Monday, January 03, 2005

Would You Perhaps Be Ready for Some Football?

Returning from a brief hiatus, I'd like to pause for a moment to pay my last respects to the Philadelphia Eagles. I've written before about the sad state of Philadelphia sports. No other major city has gone as long without a championship of any kind--22 years and counting. A lot of people thought that this would be the year to end that drought. Philadelphians knew better.

When the Eagles won their 13th game this season, achieving a franchise-best mark of 13-1, we were unsurprised that Terrell Owens went down with an injury. When the heads on ESPN speculated that it looked like a sprained ankle, we laughed. Philly fans knew that Owens was done for the season.

Part of this is a Philly psychosis. On the Monday after week 15, I was driving from Philadelphia to Washington. I listened to both towns' sports-talk radio. In Philly, the Eagles were 13-1 and both the callers and the hosts sounded like they wanted to open their veins. In Washington, the Redskins were 5-9, and the callers and hosts were giddy about what they thought were the team's excellent chances to make the playoffs and then--who knew?--maybe the Super Bowl.

Later that week I was commiserating with Packer Super Fan Steve Hayes and I told him that the Eagles would not win another game. He laughed at me. We bet lunch on it. Who's laughing now, Steve?

This may look like wallowing, but it isn't; as I said, I want to pay my respects to the Eagles. They gave us a fun, entertaining season with week after week of enjoyment. I'd rather have a bunch of good seasons with no championships than a mediocre team that every once in a while hits the jackpot.

Or at least I think I would. I'm a Philly fan, so it's really a hypothetical question.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jonathan,

I became an Eagle fan after Dick Vermeil left the team, so not only did I miss the glory of the one Super Bowl run but first experienced success with Buddy Ryan who led us to 3 consecutive first round playoff losses. Since that time I have endured our All-Pro QB shredding his knee during the first game of the season, the tragicomedy of the Rich Kotite Experience, not to mention losing the last 3 NFC Championship Games

I have to believe that over the last 20 seasons no other team has experienced the success the Eagles have had but not won the Super Bowl or even made it to the game.

I now live out in Arizona- When the Eagles were getting ready to play Carolina in the NFC championship game, facing the possibility of losing their third straight chance to the Super Bowl, I saw a fellow Eagle fan, car tricked out in a Eagle license plate and he in various regalia, how he felt about the game. He gave me that look that I could only describe as pained South Philly and said, “I couldn’t take another loss.” Despite being heavily favored, I approached the game with the feelings of impending doom. I was not surprised and in a sense I wasn’t disappointed. By the end of the game, I was left truly broken and without hope.

This season my hope was renewed as the Eagles rolled to victory after victory but as I told my friends and cautioned my family, it means nothing till January, till we make it to the last few games of the year. The only disappointment I experienced was that with the NFC so bad this year that winning it would be too easy. How I tempted fate with my sinful pride and how the Gods punished me!!! A few weeks ago my Dad was in town and we all went out for Sunday brunch. It was a typical Phoenix December morning, 70 degrees and sunny, as we ate a fabulous meal outdoors by the pool at an even more fabulous resort. Till my Dad got a message on his pager, one that got to-the-minute sports scores and news, that Owens went out with his “sprained ankle.” Right then I felt cold and my world literally grew dark, I knew he was done. Sure enough his sprained ankle became broken and to me that was the day Football ended for the year. I haven’t watched any since and in fact when I caught the highlights on ESPN as I was passing a TV the other day I had to remind myself the season wasn’t actually over.

It’s hard to explain to others but even with the incredible run the Eagles have had the past 4 years that this has been a dark and trying time. I try to be an optimistic and bright person in every part of my life, I try to be one of those reverse pessimist who believe “that everything that happens to me, even bad, happens for a reason and so that things turn out for the best.” However there is part of me that I allow to dwell in the dark regions of shadow and despair, sort of like Bart Simpson’s brother Hugo kept in the attic, and that is the Philly Sports fan in me. I should really get rid of him, haven’t been back to Philly in 15 years, time to move on and all of that, but that would be impossible don’t you see? I am condemned to drag this weight for an eternity, like Marley’s chains.

One day we will win all and at that time I know that the eternal optimist in me will point to all of this disappointment and misery as having purpose to lead up to that moment of triumph.


At least that’s what I have been telling myself every January… for the past 20 years

Mike Emerson
mike.emerson@mindspring.com

Anonymous said...

Guys I feel your pain as no others. Been an Eagles fan since 1976, when as a 6 yr old my Dad took me to a slaughtering that Dalls(sucks)gave us. Like your other fan I couldn't take another loss like last year's as well, however, call me crazy, but something tells me with all this trouble this IS THE YEAR. I give you this, Red Sox fans no no pain like Philly fans (they just get better press). During their 84 years they had 11 Celtic titles, 2 SB wins, and 2 Stanley Cups. We're gonna do it (Uh I think.)
George Buderacki
buder@knology.net

Anonymous said...

You're going to lose your bet, Jonathan. The Birds will play Seattle, Minnesota, or the Rams in the divisional round, and there's no way either of the dome teams or the gutless Seahawks will win at the Linc in January. No, it will be the worst of both worlds - you'll have to buy Steve Hayes lunch, *and* we'll have to deal with another crushing NFC Championship defeat. Lord, how I pine for the Buddy days. Sure, they never won a playoff game, but at least they were on the inflicting end of the season-ending injuries.

"Y'all are getting your people killed out here!" - Seth Joyner

Anonymous said...

or remember Jerome Brown after b eating the Oilers in their "House of Pain"

"Y'all brought the house, we brought the pain"

Anonymous said...

Philadelphia is not a "major city."

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Philadelphia is not a "major city."


Dude r u on crack?

Anonymous said...

How could anyone in their right mind say Phila isn't a major city? If it isn't a major city, then I ask by what definition do you use?

Rock Throwing Peasant said...

Jon,
Relax.

There are three reasons this year is far different than previous years.

The Eagles have a healthy Westbrook and he causes significant matchup problems. Given Levens' rebirth, it's possible you'll see a two back set, but with Westbrook in motion or out wide.

The Eagles have a great four man pass rush (remember the Freak is on the roster). Years past, this was not the case (especially last year). If you can generate a four man pass rush, you can more effectively blitz from the outside and can most definitely shake up the coverage.

Finally, the remaining teams, other than the Eagles, are DREADFUL. Tice can't control his team's tempo which spells disaster in the playoffs. Martz could hire a high school coach for improved game situation awareness (plus, he's completely "lost the locker-room"). Sherman is good, but his defense is putrid. Holmgren won't make it past the Rams, if you can believe it. Atlanta lost their games to teams with losing records and ended the season with a two game skid - trying to win the games.

Book a flight to Jax? Well, on any given Sunday...However, Philly fans (myself included) have a tendency to ignore the galring warts on other teams. They're down one player and have a very healthy defense and two playmakers on offense (plus a TE duo many teams would envy).

BTW, not sure if you remmeber the piece, but I was the guy that sent you the satire with WCO=WMD.

Keep the chin up, Jon. You are in the midst of a Golden Era for the Eagles.

Anonymous said...

I also agree that this is the Birds' year for many of the same reasons that Airborne does. BTW, who the F is that guy who thinks Phila isn't a major city?
George Buderacki
Philly South

Dan Wismar said...

No question, in my mind at least, that Philly is a major city. Most of us around here though, think that Cleveland is one too. At least we have professional teams in all three major sports. Perhaps the fact that we have been without a major sports championship in 40 years escaped your notice. For the record, that happened on my 12th birthday, December 27, 1964, when the Browns beat the Baltimore Colts 27-0 in the NFL Championship Game. (One year before the Super Bowl started, of course)

Since that time, we have been close. Like a one run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning of World Series Game Seven in 1997, for example. Like up a touchdown in the AFC Championship Game in 1986 with 1:24 to play, and Denver on their own 2-yard line, just before Elway's "The Drive" which tied the game and sent it to overtime. Like the 1995 World Series. Those are really the only close calls.

We have never been IN a Super Bowl. Our NBA team has NEVER made it to the NBA Finals. Our baseball team was never in contention for a pennant from 1959 until 1994.

Even those famous "long-suffering" Cubs and pre-2004 Red Sox fans had multiple championships by Celtics and Bulls teams to brag about for their cities.

I'll debate "long-suffering" bona fides with Philly folks any day.

That said, I'll be pulling for the Eagles this year. They're a team with a lot to like.

Anonymous said...

Dan,
I would tend to agree with you on Cleveland. ESPN Page 2 ran a thing on most tortured sports cities (no it wasn't written by Gonzales lol) and Cle came in 1 and Philly 2.