Getting things off my chest

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By: Brian Laubscher
Sports Information Director

Yesterday I was in Salem, Va., for the annual ODAC women’s basketball media day which aside from being a nice event to publicize the conference’s teams, is always a good opportunity to catch up with the sports information directors from around the league.

I generally received two questions from these folks:

1. How is Parker doing … family life seems to be treating you well.  (It was also nice to hear from one former W&L assistant that I can sire a pretty darn cute child.  One of my more proud moments)

2. It’s nice to see that you’ve survived another Sunday of Eagles football

It was then that the light bulb went on and I realized that my pride for my son and my disappointment in the Eagles is pretty much all I post on my facebook page anymore.  What else would they really have known about me from the last few months.

Asking about my son and knowing how proud I am of him was legitimate and noteworthy.  Reliving some of my rants from how the Eagles have performed was far from noteworthy and probably a little embarrassing.  So, I’ve decided to get it all of my chest in today’s blog and then go radio silent regarding the Philadelphia Eagles for the remainder of the season.

I’m just tired of seeing this same scene every Sunday

I have trouble controlling my emotions when it comes to my favorite team.  I have a great love for my other teams: The Philadelphia Phillies, Penn State Football, Villanova Basketball, all of Washington and Lee athletics, but it all pales in comparison to my love of the Eagles.

When I was a child and my parents wanted to punish me in the fall/winter (usually because I wouldn’t behave in church), all they had to do was reveal the threat of no Eagles on the TV and I generally straightened out.  On the rare occasion that I didn’t, I would listen to the radio call on my clock radio in my room, usually without their knowledge.  I used to live and die with every game and would be upset until Wednesday or Thursday after every Sunday loss – and there were a lot of them in the 80’s despite playing in the 1981 Super Bowl.

I would be upset with every loss in those days, but I rarely felt what I now feel – disappointment.  I rooted for them and wanted them to win, but I rarely expected them to.  That’s what six losing seasons in your first seven years of rooting for a team will do.

It wasn’t until 1988 when I started to feel differently.  The Eagles turned the corner and made the playoffs following a 10-6 season.  The team had a devastating defense coached by Buddy Ryan and led by Reggie White, Clyde Simmons and Jerome Brown and an electric offense paced by Randall Cunningham, Mike Quick, Chris Carter (yes, he actually was an Eagle until we released him because of drug problems), Keith Jackson and Keith Byers.  It was then that I actually had aspirations that the Eagles could actually make it back to a Super Bowl.  It all ended on Soldier Field in the game known as the Fog Bowl.  I still say we make it all the way if not for the fog that grounded our passing game that day.

The fog bowl was one of the most bizarre scenes in pro football history

The 1988 season was the first of five-straight seasons of 10 or more wins, four of which resulted in playoff births.  We won just one playoff game in all that time, a 36-20 victory over the Saints in 1995.

Following sub-par seasons in 1993 & 1994, Philly went back into the playoffs in 1995 & 1996, winning a 58-37 wild card game against the Lions in 1995.

Most of these seasons ended with my being upset, but my expectations were mostly that I was happy to see them in the playoffs.  It wasn’t until 2001 that my hopes and disappointments started to soar.

Andy Reid was hired as the Eagles head coach in 1999 and drafted Donavon McNabb with his first pick.  I loved the pick and the next season Reid and McNabb lifted the Birds’ from 5-11 in 1999 to 11-5 and the Divisional Playoffs in 2000.

In 2001 the Eagles advanced all the way to the NFC Championship game before falling to the greatest show of turf, the St. Louis Rams led by former Eagle coach Dick Vermeil and quarterback Kurt Warner.  I wasn’t disappointed by the loss, merely happy to have come so far and knowing that we had a young team that could make it back in the next year or so.  The Eagles did better.  They made it to the NFC Championship game each of the next three seasons and as the top seed each time.  And each time, they took a piece of my heart and stepped on it.  The 2002 season we went 12-4 and had the Buccaneers at home; at the miserable Veterans Stadium, where we would most assuredly kill them.  The Bucs had never won a game played at something like less than 32 degrees and it was colder than that.  Of course, we lost 27-10 and the Bucs went on to win the Super Bowl.  The next year it was against the Panthers, who never had a prayer of sniffing a Super Bowl.  McNabb suffered a rib injury and Jake Delhomme led the Panthers to the big game where they narrowly lost to the Patriots.

So the next year had to be it and we finally came through.  Super Bowl XXXIX against the Patriots.  We went 13-3 in the regular season and all looked good, especially with the return of Terrell Owens from injury.  In the end, Andy Reid’s poor clock management and a quarterback who tossed his cookies on the field in front of everybody was too much to overcome and we lost.  Disappointment, again.

I hate Kurt Warner mostly because of this moment in time as he celebrated my misfortune.

And then, it happened.  The 2008 team was again a disappointment, but so was everyone else and they backed into the playoffs with a 9-6-1 record (the one tie was the game McNabb notoriously said he didn’t know you could tie).  Then they beat the Vikings in the first round, knocked off the Giants in the divisional round and advanced to the NFC Championship game again, one game away from the Super Bowl and only the pathetic Arizona Cardinals in front of them.  W&L Track & Field Coach Nate Hoey (also a Birds fan) and I cashed in a few chips and worked out a scenario where we could get Super Bowl tickets, cheap direct flights to Tampa and a place to crash.  It was going to be a fly out day of the Super Bowl, watch the game, fly back on Monday morning and back in the office by 2 pm Monday afternoon.  It was perfect until we stunk up the first half against the Cards and trailed 24-6 at halftime.  I swear I was ready to murder anyone who walked in my line of sight.  And then miraculously, we scored 19-straight to take a 26-25 lead in the fourth quarter.  Then Warner, the same man who defeated the Eagles in the 2001 NFC Championship game, guided the Cards on a 74-yard drive that crushed my dreams with less than 3:00 left.  Not only were the Eagles not going to the Super Bowl, neither was I.  A once in a lifetime opportunity gone.

The next two years the Eagles again made the playoffs but lost in the Wildcard round.  In 2011, every big name free agent joined the Eagles and there was dynasty talk.  All this did was build up even more expectations that would fall flat.  An 8-8 season last year where we turned the ball over at a staggering rate and a miserable start to this season where a bunch of high-priced stiffs have underachieved and with a quarterback who has so reverted to his old self that I wouldn’t be surprised if he sacrificed a live Chihuahua at the 50-yardline during pregame introductions.

I’ve had enough.  Enough hoping and pacing and cursing and cheering and any other adjective to describe what goes through a person’s veins when they break from reality and hope for something that they only wish to see once in their lifetime.  I’m not finished rooting for them.  Let’s face it, I never will be.  But I am as long as Andy Reid is fumbling over the time on the clock and how best to call his timeouts after a false start penalty in the first five minutes of the second half.  I’m done with passes on second and third and goal from the 2-yardline.  I’m done with Michael Vick throwing interceptions or fumbling for six points the other way when we’re in the red zone.  I’m done with watching the defense let people walk the ball down the field in the fourth quarter.  I’m just done for this season.

The Eagles play the Cowboys, our most hated and dreaded opponent this Sunday in a national game at 4:25 pm and I’ll most likely be checking out the new Trader Joe’s store in Charlottesville.  That’s where this journey has taken me for the moment – picking out cheap wine so I can drown my sorrows.

So that’s it.  There’s my final rant of the season.  Case closed.  I just hope and pray that Andy and Michael Vick are never allowed in the Philadelphia city limits ever again.  At that point, I’ll start watching again.

Thanks for listening.

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2 Responses to “Getting things off my chest”

  1. Andrew C. Krauss Says:

    Oh boo hoo…I’m sorry that your favorite team that has been among the NFL’s elite over the last 20 years with stable ownership and the tools to win isn’t satisfying you…CRY ME A FREAKING RIVER….

  2. Jim Goodwin (@sixtywatt) Says:

    Yikes… tough crowd.

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