If you’ve been on social media at all in the past 24 hours, particularly in the delightfully unhinged cesspool known as “Sports Twitter,” you’ve probably seen a photo floating around of Eagles starting quarterback Jalen Hurts wearing a Houston Astros hat. The Astros, of course, are the Phillies’ opponent in this year’s World Series, which gets underway Friday night in Houston. Needless to say, the timing couldn’t be worse, with Hurts’ headwear seen as a seismic betrayal, a blatant middle finger to a city and fanbase that, when wronged, can hold a hell of a grudge.
Of course, context is needed. According to John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia, that photo was actually taken two years ago, long before there was ever a possibility of the Astros and Phillies crossing paths in the playoffs. It’s also worth noting that Hurts has been spotted in Phillies regalia on multiple occasions since, suggesting his fandom has grown over time, slowly but surely adopting Philadelphia as his home after growing up 15 miles outside of Houston in Channelview, Texas.
When the subject was raised at Wednesday’s press conference, Hurts left his rooting interests open for interpretation, expressing his love for both cities.
While Philly fans may have been looking for a stronger endorsement than that, as anyone who’s started a career in a city different from the one they grew up in can attest, sports fandom isn’t binary with dozens of complicating factors to consider, and even then, that pretzel of conflicted feelings can be a bear to untangle. The truth is, as much as the World Series means to fans around here, Hurts’ only focus right now is the Pittsburgh Steelers, his opponent when the undefeated Eagles return from their bye Sunday in South Philly.