To paraphrase the immortal Rodney Dangerfield, I'll tell ya, we don't get no respect...at least not from ESPN's Bill Simmons or the NFL Network's Deion Sanders. The Eagles are headed to the second round of the playoffs after an improbable yet thrilling and uplifting entry after their demolition of the Cowgirls and a difficult yet well-executed road win over the Vikings in round 1. And still, some so-called "experts" among professional football commentators aren't giving this team their due and proper.
First, the cold, hard facts: Was the team inconsistent on offense this year? Yes, absolutely. Do they have problems converting on third and short? Sure. Did Andy's adherance to the pass cost the team a few games? Yup. But here's what the "experts" should remember when writing the Birds off as undeserving of their spot or "crappy," as Bill Simmons of ESPN would have us believe: though this team has compiled some frustrating, stroke-inducing debacles this season, it is also a team that beat the Steelers in week 3, the Falcons in week 8, the Cardinals in week 14 (when everyone had all but nailed their coffin shut), the Giants the following week, and finally the Cowgirls in the final game of the regular season. Add all that to eliminating the NFC North champs in the first round of the playoffs, and you've got a team that can beat ANYONE.
I am not without apprehensions; it would be foolish to be otherwise. But I will not subscribe to the kind of drivel that is emanating from the vipers' nest of commentators. The aforementioned Bill Simmons (who I believe was the subject of a post written earlier by one of our colleagues here at BGN) thinks the Eagles are pretenders; he picked the Vikings to beat them, saying that we were only in the playoffs by virtue of "two even crappier teams losing." Uh, okay, Bill. You forget we still had to beat our most hated rival at home to get in. And thrashing them the way we did doesn't matter? That kind of poise and resolve is negligible? Fine. Oh, by the way, if you want to know how well Simmons knows his teams, here's the measure of his "expertise," as denoted by his preseason picks:
Dallas Cowboys, 12-4, NFC East Champs, NFC Champs
Green Bay Packers, 11-5, NFC North Champs
New Orleans Saints, 10-6, NFC South Champs
Seattle Seahawks, 9-7, NFC West Champs
What do these teams have in common? Two things: 1) NONE of them made the playoffs, and 2) NONE of them even came close to compiling these records. The only accurate pick from Simmons's playoff predictions? The Philadelphia Eagles, in one of the two wild-card spots. Funny that he chooses to trash the only team that gives his preseason candor any credibility. Oh, another thing: he wrote the Giants off as 7-9 also-rans. A noble sentiment, but it couldn't be farther from the truth.
Also, we fans are getting trashed again, this time by our old buddy Deion Sanders. There was an article written in the Inquirer yesterday that printed his attack on Eagles fans that was meant to be advice for Donovan McNabb. He urged McNabb to turn his back on the fans who supposedly turned his back on him first. Look, not ALL of us booed him when he was drafted. Those of us that didn't are tired of explaining this. That was the handiwork of some drunken idiots present at the 1999 draft, and the cameras caught them in all their splendor. Prime-Time, I think he's gotten over it by now. He's the quarterback of the hottest team in the playoffs, the fan base is totally behind him, he's a new father, and a multimillionaire ten times over. He's doing just fine. If Pacman Jones's behavior is any indication of your ability as a mentor, you'd best leave Donovan alone and find some dumb, impressionable, insecure rookie to manipulate. After all, folks, we must bear in mind that while McNabb is currently soaring, Neon Deion is currently groping blindly for some relevance and attention while he wanders aimlessly through the wilderness of post-career commentating on the NFL Network, the league's biggest middle finger to the fans.
Of course, there are those outside the Philly fan circle who believe that this team can go places. I'm just pointing out that those who doubt us do so for the wrong reasons. I won't make any predictions for this weekend, but I'd be delighted to hear what Simmons and Sanders have to say about it. This is the matchup of the "crappy" team and the "also-rans," right, Bill? Should be exciting.