Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles - A Case Study in Human Pain

I’m an Eagles fan, and have been for the last 32 years or so.

Thus, it was with great pain and misery that I watched this past weekend’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals. It was for a trip to the Super Bowl, no less.

I’ve never been a fan of any other football team. I sorta liked John Elway’s Broncos, and I kinda liked Warren Moon’s Oilers – but never enough to really care if they won or lost.

So I really have no idea what other team’s fans go through year after year. That being said, it sure as hell seems to me that Eagles fans suffer the most searing, torturous pain of them all: the pain of never quite getting there.

Sure, the Eagles have been a very good team for most of the last 10 years. They have the 4th best winning percentage in the NFL over that span. Bengals and Browns fans would give anything for a .500 season right about now. But Eagles fans want it all. And getting so close for so many years, makes it hurt that much more – like a fork in the eye, or a fork in the groin. Or even a fork in the neck.

Losing to the Cardinals was, in some ways, not as painful as previous big-time losses. The Eagles looked like shit midway through the season. It appeared like their playoff hopes were dashed long before the dice began to roll their way. It’s easy enough to say, “We never should have been there in the first place,” or “Andy Reid looks hungry. Somebody get him another hot dog before he passes out.”

The playoffs were a mere afterthought to a turbulent season.

But in other ways – and the more I think about it, the more it hurts – this most recent disappointment was most painful of all. I mean, come on. The Cardinals? They suck. They suck perennially. It has literally been 60 years since they were any good. How could we not make it to the Super Bowl this year?

It’s the pain of an awful toothache. The kind of pain that makes you want to grab a pair of pliers and a handle of whiskey, and take care of business on your own. No doctors, no sedation. No disinfectant, no rubber gloves. The pain of a thousand burning needles on your feet. The agony of one single paper cut on your tongue.

It hurts.

Maybe I’m being melodramatic. In fact, I know I’m being melodramatic so that I can use New York Times Op-Ed words like “melodramatic” and “elegiac.”

My elegiac moans could be heard for miles and miles after the Eagles loss.

I was bawling like a schoolgirl whose parents wouldn’t let her go to the Jonas Brothers concert because, “those boys are just a little too seductive.”

Anyway, the season’s now over. The pain will slowly subside, as it always does. Five NFC championship games, four bouts of melancholy and intestinal distress. Only one trip to the Super Bowl.

Maybe next year.

After a few months of healing, I’ll be ready to do it all over again. And maybe I’ll try something next season that I haven’t tried before: narcotic painkillers.

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Anonymous said...

Mill - this was a tough one for me as well. Consider this... I dropped a hundred bucks for a ticket, got up at 5am and drove 4 hours thru a blizzard to see these same Cardinals get totally destroyed 44-6 or whatever to the Pats just 4 weeks ago. It was the worst sporting event I have any witnessed..live or on TV. The week before I was in Phoenix for work and watched the Vikings score 28 on them in the 1st quarter. So imagine my dismay when the Eags are down 24-6 at halftime last Sunday. Then imagine my delight when they were up 24-25 in the quarter...you know how the rest goes. Did you see they Set McNabbs yard on fire? Uncool.

10-7 in 7 post season appearences in 9 seasons...9-2 in the first two rounds, 1-5 in the conference finals and beyond. I'd gladly trade in a few of those wild card and divisional wins (as sweet as they were) for another shot at the big game.

But hey - Good news...Werth is locked up for another 2 seasons. So only Howard and Durbs left to sign. Then hopefully we can hang our hat on another Met let down in September.

The Mill said...

I love your analysis. And appreciate your continued emotional support. Seems pretty obvious that the Birds blow in the playoffs.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in a handful of weeks.