“How did you become an Eagles fan!?!?” is a question I’m often asked. It’s a significant question because of geography and history. I, too, wonder who I ended up becoming an Eagles fan sometimes. My hometown is approximately 900 miles away from Philadelphia and the Eagles don’t exactly have a winning pedigree. For as long as I’ve been alive, they’ve never been the “cool” team. Everyone I know has trended towards the New Orleans Saints or Atlanta Falcons due to geography and the “cool” factor.
So why am I an Eagles fan? I’m not sure but I’ve narrowed it down to two variables in my life. When I was about 4 or 5 years old, my home was adorned with Dallas Cowboys memorabilia. A signed poster of Emmitt Smith hung above my brother’s bed and every Sunday my dad sat in his favorite chair sporting his Dallas Cowboys hat. It’s still pristine to this day and he takes every opportunity he gets to wax poetic about the glory days of Primetime and his personal favorite, Leon Lett. I didn’t gravitate towards the Cowboys because whenever I watched them, I was pretty much forced to do so. You shouldn’t subject a young boy to watching Dallas Cowboys football. Troy Aikman was grossly overrated, they were incredibly boring all around and plus, who the heck gave them the appointment of “America’s” team. America didn’t vote for this. They were incredibly obnoxious way before I could spell obnoxious in a spelling bee. So even before I became an Eagles fans, I knew there was no way in hell I could ever be a Cowboys fan. Not becoming a Cowboys fan might have been my first act of insubordination as a kid.
The other explanation for being an Eagles fan may ironically come from me taking a deep dive into college football. Because of my older brother, I would watch pretty much any college game that was on TV. I could talk all day about the heyday of the MAC conference but the focus here is on the Big East. This is a year before some freshman named Michael Vick arrived and before “The U” rose back to prominence. My favorite college player of the 1998 season was easily Donovan McNabb. To me, he was far more electrifying to me than Ricky Williams, Champ Bailey and “The Freak” Javon Kearse. I didn’t have an NFL team yet but I liked this guy enough to follow him. When the NFL Draft came around, this decision leads me to the Eagles. It’s just slightly convenient this team just so happens to be a sworn enemy of the Dallas Cowboys.
Although Donovan would go on to choke horrifically when he made it to the big stage, I never regretted my decision. Not after Vince Young’s infamous “Dream Team” comments. Not after Nnamdi Asomugha took our money just to eat lunch in his car. Not after Chip Kelly traded away the perfect offense for his system. I love the Eagles dearly and I have no clue why other than insanity.
The past few years have indeed been insanity because I remained a fan while expecting different results. I admit, I wanted the Eagles to hire Adam Gase over Doug Pederson, although I grew to love his spread offense. Outside of Xs and Os, he was a player’s coach. His man-management of Nelson Agholor, especially when everyone else left him out to dry, deserves all the praise possible. Also, I wasn’t too thrilled about Carson Wentz. Although I grew to respect him and his trademark grit, I still didn’t think he would ever justify being the #2 pick, no matter how hard he played. After last year’s 7-9 season, I didn’t know what to expect.
This season, everything changed.
I saw this team overlook Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, etc in the draft and was disappointed when the front office thought LeGarrette Blount would be the answer. So color me ignorant, because I didn’t foresee this team ripping through the NFL with Carson Wentz playing MVP-level football. Not only that, I didn’t see this team continuing the trend after Wentz down for the season.
Not only was I unable to foresee it but didn’t actually see any of it. Earlier in the season, I made a conscious decision that I would indefinitely stop watching the NFL. This wasn’t a…protest, but it was a personal choice. I couldn’t command a call to arms and ask everyone join me but I knew I didn’t feel right participating. The last Eagles game I watched was a loss to Kansas City (that should’ve been a win by the way).
After seeing the owners blackball a player who should be in the league when compared to active QBs who played this season, I just didn’t feel right. But this decision was bigger than Kap alone. It was Trump calling players “sons of bitches”, coaches and owners such as Jerry Jones demanding that their players stand, and deconstruction of what it means to actually be “patriotic”. After that, I figured I could no longer actively support this product. Because, what is this, exactly? It’s just a game. A game I love dearly, but it’s just a game nonetheless. Once that game became muddled by dirty politics it no longer became a game.
Of course, there’s no way I could completely escape this game. I still watch Sportscenter. I follow football analysts on Twitter so I still see All-22 gifs of big plays that have happened over the season. I got to see this entire season without actually being here. This season convinced me that God indeed has a sense of humor. I lived through my team drafting a 26-year-old firefighter in the first round, a four-win season and getting smoked on Thanksgiving by the Lions but the moment I turn away, the Eagles are back in the Super Bowl. The years I fully expected the Eagles to make it to the Super Bowl, they didn’t come close.
So let this be my love letter to the Eagles. I don’t know when I’ll watch the NFL again, if ever. But I’ll always love the Eagles. The memories of TO’s first touchdown, Vick’s classic Monday Night Football game and the Miracle at the Meadowlands will always be very dear to me. Most importantly, I’ll always remember this magical season I wasn’t really here for. You don’t go through ups and downs without a team becoming a major part of who you are and the Eagles are definitely a huge part of who I am.
So why do I support the Eagles? It really might be insanity but moments like this make living with that insanity worthwhile. So although I can’t support the product, I still support my team. Fly Eagles Fly. Let’s get our payback.