It’s a nice ring, a lovely ring, a fitting homage to a job well done.
I hate New York; well, not the city itself, just most of the teams that play there and a lot the fans who root for them.
Admittedly, that hatred was born of my youth growing up in Maryland when the Yankees pilfered Reggie Jackson from the Orioles for $2.96 million ($12 million in today’s dollars) in 1976.
I still think the Yankees’ World Series titles in 1977 and ‘78 could have been Baltimore’s. It’s the same reason I hate Pittsburgh: The Pirates beat the O’s twice in the World Series.
But now I’ve worked in Philadelphia (18-plus years) for as long as I spent growing up in Maryland. Virtually my entire professional life has been spent in the Philly.
I’m not a native, but I’ve spent enough time living in the Delaware Valley to comprehend the angst that Philadelphians feel over their limited championships in professional sports.
And to me, the overall feelings of gloom and doom that envelope all of the franchises originate from one in particular: the Eagles.
The fact that the Eagles have not won a championship in the Super Bowl era is an infected wound for Philadelphia sports.
The obsession to acquire just one Vince Lombardi Trophy fuels levels of frustration that permeates our entire sports consciousness.
Few, if any, Philadelphia fans will ever be complete until the Eagles finally win their first NFL championship since 1960.
For the longest time, I believed that Philadelphia’s sports malaise would end once any of the franchises finally ended the championship drought that began after the Sixers won the NBA title in 1983.
It was easy to understand how a quarter of a century without a parade could to drive fans to their wits end of rational thought.
What, Philadelphia was the only city that couldn’t get a championship even by dumb luck?
But when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, I thought the dark cloud that hung over this city has passed.
The sun shined so brightly that October day as the Phillies paraded down Broad Street. It seemed the demons had finally been exorcised.
“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” lasted about 2½ months in Philadelphia.
On Jan. 18, 2009, after the Eagles strutted into Arizona and got beat by the Cardinals [the Cardinals! They lost to the stinking Arizona Cardinals] in the NFC Championship Game, and 48 years of NFL frustration covered the city in a sea of misery once again.
It wasn’t that people forgot the Phillies had won the World Series; it just wasn’t good enough to overcome the true object of our loser’s angst – the Eagles.
People tell me that historically it was not always the Birds who ruled this city. But it’s been unquestionably that way for the nearly two decades I’ve been here.
The Eagles failure to win a Super Bowl has infused at least infused four generations of Philadelphia fans with the prevalent belief that something is always bound to go wrong.
There have been 46 Super Bowls since the NFL and the old American Football League agreed to merge in 1966.
The Birds are officially 0-2 in Super Bowls, but everyone in Philadelphia knows it’s 0-46.
Then there is the ultimate slap in the face of the NFC East having combined for 12 Super Bowls – the most of any division – but the Eagles have contributed none.
Eagles fans look north and see four rings for the Giants. They look south and see three rings for the Washington Redskins. They look west and see five rings for the Dallas Cowboys.
The only direction Philadelphia fans can look to forget about the failure of the Eagles is east, and that’s because the Atlantic Ocean doesn’t have a team.
It’s crushing when the greatest eras of your fiercest rivals are defined by titles while the Eagles’ is defined by a quarterback allegedly suffering a case of morning sickness in the critical moments of a Super Bowl loss.
The failure of the Eagles has magnified the notion in Philadelphia that nothing matters except winning a championship.
Sure, that is the ultimate goal, but a lot of Philadelphians take it to the point where they can no longer enjoy the ride of a season. From the first day of practice, no matter what happens along the way, everything is defined by winning, or in the case of Philadelphia, not winning a championship.
It’s about all of the teams, but it’s mostly about the Eagles. Their lack of a Super Bowl title is the true albatross.
Until they win one, Philadelphia will never be able to get full enjoyment out of sports. n
Contact John Smallwood at firstname.lastname@example.org