The decade between 1974-83 is recognized as Philadelphia’s Golden Era of Sports – with four world titles, seven other trips to the championships and at least 15 future hall of famers wandering our fair city.
We’ve had episodes of false hope since then. I recall going on air July 29, 2011 and predicting years of invincibility for our teams. That’s the day the Phillies traded for Hunter Pence and the Dream Team Eagles brought Nnamdi Asomugha to training camp. We saw how that worked out.
So it’s with trepidation that I predict we’re entering, let’s call it, the “Platinum Era of Philadelphia Sports.” But the evidence is obvious. And my protective crust of Philly fan cynicism has been washed away by the Eagles Super Bowl win.
Let’s start there, of course. The Platinum Era began Feb. 4 with the “Philly Special” and sulking Tom Brady refusing to shake hands. If this group of players never gets back to the Super Bowl, they’ve already given all of us – from eight to 80 – moments to celebrate forever.
Except I think they will. Carson Wentz is 25 years old. Health providing, he’ll be an elite QB for a decade. The Eagles current depth chart lists just five starters over age 30 (with only one over 32), with eight starters 25 or younger. Howie Roseman amassed a team for the future and (in words I didn’t once expect to say) Doug Pederson is the guy to coach them there.
That’s the easy sell. And you’ll likely agree that the Sixers have a strong shot of hosting a Broad Street celebration, regardless of how far they go this season. If you add together the ages of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, they would just barely qualify for one full share of Social Security benefits. Toss in Dario Saric, who’s just 24. It’s a hell of a nucleus.
The Phillies? Now it requires some faith. But I look at the young pups on Gabe Kapler’s lineup card (Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro) and I’m taken back to 2005, looking at the beginnings of those future five-team NL East champs.
Faith says that Aaron Nola has ace potential (he may already be there) and that Jake Arrieta will prove his worth. Logic says that principal owner John Middleton is eager to burn through that cigar money to add veteran talent.
And then . . .
Okay, then the Flyers. It’s unlikely the current Giroux-Voracek-Simmonds group will ever advance past the first round, let alone skate with the Cup. But the 25-and-under nucleus includes Shane Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny and Sean Couterier – and that’s just the start of young guys with hard-to-spell names. Ivan Provorov, 21, will win a Norris Trophy or two as the NHL’s best defenseman. Other emergent talent is on the horizon.
For the Flyers to break the city’s longest title drought, of course, they must locate their first top-tier goalie since the Reagan Administration. Scouts and insiders tout Carter Hart, now 19 and starring for the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League.
Alas, we can’t fast-forward Hart’s development. He’s likely still two seasons away. But maybe, just maybe, by the time he’s ready, we’ll have entered the Platinum Era and we’ll have that parade route memorized.