Bryce Harper’s time with the Philadelphia Phillies is off to an excellent start. Through five games, Harper is batting .500, with three home runs and five runs batted in. The star player, who signed a 13-year, $330 million free agent contract with the team at the end of February, has seemed like a natural so far in Philadelphia.
But now, Philadelphia fans’ faith in Harper is being tested, because they have discovered that Harper roots for the Dallas Cowboys, the most hated enemy of the Philadelphia Eagles.
It’s never been a secret that Harper, who is a native of Las Vegas, supports the Cowboys. It occasionally became an issue during the player’s years with the Washington Nationals, as that team plays in the same city as another Cowboys divisional rival, the Washington Redskins. Some Washington fans were angered when Harper showed up at an episode of WWE Monday Night Raw in a Cowboys hat, per NBC Sports Washington.
The player later praised Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott in an interview during last summer’s All-Star Game, per NFL.com. Harper also has said that he supports the Vegas Golden Knights, the hockey team in his hometown that began play last year.
None of this came up during the Phillies’ long free agent pursuit of Harper, which was in the news every day for several months. But it suddenly became a sports radio topic in Philadelphia on Thursday. Radio station WIP’s afternoon show, hosted by Ike Reese and Jon Marks, put out a Twitter poll asking whether Harper should maintain his Cowboys fandom or switch to the Eagles. As of Thursday night, 71 percent had answered “Quit and be an Eagles fan.”
Marks and Reese had an Eagles player, Jason Kelce, on their show and asked him what he thought.
Bryce Harper chatting up Carson Wentz at the Sixers game. Philly sports perfect storm. Hi, Rhys. pic.twitter.com/Nn1TcC3g63— Enrico (@The700Level) April 5, 2019
“Philly doesn’t like Cowboys fans… but everybody’s got their background, and Bryce seems to be enjoying himself in Philadelphia,” the Eagles’ center, famous for his rant-like speech after the Eagles’ Super Bowl win last year, said on the radio. He added that he advised Harper to never wear a Cowboys jersey to an Eagles game.
Situations like this can be awkward, although athletes come from all over the country and world, and where they end up playing rarely lines up with their lifelong rooting interests. Philadelphia fans learned that lesson this offseason when Mike Trout, a New Jersey native who grew up rooting for the Phillies, and even attends Eagles home games, signed a long-term extension to remain with the Los Angeles Angels.
However, Harper hasn’t rejected every local sports franchise. He participated in the “ring the bell” ceremony at Thursday night’s Philadelphia 76ers game. And during the game, he even was seated next to Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz.