The Fight for the Soul of the Philadelphia Eagles


The Philadelphia Eagles. One of the oldest teams in the NFL and one of its proudest. No, we haven’t won The Big One since 1960. But a football team isn’t just about winning championships. I don’t know if anyone cared to notice, but we have loved our Birds, anyway. Year in, year out. It's just that Andy Reid et al has been making it increasingly hard for us.

I am gutted. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Why, Eagles? Why? Why do you make it impossible for even your most ardent, diehard supporters to love you? I don’t want to look for another team to support. I’ve loved you my whole life. I never demanded, like some bleating cartoon wife demanding that her husband bring home a mink stole, that you win a championship. I was going to love you anyway. Win or lose. I can’t help it. You’re in my heart, you’re in my soul. You’ll be my breath should I grow old.

But you have changed. 

Did we not learn our lesson with T.O.?? Some surly Eagles fans like to point out that T.O. “got us” to the big game but I REPEAT: T.O. has not won a playoff game (including the Superbowl) since he was with the Niners. And, I don’t know, it’s just a hunch, but something tells me he isn’t going to take the Bills to the Promised Land. He is The Kiss of Death. (As if being a king sized d-bag were not enough.)

I’m not a religious man but I am pretty certain there is a force out there greater than us. Call it karma, call it God, call it what you want. When we invited T.O. to play for us, we turned our back on that force and we paid a steep price for it. Somehow, some way, we survived it. And now what do we do??? We delve even deeper into the darkness.

Clearly, we are seeking out the bad seeds, and we are hell bent on planting them in the Linc’s turf. It's as if we don't understand that our ultimate self-destruction will sprout from those bad seeds.

To me and to many others, Michael Vick’s soullessness is plain to see in his dead eyes. But anyone who has ever loved a dog, anyone who has ever even thought in passing that a dog (or a cat or a horse or a bird or even a child) was cute must understand that Michael Vick is evil.

If you can stand by and do nothing while dogs are raped, tortured and killed, your soul (if you have one) is already disintegrating. But Michael Vick didn’t just watch, folks. He not only laughed and ate and drank while hanging out at dog-fights – HE ORCHESTRATED AN ENTIRE NETWORK. He was the owner and C.O.O. of a dog-torture factory. These are the same operations that train the dogs who kill toddlers living next door, the same operations that troll through towns stealing family pets from back yards – stealing your Sparky, your Indy, your best friend – to be ripped apart by fight dogs as part of the “training process.”

This makes Michael Vick a sociopath, a serial killer. He just perpetrates his darkness on dogs, not people (that we know of). Which is why all this talk of forgiveness is 100% irrelevant. Our forgiveness cannot change the content of a man’s character.

Do I think dogs are “more important” than people? No, I don’t. If Michael Vick had people and not dogs buried in his yard, the world would be a much, much more sorrowful place than it is now (and Vick would be long gone). I am saying that Vick’s behavior pre-arrest is demonstrative of evil that is by definition beyond rehabilitation. Either you are instinctively horrified by senseless brutality or you are not. Vick was not horrified by it. Vick LOVED it. Vick LIVED for it.

And now he’s an Eagle.

I forgave you once before, Lurie and Reid. We all did, pretty much. But now you’re done. You deserve to lose, and you will. I wish I could fast-forward to the end of the Reid era. More now than ever before.

People who have always hated the Eagles (and there are many) will continue to. They are in fact loving this latest blunder! They love how it proves their once-irrational hatred to have been well-founded. But that’s not what’s sad. What’s sad is that people who felt nothing for the Eagles – people who don’t even care about football -- will now hate us. Man, that’s a lot of ill-will floating around in the gray skies above The City of Brotherly Love. Too much to surmount.

And then there’s us -- your loyal fans. (God, it’s hard now even to say “we” and “us”. You’re my favorite team but I feel like I don’t know who you are anymore.) Some of us will try. We will root for the other 50 or so guys on the team. We will wear throwback jerseys and keep the greats – from Van Buren to Carmichael --  in our hearts as we gaze upon what Reid hath wrought in 2009. But our hearts are broken. 

Still others among us will not be able to hang on because we know that any victory in which Michael Vick participates will be tainted. Go Vikes!!

But perhaps the sickest part of the Vick signing, in terms of how it will impact fans, is the new fans the Birds will gain -- those hateful losers who love and support Vick and people like Vick. Those sad idiots who glorify “thug life.” Their weight will only drag The Philadelphia Eagles down deeper and faster into oblivion.

Poor Concrete Charlie. That he had to live to see this.

I know Andy Reid will never read this. He may see a rant or two like it, but he will pay it no mind. At most, he will offer up a dismissive chuckle. We know Andy Reid doesn't care what we think. For many, this is part of his strength, part of his “charm”. Well, it would be a lot more charming if it weren’t for the fact that Reid doesn't even seem to care about his own children. He would rather spend his time strategizing with T.O. and Michael Vick than take a season off to try and make things right at home. A couple of seasons ago when the story about Reid’s sons broke and when Reid’s mentor Mike Holmgren spoke out – with restraint and grace – on the subject, something occurred to me, something I am certain of it now: Mike Holmgren is Obi Wan to Andy Reid’s Anakin Skywalker. So why are we even a little shocked that Andy Reid has chosen Michael Vick?

Behold: the desperate, depraved desire for a Superbowl ring masquerading as a magnanimous "willingness to forgive." Please. 

It would be nice if Vick would get torn apart in the parking lot of the Linc by the ghosts of the dogs he killed, preferably before Week 6 rolls around. But that may be too much to hope for. We might have to settle for a season-ending injury somewhere, mid-season. I just hope that the devastating blow will be dealt by a player whom we all love – a player of integrity and decency whom our kids can look up to. Not a quasi-Vick. But at this point, I don’t really care. I just want to feel good about my team again.

Why has Brian Dawkins suddenly popped into my mind? 

I know I sound angry. It's because I am. I am furious, I am sickened. I am lashing out. But for the record my hands are clasped in prayer that I will be proven wrong about all of this...not right. 



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