No columnists were harmed in the writing of this screed.
My longtime colleague and pal, Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer columnist Stu Bykofsky, asked me to swap barbs via e-mail about Sunday’s NFC Championship Game between the Eagles and Vikings. That’s just so against my nature, but I’ll try.
Bykofsky, whose version ran Thursday, kicked off the bickering with this: “Like almost all Americans, I’ve never been to Minnesota. What am I missing, other than frostbite, ice fishing and the Mall of America?”
Since Minnesotans know why life here is fairly wonderful, I will spare readers my answer, which highlighted the theatrical, gastronomical and agricultural scene — and noted the names of companies based here that are part of the everyday lives of Philadelphians.
“Way too long,” Bykofsky informed me, “Must hack down (ghostwritten by Chamber of Commerce) [Smiley face emoji].”
Says the columnist who works for a newspaper that proudly promotes itself like this: “MAKING ENEMIES SINCE 1925.”
Here are other questions from my back and forth with Stu.
C.J.: Do you have any pointers on how Vikings fans can enjoy the game without being beaten up at your stadium or taking a face full of snowballs intended for Santa?
S.B.: Wear green and root for the Eagles. Your silly colors — gold and purple — seem like Mardi Gras and yet you somehow beat the Saints.
S.B.: What kind of unusual food do you have?
C.J.: You mean something down there with heart-exploding cheese steak? We have lutefisk, which I think is fish soaked/cured in lye. I’m not a devotee.
S.B.: I’ll pass. The Vikings logo. Is that a blond man or a woman with a mustache?
C.J.: It’s a man, and that Viking can date anyone he prefers, as Minnesota is right up there with Philly when it comes to acceptance. We are the site of one of the biggest Gay Pride parades in the nation, so we are not threatened by your confusion.
S.B.: We’ve got Boyz II Men, Patti LaBelle, Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, Mario Lanza, Pink and you got Prince. At the Linc we play “Rocky.” You play “Purple Rain”?
C.J.: Do I need to type any name besides Prince’s? I am in no way rushing any of those fine performers to join Lanza, the operatic tenor, and Prince, but I’ve never seen mourning for a singer like the one that took place outside of Paisley Park when he died in 2016. There were even mementos from Philly woven into the fence.
S.B.: Not to go all sports nerd on you, but the Eagles have been home underdogs four times in the last half-century. They won all four. That means we kick Viking butt Sunday night. Agree?
C.J.: No, the Vikings are focused on the can of whup- azz they are popping open at Lincoln Financial Field. By all means, encourage your fans to wear the dog masks, even though the disguises make them a security risk because it’ll be more difficult for the police to figure out which hooligan was in what scuffle.
S.B.: Vikings played in four Super Bowls without winning one.
C.J.: That’d be two more than the Eagles played in without winning one.
S.B.: Is Minneapolis planning to name a school or park for Marcus Williams, whose blown tackle allowed Stefon Diggs to score?
C.J.: Right about the time Philly names something for Julio Jones, who couldn’t catch that potential game-winning pass because Jalen Mills was covering.
C.J.: After the Vikings finish with the Eagles, I look for your unruly fans to embrace a new mascot: the turkey.
S.B.: I can handle that. Ben Franklin thought the turkey should be the national bird. How’s your sense of social justice with a team named after a bunch of murdering, pillaging marauders? Aren’t you ashamed?
C.J.: Better to have an unsavory mascot than behave like one, given your fans’ reputation as the most classless in the NFL. Wasn’t there A JAIL at your stadium? I rest my case.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.