A pass on humble pie

Eagles coach Andy Reid. Simply making the playoffs is less entertaining than it once was.
Eagles coach Andy Reid. Simply making the playoffs is less entertaining than it once was.
Posted: January 07, 2009

I'm not a picky eater. Never have been. I'll pretty much devour whatever ends up on my plate - within reason.

Certain things are off limits. I've never liked cauliflower. Once, while working at a restaurant, someone offered me a goat's eyeball. It's supposedly a delicacy. I passed. And, frankly, I never developed a taste for humble pie.

Yesterday, one of our Daily News cousins tried to serve me and a few others some crow. In his column, the venerable Bill Conlin wrote that it was time for all the Andy Reid bashers - and Conlin copped to being one of us - to admit we'd made a horrible mistake. (Bob Ford also may have exonerated Reid, but I wouldn't know. I stay away from Page 1. Thought and reason chill me.)

As someone who appreciates (but rarely crafts) quality prose, I've long been a fan of Conlin. And yet I suspect he's spent too much time baking in the strong Clearwater sun.

Apologize? Retract what we said about Reid? To paraphrase a certain former Eagle: To whom, and for what?

Before the Eagles stumbled to a tie against the wretched Bengals, I called for Reid to move on. Shortly thereafter, NBC10's Vai Sikahema echoed the sentiment, as did others in town. It wasn't a gimmick to fill column space or attract attention. And it didn't happen on a whim.

Reid has done some fine work in Philadelphia. But he's also proved to be inflexible and condescending at times. Just this week, in fact, he took a shot at Les Bowen for posing a perfectly reasonable question about offensive balance. "I can't believe you asked that," Reid said.

It's precisely that kind of supercilious reflex that prevents some natives from fully embracing the head coach and, by extension, the team. We root for the laundry, but not necessarily the people in it.

But even if he didn't have such clear contempt for the media and the fans, I'd still question whether Reid's welcome has expired. A nice regular season and a playoff berth are terrific. A postseason win is even better. Reid should be commended for both. Truly. But those pleasures stopped sating our appetite when the Phillies delivered a hearty championship to Broad Street in October.

At some point, simply making the playoffs became less entertaining than it once was. It's a show we've seen time and again, but it too often skips the happy ending we crave. At least so far.

I wonder: When did wanting something more - after 10 long years - become such an unpardonable sin? Shouldn't we all yearn for a title? Isn't that what the Eagles themselves hope to achieve?

But after the Bucs crumbled like a dried-out Butterscotch Krimpet, after the Birds sneaked into the playoffs by the grace of an obviously merciful God, everything that happened previously was washed clean. Reid was absolved. Now, he's being lauded as a scruffier version of Lombardi or Belichick.

All of which is fine, if that's your thing. I'd rather take a wider view of Reid's tenure. Beating Minnesota was wonderful, and I hope they take down New York, too. But I'm still waiting for something bigger and shinier, something indelible.

Was calling for Reid's dismissal premature? Depends on what happens with the rest of the postseason. Bring home a title and I'll pluck the crow myself. Happily.

Until then, duck will do just fine.

Mike Schmidt. Wilt Chamberlin. Norm Van Brocklin. Great Philadelphia athletes, all. Now you can add my buddy Wax (otherwise known as Gluteus Waximus) to the list.

In a dramatic gastrointestinal feat, he became the 14th contestant to qualify for the Wing Bowl by eating five double cheeseburgers in just three minutes.

Until yesterday morning, I had never seen a snot bubble with bits of hamburger in it come out of someone's nose. Gross, sure - but impressive, too. With just 15 seconds remaining, and his Wing Bowl dreams about to be crushed, Wax snatched victory from his otherwise defeated jaws. He had a mouth full of meat and bread and cheese, but still managed to cram the last half-cheeseburger into his face.

Meanwhile, he had to overcome a major distraction: a beautiful Wingette. He also had to cope with my less-than-adequate corner work when I failed to supply him with enough water to wash down his early-morning Wendy's buffet. So often in sports we talk about athletes who have heart. But how many have the stomach to match?

When I called Wax about 2:30 p.m. to see how he was feeling, he sounded fine. "I just finished lunch," he said nonchalantly.

If you're curious, you can watch the incredible qualifying stunt online (http://tinyurl.com/waximus). Wax wanted me to note that the Web cam adds a few pounds.

. . . If Alania doesn't win best Wingette, I can't wait to meet who does. . . . Speaking of which, Wax is accepting applications for his entourage. Ladies interested in joining the cause should e-mail the address below. . . . This week's Sports Illustrated, which hits the stands today, features DeSean Jackson on the cover, along with this headline: "Philadelphia is Dangerous." Inside, though, writer Peter King picks the Giants to dispatch the Birds. Why bother building them up if you're just going to hedge?


Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or gonzalez@phillynews.com.

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