If you are just coming out from under a rock, the Eagles won the Super Bowl back in February. It was undoubtedly one of the greatest days of my life. I will always have the memory of being in my college home, wearing my Brian Westbrook jersey that was two sizes too small, and FaceTiming my Dad in tears after they won. Yeah, I cried. So what? Every Eagles fan has their own memories of that day. Yet, did the Eagles winning the Super Bowl negatively affect the other teams in Philadelphia?
The story of the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles is truly incredible and has been highlighted several times. To reiterate, a second year coach who was not respected around the league turned heads all season long with his bold and creative play calling. He famously made his boldest play call of all on fourth down in the Super Bowl. The Birds played that game without several key players, too. Starting quarterback and MVP candidate Carson Wentz went down in week fourteen. Special teams star and offensive weapon Darren Sproles went down in the preseason. All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters did not play past week seven. Several linebackers had to fill Jordan Hicks’ spot after he was injured that same game. So many things went wrong for this team, but through teamwork, perseverance, and probably some help from the football gods, they did it.
Now, while the team overcoming those tremendous inner hurdles and beating a Goliath in the New England Patriots is an amazing story, in hindsight it should not be remembered as anything other than what it actually is: a miracle. I do not want to be pessimistic either, but no one outside of Philadelphia fans gave us a shot. I loved that we proved them wrong, but there is a reason for everyone believing we could not do it. On paper, the Eagles were not supposed to win that game. They did though, and as a result the minds of Philadelphia fans have been given a sense of false hope. A sense of hope that has led them to believe that the rest of the teams in the city, because they are ahead of schedule, should do what is “necessary” to win a championship. Doing so would be a mistake. Again, I do not want to be pessimistic. I am a through-and-through Philly sports fan. I live and breathe these teams just as we all do. I want them to win championships. Whether the fans like it or not, it most likely will not be this year, or even the year after. Take a look at each one at a time and see the parallels.
The Sixers greatly exceeded the expectations of everyone this past season. Like the Eagles, their young players were coming into their own and dominating the league with the help of some veteran presence. This offseason, there were talks of trading for a star player, or signing one. While signing a player is a different story, and for the right price I would be in agreement, it was the trading debate where the Eagles’ Super Bowl win came into the minds of fans. Thoughts of being able to make the same miracle run with the addition of one player are just simply unlikely. Basketball is a different sport than football, and the NBA is a different league, but the Super Bowl win made people believe we can win now. It pains me to say it as much as it does you to read it, but the Sixers are not ready YET. They did the correct thing by not mortgaging the future for a player with a murky injury and no guarantee to re-sign here. What would those fans who wanted the trade think when a huge chunk of our assets were gone and we did not have the player anymore? I doubt they would have much to say.
The Phillies are an even better example. They are surprisingly in a late-season battle for first place, young players are performing incredibly, and the team – up until just recently – had been finding ways to win when times get tough. This trade deadline, there was talks of trading for a star player in a very similar situation to the Sixers’ potential acquisition. Those same fans came forward saying, “Hey, we’re winning, let’s go for it.” Again, they were disappointed there was no major splash, but the Phils did make some great moves to compete this year without completely breaking the bank. Those moves are always the best moves in my opinion. They improved the team without making any moves that will hurt long term. Long term success is the goal because, to the surprise of some, the Phillies are not ready to win the World Series YET.
I know this argument is not very fun, but I truly think our fan base needs to look at the big picture and snap out of the post-win honeymoon phase. The Eagles went and did it, and won. However, that was no guarantee. Because of that, there is no reason that the Phillies, Sixers, or even the Flyers should kick things into high gear. Winning will be the new norm in Philadelphia, but it will be achieved through smart decision making and reliance on what has been growing over the past few years. I will never forget the Eagles’ win on February 4th, 2018. I hope you won’t either. But do not let it cloud your judgment. There will be more parades on Broad Street, in due time.