It’s a Monday after a big Eagles win. You wake up and go to work and want to talk about the game with your friends and co-workers. There’s just one problem.
There are only two other football fans in the office. One is a Giants fan. The other is, you guessed it, a Cowboys fan.
You might think this is hell. But this is life for James Boyce, a die-hard Eagles fan, from Benfleet, England.
“It’s massively hard work being an NFL fan over here,” said Boyce.
Typically, the rule is not to discuss the results of prime-time games – except NFC East matchups – until the middle of the week. A 1 p.m. kickoff in Philadelphia makes for perfect Sunday evening television in England, while the night games are in the early-morning hours. Boyce took off work the Friday after the win over the Giants in Week 6 to watch it live but is already dreading the Sunday night game against the Cowboys after the bye week.
The 43-year-old recalls when “American football” was first exported to England in the 1980s through highlights. Teams like the 49ers, Bears, and Dolphins were showcased which makes sense as those were the dominant teams of the era. Boyce embraced the Eagles as the underdog team, well before they were indeed the underdogs.
It’s not a surprise that Boyce has a gift of foresight. He works in risk management for a global insurance company and his organizational skills have helped him plan the ultimate dream for any Eagles fan – in America or abroad. Boyce and his wife, Gill, whom he calls “the real star of the show” for allowing him to indulge in his Eagles fandom, began attending Eagles games in 2013 along with his two stepchildren, Brad and Eleanor. The first one was at MetLife Stadium against the Giants. Since then, they’ve been to Glendale, Arizona; Foxborough, Massachusetts; Cincinnati; and Landover, Maryland before this season.
Finally, on September 23, the Boyce family made the pilgrimage to Lincoln Financial Field where the Eagles defeated the Indianapolis Colts before heading south to Nashville for the Titans game.
Everything that he sees and hears while pacing around his house while watching games on television is amplified a thousand times in person. It’s one thing to see an Eagles game. It’s another to experience a game live.
And Eagles fans think that Boyce is the crazy one for making an annual trek across the Atlantic to see the Birds. Boyce is no fair-weather fan. Since the 1980s, he’s devoured whatever football content he can consume whether it’s books or Fran Duffy’s All-22 breakdowns. He’s got pictures of his favorite Eagles in his house, including Chuck Bednarik’s “The Hit” on Frank Gifford. He’ll go toe-to-toe with you on Eagles knowledge and don’t be surprised if you go down in defeat.
Boyce’s master plan to see the Eagles in every stadium is laid out through the year 2044 with the final stadium being checked off the list with Miami in 2043.
Do you know what you’re doing 25 years from now?
The Boyce family is not missing out on the opportunity to see the Eagles in their home country. He’s ecstatic about seeing plenty of Eagles “shirts” – or jerseys – around London and at Wembley Stadium on Sunday. He’ll be screaming the Eagles’ fight song and E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES! chant at the top of his lungs, in a thick English accent, all while hoping the defense holds Jacksonville to “nil” – or nothing – on the scoreboard.
And, hopefully, the Eagles will give him something to brag to his co-workers about on Monday morning – with a full night of rest.