When one of your earliest memories is disappointment you know you must be a Philadelphia Eagles Fan. I remember going with my father at the age of four to the Berlin Auction to buy the pennant pictured just before the 1981 Super Bowl against those dirty Oakland Raiders. The floor of the mart still has the same grime and little has changed, except that the Eagles still have never won a Super Bowl. I had to wait until 2005 to see them get another crack at glory only to loose again.
Being the loosing team in the Super Bowl is like being the loosing presidential candidate or a vice president, history quickly forgets you but those in your city (or party) do not forget the disappointment. The nation remembers the 1985 Chicago Bears rapping the “Super Bowl Shuffle.” We would like to forget Buddy Ryan’s 1988 team hoping for similar mojo with the rap “Buddy’s Watching You.” That season ended with the infamous “fog bowl” loss to the Chicago Bears.
(very much worth watching if for the outfits alone, until the kicker takes the mic.)
The Eagles have never been the lovable looser team other cities may have. They are more the smart kid with so much promise who fails to make the grade when it really matters.
In Philly they remember every painful and all too frequent NFC championship loss like it was yesterday.
This anguish was portrayed perfectly in the book Silver Linings Playbook. The author, Mathew Quick, was just a few years ahead of me in school in South Jersey and presented a much darker portrayal of the Iggles fan then the current Oscar nominated film. You can see this same pennant in the closing images of the film. Robert Deniro’s character is downright chipper compared to many Philly fans. My father and I always put loses in context and quickly moved on, but game day was as loud as a combat zone with the dog hiding for its life after every bad play.
Of course most of the world feels no pain for the suffering of what are perhaps the world’s most obnoxious but knowledgable fans. Every out of town sports writer loves to remember when we booed and pelted Santa Claus with snowballs. But hey context people, the guy in the suit was skinny and phony and that is not acceptable in Philly. I only went to one game as a kid and picked up vulgarities that stand up to 2013 prison standards. You can’t knock passion.
So while many man caves are shrines to sports glory and greatness, I will hang the 1981 banner in the Saddest Man Cave. I found this ticket stub to an Eagles Playoff game with my old things and will display as well. I sure as hell did not go so it must have been given by a family friend, kind of a tease in hindsight but an Eagles fan never expects much.
This year the Super Bowl as in ’81 returns to New Orleans. One team will be forgotten by Monday but all I can think is that somebody really needs to get Ray Lewis into a recording studio.