Eagles wary of 'Dream Team' label, amid backlash

With superstar quarterback Michael Vick already in place, the Eagles' spree in free agency has given the "dream team" moniker some legs.
With superstar quarterback Michael Vick already in place, the Eagles' spree in free agency has given the "dream team" moniker some legs. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 03, 2011

Like it or not, the name has stuck.

Dream Team.

When you go on a Miami Heat-like free agency spree and make not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but six marquee acquisitions, including Nnamdi Asomugha, the biggest prize in all of free agency, comparisons are inevitable.

When one of those acquisitions, Vince Young, labels the squad a "dream team" and another, Jason Babin, writes on Twitter that "I feel like we are the Miami Heat of the NFL . . . Except we win the final game . . .", you have the beginning of a firestorm.

The story line gained momentum Tuesday, when the Eagles signed running back Ronnie Brown, a former No. 2 overall draft pick, as a backup. The "dream team" moniker is already ingrained on sports talk shows and in other NFL cities.

It's a label the Eagles have downplayed but one they'll have to get used to anyway.

Take big-name signings and add them to a lineup that already had superstars Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson, and you get big buzz, high expectations, and national scrutiny, much like a certain NBA team.

Already Asomugha, the highly sought-after "king" of the free agent market, is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Even though the Eagles have not held any self-congratulatory rallies or promised multiple titles, their rivals are taking notice.

"I know one 'Dream Team,' and that was with Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley," the Packers' Charles Woodson told SI.com. "This is the National Football League, and there's going to be a lot of people who have something to say about that."

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "I don't know if we win the all-hype team. I think that might have gone to somebody else, but we're going to beat their [butts] when we play them."

There's little doubt whom he was referring to.

For the most part, the Eagles have tried to dampen the story line. Some have bristled at the "dream team" label, and at least one coach was angry that Young ever uttered those words.

"Media, stop building it up," safety Kurt Coleman told a reporter when he overhead a question about the team. "It ain't the Dream Team. It ain't the Miami Heat. We're out here to work."

The Heat comparisons are provocative.

After adding LeBron James and Chris Bosh to Dwyane Wade, the Heat became a flashpoint for fans and the media: Some loved their star power, but others hated the way the trio teamed up and the over-the-top celebration they held just for signing together. Many reveled in their failure to win a championship.

The Eagles, though, have mostly avoided spectacles.

"We didn't have no pep rally and all that," said linebacker Jamar Chaney, a South Florida native and unabashed Heat fan. "You don't work hard, you're not going to win the Super Bowl."

Eagles management has made it clear that a Super Bowl is the goal but hasn't made any bold guarantees. "To pat ourselves on the back, we haven't really done anything yet other than to try to assemble a good team," said general manager Howie Roseman.

Added owner Jeffrey Lurie: "We have a long way to go. As the Redskins have proven over the years, you don't win by winning free agency. You win by having the best execution on the field."

Two other differences: This lineup was manufactured by a front office, not stars angling to play together. Also, despite the star-studded lineup coming to Philadelphia, South Broad isn't known for the same glitz as South Beach.

"It's exciting, the amount of talent that we have," said defensive tackle Trevor Laws. "[But] we're Philly, the Philadelphia Eagles. We have that workman attitude."

He added, "We don't have a lot of divas."

Asomugha might be the best example of that. If the Eagles are the Heat, he would be James, the free agent prize everyone wanted and the Eagles got.

But rather than holding a television special, Asomugha has been deferential since taking his talents to Lehigh, even changing jersey numbers so unheralded nickel back Joselio Hanson could keep 21. And besides, Asomugha grew up in Los Angeles.

"I'm a Lakers fan," he said. "You can quote that."


Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214, jtamari@phillynews.com or @JonathanTamari on Twitter.

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