Cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, the Liberty Bell, Rocky (and his statue), Tastykakes, and the list of all things Philadelphia goes on and on. Say Philadelphia to an outsider and the response is often mixed; one might say the attitude towards Philadelphia and all of its citizens is similar to the attitude that Philadelphians are reported to display at sporting events. Reportedly, christenings, wakes, graduations, and the birth of a child are all met with the same type of fanfare. We are, for all intents and purposes, troglodytes that drag our knuckles along Broad Street. Perception, especially to a national media, is reality.
Sadly, many Philadelphia Eagles fans are anxious and nervous, waiting on the edges of our beds like Christmas morning, waiting to see what Santa Lurie will bring us. Many of us are relieved in Andy’s removal as head coach. Many of us would break down each play of an Eagles game, bringing no more and no less than a high school and maybe a college level playing experience to our analysis. Sure, not all of us can boast an Al Bundy highlight reel of football memories; however, many of us can recall specific plays from the last fourteen years that excite and dismay us all. Philadelphia will not be relegated to the basement of the NFL; we have a hallowed history that, yes, we know, has no Super Bowl wins, but it is filled with names that send our fathers and grandfathers reeling, spitting out long narratives that feel almost Dickensian. Van Brocklin, Concrete Cha’lie, Reggie White, Mike Quick, Scramblin’ Randall and the stories grow and grow.
As Andy Reid moves on, the real fan, the humanist fan that cringes when his or her favorite player doesn’t get up after a hit or wells up at the news that the coach of their Philadelphia Eagles just lost his son, Philadelphia Eagles fans will reminisce. Sure, we all can recall Ronde Barber intercepting the football for a touchdown in the NFC Championship game and wanting to cry the same way I did when Joe Carter crushed that home run in the World Series. I can also recall an onside kick in Dallas that sent shock waves through Philadelphia or the frozen tears I shed at the Linc when I watched Brian Dawkins hoist the NFC Championship trophy over his head and proclaim, “We’re going to the Super Bowl!”
I am glad that we let Andy go. We are all, in some way or another, relieved that the last few seasons of desperation and marginal play can be put behind us if only for a short while. The next coach will take the reigns of a football team that is supported by a fan base that is both ravenous and football savvy. We may not all be football scholars; Ray Didingers if you will. However, we are informed fans that recognize that the coach with the most wins in Philadelphia Eagles history had the wherewithal to bring in coordinators like Jim Harbaugh and the late, great Jim Johnson. His victories and defeats are not highlighted only in his win, loss, and if you can believe it, tie categories, but the victories and defeats are laid out in the minds of Philadelphia Eagles fans that know the nuances of the game and its team.
Andy will not be missed the way Brian Dawkins or Reggie White was missed. He will, as time goes on, take his place in the Philadelphia sports pantheon of good or great (remember, perception is reality) coaches. Andy, you will be missed but I assure you it will not be in the near future. If anyone needs a quote for what Philadelphia sports fans are beyond the twisted truth of hurling snowballs at Santa, remember that if a person states that they bleed Eagles green, then it is not hyperbole, it is not an embellishment, it is as factual as any statistic or fact already established throughout history. Philadelphia is and will always be a city that loves its Philadelphia Eagles. And Andy, we do in fact, bid you adieu!