Whoever decided that Philadelphia was the City of Brotherly Love clearly didn't have in-laws from there. At least that's the verdict from New York Red Bulls defender Mike Petke, who recently delivered this insight to us:
Perhaps no one has been waiting with such anticipation for the Great City of Philadelphia to finally get an MLS franchise more than I have, although I apply the term ‘Great City’ with a bit of a wink.
I’m a New Yorker born and raised, and I have had severe issues with all Philly teams over the years due to epic, yet unhealthy, games between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles. One day it might even be the reason for a breakdown that I will undoubtedly have at some point in my life. It will most likely take place in the 18-yard box while a man dressed as a zebra puts a little red piece of paper in my face.
"Of the 150 million women in this world, I had to marry a wonderful woman who grew up 15 minutes outside of the city of brotherly love."
But the seeds were sown long, long ago. The New York-Philly rivalry can perhaps be best summed up by a quote from my wife of eight years. Three days after the Giants’ 23-20 2006 Wild Card Playoff loss to the Eagles, she told me: "Honey, stop crying. It’s only a game…a game that you got your ass kicked in.”
You see, of the 150 million women in this world, I had to marry a wonderful woman who grew up 15 minutes outside of the city of brotherly love. Now I have a brother-in-law who can, and does, speak about Philly sports teams with the fluidity of a Fortune 500 CEO. A sister-in-law, who, for all her lack of understanding of sports in general, more than makes up for it with her cute Eagles jersey tied at the waist (yuck) and her love of the phrase McNabbulous (Love you Mer).
And let’s not forget her husband, who knows every stat about every team in every sport and loves to tell me things like THE EXACT SCORE that the Eagles will beat the Giants by, two days before the game actually occurs. I hate it when he does that.
But now that the Philadelphia Union has entered MLS, the in-laws’ allegiances will be tested to the limit. They have all shared their best wishes to me over the last few days – but that was usually followed by some sort of attempt at a wager. The best offer yet has been that the winner claims my two sons’ allegiance in all sports for the next year.
I obviously declined, not because I'm not confident of winning, but rather because it clearly states in my MLS Player Contract that gambling is grounds for fine and/or termination. It is stated right next to, "Thou shall not criticize game officials" and we all know how well I’ve followed that rule over 13 years. Besides, I’m not the Pete Rose type.
The only one who knows the outcome of this game is floating up in the sky; then again, the Zebra with the whistle probably does as well (just kidding MLS - that was funny and in no way a fineable offense). But know this: when that whistle blows, there are bragging rights at stake between two great rival cities, and the future of at least one family hangs in the air…including the fate of a five year old.
Find out more about Mike Petke and his New York Red Bulls teammates at their official site.