Monday, February 07, 2005

Philadelphia Does it Again

We've seen it happen before. A Philadelphia sports team comes within reach of a Championship, only to blow it in the end. A Philadelphia team captivates an entire city, no, an entire region spanning three states, just to let them all down again. The latest disappointment occured on our nation's grandest stage: Super Bowl XXXIX in which the Philadelphia Eagles lose by a mere three points to the Patriots, who were predicted to win by a spread of at least six points.
It's hard to see this happen time and time again, year after year to the teams and the fans who support them. The Eagles have come to the NFC Championship four times in a row, and finally advanced this year to the Super Bowl itself, all the while their fans waited on edge, ecstatic with their victories and downtrodded by their defeats. And the Eagles are not the only party responsible for Philly's cursed reputation. Think back to this past summer, when a little Philadelphia race horse named Smarty Jones took the entire nation by storm in a quest for the triple crown. He came one race shy of the crown and now the name Smarty Jones is as forgotten as the name of the glue factory he was sent to (Just kidding, of course). What about our Philadelphia Phillies, who finally had a new beautiful stadium, big name 1st baseman, and prospective lead in the MLB Eastern Division? Philly barely had time to get its hopes up before the team fell to pieces and lost that lead, falling third in the division. For those of you who remember what the NHL is: how about the Flyers who've been in the Stanley Cup Finals, twice I believe in recent years and have come up empty-handed, even to our own New Jersey Devils? The 76rs made a run for the NBA Championship a few years back with the combined strength of Larry Brown's coaching and Allen Iverson's skill, and were denied their dream by the Lakers. Each of these times, Philadelphia rose to support its teams and each time it fell just as hard as they did.
Eagles fans have had to take a lot of critism and abuse over this past season, and over the last decade or so. This is evident as you watch the highlights of Patriot players mocking T.O.'s Eagle wave by flapping their arms with their foot on the ball after making a play or touchdown. Andy Reid's taken critism for some of his decisions over the season and post-season such as resting his team for the playoffs. People were quick to doubt the Eagles at every opportunity, and underestimated their ability to perform in such a high-stakes Championship game against a team with much more experienced in such games.
Now is the time for the true fans to shine. The loss hurts, it's going to be the topic for many heated debates in the coming week, but true fans don't desert their team when they're down. True fans take the abuse that is to come, the ridicule and critism from all the non-believers that is evident down the road, and reply with "Next year." Many fans being interviewed tonight by the Philadelphia media are saying Next Year, see you in Detroit, which is the site of Super Bowl (XXXXL? eh, 40). I believe this leaves the Eagles hungry for the only thing left that eludes them, the Vince Lombardi trophy. Four times, they've risen to the NFC Championship game. They lost three years in a row and continued to fight and come back, each year hungrier than the last. Tonight, they arrived at a Super Bowl for the first time in twenty four years. After a hard-faught game which relied heavily on the defenses of both teams, the Philadelphia Eagles lost by three points.

And I couldn't be more proud of them.