phillies lost the 1993 World Series in six games to the Toronto Blue Jays, with the Series ending on Joe Carter’s walk off 3-run home run. The 76ers lost the 2001 NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. The Eagles lost three straight NFC Championship games from the 2001 through 2003 seasons, before reaching Super Bowl XXXIX after the 2004 season, only to lose to the New England Patriots by three points.
Philadelphia had broken an agreement and us fans were paying the price with our sanity, but in 2007 there seemed to be a solution to all our cursed problems. ironworkers from Local Union 401 raised the final beam in the construction of the Comcast Center at 17th Street and John F. Kennedy Boulevard and in an attempt to finally be rid of Billy Penn’s curse workers John Joyce and Dan Ginion attached a small figurine of William Penn to the beam, along with the traditional American flag and small evergreen tree. The first figure; unfortunately was stolen but replaced by a smaller 4inch figure.
This little Penn supposedly broke the curse on October 29th, 2008 when the Phillies won their first world series on almost 30 years.
But can we actually say that Philadelphia sports are finally free from paranormal bad luck? There are a number of different “curses” that plague our sports all of which are specific to a sport. With so many superstitions how can we be sure we’re curse free?