About 5 years ago I moved to a part of New Jersey that lies just outside of the coverage area for 610 WIP, Philly's sports radio station. While I've certainly leveled some criticism at the station and some of its personalities at times, that doesn't mean I'm not a big fan. Growing up in the Philly metro area WIP was by far my most listened to station until the day I moved. If I still lived in the area, smart money says my radio would be usually tuned to 610.
Why? Well first and foremost I'm a sports fan with a nearly insatiable appetite for more talk, more news, more coverage, more rumors, more... everything to do with sports. Specifically my hometown sports. Plus, it's a great way to take the pulse of the fanbase. It may be the most vocal and reactionary part of the fanbase, but it's still interesting to hear. So whenever I'm back in the area I always make it a point to tune in.
It just so happened that I was in the city 2 weekends ago to catch the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the art museum . A crazy Eagles fan and a lover of fine art you say? Oh yes, it's possible... I stayed over in the city and of course took the opportunity to drink in some weekend sports talk on WIP. What was the subject I heard discussed for at least the hour I listened in?
Yes, TO left the city going on three years ago and yet somehow he still remains at the center of all too many Eagles' fans discussions. They don't talk about how the Eagles can gameplan against Owens the Cowboy... no, it's all still about Owens the Eagle. Not just the callers, but the hosts Hugh Douglas and Rob Charry explored everything from whether Donovan McNabb's personality was/is "too sensitive" to deal with TO, whether McNabb wasn't "a good enough leader" to sit TO and set him straight, to whether Hugh Douglas himself ever did anything to pacify TO, whether the team would have been better off getting rid of McNabb and not TO(as if that were the choice), and of course "why didn't the Eagles just give him more money?"
Three YEARS later this discussion dominated the airwaves of Philadelphia's sports station. Bear in mind that I only listened for an hour, the discussion was already going on and showed no signs of stopping when I flipped it off... Maybe regular WIP listeners can tell me, did I simply stumble upon on a freak occurrence or is this more or less the norm? Judging by what I've read on some message boards and conversations I've had... I suspect it's more regular than I'd hope. But why? Why are fans still obsessed with this one player who spent one and a half seasons here and absolutely dissed them? Never was there a player who came into with such fanfare and got such immediate love and acceptance from this fanbase... and squandered so quickly and willingly. The fanbase is quite literally a jilted lover that still hasn't gotten over the one who didn't love them back. Either that or in a town obsessed with the WR position, TO was the one fix of "the good stuff" that Eagles fans haven't gotten since... and they're jonesing for another fix real bad.
Whatever the reason, it's time to let it go. You wanna know what word I'd use to describe how I felt listening to this discussion? Kind of embarrassed. We're Eagles fans. We're supposed to be the biggest, baddest, toughest guys on the block! Has the elimination of the 700 level really caused us to get so soft that we're still obsessed with a player 3 years after his departure? There's no doubt in my mind that some of the same people who booed the guy in his return and chanted "OD" were the same people calling up that weekend wishing they could have him back. We can't have it both ways. I don't remember this kind of obsession over Reggie White after he left, and he's a flat out better player than Owens ever was. Reggie left on very bad terms with the organization and took shots at the ownership when he left. He had far too much class to blame teammates, but it wasn't an amicable divorce. White went on to win that superbowl we all covet so much, while Owens has been unable to even win a playoff game in Dallas :)
We all remember how great 2004 was. We all know how close we were to winning it all... but it's 2008 now. Only a handful of players from that superbowl team of 2004 are still here. It's over. It's history. Time to move on. I say this a guy with not one but two #81 jerseys hanging useless in his closet. We all loved the guy in that one great, but all too brief season... But now, it's time to move on.