As part of our series in celebrating female NFL fans across the UK, I’d like to introduce you to Tori Woodworth. Tori is a Eagles fan and shares with us how she got in to the NFL, how she made the choice of her team as well as more about her overall experience as a fan.
In 2019 I celebrate my 34th year of being an NFL obsessed female from the U.K. I would attribute my journey, or at least what piqued my interest to three domains: My Dad, Mike Quick and Autism.
How it all started
I was 7 years in 1985 and my Dad had an interest in Channel 4 coverage of the NFL. I started to watch with him and he showed a preference to the red and gold of the Niners. They weren’t for me. They weren’t what I was about, even at such a young age.
He had a hardback NFL book. I became obsessed with this book. I knew it inside out and there was one particular picture that attracted me. A beautiful Kelly Green shot of Mike Quick celebrating a TD. He looked interesting and the colours were great. Then the name; EAGLES. Ahhhh beautiful, I had always loved Eagles as one of my favourite animals so this was pure perfection.
Over the years that followed, I painted a mural on my bedroom wall and regularly played football. Albeit by myself. I would go to my LoS, call the play, drop back with some fancy footwork and “throw”. Then I would run “downfield” and catch the pass. Obviously, I always made a great play when donning my Eagles Green in my back garden. I was always Cunningham to Fred Barnett. Sometimes Keith Byars, occasionally Keith Jackson. It was fair to say, I was hooked and my journey was just starting.
Fast forward to the Noughties and beyond.
I was now an adult. One that sometimes struggled to fit in with certain areas of life but this to me was a mystery as to why. One thing that remained constant however were my Birds. We had moved to Midnight Green at this point, but that was O.K. Philly could do no wrong.
The NFL was more readily accessible by now. No more weekly Channel 4 shows or First Down newspaper to rely on. I was now technologically enhanced with Eagles news and NFL updates regularly. My knowledge was fed and my lust was sated somewhat.
The Eagles kept me going in a difficult world where I did not belong.
The goals society set and others displayed as “the norm”, but things were amiss – I followed what I believed to be my dreams. Again thanks to technology and therefore the internet, I learned more about a certain neurological difference named Autism. It spoke to me and so I sought out pursuing a diagnosis.
I was 39 years old when diagnosed and I strongly believe that being autistic has absolutely fuelled my interest in the NFL, but more specifically my passion for the Eagles. Autistic people develop certain areas of interest and become “experts” in that field.
Autism married Philly to me and Philly married Autism. It worked. It was my match.
My passion for Phily
It does not end there however. The passion is different from a standard interest. It runs deeper. It is about belonging and the city of Philadelphia is a brotherhood where if you belong, you really do belong.
Philly is my place, although having never visited there. My Birds are often underdogs, as am I. Or at least, I was through life.
I was blessed to see my Eagles last year at Wembley, and this absolutely topped off the best year of my life. Why? We were World Champions baby! Truly the two best days of my entire life.
Another incredible moment – I was honoured to meet Ron Jaworski and wear his SBLII ring. I met Nelson Agholor who actually turned, looked me in the eye and spoke to me. Also – I was selected to go up on stage at an NFL Live event. There was no way I was letting Neil Reynolds overlook me, so I threw my arms up and shouted when he requested an Eagles volunteer from the audience. Thank goodness I was chosen!
I was paired with Jon Dorenbos for a fun game also involving Brent Celek. I received a special gift for participating (a SBLII commemorative football) but the best was yet to come.
Unknown to me, Birds starters were at the event – Dougie P, Carson, Fletch, Zach (my favourite), Brandon Graham and Malcolm Jenkins. As they walked towards the stage around 10 yards away from me, I had a slight panic attack but my amazing partner Emma encouraged me to manage this. It was too overwhelming but absolutely amazing. I have never been happier (besides SBLII night). Wow!
One day I will get to Philly to see my Birds.
I mean, the dream would be to live there as I know I should be there, but I must be realistic and reality suggests visiting to experience the wonders of the Linc in all its glory. Of course, I’d need to take plenty of spending money and send plenty of parcels back to the U.K for me to collect when I return. The memorabilia and souvenirs I would just have to take advantage of having access to would be immense! One day it will happen and I’ll be home.
Until then I will continue to plan my life around my Birds from the U.K, using Annual Leave for not just the Super Bowl but the day after all Eagles games. I would not miss them for anything.
So thanks Dad. Thanks Mike Quick. And thank you Autism.
Finally, E. A. G. L. E. S. EAGLES!!
Like Tori Woodworth’s story? Read more like this here.
Interested in being featured in our blog series celebrating female NFL fans? Send your story along with any photos you wish to share, to firstname.lastname@example.org.