With 2:33 left in the first half Sunday night, the Eagles had 1st and G from the Dallas 6. They handed the ball off to LeSean McCoy, who gained 3 yards down to the Dallas 3 yard line. As the Eagles let the clock run down to the 2 minute warning, the entire stadium stood and cheered... loudly. A big play hadn't just occurred, but a big half of football had, with the Eagles up 21-0 and looking to add more. It was a cheer of appreciation, which in football is rare. You see it a lot in Phillies games, and really, baseball in general. Say, for example... Roy Halladay goes 8 innings, and the Phillies are up 9-0. Charlie Manuel decides to let Halladay go for the complete game shutout in a lopsided game, but he gives up a couple doubles, so Manuel calls for Stutes get the 3 last outs. As Halladay walks to the dugout, he gets the standing O. It was a lot like that. Just 100% appreciation of great football during a break in the action. It was pretty awesome, actually.
Meanwhile, when Dallas had the football, it was perhaps as loud a crowd I've heard at The Linc in the past two seasons. In my opinion, it was louder than the Eagles' playoff game last season against the Packers. It was loud from the Cowboys' opening possession, all the way through to the meaningless, but awesome goal line stand in the 4th quarter. It was especially loud for a team that was 2-4 and playing well below expectations.
That's why I found Jason Avant's comments after the game so disappointing.
"We look at home games like road games," Avant said Sunday night, after the Eagles won their second straight game, 34-7 over the Cowboys at the Linc. "We like to get booed by our fans."
"We realize it’s going to be just these guys in the locker room, that’s the way we take it," he said. "We don’t want people jumping on our bandwagon now. We want people to go out and still talk bad about us."
There may not be a better person on the Eagles than Jason Avant. He does all sorts of charity work, he works extremely hard, and is a player that everyone on the team respects. Furthermore, he's been here a long time. Only Jamaal Jackson, Trent Cole, Todd Herremans, and Mike Patterson have been with the Eagles longer. It's kind of why it's more of a bummer to hear those words come from Avant's mouth than if it were somebody else.
But he's wrong. Dead wrong.
Look, I'm all for the "Us against the world thing" 100%. If that's going to make the Eagles play with a chip on their metaphorical shoulders, then hey, awesome. Any mental edge, whether you believe in that stuff or not, is fine by me.
But Avant should know that when an NFL team plays some of the dumbest football imaginable for the first 5 games of the season, the fans aren't going to be happy. Frankly, if you weren't unhappy with how the team was playing, I'd call into question whether you were really a fan at all. That's how it is in every football city not named Happy Land, where there are gumdrop houses on Lollypop Lane. So at the first hint of success, you want to go out of your way to let the fans know that if they were unhappy with the Eagles' terrible performance in the early going, they need not enjoy in the potential success of the team going forward?
We're not going anywhere. Win or lose, we're Eagles fans. When you blow a 23-3 second half lead, you're probably going to hear some boos. When you play the way the Eagles did Sunday night, expect the kind of appreciation the fans gave. That's just how it is. True admiration should be earned, not expected.