February 2018

Super Bowl Sunday - Eagles vs. Patriots

I became aware of the Philadelphia Eagles when my father came home excited about their new coach. He was a young, innovative coach from the West Coast. His name was Dick Vermeil. It was 1976. I was 8.

I remembered my first trip to the Vet (Veteran’s Stadium), with my father admonishing me to not wander off, that it could be a wild place. He said this as we were waiting to gain entrance and I was watching men take a running start to scale the fences on the first level of the stadium to gain access on the 2nd level, avoiding the ticket takers.

Each Eagles game with my father was significant. Not only for the game itself, but there was usually a talk afterward as we waited in traffic after the game. My “Birds and Bees” talk was after a game. Followed by a “Code Of Conduct/Treat Women With Respect” talk after a later game. More men should do that.

I can remember the disappointment in losing to the underdog Raiders in Super Bowl XV, with Roynell Young having an interception taken from him by Bob Chandler for a Raider’s touchdown.
I remember moving from the Northeast to Roxborough and making new friends, that shared my love for the Eagles. My pick up soccer games on the streets of Northeast Philly were soon replaced by touch, and sometimes tackle, football on the streets and fields of Roxborough and Drexel. Games with friends Rob, John, Rich, Joe, Dan, Carl, Pete and Dave. Many of these games were moved to Sunday mornings, some in organized flag football leagues, some just a bunch of guys showing up with the timeless ritual of two captains, choosing sides. Many of these games were followed by getting hoagies and pizzas to watch the 1:00 Eagles game.

I ran remember the years of the Swamp Fox, because that is pretty much where we were, in the Swamp of the NFC East. I remember the blunderbuss of Buddy Ball, with the bravado fading, realizing that a Kotite lead offense, was never going to get us anywhere, and then the darkest hours of a Kotite led team with owner Braman, who was more concerned with the bottom line, vs. winning.
I remember Lurie buying the team, saying he wanted to be the Gold Standard of the league. I couldn’t understand while people mocked him. He didn’t say we were the gold standard, but that he wanted the Eagles to be that! After watching the 49ers, and the rest of the NFC East win so many Super Bowls, yes, that is what I wanted as well.

I remember the promise of the Reid and McNabb Years, only to fall short due to a longer than normal half time in XXXIX, enabling the Patriots, with the help of some video tape, to figure out our game plans.
I remember the false hope of Chip Kelly and then the relative ambivalence of Pederson as the new coach. The worst coaching hire in 30 years according to one pundit.

But here we are, after being picked not to make the playoffs. Picked to fold after all the injures, especially to Wentz. After being picked as underdogs in both home playoff games. After our back up quarterback was criticized as not being tough enough. I wonder if Buzz knows that Foles played the majority of his senior year with a torn rotator cuff in his throwing arm, driving his team to the Texas State Championship game. Foles’ team lost their best player during the season to a heart attack, and St. Nick didn’t want to let his teammates down, so he quietly soldiered on. Sounds Eagles tough to me.

We play the Patriots again. With all their rings and controversy as favored team status. Yes we mock Brady with the deflated balls, but he is playing with those balls wearing rings on his fingers.

It’s time we took the trophy. This is the team to do it. I’ve seen a lot of Eagles teams and this is my favorite. They are great players on the field and good men off of it. They have no quit. This is our time. Time to end the Patriot’s dynasty and start ours!!