Welcome to the Eagles’ Bandwagon, America
*This article appeared in Voices: River City on 1-30-18
Forty-six out of 50 states are united by one thing: they’re rooting for the Eagles to beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl. This is according to a map based on geotagged Twitter data, the sole intel used in White House briefings now. Outside of New England, the only exception is North Dakota, which has 12 people and should probably just be absorbed by South Dakota to form Dakota. Then we can let Puerto Rico be a state and still keep it at 50 so Old Navy doesn’t have to make new flag T-shirts.
Even in New England, Vermont left the Tea Party to join the Eagles’ ranks. Wondering why? Want to feel like you’re doing more than just hopping on the bandwagon? As a lifelong Eagles fan, I’m here to help while not throwing beer cans at you.
1. We love an underdog. Ever since the actual patriots upset the redcoats in the “Liberty Bowl,” rooting for the underdog has been one of America’s favorite pastimes that doesn’t involve guns or eating. The Eagles are not only 5-point underdogs in the Super Bowl, but have been underdogs for the entire playoffs. After losing quarterback Carson Wentz, the MVP-favorite before his injury, the Eagles became the first No. 1 seed in history to open the playoffs as an underdog. Eagles right tackle/marketing genius Lane Johnson embraced that spirit and bought dog masks for the team to wear after beating the Falcons in the divisional round. The masks were a hit among the rabid Philly fan base and Amazon quickly sold out of them, so Johnson partnered with a local business to stock up on more masks, raising over 100,000 bones for Philly public schools—despite the best efforts of the NFL to take a bite of the money.
2. Enough, already! This has been the year America finally decided to stop putting up with the bullshit. And this Sunday it’s time for the Patriot-archy to fall. Since 2002, when Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined the dark side and sacrificed a GOAT to the forces of evil, the Patriots have been to seven Super Bowls, winning five. In that time period, no other team has come close to that number – they are the 1 percent of the NFL. On top of that, each of their Super Bowl wins (and many major playoff wins) has come by fewer than 7 points. Obscure rules, goal-line interceptions, everything-went-wrong collapses, and various forms of cheating have given the Patriots the tiny edge they’ve needed each time. Look, winning is winning—their Lombardi trophies aren’t going anywhere. But it’s high time we threw a little paint on that fur hoodie of Belichick’s.
3. No one likes a cheater. Maybe you don’t believe that Tom Brady (and/or two team trainers who have since been banished to the shadow realm) deflated footballs a few years ago. Maybe you believe the partner you once caught cheating red-handed when they say “I’ve changed!”… and believe them again when they come home with lipstick on their replica jersey. That’s fine—you have a big heart. But even if the Patriots were unfairly punished for Deflategate, it was surely, as one NFL owner put it, a makeup call for Spygate.
In 2007, the Patriots were caught taping opponents’ practices and walkthroughs and stealing signals to use in games. Years of players’ and coaches’ suspicions were validated, including damning quotesfrom some of the players they faced in Super Bowls against the Rams, Panthers, and Eagles. Belichick admitted the Patriots taped a “significant number” of games, and according to documents and sources, they recorded signals in at least 40 games during the Spygate era. Despite a historic punishment for the team and a maximum fine for Belichick, most felt the league let the Patriots off easy, and for some reason (read: to save their own asses) destroyed the videotapes. Some league officials said the tapes were shredded, and some said they were burned in a dumpster. Probably the same dumpster your ex cheated on you behind. Sorry, Patriots—we’re through. It’s not me, it’s you.
4. None of the Eagles’ Super Bowl rings have been given to Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin.That’s just a fact. Sure, the Eagles don’t have any Super Bowl rings, but that’s not really the point here. Not only did the Patriots handcraft a ring for Trump to wear on his tiny hand, somehow, Russian President Vladimir Putin ended up with a ring as well. Putin claims it was a gift. Patriots owner Robert Kraft says he stole it. Trump is on record as saying he believes Putin, at least as far as that whole “meddling in our election” thing goes. Kraft and Trump are friends. Someone is lying. But who? I’m Sarah Koenig …and this is Serial.
Yes, Kraft is longtime friends with Donald Trump. Trump and Tom Brady are also golfing buddies, and Brady endorsed him for president. But hey, isn’t this FOOTBALL? What do politics have to do with it? Fair enough. If you really want to keep politics out of football, don’t root for the guys who are friends with the guy who went off-teleprompter to call NFL players “sons of bitches.”
5. Think of the children! Eagles’ safety Malcolm Jenkins, one of the sons-of-bitches leaders of the social justice protests from earlier this season, was nominated for Walter Payton Man of the Year this year for his work with local police, city, state and national lawmakers, inmates and prison officials, and through his charity foundation. He calls this Eagles team “the most socially proactive locker room I’ve ever been a part of.” That includes teammate Chris Long, a former Man of the Year nominee himself, who is playing for free this season and donating his entire salary to improving educational opportunities for disadvantaged kids. Each player on the Super Bowl-winning team gets $107,000—meaning those kids would get at least that much from Long alone if the Eagles win. Look, I’m not saying there aren’t great men “on both sides”—I’m just saying Obama never tweeted about any Patriots. Especially not this guy.
Chris Long gave his paychecks from the first six games of the NFL season to fund scholarships in Charlottesville, VA. He wanted to do more, so he decided to give away an entire season’s salary. That’s a story from 2017. http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/eagles/philadelphia-eagles-chris-long-donated-paychecks-charity-20171019.html …
6. Science or Scientology? In 2013, the Eagles became the first team in pro sports to develop a sports science program, instituted by former head coach/failed wizard Chip Kelly. After Kelly’s departure, current Eagles coach Doug Pederson decided to retain Kelly’s sports science director and strength coach on his staff. Gone are quirks like personalized smoothies, sleep monitors, and breathing quizzes, but Eagles players still credit the more basic sports science techniques for their sustained health. “I think it’s just more the knowledge,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “Guys learned a lot more about how to take care of themselves.”
On the other side of the lab we have the “TB12 Method,” developed by Brady and his trainer Alex Guerrero, who once paid a judgment to the Federal Trade Commission to settle allegations that he had claimed dietary supplements could help cure cancer. Guerrero, the L. Ron Hubbard of the locker room, also claims to hold a degree in Chinese medicine from a now-defunct university, and espouses the idea that players are completely responsible for their own injuries. “When athletes get injured, they shouldn’t blame their sport,” Brady wrote in his book. Many of TB12’s tenets and health tips are helpful or harmless, but the player-responsibility angle is a dangerous one to propagate, especially in the current climate of concussion awareness, and several players have described TB12 as “like a cult.” Personally, I believe climate change is a Chinese hoax more than I believe this guy.
7. Nickfolean Dynamite. Across the aisle from Brady, the “pretty boy” quarterback with the supermodel wife, the man who golfs with the Illuminati, married a supermodel and has never eaten a strawberry, is … Nick Foles. Who? Exactly. The Eagles backup quarterback had a career year with the Eagles in 2013 under then-wizard Chip Kelly, before some rough years with the Rams under the prince of NFL purgatory, Mr. 7-9 himself, Jeff Fisher. At one points Foles even contemplated retirement, finally signing back with the Eagles as a second-string QB. After the loss of Carson Wentz, everyone wrote the Eagles off as a Super Bowl contender. Even me. Since, Foles has put together two practically perfect playoff games. I’m sorry, Nick. Foles is now trying to join Jeff Hostetler as the only backup quarterbacks to take over a team this late in the season and win the the Super Bowl.
Oh yeah, and he kinda looks like Napoleon Dynamite.
So that’s why America is rooting for the Eagles, and why you should too. But as we know all too well, the popular vote means nothing.We’re all just hoping they can topple a dynasty. So on Sunday, wear some midnight green, don your doggie mask and join the revolution. It’ll be televised. And if nothing else, the commercials will be funny.