September 10, 2013

Once you pop.

Football sucked.

Twenty-three months ago, I admitted to the world that I preferred NFL RedZone to the Philadelphia Eagles. I was pilloried by many, Philly fans and general football enthusiasts alike.

Twelve months ago, I decided to throw my faith behind Andy Reid one more time. This was a mistake. A big mistake. But at least I was no longer alone in my disgust.

The once-proud Eagles franchise had sunk to the bottom of the National Football League. There were expected to be few survivors.

So we said goodbye to Andy, and we hoped it would get better before it got worse. Despite knowing full well that, even in today's wacky NFL, that's not usually how it goes.

There's always a team that moves from the rubble to the Ritz. But it's not usually one that blew an entire draft, that spent millions on an untested college coach, that barely improved their defensive backfield, that brought back an oft-injured veteran and moderately successful third-round pick to compete for the most important job in an extremely complicated offense.

Well, the Eagles still aren't ready to take up residence in any fancy penthouse. Their ceiling is probably 9-7, and that's with a lot going right (and a hearty handful of important players staying healthy).

But, wow. Last night was something else. I forgot you were allowed to have fun while watching your hometown team play football. Encouraged to, even.

I walked to my friend's house in my stylish Eagles-themed Hawaiian-style blouse (purchased from the wrong section, obviously, during an ill-fated Kohl's trip), embracing the occasional stare from fellow DC residents in RG3 jerseys. Not feeling confident in the least; just filled with the promise of a new season.

"At least it'll be different," I thought. Not necessarily better, but unlike what we'd been slogging through for the last few years. That would be progress.

But I flew home on a cloud (albeit a bit more modestly, being that it was relatively late and the local team had just lost) because I'd just seen the most exciting first half of Philadelphia football since Donovan McNabb was rewarded for his contract extension with 59 Michael Vick points in his face.

It was everything you hoped it would be. It got the entire football-loving nation buzzing. And, even though the more rational among us realize that this year's team is still fatally flawed, it brought back hope that maybe the Eagles were once again ahead of the curve.

Granted, the second half was considerably rockier. The defense is still largely unproven (at best). And there are certainly questions about how long the Chipper's boys can keep up a record-setting pace on offense.

But there was Chip Kelly in his sexy visor, using ridiculous Philadelphia-themed flash cards to call plays, running his boys out there like a well-oiled machine, making everyone believe again.

And with San Diego coming to town on Sunday, they of the massive Monday night meltdown, 2-0 is not out of the question.

Most people -- present company included -- would've been happy with 7-9. Now we can dream a little bigger. But, like a starving man who's handed a bowl of soup, we're not going to slam the bowl down and demand more.

That kind of greed comes later. For now, a nice hearty gulp will do.

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