Monday, January 24, 2005


You know, sometimes you wonder if being a sports fan is worth it.

Days like this one made me wonder.

And this one.

And even this one, when even victory was offset by the pain of injury.

But then, you have a weekend like this last one, and you remember why you fell in love with sports in the first place.

First, let me congratulate the men's basketball team at my alma mater. They've been through a long run of adversity (some of it self-imposed, the rest just bad luck) to get to Saturday's huge win over Kansas. The effort on Saturday was impressive, but the attitude was even better. Villanova expected to win the game, and, as noted by the Kansas Redhead (who enjoyed the game more than anyone else did), after they seized a big lead in the second half, they didn't stop playing. They didn't just drive the final nails into the coffin, they hoisted the coffin into the grave, threw the dirt on it, and erected the tombstone. Great, great effort.

And then, there was yesterday.

God bless you, Iggles.

I sat at home, expecting victory, knowing that we had the better team this year, and hoping that nothing strange would counter that.

The fake field goal early on -- it upset me when it didn't work, but it set a needed tone. Reid wasn't holding back. Neither was McNabb, who scrambled when necessary and ran for yardage like the Donovan of old (or the Donovan of youth) while throwing passes and trusting his receivers (particularly Greg Lewis) to beat the defender for the ball.

And Dorsey Levens' effort on the first TD, as well as Chad Lewis' effort on the second... I still remember a much more talented tight end, Keith Jackson, dropping a sure TD in the Fog Bowl. Lewis' catch survived replay review, finally removing the sting of a TD that was (correctly) called back against Washington in 1990, ending the Buddy Ryan tenure. Okay, they could have put the game away early(damn ticky-tack call on Mike Lewis erasing Sheldon Brown's INT), but they just seemed to be in control.

The defense -- even when they yielded points, Atlanta paid a price. Dawk's hit on Crumpler was sensational. Dunn scored the TD, but I kept thinking at halftime that the defense was getting ready to shut them down, if they could only avoid a bad penalty. They did that in the second half, and McNabb and Westbrook took over. Westbrook did us Villanova alums proud, not just with his production, but with his intelligence -- those late game plays where he stayed in bounds to keep the clock ticking were fabulous.

Hell, even the commercials were good. The Minister of War mentioned the referee getting yelled at by his wife as particularly good, and I've come to enjoy the Cherry Pepsi commercial far too much, since the Eagles fan on the couch steals the Cherry Pepsi from the guy's hand that is sticking out from the floor, then kicks the hand back down. With that being said, the Minister and I are in full agreement -- the Dr. Pepper ad with "Stacy's Mom" is really disturbing. But I digress.

When Chad Lewis grabbed that TD pass with 3:48 left, I saw the celebration begin in earnest. I didn't actually celebrate until they kicked the extra point, since I was still concerned about Akers' injury.

At that point, I wanted the game to end, but I wanted the feeling to last forever.

The smile got bigger when Reid took the Gatorade shower. I've been dying to see one of our coaches take that bath since LT started dumping the bucket on Parcells. And Big Red -- he deserved it. A great guy and a great coach, who's never wavered on his principles and preparation.

I sat at home and just went kind of numb when it finally ended. There was a smile frozen on my face, a dumb, goofy grin that didn't want to stop. The Priest of Parliament Lights tells me that grown men were weeping in the stands at the Linc, and I know what they felt. Seemingly everyone in the stadium looked like they were hugging one another. Trust me, that feeling isn't one that happens in Philly often.

And the guys on the platform -- Reid, McNabb, Dawkins -- the emotion could be felt through that screen. I've never seen Andy Reid like that -- so emotional that he basically guaranteed T.O. would play in the Super Bowl. I hope he's right, but I'm also glad to see that side of him.

And yeah, I know this isn't the end. We have one game left. But what we've dealt with for the last three years... let's just say that we needed this. For four straight years, we've suffered the sting of defeat, always wondering if next year was our year. When your team hasn't won a title for so long... well, it's difficult to explain the feeling.

It's a Philly thing, but we don't get to win all that often, and we see our neighbors seemingly win all the time. And I don't care when Redskins fans or Giants fans or Satan's minions (a.k.a. Cowboys fans) mock our lack of Super Bowl hardware... but I still want that title. And now I can taste it.

Hey, the Pats are a better team than we are. But we have a shot, and we have two weeks to bask in the limelight (it took a while to find a good end to that sentance, as the Lord of Truth knows). I get to watch Super Bowl press interviews of Donovan McNabb. I get two weeks of speculation about T.O. playing. I get two weeks of Jeremiah Trotter's intense glare and thank yous about leaving DC. I get Brian Dawkins, telling the world about being loose and lethal. And I get two weeks of Andy Reid press conferences -- usually boring, but now filled with more humor.

If we lose, we'll remember it wistfully. If we win, well, no other game will ever feel so good again. But either way, enjoy the next fourteen days. There won't be another time like this.



Post a Comment

<< Home