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In Memoriam, 2018 Philadelphia Eagles

I’m not crying, you’re crying.

NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Similar to losing a loved one, watching your favorite team get eliminated from playoff contention can be a hard pill to swallow. Whether it is a fate you saw coming, or a complete and utter surprise, the five stages of grief await you as you begin to accept your new norm.

First comes denial. “It was just a dream” you try to tell yourself as you begin your weekly routine Monday morning, perhaps a few minutes later than you should have. “If I ignore what happened, nothing will be different” you insist as you check in on the Phillies and their pursuit of a young superstar (Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado). “My weekend was just fine” you tell your coworker, Kevin, as you head to the office kitchen to get your first cup of Joe, “How was yours?” To the uninformed spectator, all is fine and dandy until you get to the coffee maker.

“GODDAMMIT!” you proclaim as you lift up the empty pot of coffee, crackling away on the heating pad. “HOW COULD THIS HAVE HAPPENED, AGAIN?” you ask, as you feel your blood pressure rising; as your face begins to redden. Just like that, an inconsiderate coworker, too lazy to make a new pot of coffee, has flipped a switch inside of you. Before you know it, you’re furious. “Why would he let a pot of coffee make him this angry?”, Kevin thinks to himself, as you angrily type the password to log onto your desktop. What is just another Monday to your coworker, however, is a day of mourning to you. Your anger, while seemingly triggered by the empty pot, has nothing to do with coffee. You are realizing that that something you care for is gone. Not even 24 hours have passed, but it already feels like an eternity.

In a poor attempt to justify the loss, you begin to reach out to loved ones, apologizing for times you’ve mistreated them; asking for forgiveness and wondering what you could have done differently. As you bargain with what could have been, you begin to smell the fresh pot of coffee that has finally refilled. While you fill your cup, you remember that Sunday, a few months ago, when you went to the Pumpkin Patch with your son, and blew off your recently taken loved one. In hindsight, had you planned better, you could have made time for both activities. It would have been one more day that you could have been there for each other. Instead, its just one more day you will try to forget.

As you continue to look back over the past 18 weeks, more and more of these instances seem to pop up. There was that Sunday night in December when you chose to play Red Dead Redemption 2 all night. That Sunday morning in October when you chose to sleep in. As the wasted opportunities begin to wear on you, you realize you don’t even want any coffee. You are all of a sudden in a state of depression. As the coffee gets cold, your mind begins to wonder why you ever thought you deserved a better outcome. In order to console yourself, you open up your favorite relaxing agent, Twitter.

As you begin to scroll through tweet after tweet, you notice pesky Cowboys fans are still trying to bring you down. You have friends in Chicago, who after a week of silence, have reinserted themselves into your timeline with a strange sense of accomplishment. You see one national writer claim that Sean McVay is a better coach than Doug Pederson and you decide you’ve had enough. As you set down your coffee, which is room temperature at this point, and take a step outside, you take a deep breath and tell yourself, “Its going to be okay.” Like a freight train colliding with an immobilized vehicle, you get hit with an overwhelming force of acceptance. You begin to think how you felt about your loved one, the Eagles, after they lost to Dallas in November. How completely uninspired you were the following week after they got decimated by the Saints. You remember ignoring all signs of hope after they beat the Rams, coached by Sean McVay, for the second year in a row, on the road, against all odds, and without their star quarterback. Even after watching them win their final 3 games, you remember thinking to yourself that the Vikings deserve this more than the Eagles do. That there was no way the Football Gods were going to allow this Eagles team into the playoffs again, after this embarrassment of a season. Against all odds, however, they made the playoffs again.

Your cheering quickly turned to fear, however, as you become aware that the same Chicago Bears team you were rooting for to beat Minnesota is the next obstacle in your path. After a few days of denial, you convince yourself that the Bears are beatable. You convince yourself that Nick Foles is the next Joe Montana and that he has what it takes to lead this team on another improbable championship run. Just like that, your team advances to the divisional round. As you watch the Cowboys get knocked off in a rather uninspiring fashion, you become more certain of what is about to happen: The Eagles are going to beat the Saints, the Rams, and then the Chiefs in what will amount to the most legendary tale in Philadelphia history.

As it goes, not every story has a fairy tale ending. Some stories have truly gruesome outcomes, just as some lives are taken far to early. When looking back on this Eagles team, many words come to mind. Resilience, Fight, Love, Trust, and Support all come to mind. Just as with losing a grandparent or a respected elder, I cannot look back at this team with sadness. I cannot look back and question what else could have been done. I cannot move forward with sorrow and grief. I will remember this team as a depleted underdog that stood tall when they were against all odds. I will think of the remaining players as soldiers who stood tall and proud for Philadelphia as arrows rained down from above until all hope was lost.

Today shouldn't be a sad day, Philadelphia, but instead a day of great pride and happiness. The Eagles, about a year removed from their greatest victory, still have what it takes to be great. As the offseason begins, we will be forced to part with some of our favorite players. We will be introduced to new ones. But one thing is for certain, we know the 2019 Eagles will be a force to be reckoned with.

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