In 1973, my family became Eagles Season Ticket holders. I was eleven, and had absolutely no interest in the game, except I did like the QB Roman Gabriel, who was handsome. It took a bit until I actually made Sunday viewing as obligatory as Sunday Mass, but by the late 1970s I was hooked. If someone invited me to anything that conflicted with a game, either on television or at the Vet, I politely declined. My social life as a teen and young adult was about as exciting as watching Rich Kotite breathe. But once you become a fan, you will always be a fan.
That does not mean that you are a victim of the Stockholm Syndrome. In other words, if you see your team playing poorly and you know it’s not because the refs are handing the other team the victory (I’m looking at you, Dak) you have every right to complain, in the most vociferous way possible. Extra points if you lace that lamentation with expletives. So it should not have come as any surprise that yesterday, after the Eagles basically rolled over and demanded that the Arizona Cardinals embarrass them on their own field, I took to TikTok and vented. I did not even remove the curlers from my head because there is no way that I could have humiliated myself any more than the way the Eagles humiliated themselves, and their fans.
Apparently, my screed made it all the way to Italy, where some Facebook friends wondered if I was filming my video from a mental institution. The screen shots of me, antenna-curlers waving and mouth wide open made it all the way to Milan and Sicily. And I have no shame for that, and no apologies to offer.
That is because I am not going to engage in that pretextual, faux cheerleader mantra of “It’s okay, we’re still in the playoffs” or “oh gosh I can’t be Negadelphia” or “we have to make them forget that we assaulted Santa.”
As I noted in my video, I don’t care. This was not a normal loss, where you look at the team and say they tried their best and were simply outplayed by a better team. This was not the case of bad weather conditions making it impossible to hold onto the ball or avoid sliding down the field. This was not even the case where one of your star players is sidelined with a season-ending injury.
This was sloppiness. This was horrific play calling. This was arrogance from the coaching staff, incompetence from the defensive coordinator, hubris from the folks who said “Arizona only has three wins under its belt” and a complete lack of organization. You do not go, for the second week in a row, to halftime with a twenty-point lead and think that you can just sit back and coast for the next two quarters. You only do that if you are someone whose dream is to play Canadian football.
After the game, some of the players agreed to be interviewed, although they looked pretty much like I’d expect someone to react in a hostage video. The platitudes were worse, even than the mediocre play. One person even suggested that the “wind” had played a factor in the defeat.
And I thought to myself, yeah, it was so windy there that people were comparing the conditions to Katrina, and having a hard time holding onto their small children. Give me a freaking (this is a G rated post so I can’t say what I really want to say) break.
About ten years ago, shortly after I broke up with a man who probably watched yesterday’s game and spouted the same platitudes of “at least we’re in the playoffs,” I wrote this in a column for the Daily News:
“This person also preferred to watch the game in the comforting confines of his basement instead of roughing it out at the stadium.
To me, this was unsettling. As a woman who had attended literally dozens of games in all types of inclement weather — including a Monday Night Special at the Vet when the wind chill was lower than Kim Kardashian’s IQ — I couldn’t understand how a man could actually prefer the crystal-clear reception of his hi-def toy to the fuzzy, alcohol-fueled maelstrom known as Eagles Nation.
Still, affection kept me holding on.
Then came the day that I learned he really didn’t hate Dallas.
At that point, the writing was on the cinder-block wall.”
I am quoting myself to show just how serious I am about this fan thing. I am, to be honest, a bit annoyed at everyone out there telling me to calm down, that it’s a game for zillionaires who don’t care about the fans, that it’s all a set-up, that it’s stupid to get that worked up about people who don’t know you exist, and that we look like fools for caring.
Caring is not foolish. Hurting is not stupid. Wanting the team that you love so deeply you can feel it in your lower intestine to actually do their damned job is not too much to ask.
If we had seen that the Eagles really tried to win that game against the Cardinals, and had fallen short, we would not be as angry as we are. But the team violated the unspoken contract with the fans, and that is their obligation to always try as hard as they could to win the game. As Robert Browning wrote, “A man’s reach must exceed his grasp, else what’s a heaven for?” In other words, if you reach for the ball and it exceeds your grasp, okay. But if you don’t even make the effort, you are worthless, and we have every right to tell you that.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and lifelong Philadelphian. @flowerlady61