I remember watching the Eagles-Packers NFC Wild-Card playoff game 2010, and after Tramon Williams intercepted Michael Vick’s deep ball attempt to end the game, I threw my soda can at the TV, ultimately causing my family to have to buy a new TV. I was pissed, because the Eagles didn’t run the ball enough, and their offensive line collapsed under the pressure of what was a very good defense at the time.
I was watching the game with a few of my friends, one of whom seemed as upset as me, but in a different way. I’m not someone who feels sad after losing, I feel pissed. I remember my friend tearing up, and eventually I never let him live that moment down. Anytime he was trying to impress a girl, I would always go back to that moment. My fifteen year-old self found that very funny, but the eighteen year-old, matured version of me, looks at if very differently.
In 2010, Michael Vick’s comeback came full-storm as he finished second in NFL MVP voting, and the Eagles won the NFC East title, just missing out on a first-round bye. It seemed like the Eagles plan of “re-tooling” had worked. Not only did they appear to have a franchise quarterback in Michael Vick, but they had a young offensive core built around DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy. The offensive line needed some work, and the defense could stand a few upgrades, but the Eagles appeared to be headed towards being a perennial Superbowl contender. Then “the dream team” happened.
The Eagles would add Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Ronnie Brown, Vince Young, Steve Smith (bet you forgot about him), and Cullen Jenkins. That’s the short version that leaves out the wide nine and Juan Castillo and Howard Mudd, because frankly I’ve told this story far too many times. In short, the Eagles were supposed to be a championship contender, and instead they went 8-8 in 2011 and followed that up by an abysmal 4-12 campaign in 2012 that saw the Andy Reid era come to a close.
I guess when I laughed at my friend for sort of crying, I never realized how painful the next two seasons would be. I invest so much annually into watching Philadelphia sports, and I guess around 2010 I was spoiled. The Eagles were flying high, the Phillies made the NLCS for the third straight season, Doug Collins brought the Sixers new hope, and the Flyers were fresh off of a Stanley Cup appearance. At that time I thought my first ten or so seasons of watching Philly sports were the lean years, and that Philly sports had turned the corner.
As it actually turned out, Ruben Amaro ran the Phillies into a hole that will take five more years to recover from. The Sixers slightly turned things around with Collins, but his message got stale after a few years. The Flyers went back to being a team that consistently goes to the playoffs, but doesn’t do any damage beyond that. And as I mentioned the Eagles only went on to win 12 games combined between 2011 and 2012.
Things have turned around massively under Chip Kelly and Nick Foles this season, and going to the playoffs and losing in the first round would be upsetting, but hardly a failed season. If you cry tonight, should the Eagles lose, you just look foolish. Things are only going to go up after this season, and that’s saying something considering the Eagles are starting to become a national dark-horse Superbowl contender.
I know that tonight isn’t the Superbowl, or even the NFC title game or divisional round, but a win tonight would be special. All the frustrating emotion that has subsided with the Eagles worst-to-first turnaround this season, could come full-circle in an Eagles win tonight. And I don’t care if anyone makes fun of me–I will sit down and have a good cry of joy if the Eagles win tonight.