February 24, 2018

A Few Thoughts Before Kickoff

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Back in August, it felt like today was going to be years away.   Listening to the flood of calls into sports radio stations as well as the hosts, it seemed that Doug Pederson at best was the caretaker for the Eagles until they got good and someone else, maybe Jim Schwartz, would come finish the job.   Some said if the Eagles didn’t make the playoffs he’d be fired.   You also had the Dallas fans, feeling great off a 13-3 season where they thought they found a franchise QB in the 4th round, talking about the Super Bowl.  Same for the Giants fans who went to the playoffs last year at 11-5.   Many felt if Carson Wentz could just improve and this team stayed healthy maybe, just maybe they could win 9 games and get a Wild Card berth.  Maybe they could even win a playoff game.

Fast forward through a season that saw key players like Darren Sproles, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Caleb Sturgis, Chris Maragos and of course Carson Wentz all suffer season ending injuries at different parts of the season.   The Eagles also had to play without Fletcher Cox during the early part of the season, and put up a 50 spot on Denver while Zack Ertz was out with a concussion.   “Next Man Up” became the rallying cry of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles.   Wherever there was an injury, there was a replacement.   Big V for Peters, Barner for Sproles, Elliott for Sturgis and most recently former starter Foles for Wentz.

The last injury was the one many thought would be the kill shot for the Eagles.   Foles came in off the bench and put the Rams game away and tossed 4 TD’s against the Giants the next week before struggling in the cold at home against the Raiders on Christmas despite winning 19-10 to secure the top seed in the NFC.   Despite all that, nobody gave the Eagles a shot at being alive today, or two weeks ago.   They were one and done, and after beating the Falcons 15-10 at home, the “Underdog” mantra was born as Lane Johnson and Chris Long donned dog masks, and the Philly faithful followed.  They followed them all the way to Minnesota for a date with destiny after dismantling the Vikings and their number one defense 38-7.

So now, the dynasty to end all dynasty awaits.  The Patriots, with their QB everyone loves to hate and their hoodie wearing head coach.  The team now with two lame duck coordinators ready to take over in Detroit and Indianapolis.   Nobody is giving the Eagles a chance again.  No problem, this team is used to it.  They didn’t get here on luck afterall, and they are playing not just for themselves, but for every Eagles fan who hasn’t seen a championship since that fateful day in 1960 when Chuck Bedenarik sat on Jim Taylor until the clock ran out.

A win for the Eagles would set a city and its fan base into a frenzy never before seen in Philadelphia.  Sure, there have been parades – five of them in my lifetime, but Philadelphia is a Football town first and foremost, and this fan base has waited long enough.  I know I have.  Before the Olympic Hockey game against the Russians in 1980 Herb Brooks told his team he was tired of hearing about how great the Russians are, and their time was over.   He said this was “our” time,and to go out and take it.

Here’s to the Philadelphia Eagles doing exactly that tonight to the Patriots, and in doing so giving a collective middle finger to the national media, and in the words of former Flyers coach Fred Shero, “Walk together forever”.   It’s time to turn the dogs loose, Philly!

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