Bill Conlin | There's gold in them thar end zones

Posted: September 24, 2007

THERE IS a bull market in gold. The dollar is dropping faster than Jon Kitna's pocket protection. The fiat money that is backed by little more than the "full faith and confidence" of the U.S. government is getting sacked by the mighty Euro and has even been intercepted by the once-humble Canadian "loonie."

What a time to own gold. What a time to own the NFL's "Gold standard franchise," in the opinion of owner Jeffrey Lurie, pro football's Ben Bernanke.

The Eagles fell on the Detroit Lions like an armored car filled with gold bars yesterday, officially ending the municipal suicide watch with a prolific, 56-21 flogging that toppled offensive records that began 75 years ago. That was when Bert Bell and Lud Wray risked commitment to an institution by buying the franchise for $25,000 after failing with the Frankford Yellowjackets. Maybe the hideous melted-butter yellow and cathouse ceiling blue of the retro uniforms the Eagles wore to the Motown Massacre were selected by Bert to raise the spirits of a destitute city buffeted by a national unemployment rate that had reached 22 percent by the time the Eagles teed it up the first time on Oct. 15 - just in time for a 56-0 loss to the mighty Giants.

With the first inaugural words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt still echoing through the nation's Hoovervilles and tent cities - "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" - Bell gave his new toy a patriotic touch by naming the Birds for the symbol of FDR's "New Deal" plan to resurrect the stricken economy with a National Recovery Administration that would jump-start it.

With the spot price of gold at $731.50 an ounce Friday, Goldflinger - Donovan McNabb - shed the perceived tarnish of last week's HBO airing of his racial angst and ensuing fallout with a 22-karat performance. And it would probably rate career-game status had the Detroit secondary and general defense looked less like 11 guys rounded up in a 1933 soup kitchen.

"I said, 'Brian Westbrook, you've got to do a better job than you did last week' and Don [McNabb] did the same thing," said the 5-10 stick of dynamite that went off at the receiving end of the quarterback's best work. On a day Westbrook ran for 110 yards, caught for 111 and scored three touchdowns, McNabb was 21-for-26 for 381 yards, four scores and a platinum rating of 158.3.

The Eagles' destruction of the 2-0 but defensively challenged Lions bought them a plenary indulgence good only until their next pratfall, which could come as early as next Sunday night in the dreaded Meadowlands against a Giants team they need to beat to keep from going 0-2 in the division and 1-3 in the NFC.

A man with an unquenchable thirst for minutia wondered what the real value of Lurie's Golden Eagles - recently one of four NFL franchises valued at more than $1 billion - would be if the gold standard were actually applied and the weight of the 53-man roster were converted to the value of the precious metal at its current price of $731.50 an ounce.

Nowhere near a billion bucks and change, let me tell you that up front. Lurie should have applied the Oil Standard.

The average Eagle weighs 252 pounds, which is 4,032 ounces or a very nice $2,949,408 in gold. McNabb, a substantial 240-pounder, would bring $2,808,960 were he converted to gold bars. The most valuable Eagles player, however, (Andy Reid might be the team's mother load) is guard Max Jean-Gilles, who packs 5,728 ounces (358 pounds) on his 6-3 frame. That's a big stack of gold bars worth $4,190,032.

The 53-man roster weighs 13,338 pounds (213,408 ounces) for a Lurie gold-standard total of - "Goldfinger" theme, please - of $156,107,952.

OK, the precious metal might be a swell image for an owner tossing out a sound bite to a quote-starved media, but it's as plain as the chalk marks on Jon Kitna's jersey that TV swag, low-interest NFL loans and the most popular brand this side of Coca Cola is even sweller.

I wonder what standard Jeffrey Lurie would have hitched his wagon to had he partnered up in 1933 and bought the franchise for the $25,000 Bell and Wray were able to scrape together in a year when the presidents of failed banks sold apples on street corners. The national anthem that year had become, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" And everybody was humming it.

It sure wouldn't have been the gold standard. One of the radical steps FDR took in the fall of 1933 was to order the confiscation of all publicly owned gold bullion and coins. When the president issued that decree, gold was selling for - brace yourself, Jeff - $35 an ounce. In Germany, people were dumping shopping carts filled with $1 million Marks notes into the streets and selling the carts because the money was worthless.

Seventy-five years later, the value of the Eagles has outstripped Bert and Lud's 25 grand by only about 40,000 percent - unadjusted for inflation, of course . . .

Brother, Can You Spare a Billion?

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