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Will The Philadelphia Eagles Disappoint Their Fans Again?

Will The Philadelphia Eagles Disappoint Their Fans Again?

The Philadelphia Eagles have the best record in the NFL at 7-1. The Las Vegas sports books give them the best odds to make it to the Super Bowl out of any team in their conference. Carson Wentz is the odds-on favorite to win the league MVP. Doug Pederson is a shoo-in for coach of the year. And the defensive line is the most dominant in the game.

So why am I worried? Because I am a long time Eagles fan and I experienced this elation before, only to have my heart ripped from my chest.

In 1980, much like this year, the Philadelphia Eagles won 11 of their first 12 games. They ended the season at 12-4 and were the favorites to win Super Bowl XV against the Oakland Raiders in New Orleans on January 25, 1981.

I had just turned 23 and was working at a Philadelphia radio station that sponsored a Super Bowl party at a local nightclub. I went there to watch the game with a packed house of elated Eagles fans, chanting, cheering, and celebrating for hours leading up to the game

The elation ended quickly after the game started. Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski threw an interception that led to a Raider’s touchdown six minutes into the game. Jaworski would throw three interceptions in a 27-10 loss.

I left the nightclub crying. I wasn’t the only one.

Super Bowl XV: Raiders vs. Eagles | NFL
Super Bowl XV: Raiders vs. Eagles | NFL
Super Bowl XV, played just days after the conclusion of the Iran Hostage Crisis, was hardly a match as the Raiders jumped out to a quick lead and never let g…
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The Eagles returned to greatness with Randall Cunningham, a quarterback who revolutionized the position, Buddy Ryan, the gruff head coach who was a defensive genius, and one of the best defenses in history led by Hall-of-Famer Reggie White.

In 1988 the Eagles won their division with a 10-6 record. They travelled to Chicago’s Soldier Field for their first playoff game since 1981. I was working in Chicago and found a local bar packed with Eagles fans to watch the game.

In the first half, the Eagles were dominating the game, but losing 17-9 after having two touchdowns called back because of penalties and missing a field goal. But something almost supernatural happened at the end of the half, a thick fog rolled in off Lake Michigan. I was about twenty blocks north of Soldier Field and a few blocks west of the lake. I walked outside and there was no fog.

The football gods wanted the Bears that day. They sent a brume from the lake that covered just 15 blocks. It was as if they used White Out to erase any possible Eagles comeback. The teams couldn’t see the end zone from 30 yards away. The game ended with the Bears winning 20-12.

The Eagles didn’t make it to anywhere close to the Super Bowl again until head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb came to town.

In 2003 I was back home in Philadelphia as the main news anchor at the CBS station. The Eagles were the early favorite to win the Super Bowl after finishing the regular season with a 12-4 record, making the playoffs for the third straight year.

The Eagles were heavily favored to win the NFC Championship game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The TV station was so confident of victory; it sent me to San Diego, the home of Super Bowl XXXVII, to do a live report immediately after the certain win.

Again, I watched from a sports bar packed with Eagles fans. Again, the Eagles would lose 27-10. Since they had already spent the money, my TV bosses still wanted me to go live after the game. I refused. I know how Eagles fans are. They would have blamed us, and specifically me, for jinxing the game.

The very next year, the station would make the same mistake. It sent me to Houston, the site of Super Bowl XXXVIII. Again I watched the game at an Eagles bar in Houston. Again I refused to go live after the game when the heavily favored Eagles lost to the Carolina Panthers 14-3. Maybe I was really a jinx.

In 2005, the Eagles would finally make it back to the ultimate game. Super Bowl XXXIV was played in Jacksonville. This time the station didn’t send me to the site of the Super Bowl during the NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons. Instead, I was at Lincoln Financial Field when the Eagles beat the Falcons by the recurring score of 27-10.

The whole anchor team travelled to Jacksonville for the week preceding the game against the New England Patriots. This time it seemed like the Eagles could finally win a Super Bowl. They didn’t. Losing 24-21.

I was 48 years old and I felt like crying again. And again, I wasn’t alone.

Super Bowl XXXIX Recap: Patriots vs. Eagles | NFL
Super Bowl XXXIX Recap: Patriots vs. Eagles | NFL
The Eagles finally got over the NFC Championship Game hump, with the help of wide receiver Terrell Owens, who notably played the game on a broken leg. The Pa…
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If 1988 was lost in the fog, 2005 may have been lost in the vomit; at least that’s how the urban legend goes. Quarterback Donovan McNabb allegedly vomited in the huddle during a failed fourth quarter drive, although there is no evidence that actually happened.

McNabb was never forgiven in Philadelphia for something that probably never happened in a Super Bowl loss where he was near heroic. And yet Ron Jaworski, who was horrible in the Eagles first Super Bowl loss, is a local hero. The Philadelphia fans adore Dick Vermeil, who was out-coached in their first Super Bowl, and are ambivalent towards Andy Reid who won 140 games, including 10 playoff games, during his 9 years in Philadelphia.

It makes no sense, but neither does the Eagles Super Bowl drought. It seems like a 52-year-long joke played out with a long line of false prophets and false hope.

So excuse me if I don’t go out and buy my tickets to Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis. I’ve seen this practical joke before, featuring a league leading quarterback, a stout defensive line and a hot young coach, which all lead to disappointment.

I want to believe. I truly do. I just don’t want to cry again. It’s getting embarrassing.

Image by Evan Habeeb/Getty Images

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