A Champion. One who is clearly superior to all others. One who fights to defend or support a cause greater than one individual. Until as recently as 2008, “champion”, was a word hardly uttered when a Philadelphia sports team was mentioned. Yes, two seasons ago, the Phillies broke a long-standing streak of big-game losses which were beginning to seemingly ascend to the heavens. However, a fire still burns in the stomachs of fans in that city. A fire perhaps intensified by the immense success the Eagles franchise has enjoyed over the past decade:
Record? 103-56-1 in the regular season and 10-8 in the postseason. Pro Bowlers? 58. Highlight reel moments? An unbelievable amount . And lastly, Super Bowl victories? ZERO.
Scanning back over the decade we’ve just closed out, there are some truly amazing things that have taken place, but most of us feel that the few memories we still shake our heads over far outweigh the positive ones. True Eagles fans will tell you that they are proud of the Eagles for accomplishing the things they did, and everyone is gracious to Andy Reid for winning the team back the respect of the league. However, in this city, those achievements quite simply are not, and never ever will be, good enough.
The big picture is that despite having immense success, the Eagles have become, in effect, the poor man’s Buffalo Bills of the 1990′s. Almost worse than losing 4 Super Bowls is facing the realization that you were good, pretty damn good in fact, but you just weren’t quite good enough to have anyone remember you. This is, in my opinion, the end of an era for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Yes, we do still have Andy Reid press conferences to look forward to for at least four more years, but the youthful energy and enthusiasm that carried this team in the early 00′s is clearly gone. Replaced, instead, by a stale, burdened look that seems to suffocate the veteran members of the team. It seems as though players such as Donovan McNabb are being squeezed like the last ounce of toothpaste out of the tube. It may be that his time is up here, but that is a different discussion for another day. Overall, the chances the Eagles have let slip through their fingers (literally and figuratively) over the past ten years have increased the never-ending desire of us, the often ridiculed and misunderstood, yet unwavering and passionate, fans, for a championship.
So, naturally, as I was looking back at the New Orleans Saints recent victory over the favored Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV, I found myself wondering, what made the Saints different from the Eagles teams that almost won it all? What is the recipe for a Super Bowl Champion?
This, along with many other questions, will begin to be answered next week as the first installment of the series is posted. Look for “Part I: Building A Champion” to be posted soon.
Have a great EAGLES day everyone!