(no, not that sort of environment)

Perhaps it will take Donovan McNabb hanging a 70 spot on the Giants next Sunday in order to be treated like a human being. City Paper’s Ted Hesson attended Sunday’s Lions/Eagles rout, and received a real eye and earful about the state of race relations in Philly (link courtesy Jon Solomon).

“MCNABB, YOU FUCKING NIGGER!” the guy directly behind me yelled, not once, but several times.

I wouldn™t print that word here, except that I hope it can incite the same shock and disgust that I felt when I heard it. I turned around and saw a middle-aged white guy who appeared to be with a group that included a freckle-faced kid. I don™t know how old the kid next to him was, but I wouldn™t have sold him a pack of cigarettes.

McNabb and the Eagles took the field and the abuse continued. “Waaa, I™m black,” a couple guys shouted from overhead. “We want more white players in the NBA,” one of them continued.

Meanwhile, the game was still in the first quarter and McNabb had already marched the team downfield for a couple of touchdowns. He was nearly flawless, but some fans continued to deride him along racial lines. I scanned the crowd in front of me. Nearly all white, with the exception of one or two black guys. Later, we wondered how an African American fan could tolerate listening to that sort of commentary for an entire game.

Fed up with the race-related banter, Sara turned around and shouted at the crowd behind us (it wasn™t just one person), using a regrettable bit of profanity and asking them why they come to games if they™re just going to spew racist remarks. “We™re not racist,” one of the guys said. “[McNabb]™s racist. We™re reacting to comments that he made.”

The fan was talking about the recently aired HBO interview, in which McNabb said that black quarterbacks face pressures that don™t exist for white quarterbacks. When I read about the interview earlier this week, I sided with many sportswriters, thinking that black, white or green, Eagles fans didn™t care about the color of a quarterback if the player performs well. At least in this case, I was dead wrong.

Sara was upset and walked out of our row. Before leaving, however, I turned around and told the fans behind us that I was planning to write an article and include what they had said during the game (at the time I thought I™d send it to the Daily News). I asked if anyone wanted me to take their name for attribution.

“Freedom of speech¦we paid for these seats¦” a few of them had said. But no one wanted to give their name.