Over the last few years, St. Peter must have said out loud “break up those Temple fans; they are too good” and the boss must have taken it a little too literally. The latest bit evidence is long-time Temple fan Phil Makowski, who passed away recently at the ridiculously young age of 51.
Break up the Owls indeed.
To that point, people living in Philadelphia might have heard the phrase “break up the Phillies” over the last few days and wondered why anyone would ask for a team which has won eight of nine to be broken up. It’s a joke many younger fans don’t get and relates all the way back to the time in the 1920s when only the Yankees were able to sign all of the good players for that Babe Ruth/Lou Gehrig dynasty. “Breaking up” meant the team was too good and, for the good of the sport, to spread the talent around.
They won’t break the Phillies, but The Man upstairs must have been annoyed at all of the phony Rutgers and Penn State fans and wanted a few genuine fans floating on those clouds up there. Say what you will about there not being enough of them, but Temple fans, if anything, are genuine. This site is dedicated not to the team, the parents, the players or coaches, but to Temple fans. Players, coaches, parents and staff (except for Nadia, Thank God) come and go, but fans stay forever and that’s why this site is called Temple Football Forever. Fans who come to every home game in the middle of 20-game losing streak and are still there on the other side are real fans. Fans who generously offer to give rides to other Temple fans on road games are real fans.
This site is dedicated
not to the team, the parents,
the players or coaches,
but to Temple fans.
Players, coaches, parents
and staff (except for Nadia,
Thank God) come and go,
but fans stay forever
Phil did both. I got to know him on a road trip to UConn in 2012. We stayed at the Sheraton East Hartford, which happened to be the UConn team hotel.
The ice machine in my room wasn’t working, and my one job was to keep our brewskis cold for the tailgate. Rather than knock on Phil’s door and wake him up, I kept getting up and going to the ice machine down the hall. All night, the UConn football players in team blue sweats were up and down walking the halls. I posted on Facebook and Twitter that night that there was no way this sleep-deprived team should be 5 ½-point favorites, so take the Owls outright. It’s one thing for a fan in charge of the brewskis to be sleep-deprived; it’s another thing for a 55-person team of athletes.
The Owls won, 17-14.
That morning, after breakfast, we made eye contact with former (and now) Temple, then UConn assistant, George DeLeone, who was coming out of a team meeting room. George saw us in our Temple fan garb, gave us a knowing nod, and left the room open and empty. For some reason, Phil said, “Let’s go in.” On a seat in the meeting room, we found a complete UConn playbook with the name of the kid on it—we looked him up, he was a deep sub—and stuck it under the seat of his car and we were off to the game.
Phil spent the first half of the game in the box of the athletic director, then came down to cheer with us peons for the thrilling conclusion.
On the white-knuckler ride home, Phil must have driven between 85-90 mph. That was a two-seatbelt trip. I thought the two of us would never make it back to Philly safe and sound, but somehow we set a land speed record for a trip between Rentschler Field and Philadelphia and lived to tell about it. (I must have looked over at the speedometer and said “yo, Phil” 27 times. He would laugh and say, “don”t worry, Mike, I got this.”)
Every time I saw Phil, which was every home game since, I gave him good-natured grief about his driving and we had a few laughs about it and the playbook story and the game itself. In between, we met and conversed with and converted a whole lot of future Temple fans who will outlive us both.
Phil now joins a long group of Temple fans who have left a lasting legacy. He will be missed and we will toast him before every kickoff but it will not be nearly enough to repay his devotion.
Thursday: Soul City Walker