As an avid Philadelphia sports fan for nearly 30 years, my life to date has been defined by paradox, a chaotic balance between the anxiety of an impending apocalypse and careless, breathless optimism.
On one hand, I know—just as you may—that any success we are so lucky to even sniff will be fleeting. Success may last a year, it may even last two; but it will never, ever span such a significant amount of time that would engender a hint of envy and jealous rage from rival sports fans.
On the other, every year is our year, right? May it be preseason Eagles games or a late season Flyers push, there is always some faint glimpse of hope that grabs our heart and pumps lifeblood into our veins for but a second or two each given season.
And then, failure. First round playoff exits. Failure to even compete in a division. The loss of a star player to injury, or worse, to a rival city.
This is our tragedy, an existence punctuated by the fact our most “successful” sports figure isn’t even a real human being.
Yet, if the Eagles ever won a Super Bowl, all of that crippling depression be wiped off the face of the planet—or, at the very least, the greater tristate area.
Can they do that anytime soon? It’s quite impossible to say, but let me be real: I doubt it. Like everyone else on this rock, I bought a shit ton of goods wholesale from Chip Kelly that turned out to be highly defective and of questionable build quality and indiscernible origin. Not since 2004 had we felt like we did when Kelly’s 2013 team steamrolled the Washington Team of Football in the season opener.
And then reality set in, Kelly regressed like Rome under Caligula and here we are, with Head Coach Doug Pederson and a possible franchise quarterback hailing from the northern territories.
Not exactly a pleasant situation. To make matters worse, the sole highlight of Pederson’s coaching career is being name-dropped by Andy Reid at a Chiefs press conference while his defensive coordinator is likely waiting in the wings for his gig like a Republican at an inner city high school. We have no idea on earth how this will go, but at least with Kelly we had shared excitement and rampant national attention to tide us over to our doom.
Still, the team has seemingly set itself up nicely for some success. The defensive roster is as strong as it has been in years with its first real coordinator since the late great Jim Johnson. (Sorry, Mr. McDermott—the Eagles didn’t have a Ron Rivera for you.) That 11-man unit is anchored by one of the best players in the game, Defensive Tackle Fletcher Cox, arguably the greatest Eagles’ draft pick since Donovan “this city will never give me credit and that is completely inexcusable” McNabb. The secondary actually has a nice pair of safeties, and God willing, a young corner or two to grow within Jim Schwartz’s system.
The other side of the line of scrimmage is a bit murkier, if only because Sam Bradford is wasting a year (or two) of his career and an equal amount of Carson Wentz’s development by being at the top of the quarterback depth chart. No one has the slightest idea who will reliably, if at all, carry the ball out of the backfield. Similarly, there is a legitimate question as to whether any wide receiver is worthy of starting on any team other than Eagles, which is an unwelcome development after years of DeSean Jackson and a year of Jeremy Maclin.
They do have a tight end that may (hopefully) be good (relatively soon), so there’s that (possibly).
Regardless, it is impossible to know now in June what this team will look like in September, December, etc. Maybe they will surprise us all and string together a few nice wins and compete for the division title. Maybe Bradford gets beaten by Wentz in training camp and the team suffers through the same growing pains as it did in 1999. Who knows!
I do know that I will be there every week watching, heart in hand, emotions on my sleeve, and green coursing through my veins. I’ll eventually die from this, but hopefully it will all be worth it.