HitchBOT, a robot with a GPS tracker that attempted to hitchhike across the United States, may indeed have been too good for this country, but, in being destroyed, it also reassured us of one immutable fact: Philadelphia Eagles fans are crazy.
With the necessary caveat of #NotAllEaglesFans, it’s a well-documented history that goes at least as far back as 1968, with the infamous pelting of Santa Claus with snowballs. Fans everywhere are obnoxious, and you can find tales of hate in the cheap seats of any NFL stadium. But Eagles fans have a special, bloodthirsty air about them. Just look at the glee with which Eagles fans recall the Body Bag Game, a Monday night game against the Redskins when the Eagles injured a seemingly endless amount of players. The fans loved it.
Randall Cunningham was the quarterback that night, and his jersey adorned the cold-blooded robot killer on Saturday night. Re-watch the video atop this post, which starts after the assailant has already ripped off HitchBOT’s arms. After his random act of violence, he’s about to resume his (presumably drunken) walk home, but he thinks better of it, returns and curb-stomps the bot. That’s the footage that would turn a Law & Order case upside down. Many people have seen this video, and their reactions are often on one of two ends of the spectrum: “Oh my God, how terrible! That awful man! That poor, trusting robot!” or, “Yeah, f*ck that robot! No Skynet for us, no thank you!” But many sports fans reacted the same way I did: “Oh yeah, Eagles fans.”
There’s a simple joy in predictability. Certain things complete previously-known patterns in our brain that give a little endorphin release. We smile knowing that not everything changes in this crazy, mixed-up world of ours — that a man in a Randall Cunningham jersey will beat the snot out of an inanimate object because he thought it looked at him funny.
It’s not a pretty image, and HitchBOT’s demise has been mourned by many who wanted to believe in the good nature of human beings, but the problem with that desire is the word “nature.” Who are we to demand Eagles fans to turn their backs on their defining characteristic? Do we even want to live in a world where Eagles fans compete with St. Louis Cardinals fans for the imaginary moral high horse of American sports fandom? I don’t, and if you looked into your heart, I bet you’d find that you don’t, either. So thank you, Cunningham jersey-wearer. Your wanton destruction makes us feel at ease.