<em>“Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”</em>
—John F. Kennedy
There is a scene from the film “Patton” that is appropriate for the week I am living. In the film, a Nazi officer is assigned to make a psychological profile of American General George Patton. The officer sees Patton as a classic warrior from another era in time.
As the war is winding down, and the Nazis are hours from defeat, the officer is staring at a photo of Patton. “The absence of war will destroy him,” the officer mumbles to himself. That’s me right now.
In the past two weeks I have scribed two columns on the subject of the Super Bowl. Neither was meant to be taken seriously. The strange elixir of nervousness regarding the Eagles playing in the Super Bowl and the ceaseless pain from a foot injury I suffered a few weeks back made constructing a trolling column a necessary therapy.
Finishing my “Super Bowl Trilogy” this week, I would like to share a peculiar side effect of seeing my beloved Philadelphia Eagles do something they never did in my lifetime…namely, winning a Super Bowl.
Monday morning, I sat in my living room trying to comprehend this awkward feeling that was overcoming me. I was happy, but empty. It felt like something was missing. I patted the pockets on my pants. Phone? Check. Wallet? Check.
And then I figured it out. For 40 years I have channeled my anger, cynicism, bitterness and omnipresent hostility towards Earth and Earthlings through the avatar known as the Philadelphia Eagles. And on Monday morning, for the first time in my life, there was no vessel to carry my enmity.
There are no more sports wars for me to wage. No acrimonious burdens to yoke on to my weary shoulders. No envy for other fans to quietly coarse through my veins. This strange tingling sensation has a name. It is not a ten cent word. We all know this word, but for the first time ever, I got to truly understand its’ meaning.
The Eagles are the champs! And I just do not know how to handle it. There should be some process to help acclimate Philadelphians to letting go of their pain, because I am fairly sure I am not the only one dealing with this.
That might be a billion dollar idea. Maybe I will start a business that helps certain regional sports fans acclimate to winning. Group therapy, orientations, creating a social networking strategum. It would be a three month program that helps paranoid, losing fans transform themselves into exuding a winning personality.
But there is the problem in a nutshell. How do you take a fanbase that has spent over half of a century with an inferiority complex big enough to block out the Sun and teach them to think like winners?
When the National Football League and the American Football League merged in 1970, the National Football Conference Eastern Division was formed. The Eagles have shared that division with the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins since the beginning. For 47 seasons, the other three teams won many Super Bowls. The Cowboys won five, the Giants four and the Redskins three.
Do the math. That is over a quarter of the Super Bowls played in that time period. The Eagles? Zip. So, yeah, every year we had to put up with the ceaseless trash talking of the other three fan bases as we stood there angry, bitter, hopeless and envious.
If I am to be fair, we suffered much more abuse from the fans of the Cowboys and Giants then we did the Redskins. Redskins fans are a strange lot. They exist, but they don’t say much.
Many years ago I worked at a hotel with a Redskins fan. I was the overnight doorman and he was the bartender. He was from Takoma Park, Maryland—which is right outside of D.C.—and he wore his Redskins gear whenever we went out for a drink.
The day after the Redskins won a big game, I was walking into the hotel as he was walking out. “Big win for your ‘Skins last night!” I exclaimed. “Yeah. Big win,” he said in a monotone voice and with a grimace on his face before moving on.
That’s Redskins fans.
The Eagles are no longer the Fredo Corleone of the NFC East. The days of being the red-headed stepchild are over, irrevocably and forever. We won! I just have to deal with the large part of my identity that is permanently altered.
Can I adjust to this happiness? Will my team finally winning a Super Bowl corrupt me? Will my (undeserved) reputation for being a pompous jerk be magnified to an nth degree?
Maybe, but doubtful.
When the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series in 2008, I think I was mostly tolerable. I will let those Cache Valley peeps that were a part of my inner circle back then comment on whether I had a swagger to me. If my memory is true, the only arrogance I had shown was towards the large amount of Utah front runners that popped up wearing Phillies gear after they won.
On that issue, I will readily be smug and confrontational. Few in Utah rooted for the Eagles before this week. Now that they are the champs, I will become salty seeing the proliferation of midnight green attire on the streets of Logan.
If you did not love my team before this past month, abstain from your insincere gestures of affection now. Eagles fans do not need nor want your delinquent devotion. Go buy a Steph Curry shirt.
Super Bowl Champs! I never thought this day would come. I believed that I would live to be 99 years old and never see what I saw on Sunday. And now that it has come to pass, all that is left is this strange new world where my sports teams, occasionally, win championships.