Archive for the ‘Sports’ Category

“Holy S#!%, we WON,” I screamed while running around my apartment, nearly knocking over a lamp and coming dangerously close to crushing a bookcase.

That was the scene in my house this past Monday night when the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Indianapolis Colts.  My excitement and love for my football team knows no bounds and Monday night provided another example of the lunacy that many Philadelphia Eagles fans experience on any given Sunday, Monday, or Thursday night.  Though some may call it cliched, football is my escape and has been for many years.

Just about a month ago, I lost my job as an Academic Coordinator due to budget cuts.  Like a recycled Hollywood movie plot, the scenario of losing a job and feeling petrified over making ends meet is a story that many people experience.  While I wish I could string together some flowery prose or develop a poignant metaphor to capture my feelings, the best way to sum it up is to come right out and say, “It Sucks!

Each morning I take to the computer and scour the classified websites, hoping that I will find a job that I love and will love me back.  Resume after resume, custom cover letter after custom cover letter, I continue to push forward.  I have to; failure is not an option because I have a family that depends on me and I refuse to fail.  I will, no matter what, do whatever it takes to take care of my family.  I cannot quit because my family depends on me.

That’s when it happened.  Literally moments before the second half kickoff, there I was saying, “I don’t know if I can handle this,” I had one of those epiphanies that I know will stay with me for a long time to come.

I’m not just a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I am the Philadelphia Eagles.  I am in my own proverbial halftime and yes, I am without a doubt, down.  The score does not look pretty and while others may think I do not have a chance in hell of coming back, I still have another half of football to play.  I have to be my own Chip Kelly and adjust during the half.  I cannot be deterred because a play I drew up did not get me the results I wanted.  After all, I still have another half of my life to play.

That is precisely what bleeding green means.  It is the complete and total embodiment of throwing yourself into something that you live for each week.  We all know the labels associated with being a Philadelphia Eagles fan.  If the description of who we are as a fan base was left to outsiders, the painted picture would be eerily similar to the Germanic tribes fighting the Romans in the opening scene of “Gladiator.”

We may beat our chests and scream until we are hoarse, boo players that do not play to their fullest potential, and we are guilty of grandiloquent speech and theory, but damn it, we bleed green.  Our wounds are deep but the devotion to our team runs deeper.  We are football maniacs in the moment and football scholars-in-training after the game.  We clamber to our televisions and radios in order to hear the profound words of Ray Didinger, the Socrates of Philadelphia Football.  The presets on our car radios are set for sports talk radio.  The jerseys of players in our closets run like a timeline found in history books.  The stories we tell our children about that one game, that one play or that one season is a bond that should not, will not and cannot be taken lightly.

I bleed green because the Philadelphia Eagles are my family.  While I certainly did not cry the same way I did when my Dad passed away, I felt equally as empty and directionless when Brian Dawkins left the Eagles and signed with the Denver Broncos.  I’ve given family second chances after they’ve done truly terrible things; reminiscent of accepting Michael Vick into our football family regardless of the strong opinions I had for him and his actions.  Family, unless they choose to walk away, are your family for life.

Undeniable are the collective wounds we wear on the very sleeves we wear our hearts; however, the Philadelphia Eagles are the wellspring of this city’s passion.  Passion is paramount to being a fan.  Some may question how being a Philadelphia Eagles fan is different than being a fan of any other team.  The answer is quite simple: ferocity.  If we fall behind, we will fight to reclaim what is rightfully ours.

I learned through my love for the Philadelphia Eagles that although I may be down at the half, I still have another half to come back and claim my victory.  Thank you, Philadelphia Eagles; not only have you given me something to cheer about, you’ve taught me that hope is a series of unrelenting pursuits driven by the idea that we can never give up.

Advertisements

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!