J.B. Obrien's

No, not one of my relatives...J.B. Obrien's is an Irish pub in King City, cleverly serving as a front for the faithful Philly fanatics who have migrated west. Every Sunday during football season, Eagles fans flock to J.B. Obrien's to root for their beloved team. The group, officially called the Eagles Nest, pay a membership fee of $35 for the season and, in return, get a weekly orgy of drunken, football-viewing revelry. With the $35 fee, members also get a yearly gift (for example, this year's members all receive an Eagles rain jacket). In addition to buying yourself entry into the club, as well as a cool gift, the $35 goes back to the group to pay for random free prizes and general upkeep of the club (such as maintaining the website).

I went to the Eagles Nest this last Sunday with Bobby, a PA transplant. He's been a member the last two years, but with an odd work schedule, he has missed the early part of this season, as he had to work on Sundays. With good sense, he has since quit his job and can now look forward to Sunday football. So, knowing that I'm a big football fan and don't have easy viewing access to my home team (Go Niners!!!!), he brought me along (for they have an abundance of TVs playing other NFL games).

Initially, I was excited to watch the Niners as they attempted to push their record to 3-0. However, I was so overwhelmed by the chants, banter, cheering, and harassment, that I had a hard time focusing on the small TV that showed my team getting beat by the Steelers. Rather, I found myself more entrenched in people watching, as well as witnessing an epic, 56 point, offensive romp by the Eagles.

The game was only a small part of the experience, though. The main draw, at least from an outsider's point of view, was the sheer passion these folks had for their team, as well as the manner in which they expressed it. For example, after every touchdown, the bartender blasts a stereo playing the Eagles fight song. I couldn't tell you the lyrics, other than that people sing and clap to a "fly high, eagles" themed song, with it culminating in a loud chant-like spelling of E-A-G-L-E-S. Throughout the game, fans cheer and randomly state that the Giants and Cowboys suck (no, they weren't playing either of those teams...that's why it was awesome). And as people get more and more drunk, it gets louder and louder, with fellow fans beginning to mock each other. The most telling example is of a woman who belts out her shrieks of excitement or disappointment after every play. As her voice is a tad on the annoying side, the table of faithfuls behind her all mockingly repeat the shrieks in a point to shut her up...all in good fun, though. Another example of inter-group harassment is when the group, unrelentingly, give shit to the old man of the group. This elderly gentleman is responsible for selling raffle tickets for the 50-50 drawing (half the money goes to the winner, the other half gets reinvested into the club). So with every opportunity he gets, he stands up, bangs his empty pitcher on the table and says, "Listen up, you cheap sons of bitches, it's time to buy some raffle tickets...we've only raised $150 so far." While this man is well respected in the group, and an integral member, it does not stop people from responding with, "shut up, old man," and "sit down" and "get out of the way." In the end, everybody buys raffle tickets and high fives the guy (at right).
At half time, a handful of people head outside to toss a football around. This is done in the parking lot, which is filled with cars and trucks sporting Eagles flags, decals, and custom license plates. After a session of catch (reminiscent of childhood two-hand touch), everybody returns to the bar to catch the second half. By this time, the guy selling raffle tickets is in full force, attempting to sell as many tickets as he can before the 4th quarter drawing. His pitcher-banging routine continues, receiving even more taunts and harassment. One standing tradition among members is to make the guy work as much as possible. So, as he states that "this is the last chance to buy a ticket," and proceeds to do a countdown (going once, going twice...), there is always one person who, at the very last moment, says he needs a ticket. This goes on to the point where the old man gets frustrated and ends the routine. On this occasion, he returns the harassment with, "Eat shit and die," to the guy who tries to buy one last ticket. Hilarious!!!
Eventually there is a drawing, with the winner taking half the pot. The game soon winds to an end, and everybody returns high fives, hopeful of another romp next week. All in all, it's a good experience...even if you're not an Eagles fan. Despite being a 15 minute drive from Portland (in Terwilliger, Tualitin, Tigard, or one of those SW suburbs), it's a great place to catch a game. Just don't wear a Cowboys jersey.

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