Dear Eagles- Your Fans are With You

Let me start by stating something controversial- I would probably go. If you’re incredibly lucky in life, you’ll get to be a professional athlete. If you are truly blessed, you might win a championship in pro sports. The invitation to the White House to teams who win major sports championships has become a tradition, even an honor. That’s our house, the President lives in it. These athletes earned that moment to bask in the glow of our country. They may never get it again. So I’d go, even with a bad President.

I understand why the Eagles are not though. For many of them, the causes they are protesting are incredibly important and personal. It is their God-given right to speak out and use their First Amendment Rights. This is what our country is about. Even the very President of the United States must honor that right. The Eagles players who chose not to go were right in exercising their rights. President Donald Trump was wrong to disinvite them. Period. Full-stop.

The White House says the Eagles “disagree with the President” and “abandoned their fans.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Fox News showed clips of Eagles players praying to their God to attempt to smear them with the NFL’s controversy about players kneeling during the National Anthem. In fact, no Philadelphia Eagle player kneeled during the National Anthem during their Super Bowl season. The efforts to smear the Eagles players are all about optics and politics, without even taking into account the personal behavior and belief of any of the players. It’s disgusting.

We know that Donald Trump stands with Super Bowl runner-up Tom Brady, who skipped visiting the Obama White House with his team, so none of this should be a great shock. The Eagles players should know a few things, from at least this fan who was down there in the sea of green on JFK Boulevard for parade day:

  1. We Eagles fans support our team.
  2. You’re right to exercise your rights as Americans.
  3. Fly.Eagles.Fly. Super Bowl Champs.

No one likes us, we don’t care.

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Yes, it Happened, Philadelphia.

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I took last week off from writing in the entirety, in part because I was busy, and in part because I didn’t have any fully formed thoughts to say. In the last piece I wrote, I predicted the Eagles would win the Super Bowl- just hours before they did. Even though that was my prediction, I still can’t believe it happened.

When the hail mary from Tom Brady landed incomplete in the end zone, I didn’t really have much immediate reaction. I was too shocked. I will be the first to admit it, I never thought the Eagles would ever win a championship in my lifetime. The last time they had won, 1960, my father was three. The Eagles had been a bad franchise in my lifetime to be honest, a franchise that hadn’t won a title. It wasn’t just that though- they always seemed to get close. This was their sixth NFC Championship or further in my lifetime. This was only the second time they were playing in the Super Bowl though, and they lost that time. You see, that’s the frustrating thing about the Eagles for a fan, they can’t just suck every year. We not only had to fail, but we had to do it in heartbreaking fashion. Basically, after the loss to Arizona to end the 2008 season, and then seeing my favorite Eagle (Brian Dawkins) simply cut loose, I had a negative view of the team. I didn’t ditch them and go cheer for another team, I just became extremely cynical. We aren’t supposed to win- until now. So when the Eagles did win, the shock over me didn’t make it all that real at first. There’s no way it happened.

The Eagles did win though. It happened. Nick Foles, a quarterback who I once said would never be good enough to win a Super Bowl (back in the Chip Kelly days), not only won the Super Bowl, but he won the MVP. They not only won the Super Bowl, but they beat Tom Brady, in all of his 500+ yard best form, to win that Super Bowl. By Monday, it started to set in. By Tuesday I was finalizing plans to be at the parade- on Thursday. The impossible had set in.

So, about that parade- I’m the most die-hard of Phillies fans, but was unable to go to the 2008 parade because of work. I was going to this parade. I took a pre-dawn bus down to Center City with a bunch of childhood friends, all of us witnesses to all of those heartbreaking losses, and drank and made merry on the corner of 15th and JFK and watched the parade with hundreds of thousands of our anonymous, closest friends. It was an amazing, amazing experience. Almost everyone was happy and decent towards each other (there are always a few jerks). It was a sea of green. When the team went by, it was euphoric. There was Carson Wentz, holding up the Lombardi Trophy, the moment every Eagles fan about my age never thought would happen. It was amazing. I have no other words for it. I couldn’t even come up with those words for days.

All week, friends of mine and I have debated if this is better than 2008, and all I can come up with is that this is different. The Phillies are my #1, period, and their win in 2008 seems unmatchable. On the other hand, it was also more of a relief than anything. No Philadelphia team at all had won a title since I was one month old in 1983 (The Sixers). Had the Phillies failed to win that World Series, I think I might have given up all hope. This Eagles win was different, in that I really felt like it was going to happen all along, and I have no idea why. Before the season, I thought this Eagles team would win seven to nine games and be entertaining, on paper, and yet when they started winning games early on, I didn’t feel all that shocked. Perhaps it was because I liked these players, perhaps it was because I always had more confidence in Doug Pederson than I ever had in Chip Kelly, or perhaps it was just because I was so certain I’d never see a title that I never actually got nervous about them blowing it. I don’t know. I obviously was really happy about both the Eagles championship and that last Phillies championship. I really can’t draw a distinction between the two though, because they were so different for me. Nothing can ever top that moment in time that was the Fall of 2008 for me, because the entirety of my life was in a special faze, but this is just such a happy moment as a fan that I can’t really put it down in comparison to anything else.

Perhaps the happiest thing about the Eagles championship is the happiness it seems to have brought the entire region. I saw grown people at that parade, smiling from ear to ear, who were just so happy that their Eagles had finally given them that championship. No more abuse from New York, or Washington, or Boston, or Baltimore, or Pittsburgh, or especially Dallas, about how Philadelphia never had a Super Bowl ring. No more expectations of losing. No more wondering if this team was good enough. The Eagles are champs. Yes, the Eagles are champs. I could say it all day.

 

The Most Unlikely of Moments: Buck Foston, Go Birds in Super Bowl LII

The day has arrived. Super Bowl 52 is here. The Philadelphia Eagles, the New England Patriots, a generation after Super Bowl 39. The day after Terrell Owens and Brian Dawkins were voted into the Hall-of-Fame. This is some high drama TV.

This is not Super Bowl 39. This is a new day. It’s ok though, as an Eagles fan you should embrace it. It’s fun. Here’s my notes on today, followed by the prediction.

  • Justin Timberlake is back at the Super Bowl. He’s the true GOAT at this game, no matter what Brady does. With that said, this can only be right if Janet Jackson makes a cameo. America demands it.
  • Tom Brady has come into the Super Bowl as MVP one time- 2007. The Patriots famously lost to the New York Giants.
  • Hand this to the Patriots- Belichick took a rather average looking team in week one and put them in their third Super Bowl in four years. In fact, both of these teams took a convincing early loss to Andy Reid’s September champion Kansas City Chiefs. Andy, who coached the Eagles in Super Bowl 39.
  • No NFL MVP has ever won the Super Bowl the same year. Matt Ryan lost last year. Cam Newton the year before.
  • Howie Roseman should be the executive of the year for taking a 7-9 team that last won a playoff game in the divisional round of the 2008 season to the Super Bowl. He cleaned up Chip Kelly’s mess in literally a year. Give him props. Former ChipBots, be humble.
  • On the Chip Kelly sucks bandwagon, just imagine if the Eagles had traded Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, and something like four top picks to Tennessee so they could draft Marcus Mariota. Just imagine. Chip Kelly should be out of all football.
  • The only player in this game who played in the last Eagles-Pats Super Bowl is Tom Brady. This is his 8th Super Bowl. He’s 5-2 through 7. His AFC Championship record is just as impressive. His divisional round record would win home field most seasons. He’s got nothing to prove today.
  • The Patriots will not blowout the Eagles today. The 4.5 point line is too high. At least according to history. The final spread of the previous seven Patriots Super Bowls? Three, three, three, three, four, four, and six points in overtime.
  • Assuming Lane Johnson gets to the field this evening, the Eagles are 20-4 in his last 24 games. The All-Pro lineman is probably the most important player on this Eagles offense.
  • The hottest unit coming into this game? The Eagles defense. They’ve given up 5 touchdowns in the last 19 quarters they’ve played.
  • The Eagles defeated Minnesota and Atlanta to win the NFC and make Super Bowl 39, in Jacksonville. They defeated Atlanta and Minnesota to win the NFC and reach Super Bowl 52. New England beat… Jacksonville this year. Strange, just strange.
  • This game will sound like an Eagles home game.

So, prediction time… The Eagles win 23-21 on a walk-off kick. Fletcher Cox wins the MVP.

Why Tom Brady Won’t Be Visiting the White House in 2018

A few years ago, after the Patriots won the Super Bowl over the Seahawks, Tom Brady turned down the opportunity to visit the White House, at the invitation of Barack Obama. That’s his right, so no one can blame him for that. He went when Donald Trump invited him in 2017. I don’t think he’ll get the opportunity to make that decision in 2018.

Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of his time, and maybe of all-time. His Patriots opened as one of the larger favorites in Super Bowl history, giving 5.5 points to the Eagles. The Eagles will play in this Super Bowl without the best quarterback in football this year, Carson Wentz, as well as without future Hall-of-Fame offensive lineman Jason Peters, electric return man Darren Sproles, and star linebacker Jordan Hicks, among others. If you’re lazy, you’ll assume the outcome from that. How in the world did this team get here?

Well, that’s the point, and that’s been the point, going back to when I told you to not count the Eagles out, after Wentz went down. The Eagles lost several Pro-Bowl level players and still went 13-3 in the regular season. They still beat the Atlanta Falcons, the reigning NFC Champions. They still beat the Minnesota Vikings, who possibly had the best defense in football this season. Here they are, in the Super Bowl. What’s that tell you about this roster? What can you make of a team that is 15-3 and in the Super Bowl, with all of those injuries? That’s a pretty good squad, right?

Here’s some facts about this game:

  • From the start of the second quarter in the Giants game (Week 15), the Eagles defense has surrendered five touchdowns. That’s 5 TD’s in 19 quarters.
  • Jay Ajayi and LaGarrette Blount, behind an offensive line with two All-Pro first teamers, present one of the most dominant rushing attacks in the league.
  • New England’s defense has greatly improved since week one. It still gave up twenty points to Blake Bortles.

What’s all of this mean? Brady is certainly better than Foles, and Gronk is some sort of other-worldly creature, but if you stop there, you’re missing the point. The defense Brady and Gronk will face is one of the very best in the NFL this season, and the offense the Eagles will put out on the field probably has about the same number of question marks as the defense they are facing. Both teams have kickers who can steal points from far away at the end of a half. Both teams are reasonably well coached too.

The hottest unit on either team going into this game is the Eagles defense. They will carry that through the Super Bowl. I don’t think they’ll shut down Brady like they did Case Keenum, but I do think they’ll remain on a roll. Will their offense give them enough points to win? After watching what they did to the Vikings, my answer is yes.