At some point this winter, right around when the last snow hits in early march, a thirty-five year old man woke up from his slumber. He pulled his head off his Eagles pillow, carefully removed his eagles comforter, and lovingly looked over expecting to see his wife in her eagles pajamas, only she wasn't there. She was never there. She didn't exist. He decided, right then and there, that this was the year.
"This is the year", he told his friend Dave later that day, "this is the year they're finally going to do it". He said this every year. He was a cliche. Dave knew this. Dave often described his friend as trite and immature to others. But this year, Dave elected to believe him. Something about the man's catchphrase seemed honest this year. Maybe this was the year, Dave thought. We were a play away from the Superbowl. And we're younger, sleeker, more streamlined. Dave agreed, this was the year. Dave was drunk.
And so Dave told his friends, and they told theirs, until the news swept the Philadelphia metropolitan area like a more contrived version of Pay It Forward. This was the year. Except while everyone repeated it, most people didn't believe it was true. But then Obama came to town, and he told everyone that this was the year. And all the black people rejoiced, and since a lot of black people play for the Eagles, white people rejoiced as well knowing that this boost of confidence could very well make it the year for real. And then Obama signed on to play wide receiver, and would go on to catch 27 touchdown passes that season, including four in the superbowl, which the Eagles of course won. It truly was their year.
This is the only reasonable situation I can imagine that took place (and is still ongoing), that would account for everyone's enthusiasm this offseason. It took a lucky break, a horrific choke job, and a tie that our quarterback didn't even know could happen to get them to the postseason last year. The team has turned over, all the key veterans are gone. A preseason injury to a linebacker named Stewart Bradley put the whole city into panic mode. People say that Stewart Bradley is a great linebacker. People also say Andre Iguodala is a good basketball player. I remain dubious. I didn't even know whether Bradley was white or black until two weeks ago. He's white. If you ask me this question again in three years, I probably won't know.
There's one guy in Philadelphia (besides me) who calls bullshit. He told all his friends too, but his friends didn't tell all their friends because they aren't allowed. His friends are assistant coaches. His name is Andy Reid.
He looks at his team, and the injuries, and all the new, unproved players, and he thinks, "shit". He looks at the calls for his head on WIP last year during the season, and after the NFC championship game, and he thinks, "shittier". And he looks at the hype for this season, hype which he knows is unfounded, and he doesn't think anything at all. He was too busy convincing Joe Banner to sign Mike Vick.
I have no idea what capacity Vick will be used in. Maybe he will come in as a decoy. Maybe he will be a running back. Maybe he'll run the single wing (remember in the old days when people used to do that, and then last year one team did it and then everyone started doing it like a more contrived version of Pay It Forward? That was fun). Maybe he'll give David Akers herpes and ruin the whole season.
What I do know, is that the town is no longer talking championships and rings and trophies. They are talking about a guy who hasn't played football in well over a year. And if things go well, Andy Reid can hold a press conference and say, "Look at me. No one else took a chance with him. I'm the prettiest girl at the party". And if the season goes badly, regardless of how Vick plays, Reid can say, "What do you want from me? He destroyed the locker room, and you can't win like that. He won't be here next year."
But Reid will be here next year. And the year after, and probably the year after that. Because every year is the year, and every year he finds an excuse to hang around for one more.