A strange feeling first came over me at the Eagles championship parade while my youngest son sat atop a portable toilet for a better vantage and drunks stumbled into my teenage daughter.
I chalked it up to parades because I hate them. But this malaise has lingered with me for months. Endless stories about the “Philly Special,” draft speculation, postseason signings, and even an Eagles-themed gender reveal.
Last month, while I was driving home from the Poconos, Philly sports radio hosts were arguing with callers about who the team’s starting quarterback should be: Wentz! Foles! Wentz! Foles!
My brain cracked and this hot take was born: I’m not excited about the forthcoming Eagles season.
“No one cares what you think,” a friend texted me when I brought this up.
“People will hate you,” another wrote when I mentioned I was going to write about these unexpected feelings.
Bear with me. I’m trying to work through it. Or don’t. This is not my first festering take on Philly sports.
Back in 2008, when the Phillies won the World Series, I was desperate for a Super Bowl and ticked off that a baseball championship came before the Eagles won it all in my lifetime. I was new to the Daily News at the time, though, and instead I wrote about how much I hated parades. An editor gently killed the piece.
The lesson, I think, is to be true to oneself, and if you’re reading this, it means an editor is allowing me to embarrass myself.
By all accounts, I was a fan and had been for life. My resume include an Eagles #20 jersey that predates Brian Dawkins. I remember both the “Trash man” and “Toast,” and “Gizmo” Williams once ate dinner at my house. At Soldier Field, I got hit with a full can of beer, and in San Diego, I argued with other Eagles fans in true Negadelphia fashion after I booed Donovan McNabb. I watched him get sacked about 200 times once at Giants Stadium. A decade ago I also made about 50 custom Eagles shirts. E-mail me if you’re looking to buy one.
Most of these trips and merch and tickets for Andy Reid-era playoff games when beer froze to my beard were put on a credit card, but it felt like I was making an investment that could, someday, pay off with the Lombardi Trophy.
When the clock ticked down to zero on Feb. 4, I hugged my dad, my son and the stranger who ran into my house waving an Eagles flag. And then some part of me realized that no future Super Bowl victory would ever feel so good.
I had reached nirvana, inner Eagles peace, and the hunger was gone, almost instantly.
Am I really the only one who feels this way?
A few days after the Super Bowl, the Inquirer’s editorial board urged the region to “stay hungry,” to keep stoking that underdog mentality even as the team now transitions into its “Embrace the Target” motto. For better or worse, it’s not working for me. I used to have a coffee mug that said “Embrace the Struggle.” All my biggest breakthroughs have come under the weight of suffering.
I never wanted Rocky to win, ever.
I cringe when I think of the Eagles becoming a dynasty. Dynasties often change the chemistry of a fan base. They become entitled whiners, righteous and expectant. They become lean Rocky in a Lambo and Paulie gets a robot.
I don’t want anyone to like us. I don’t care.
Dynasties spread like disease until some fraud you went to high school with starts popping out Cowboys fans, and they’re running around your backyard in Dak Prescott jerseys during a barbecue, eating your steak. Fledgling Eagles fans in Fresno or Oklahoma City may mean well, but they don’t have the scars.
I keep a Rich Kotite trading card at my desk, to remind me of the pain.
The good times, with Chuck Bednarik, and the bad, with Rick Kotite, at the author’s desk.
Mind you, I am trying. I have listened to “Dreams and Nightmares” two dozen times in recent weeks. I’ve watched YouTube videos of Buddy Ryan and Jason Kelce. I will tune in when the games are on or listen to them on my phone, hoping I feel a little tingle inside.
But I also might just take a walk in the woods with my dog. I’m sorry!
My sons are dying to go see a game, so maybe I’ll sell an organ on the black market or try to pass off a preseason game as legit football this month. I feel for them: They’ll never know the bittersweet purity of attending a game no one wanted to see, when some dude called your dad with free tickets to the Vet, back when we were hungry and games were blacked out.
Maybe I should be more of a Flyers fan.