Allow me, if you will, to offer a proposal you’ll probably snicker at. Or maybe even ridicule. But before you scoff, hear me out.
The NFL champion Eagles have earned a year without booing. Fresh off giving our city the greatest season in every fan’s memory, the Super Bowl heroes deserve to go through 2018 without heckling, griping or demands for the coach’s head.
That means no catcalls if Nick Foles (or Carson Wentz) throws a pick-six in the opener against Atlanta. It means no dialing WIP to deride Doug Pederson as a fluke if some trick play backfires. It means you must forever remember Jason Kelce’s brilliant Mummers-clad oration, even if the center allows a sack or two.
For now, this seems an easy task. The Eagles’ Feb. 4 win over the Pats was our town’s equivalent of popping a champagne cork after shaking up the bottle for 57 years. We’re all still in the afterglow, and nothing can spoil the mood – not even uncertainty over when we will see Wentz on the field.
We’ve enjoyed a six-month love affair with the underdog Super Bowl winners and, hey, who says romance can’t last forever?
But I’ve been down this road before. Back in 2009, I similarly proposed a one-year moratorium on jeering following the Phillies World Series win. Callers to our radio show took the pledge.
Then came Opening Day. Cole Hamels, MVP of that ’08 Series, gave up seven runs to the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park and departed in the fourth inning to a cascade of scorn. The “Ban the Boo” campaign lasted exactly 80 minutes.
Now, I’m optimistic that the Eagles can repeat in 2018, or at least dominate a weak NFC East. Barring calamity, the playoffs seem a certainly – just as they were, by the way, for those 2009 Phillies.
But taking the long view has never been our fan base’s way – with the notable exception of Sixers’ Process believers. Even after last Thursday’s meaningless loss to the Pats, there were assorted grumbles that last season’s magic might be eroding.
That’s inane, of course, and, hopefully, an opinion currently held by just a handful of Philly Phatalists. But given the number of Eagles players nursing injuries, there’s a decent chance this franchise will start the season down a few good men.
Even as fans cheer the unfurling of the championship banner on Thursday, Sept. 6, it’s not inconceivable they’ll also see their heroes lose a revenge match to the Falcons.
If that happens, don’t despair. The Birds’ next three games are against Tampa Bay, Indianapolis and Tennessee – who finished a combined 18-30 in 2017. Even if there is a Super Bowl hangover, this team should start no worse than 3-1.
Secondly, cut the boys a break. Remember how euphoric you felt on Feb. 4? Or the elation of brushing confetti off your winter coat on Broad Street four days later? There have been fun bombs to relish all offseason – David Akers at the draft, the Super Bowl ring unveiling, Brian Dawkins at Canton.
Don’t let the joy fade too quickly. And, while this is a whole new season, last year provided proof there’s reason to have faith in Coach Doug and the guys.
So, ready to take the pledge? No booing for an entire year?
Nah, didn’t think so.