Self-Proclaimed ‘Philly Girl’ Jill Biden Is Ready to Cheer on the Eagles
WASHINGTON — To hear President Biden tell it, his wife is not merely a Philadelphia Eagles fan.
She is, in Mr. Biden’s own words, “obnoxious” about her fandom and so much of a self-proclaimed “Philly girl” that if he wasn’t an Eagles fan, too, “I’d be sleeping alone.”
“You all think I’m kidding,” he joked with donors at a fund-raiser in — where else? — Philadelphia last week. “No, those are no joke. No, I am not kidding.”
For almost two years, Jill Biden has been the first lady for all Americans. But that changes — at least for a few hours — this Sunday, when she attends the Super Bowl to watch the Eagles battle the Kansas City Chiefs, ditching the red, white and blue in favor of midnight green, silver and black.
“I mean, it’s — it’s really absolutely amazing,” Mr. Biden mused to the donors about his wife’s determined belief that the Eagles will win it all this year. “I mean, the certitude.”
That comes from a long Philadelphia history.
Dr. Biden was born in Hammonton, New Jersey, in 1951. Her mother, Bonny Jean Jacobs, was a homemaker, and her father, Donald Jacobs, worked as a bank teller and, later, an executive at a savings and loan company.
As his career advanced, Donald moved the family to a split-level home on Greyhorse Road in Willow Grove, a middle-class suburb of Philadelphia. The couple had five daughters — Dr. Biden is the eldest, followed by Bonny, Jan and Kim and Kelly, who are twins.
Dr. Biden attended Upper Moreland High School, where she was a cheerleader and enjoyed attending parties after football games with her classmates, according to Liz Leonard, one of her childhood friends.
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It was there that her Eagles indoctrination began.
The official White House version, from her spokeswoman, is a bit understated: “The first lady is a proud Philly girl and devoted sports fan, and is excited to cheer on her hometown team for the Super Bowl.”
But the reality, frequently on display around the White House, is somewhat more intense.
Dr. Biden frequently wears Philly team jerseys on Marine One, the president’s helicopter, on game days, and is unabashed on Twitter about her obsession with her team.
“Fly Eagles Fly!!!” she wrote a couple of weeks ago, adding a bald eagle emoji to the tweet.
She also follows the city’s other teams. She has tweeted “Let’s go FLYERS” to support the hockey team and has shown herself to be a fervent baseball fan, tweeting a picture of herself watching the Phillies from her government plane.
“You’ve got this, @Phillies,” she wrote last October as she campaigned for Democratic candidates ahead of the midterm elections. “I’m watching the game on my way to Orlando!”
On the 2020 campaign trail, Dr. Biden repeatedly demonstrated her “Philly girl” bona fides in moments when her husband was accosted by protesters.
On March 3, 2020, Mr. Biden, fresh off a Super Tuesday victory, was delivering a speech at a rally in Los Angeles when a woman, wielding a sign that read “Let Dairy Die,” rushed the stage. Dr. Biden, who was flanking her husband on one side, glimpsed the woman from the corner of her eye. She grabbed her husband’s hand and put herself between Mr. Biden and the protester.
As a second woman rushed the stage, Dr. Biden’s hands made contact with the woman, and she attempted to push her away. Symone Sanders, a senior campaign adviser, came sprinting in from the sidelines, swiftly grabbing the woman and pulling her from the stage.
One of the glowing headlines of the incident was from the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Jousting Jill Biden showed us a Fightin’ Philly Girl straight outta Willow Grove.”
Another time, Dr. Biden was with her husband at a campaign rally ahead of the primary election in New Hampshire, when she saw a protester approaching. A journalist caught video of her approaching from the left side of the stage and putting her hands on the man’s chest, gently pushing him back into the crowd.
“You can take the girl out of Philly …” she replied on Twitter to a journalist who shared the video.
People close to the first lady said it should come as no surprise that she did not leave her Philadelphia roots behind when she moved to Washington as the wife of a senator, then vice president and finally president.
She remains, they said, a committed sports fan whose husband just happens to be famous — sometimes famous enough to get in the way of just enjoying the game.
“You heard the president say that Jill didn’t want him to go to the Super Bowl Sunday because he causes too much of a distraction,” Mary Doody, a longtime friend of the first lady’s, said in an interview. “She wants to go enjoy the game.”
“I think it makes her more real,” she said. “I think she’s so authentic anyway. This is not something she is doing because the Eagles are in the Super Bowl. She’s doing it because she’s a Philly girl.”
Ms. Doody, who attended a Philadelphia Phillies game with the first lady in September, said that Dr. Biden’s sports fandom dates back several decades. She said that she once visited Dr. Biden at home on a day when the Philadelphia Flyers had a game. Dr. Biden had dressed Champ, the family dog, in a Flyers jersey.
The last time Dr. Biden and her husband watched the Eagles at the Super Bowl was in 2018, when her team took on the New England Patriots for the championship title. (The Eagles went on to edge out the Patriots in that game, 41-33.)
Afterward, Dr. Biden posted a video of herself in an Eagles jersey in the stadium, jumping, clapping and cheering. “Video speaks for itself. Congrats, @Eagles!” she wrote.
Now, five years later, Dr. Biden is hoping to be able to post another, similar video — this time from the first lady’s Twitter account.