Essay and drawing copyright 2002 by Barrie Maguire

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The Eagle has landed.


     I woke up in the middle of the night a couple nights ago.  Immediately, various nagging worries and unsolved problems began to open up dialogues in my brain.  But was I doomed to lie wide-awake in the dark, worrying, for the next three hours?  Absolutely not.  I had strong medicine on hand:  I had The Eagles Game to think about.  So I thought about Donovan McNabb, ripping free of those grasping Bear paws, drifting to his left -- buying time -- then abruptly muscling a rocket into the arms of Cecil Martin kneeling all alone in the end zone; I saw Jon Runyan flying through the air and Jeremia Trotter chopping wood and McNabb again, rising up to slam dunk over the cross bar.  The next thing I saw was the sun shining through my bedroom window.

      Ahh, the Iggles.   When they are bad, it feels very, very bad, but when they are good, they are Prozac.  Philadelphia has always belonged to the Eagles.  Me, I go back to 1948, when my dad took me to Shibe Park and my first Eagles game, nothing less than a championship victory over the Cardinals (Chicago) in a blinding blizzard ten times worse than the snow flurries at last week's patirots-Raiders game.

     Since those World Titles in ’48 and ‘49, we Eagles fans have had few bright moments on our Trail of Tears.  Sure, in 1960 we screamed ourselves hoarse while Concrete Charlie lay on top of a furiously wiggling Jim Taylor as the clock ran out and the Eagles became Champions of the World.   But just a year later we read in horror that our edgy young quarterback, Sonny Jurgenson, had been traded to the Redskins for solid-citizen Norm Snead and we knew, intuitively, that we were doomed.  Thus followed years of bland nice-guy-coaches (Kuharich, Williams, Campbell, Khayat, McCormick) and rosters that sent only one or two players to the Pro Bowl each year.  Dick Vermeil (and Wilbert Montgomery) briefly changed things, but after the Raiders pulled our pants down in the 1980 Super Bowl, even Vermeil’s success felt like a fluke; the Eagles sank below the surface again.  Until along came Buddy Ball. 

     God, Philly loved Buddy Ryan, even if the sportswriters didn’t.  We loved his attitude, his blitzes, his “go ahead and lateral it to somebody” approach to the game.  But Buddy couldn’t “network upward” very well and he was canned and we were handed Rich Kotite who everyone knew would be a loser.  We were right again.  After a few years Ray Rhodes made the Eagles semi-good again, but once Buddy’s players were all gone the Eagles were back at the bottom.

     Then, hallelujah!  Along came the Walrus and his Plan.  And here we are at the NFC championship game.  Philadelphia’s feeling pretty damn good today.  We know that whoever wins in St. Louis will be the Super Bowl favorite.  We love being twelve-point ‘dogs.  We know that our gritty, gut-check defense will give us a shot at beating the narcissistic Rams.  We know it’s going to be a hell of a game.  Everything’s in place.

     And you know what else we know?  Even if Marshall Faulk manages to beat us with a couple of spectacular runs, and we don’t make it this year, we know we’ll be back next year, stronger.   Because, honest to God, this Eagles team is poised to give us the best string of successful seasons we’ve had since… since ever.

     So win of lose, sleep well tonight.  The Eagle has landed on Billy Penn’s hat.  And this time he’s here to stay.



Read also "The Championship Game of '48"  and  "Al Wistert Calling"          Return to Essays page

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