The Miami Dolphins will wear a 50th-year commemorative patch on their jerseys this season.
The Eagles won’t.
That’s because 50 years ago, the undefeated Dolphins, arguably the greatest team in NFL history, went on to a 17-0 season and won Super Bowl VII in 1972. The Eagles’ 1972 team was arguably the worst in franchise history, finishing 2-11-1, with the largest point-differential in the 89-year history of the team, losing by an average of 14.8 points a game.
Imagine sitting through that?
It may make you reconsider each time you’re frothing at the mouth, looking to bite someone’s head off after an Eagles’ loss, or witnessing an errant Jalen Hurts pass, or DeVonta Smith drop, or Jason Kelce holding call, that it could always be worse.
Because for many older Eagles fans, it was.
For 16-straight years, from 1962 to 1978, the Eagles did not have a winning season. In eight of those 16 years, the Eagles failed to win more than four games.
This season, the Eagles could, and probably should, finish the month of September 3-0. This is a season that the Eagles should win more than 10 games and make the playoffs. In 1972, Eagles fans were looking at a team to do bigger things after coming off a 1971 year in which they finished 6-7-1—and then went splat, getting outscored by a franchise-record 207 points (yep, look it up, sitting right there at the bottom, 1972 Eagles minus-207 points).
What sometimes seems to be taken for granted by a few generations of Eagles fans is just how good this team has been under owner Jeff Lurie.
In the 28 years Lurie has owned the Eagles, since he bought the franchise from frugal Norman Braman in April 1994, the team has failed to win four games or less a mere three times. The Eagles finished their 17th winning season in 2021 under Lurie’s stewardship, which included two .500 seasons, and nine losing seasons. The Eagles are one of seven NFL franchises (Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams, and New Orleans Saints are the others) to have made the playoffs four of the last five years—and this season will make five of the last six.
Above all, under Lurie, the Eagles won the first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Like him or hate him, general manager Howie Roseman has kept the Eagles competitive under four different head coaches. That’s because Lurie stuck by him during turbulent times and it’s why Roseman will continue being the general manager (when or if he’s ever let go during Lurie’s tenure, Roseman won’t have any trouble being immediately snagged by another team).
Since 1972, the Dolphins and Eagles have each won a Super Bowl. Miami has since lost two Super Bowls in that time, and so, too, have the Eagles. But Miami has made the playoffs twice since 2001, after five-straight postseason appearances under Jimmy Johnson and Dave Wannstedt. In that same span, under Lurie, the Eagles made the playoffs 12 times, appeared in three NFC championships, won one NFC title and one Super Bowl.
It’s light years away from losing 62-10 to the New York Giants and Norm Snead, as the infamous ’72 Eagles did, or seeing John Reaves, Pete Liske and Rick Arrington scramble for their lives playing quarterback, or watching the fumbling, hapless Ed Khayat try to coach, or a team that produced an NFL-low 145 points over 14 games, while giving up 352.
This season potentially marks another good run in Eagles’ history. The Dolphins, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2016, get to celebrate their rich history this season with a 50-year anniversary patch. Eagles fans can laughably reminisce where their team was 50 years ago in their white helmets and green wings running into each other.
A lot has changed in 50 years—starting in April 1994.
Beginning next week, we can return to our regularly scheduled programming of training camp.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written feature stories for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, which appeared on SportsCenter. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.