I woke up this morning to see the following Tweet from Adam Schefter:
The Eagles are the talk of not just the NFL, but of all of sports. The NFL Network asked its Facebook fans yesterday if the team was a lock in appeasing in the 2012 Super Bowl. Philadelphia is being called the Dream Team, the Miami Heat of football.
As we saw how things ended for the Miami Heat this year, it all makes me incredibly nervous.
Don’t get me wrong. I am shocked, wowed, and thrilled by the aggressive moves by the Birds’ front office. The fact that the number 1 free agent in the league saw the potential and talent of the team and wanted to come here is incredible. And as Nnamdi goes, so will the remaining free agents–at least it seems that way.
A visit to Southern California this summer showed my exactly how negative we East-Coasters–and specifically we Philadelphians–tend to be. You don’t realize it until you’re out of your own environment. Meeting up with two friends who now, Philadelphia natives both who now call SoCal home, we realized that negativity is how we Philadelphians bond with one another.
In my inaugural podcast, I noted what seems to be a changing physchology in the Eagles front office as well in the Philadelphia sports fan.The massive chip on our shoulder is going away. Our sports teams have improved , we finally have a world championship team in the Phillies, and we have wrestled two prime athletes out of the hands of New York teams in the past year (Cliff Lee for the Phillies, taken away from the Yankees, and now Nnamdi Asomugha to the Eagles, stolen out from under the Jets). We see and finally believe that we’re not perennial losers. We’re not being overshadowed by New York–we’re overshadowing them.
All of this is why I am loving the fact that Eagles fans are excited and actually believe that their team can take it all. If you’ve ever been to a sports bar in Philadelphia or listened to our sports radio, you realize what a miracle that is. I have to look hard to find anything negative being said about the Philadelphia Eagles from their fanbase right now.
But it still worries me.
There is no question that the Eagles have made the boldest moves in the league in free agency. Philadelphia has been stacked with the best talent available.They are serious about changing what didn’t work to take the incredible potential of this team to a Super Bowl. And it can be done.
But there are still substantial obstacles to overcome. There is talk that this will be the next major move by the team, but who will be playing middle linebacker? What’s going to happen to our Pro Bowl receiver, DeSean Jackson?
And while I am heartened to see his energy, enthusiasm and how players have responded to him, I get a pit in my stomach every time I think about Juan Castillo in the defensive coordinator role. There has got to be a reason why no other team has taken a man who has only coached the offense at the professional level and switched him to the defense. And not just any position on the defense coaching staff–the coordinator position.
The move was risky. It is untested. I have read others speculate that Andy Reid will surround Castillo with the talent he needs so that he will not fail. Castillo’s success, after all, will be a praise of or indictment of Andy Reid. If the move doesn’t work, it will likely mark the end of Andy Reid’s tenure in Philadelphia.
While I realize the proclamations of a certain Super Bowl berth and comparisons to the Miami Heat make for good headlines and polarizing discussions–and controversy drives hits/ratings, whether on the television, radio or web–I’ll enjoy when the talk cools down.
My philosophy to sports fandom mirrors my approach to life: Cautious optimism. Getting wrapped up in the euphoria of major moves or great plays are part of the fun of being a football fan. But I also do not enjoy being absolutely crushed (though it seems to happen quite often).
The media loves to set people, and teams, up to fail. Prepare yourselves for the Eagles to be called chokers or once when they make a misstep or lose their first game this season.
It won’t be because this team isn’t or can’t be a dream. But let’s take some time to let the dream build.
Want more Philly Sports Muse? You can find me on Twitter at @sports_muse and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/phillysportmuse.