Dear Nationals Fans: If Anyone Can Use "Eat Face" as a Rallying Cry, It's Miami

The signs were everywhere during Washington Nationals home games last month. One read "ZOMBIE MODE" with red-ink blood dripping from the letters. Another showed a baseball with a chunk bitten out of it and "Eat Face Win!" In fact, drop the hashtag #EatFace into Twitter this second and you'll find hundreds of Nats-related tweets. The "Eat Face" movement dates to June 20, when heartily bearded Washington outfielder Jayson Werth offered this nugget on how to stop the team's long losing streak: "You've got to show up tomorrow ready to eat somebody's face."

Sure enough, the team came out hungry, began winning again, and a meme was born. One little problem, D.C. Almost exactly a year before Werth's pithy quote, Miami had a real guy who in fact ate someone's face. And it was actually pretty horrible.

There's still no real answer why 31-year-old Rudy Eugene brutally attacked a homeless man named Ronald Poppo near the MacArthur Causeway in May 2012. Eugene chewed off the man's entire face before police shot and killed him. For that crime, he was forever branded the "Miami Zombie."

Werth and his fans will argue that his "eat face" rant refers to America's zombie obsession, reflected in TV shows such as The Walking Dead and movies such as World War Z. But simply mutter "eat face" anywhere in Miami-Dade, and there's only one image that comes to mind: Poppo lying on a stretcher with his features disgustingly mangled.

Don't misunderstand, District of Columbia: Miamians are actually all about horribly tasteless jokes aimed at helping our teams win.

This is the same city, after all, that jumped on "Catholics vs. Convicts" with a fury back when the Canes were beating up on Notre Dame in the '80s. In fact, not a month after Eugene's crime, groups of fans could be seen at Marlins games rocking "Don't Eat My Face" T-shirts.

But that's the whole point. It's our horrific crime, dammit. Step off, Nats.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink

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