It’s probably not appropriate to use the metaphor of disease to talk about sports fandom during a pandemic, but as this post is about the Philadelphia Eagles and the people that care about them, I’m going to do it anyway. Call me a hack if you want. So: I have had a slight case, over the past three weeks, of a condition known as Philadelphia Eagles fever. And now that it is the morning of the Eagles’ big Monday Night Football clash with the Dallas Cowboys, I am experiencing a full-blown Eagles fever outbreak in my body. I am hyped for the Philadelphia Eagles.
I did not start off this way this season. As the Falcons were waltzing down the field in their first drive against the Eagles at 1 p.m. in Week 1, I wrote, “Lose today, 35-22. Finish 3-13-1,” to my fantasy football league’s email chain. As it so happens, the Eagles stopped the Falcons before the end zone on that first drive. They stopped them from getting in the end zone on any drive, and romped to a 32-6 win. New coach Nick Sirianni said Jalen Hurts was “in complete control” that game, and I agreed. The Falcons were not going to be good, but the Eagles had their biggest blowout victory since the 2017 Super Bowl season. I thought they were going to lose big and get some garbage-time TDs, but after the game I began to allow myself to explore the possibility that maybe they wouldn’t be so bad.
In Week 2, the Eagles lost 17-11 to the San Francisco 49ers. What made me realize I was truly into the Eagles was how angry I was getting. Let‘s be clear: With how they played in the first half, the Eagles really should’ve won that game. They had a touchdown taken away by penalty, because Jalen Reagor stepped out bounds. They had a field goal blocked. A drive that included a 91-yard pass play ended with them attempting the Philly Special on 4th and Goal, and failing. And I was so angry. They trailed 7-3 at the half and could have been up a couple of touchdowns. Of course they lost in the end. I even screamed at my TV a few times.
After one game last year, I mentally wrote the Eagles and Carson Wentz off. Even if they could continue some success, I figured there was just no future for that bunch. I ended up being correct, unfortunately; Wentz was traded, coach Doug Pederson was fired, there were a batch of post-mortems of the season that detailed dysfunction. I was not excited for this season.
But as Week 3 ends, I find that I’ve gotten pretty into it. I’ve been reading all the beat writers, even the bad ones. I have been listening to Eagles podcast episodes. I’ve been watching videos that review All-22 footage on the Eagles’ website. I even had on sports talk radio for a little bit this week. I am not even thinking about what is going on with Ben Simmons. I am sort-of out on the Phillies after last weekend. I bought a hideous bootleg shirt. It’s happening.
Look at the rest of the division. The Giants are 0-3, losing consecutive games on field goals at the gun, most recently to Atlanta, and are also 18-49 since the start of the 2017 season, tied with the Jets for the worst record in football over that period. Joe Judge told reporters “we’re gonna be all right” which means that they are not, in fact, going to be all right. Washington doesn’t even have a nickname; they’re 1-2 and their only win is over the Giants. Their dysfunction is less fun currently, but give it time.
The Eagles are going into Dallas tonight to play the hated Cowboys, a team I would not root for even if they somehow played Princeton’s basketball team. It’s only Week 3, but the teams are playing for first place in the division. (Both teams are 1-1.) I should say that I know the Cowboys are going to win. They almost beat the Buccaneers in Week 1, then edged what seems like a pretty good Chargers team last week. This is their home opener.
But for now I have put that out of my brain. I am excited. Currently I fully believe the Eagles are going to go to Dallas and smash the Cowboys tonight, even though I know they almost certainly won’t. My Eagles fever is only going to get stronger.