Fans could live on Eagles' Super Bowl win for a long time

(Michele Tranquilli)
Posted: May 03, 2010

Eagles fans wouldn't sacrifice their firstborn or a limb to secure the club's first Super Bowl win.

But the rest of their children and their lesser digits might be in peril.

Overwhelmingly, the faithful would opt for one shining moment over consistent excellence. In a recent Daily News survey conducted by Temple University's Sport Industry Research Center, almost three-quarters - 71 percent - of respondents who identified the Eagles as their favorite team in the city said they would trade a win in the next Super Bowl if it meant no playoffs the following five seasons.

Which, essentially, means they would, for 5 years, support a losing team - as long as they basked in the afterglow of a Super Bowl victory. Of the remainder, 19 percent said they wouldn't want a loser for half a decade, while 10 percent weren't sure.

Why stop at five seasons? Why not 10?

"That would not surprise me," said Leo Carlin, the team's director of ticket client services. No one knows the hunger more than him. This is his 50th year working in the Eagles' ticket office.

"I'm in one-on-one contact with our fans all the time," Carlin said. "People here are so hungry for a Super Bowl victory . . . no, that does not surprise me."

There are plenty of people working at the NovaCare Complex who, like Carlin, would have joined the majority.

"I have to tell you, at the moment, I'd take that deal, too," Eagles president Joe Banner said.

Asked in a follow-up survey which team they most wish to win it all in the next decade if only one could, 47 percent of respondents chose the Eagles followed by the Phillies (37 percent), Flyers (14 percent) and moribund Sixers (2 percent).

But the figure jumps to 78 percent selecting the Birds when asked what team they thought most Philadelphia sports fans would want to win a championship in the next decade, if only one could. With the Phillies a year removed from a World Series title and holding consecutive National League pennants, only 20 percent chose the Phils. The winter sports got 1 percent apiece.

"Of course," said Ron Jaworski, who quarterbacked the Birds to their first Super Bowl appearance, after the 1980 season. He has lived here since, and has become a top NFL analyst, giving him a perspective few observers have:

"Since I came here in 1977, they've always been the main team in town. The Phillies have had their runs, and the Sixers were big in the '80s, and the Flyers have their little spikes. But this incredible football fan base enjoys the hell out of their team."

The survey implicitly assumes that Eagles fans are starved because they've never feasted at the head table. Don't be fooled, Carlin said. If the Birds had won in either trip, the hunger would remain.

"I don't think it would diminish at all," he said.

Really? Banner, ever the voice of reason (and skepticism), isn't sure.

"I wonder if they really mean it. I really wonder, if it happened, if they would look back at the 5 years and say they didn't care, that it was OK, that we won a Super Bowl," said Banner, who painfully recalls the stretch from 1997 to '99 when the team changed coaches, groomed a new quarterback and were not playing in January.

Banner also questions his own declaration:

"Once we'd won that Super Bowl, if we actually weren't very good for 5 years, it would just kill me."

Daily News columnist Rich

Hofmann contributed to this story.

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