The Unbearable Flightness of Eagleing
As noted philosophers Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Todd “Short Dawg” Shaw said on a record in 1998, “it was all good just a week ago”.
Bump that, it was all good 48 hours ago.
That was around the time that one of my oldest and best friends, pictured back then and this weekend, arrived at his home in Philadelphia with his two daughters in tow.
The plan was to celebrate his birthday with 12-14 family and friends, eat, drink and be merry, while watching our beloved Eagles celebrate a crucial win.
Four hours or so later, mission accomplished, but with a deflating caveat.
This past Sunday will likely go down as the most Pyrrhic Philly Victory of all-times.
In a cruel twist of fate, a young quarterback who tended to tempt it, especially when close to the goal line, saw his season end there on a play that didn’t count.
Lane Johnson, collecting one of his three penalties on the day, got called for a hold.
You could see the QB, usually never flinching in the face of pressure or showing any sign of pain after a hit, grab for his leg and wince.
Despite the penalty, and what we now know to be an ACL tear requiring surgery, Wentz got up to throw his symbolic, franchise-record-setting 33nd touchdown, then walked off the field under his own power, into the locker room.
It was the last time we’ll see him in an Eagle uniform this season.
A 2017 season that could surprisingly end up as the most successful regular season in franchise history.
With a franchise QB who as of the time of injury was odds-on favorite for MVP.
All season this team has answered the bell.
Even their losses, a nail biter in Kansas City when they were the hottest team in the league, a penalties-and-freak-fumble-out-of-the-end-zone-play loss on a December Sunday night at the toughest home field in the league (Seattle), felt like they would end up being more instructive than destructive to the overall goal.
And that overall goal, was this franchise winning its first Super Bowl.
Alas, it was not meant to be.
There are some of my fellow Eagle Fans, bless their hearts, who will try to buy into the “next man up” party line.
And I guess that’s fine.
I get why Carson Wentz’ teammates and coaches need to try believing it as well.
Just don’t try to sell it to me.
In the words of a dying Giuseppe Conlon, as played by the late great Pete Postlethwaite, “don’t you be comforting me when I see the truth staring me in the face”.
I could buy it with any other roster spot, even multiple more than the ones already cycled out in the form of Darren Sproles, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Ronald Darby (until two weeks ago) or a couple of kickers.
But you don’t replace MVP QB’s, not unless you’re talking a Joe-Montana-to-Steve-Young or Brett-Favre-to-Aaron-Rodgers scenario during an offseason.
This is not that.
And anyone who knows me a little, knows I never bought into Nick Foles, even while he was having the most anomalous statistical success season in sports history back in 2013.
I took heat for that from friends, but they all eventually saw what I was saying then.
Now we’re stuck watching it again.
Life is unfair and random, sudden shots of disappointment can crop up anywhere.
So once the initial shock has moved from grief towards acceptance, Philadelphia fans can trudge thru this final stretch, with a probable number-one-seeded team that will have no pressure of being expected to win. That last part's a small sliver of silver lining.
But this young quarterback was rarely fazed by existential pressure, or pass-rush pressure, regardless.
That youthful bravado, combined with uncharacteristic maturity, dynamic athleticism and natural leadership, were things that infectiously spread throughout his locker room.
It’s tough to imagine a now older and long since exposed Foles replicating any of that, let alone being able to handle a pass rush any better than he ever has.
All that said, he’s a better backup than most, other than the guys who weren’t really available (Tony Romo) or being blackballed from the league (guess).
And even in those two cases, breaking glass for emergency in Week 15 would be too late baby, like Carole King used to sing.
So, my hopes now mostly lie in Wentz having a successful rehab, along with the Eagles adding some more talent in the draft next Spring.
Counting on Nick Foles to win a seemingly star-crossed franchise its first Super Bowl, feels like relying on Alabama voters to do the right thing.
The racist-pedophile-backed-by-the-45th-president-and-Republican-National-Committee-funds arrived to the voting booth today on a horse, because well, of course.
I expect this sick parody of cynical, rudderless, moral-compass-lacking politics to win, because despite our best intentions and wishes, many bad dudes often do.
If nothing else, 2017 should have reinforced that for you.
As Milan Kundera writes in one of my favorite novels, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, from which this post’s title is re-appropriated, “The longing for Paradise is man's longing not to be man.”
Or to borrow a less lofty literary quotable from another Alabama notable, Sir Charles Barkley, “I may be wrong, but I doubt it”.
Get Well, Carson.
We look forward to one fine day when the Wentz Wagon rides again.