Fan Editorial: Bring Danny Home

Jeff Zelevansky

One fan's thoughts about Danny Califf and his possible return to the Philadelphia Union. Jersha says "bring Danny home."

Maybe you found out on May 13th. Maybe it was May 16th when the announcement was made official by the Philadelphia Union.

Either way, in mid-May, 2012, our captain, and original member of the Union, Danny Califf, was traded to Chivas USA by our former manager, Peter Nowak.

There will always be rumors about why Danny was moved to Chivas. What we do know is that he was at odds with former club manager Nowak, who was later removed from his duties and replaced by John Hackworth.

We are left to conjecture, rumors, and news stories about lawsuits, mistreatment of players and violations of Players Union rules and regulations. Chances are, we will never know the all the facts of the Nowak era, nor will we ever hear the full stories that make Nowak decide to move some of the players that were sent out of the club in the past few seasons.

What we do know is that members of the Bearfight Brigade, as well as the leadership of the Sons of Ben, have had the chances to sit in meeting with member of the club’s front office. When speaking about operation of the club - about its relationship with its fans and supporters, and its relationship within the organization - there is always talk of setting the gold standard.

They always talk of ‘doing things right’ and ‘doing right by the organization, players, fans, and supporters.'

We respect the ideals and have tried to do our part to help uphold those ideals. We are asking our club front office to do the same: to show us that they are not just paying lip service to us, but are truly trying to set that standard.

Anyone who has ever talked with Danny knows how much he and his family fell in love with the greater Philadelphia area. He and Erin had plans to call Philadelphia their home for the rest of their lives.

We remember a post of the Union’s Facebook page after the trade, explaining that at no point did Danny and the family say that they wanted to go back to California.

To the Califf’s, Philadelphia, not Orange County, CA, was home.

Without a shadow of a doubt, I have never known an athlete that loved his club and his city more than Danny loved the Union and Philadelphia. He bleeds for the club, even now.

He made sure he was in LA supporting the club when they took on the Galaxy. He made sure to spend time with new appointed (interim) manager Hackworth. Danny has stayed in constant communication with the Brigade and the Sons of Ben.

Danny loved this club and this city in a way that we have only ever seen from a local born Philadelphian. The kid from the west coast, the tattooed, mohawked, center back found a home not in Europe, not in his former home town, but in our city.

His wife and their children found their home here.

On the pitch, Danny was the heart and soul of our young club. To watch Danny play, he was exactly the kind of athlete the Philly fans fall in love with. Danny’s play is blue collar, it is heart on his sleeve, it is leave it all on the pitch, it is play like this is your last match.

Danny wasn't the perfect captain, or the perfect player, but he was, no, is perfect for this city. He is the kind of person you want in your club, not just for the length of his playing career, but far into the future.

Danny deserves to be a part of this club, and to be in the city that he loves and he still refers to as ‘home’. This fan base, supporter base, and club needs a person like Danny involved in our club.

We aren't going to pretend that we have a 'magic 8 ball' and can see how many years on the pitch that Captain Califf has left in his legs. We have no idea what Chivas USA has planned for Danny in the future.

We do know that Danny, Erin and their kids did not want to leave Philly or the club. We know that Danny has talked about moving back to this area as soon as possible.

In our opinion, Danny’s removal from the club was not because of professional issues, or injury issues, but rather because of personal grudges that former manager Nowak had against Danny. We feel that his removal was unfair and unjust. It is obvious by the club’s decision to dismiss Nowak that the front office did not agree with the moves he made and with his direction of the club.

We call on our club to continue to follow up the their words of ‘setting the gold standard’ and ‘doing right by the fans, supporters, and club’ by making a promise to us that the future of this club will include Danny Califf. On the pitch, in the front office, in coaching, scouting, part of the leadership of the Union Foundation, we want our club to find a place for our first (and third) captain.

A person who loved his club, loved his city, and loved its fans and supporters like they were members of his family.

Kieran Todd, who some of you know as ‘the guy who got engaged at a D.C. United away game,’ and we know as ‘part of the family,’ constantly says that ‘friends are the family that you get to choose’. Danny made his choice to make the people of Philadelphia his family, and we are proud to say that our choice was to make Danny a member of our family, just like we made a choice to make this club, and it supporters as part of our family.

We ask each of you, the supporters and fans of this club, to reach out to our front office and ask that they make a promise us to find a place for Danny and his family in this club. We ask that we do right, and make our club do right, by a family and a man who did nothing but love his club from the first day he became a member of the Union.

Like has been said a few times in this piece, I have never seen a non-Philadelphia native who has loved this city as much as Danny does. He loves Philly like a native, as evidenced by the letter released by the Brotherly Game on Saturday.

Danny represented the heart and soul of this young club. Although we are happy with the emergence of players like Captain Carlos Valdes, Amobi Okugo, and Ray Gaddis, we feel that this club has not had the same heart, the same soul, the same spirit that was the vision for this club, since the departure of Danny.

We want this club to do what is right, and find a spot for Danny back in the place he calls home.

Below is a form to fill out, and with it, contact information for the front office of the Philadelphia Union. Let them know who you are, where you sit, how long you have had your season tickets, how many you have, anything you find pertinent.

Let them know how you feel. Let them know what we want from this club. We want a commitment from this club, that in no longer a span than two years from now, we want this club to find a place for Danny in our organization.

As for now, since we are approaching the off season, we are not throwing out an ultimatum. We have heard ‘gold standard’ and ‘do the right thing by the fans and players’, from the FO since day one. As such, if enough of send this petition to the FO, we hope that our voices are enough. If not, we hope the guilt of our FO knowing that they are not living up to their core values is enough.

Please, print out this last part and send it to the Philadelphia Union FO via fax at 610-497-3309, c/o Nick Sakiewicz and John Hackworth. Please, be sure the cover sheet say ‘Bring Danny Home’ in nice, big letters.

If you do not have access to a fax machine, please, fill out the form below and email it to Jeremy and Justin of the Bearfight Brigade (bearfightbrigade4@gmail.com) and the will insure it is sent to the proper person/ persons.

Please, this only works if all us speak up to our FO and all of us spread the word to every Union fan we know. We, as a group, need to encourage people to speak up, speak out.

Thank you:

I/we, __________________________, demand that you, the Philadelphia Union Front Office and staff, bring Danny Califf back to Philadelphia and to the Union. I/we understand that the world of professional sport is one of contracts, trades, salary caps and legalities. As such, I/we, give the Philadelphia Union Front Office no longer than 24 months from this date, Monday, October 22nd, 2012, to have Danny back as part of the Union family. We stand with the Brigade, the Sons of Ben and the other supporters groups and season ticket holders in this demand. Danny and his family are the type of people that we want this club built upon.

Tell the Union FO a little about you and your family [(insert season ticket holder, member of a supporter group, how many matches you attend per season, do you travel to away stadiums to support the club, how many season tickets do you hold, etc.)]

Signed ________________________________ Date ________________
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