Losers. No More. Eagles Are Champions.

I didn’t cry until I heard Merrill Reese, the longtime radio voice of the Eagles, on YouTube the day after the Super Bowl. His call of the Tom Brady fumble with two minutes left in the fourth quarter pushed the release button. The emotions, the memories, the Sundays, the halftime catches in the backyard, the Monday mornings discussing the game, the plastic cups and t-shirts emblazoned with a mean green eagle, the cheesesteaks, the fireplace and TV on cold winter afternoons, the time with my family. Three generations watching our beloved birds struggle toward the excellence other teams seemed to stumble into.

My grandfather watched the Eagles beat Lombardi’s Packers in 1960, my dad was at the Spectrum in 1974 and ‘75 to see the Flyers win the Stanley Cup and I was born during the Phillies World Series win in 1980. Philadelphia sports are passed down through the generations, with a gypsy’s curse, feeling as though some invisible hand always pulled any success away from our teams. The Flyers of the 80’s couldn’t beat Gretzky’s Oilers, the Sixers couldn’t beat Shaq and Kobe, the Phillies beat the weak Devil Rays in 2008 to break that gypsy curse, but then lost to the hated Yankees the next year. Leaving the Eagles who tried to beat the dynastic Patriots of the early 2000’s and fail.

The website fivethirtyeight.com showed that the Eagles have the lowest rating of championships to expected championships. Basically, we field good teams, then lose.

No more.

The 2017 Eagles, led by the talismanic QB Wentz all year before popping in our backup with three weeks left in the season, a stout defense, a monster O-line, three runners—a bruiser, a shaker and a shifty rookie, not to mention a gutsy and clever coach. But they are just the celebrities. What about our first-year kicker who set a team record with a game winning 61-yard field goal, the fleet-footed/sure-handed receivers, the three talented tight ends with one who used to be a college QB, the linebacker from Hawaii who was our kicker for a game, the athletic center, the replacement left tackle, the green hair of Jalen Mills, the blond tipped dreadlocks of Jay Ajayi. This team is like if Rocky and the Fresh Prince had a baby—tenacious and charismatic.

All year was like watching a party. Even when they lost, it was close. They never lost hope, never slowing down the inevitable momentum of 58 years, even with the devastating injuries. The ghosts of Jaworski, Cunningham and McNabb were exorcised by a guy from Austin, Texas who possessed the 4th quarter spirit necessary to make a city’s wish come true. My emotions after this game were cathartic jubilation. After the hail mary pass fell incomplete I screamed a few expletives, danced around my apartment and finally felt the pleasing taste of being a champion. I lost championships in pee-wee football; I lost championships in high school hockey. My closet was full of participation and 2nd place mini-trophies full of broken dreams and dust. If I couldn’t do it, at least let my pro teams do it! Yet, for more than three decades, sour defeat: Flyers lose 1997, 2010; Eagles lose 1981, 2005; Sixers lose 2001; Phillies lose 1993, 2009.

No more.


In previous years, after watching the Super Bowl, my mind would drift to the draft, who can we get from the colleges to bring us the big win. I would be full of angst, knowing there were seven long months before any more football, another chance to break the spell of losing.

No more.

Now, I have seven long months to bake, broil, roast and marinate in the feeling of finally being a championship city. The anxious waiting for September is missing, replaced by the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for all the fans from Philadelphia.






Losing is the hardest part of playing.  Some take solace in the “it was a great season” or “we tried our hardest” or “they were the better team today” but it hurts nonetheless.  The winning is why we play; the winning is what makes playing anything possible.  Texas hold ‘em, go fish, blackjack; football, baseball, basketball; horseshoes, pool, darts all have winners.  Sociologists will tell you we are born without instincts, but sooner or later, we develop the instinct to win or we become hippies on a commune seeking equilibrium through farming together and not shaving.  We have Oscars, Tonys, and Grammys to celebrate the best in entertainment.  We give honors to the valedictorians of schools.  We have gold medals for ridiculous sports like curling and synchronized swimming.  Humans reward the best.

As I watched the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals match between the Australian Wallabies and the Republic of South African Springboks in a crowded pub in downtown Seoul, people desperate to win surrounded me.  USA had long since been eliminated and, as anyone knows you can only truly root for one country during a World Cup in any sport.  It was a close, exciting game with Australia emerging victorious.  However, I was sitting with South African supporters and could feel, sympathize and understand their unmistakable pain, for I am a child of Philadelphia sports.  The shocked, gaping mouths, hands grasping heads, teeth gritting, quiet cursing, it is all very familiar to anyone who has lived near Philly since 1981.

Oh sure, the Phillies stole the championship in 2008 from a quiet little team in Tampa Bay, and the city rightly celebrated.  Philadelphia is the only team to have sent all four major American sports teams to the finals in the 2000 decade.  We have great teams, great players and great fans.  We are not losers; we are simply not winners.  The 76ers were outmatched against a Shaq and Kobe led dynasty; the Flyers were outmatched against the young, surging Blackhawks; and the Phillies were outmatched against the A-Rod destiny.  That leaves the Eagles, the quintessential team of Philadelphia no matter what anyone says.  It is the team of the town.  They might actually be losers.  They are the only team of the four to have never won a major championship.  They have had amazing athletes come through the gates and failed.  They have had a myriad of chances through the 90’s and 00’s and failed.  They provide the reason to ruin your Sunday for 5-6 months every year.  The loyal fans will boo and talk down until they lose their voice, but the “Linc” will be sold out every game they play there ad infinitum.  Therein lies the charm and the madness that is my hometown.

And also, the greatest pitching staff, the best hitters, the best stadium filled with the best fans the Phillies have ever had wasn’t enough to avoid that colossal, dreadful choke to the Cardinals in the NLDS.  It was a great Phillies season, and loads of fun to watch, so who cares, we’ll see you next summer, but for God’s sake, Eagles, tighten it up!