The Philadelphia Eagles very much want you to believe that the team’s savior is here, and his name is Nick Sirianni.
It’s OK if you don’t know Sirianni. The former Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator, who was once Todd Haley’s offensive quality control coach, is 39 and has risen through the coaching ranks quickly. Sirianni is not a household name, though, and he was not a “hot name” in coaching circles. The local press spent much more time preparing Eagles fans for the team’s new coach to be Josh McDaniels.
This type of hire has gone well for the Eagles before. Andy Reid was the Green Bay Packers’ quarterbacks coach when the Eagles hired him in 1999, and Doug Pederson was the absolute last choice when the Eagles nabbed him in 2016.
But the Eagles went 4-11-1 this season, fired Pederson, and now have to sell fans on this new coach they don’t know. After the Eagles officially announced Sirianni on Sunday by posting a recording of the phone call where team owner Jeffrey Lurie offered him the job, the team is now on an all-out blitz to welcome their new coach.
For fans who trust the company line, they can listen to Dave Spadaro, the team’s longtime website mouthpiece and a man so dedicated to the Eagles he once spit on the star at the Cowboys’ stadium. Today Spadaro told readers that it sounds like Sirianni has “all of the qualities you would want in a head coach.” (Fans of a more analytical bent can listen to Fran Duffy break down Sirianni with Robert Mays of The Athletic.)
The team’s Twitter account is doing the heaviest lifting today, however. Today it’s posted many videos of Sirianni getting a tour of the team facilities like he’s a fan who won the grand prize in a church raffle. He was literally greeted at the airport by the team’s mascot, Swoop.
Local sports anchor John Clark, living up to his nickname of “Johnny Airports,” was there to show us the moment where Sirianni had to have been wondering what the hell he’d gotten himself into.
OK, so the team did a cute stunt with its mascot for the cameras in the morning. That’s it, right? No! The Eagles have continued following around Sirianni with cameras. They caught him getting out of a car at the team facility, walking into an auditorium and looking at a football field. Riveting stuff.
Most importantly, they showed Sirianni a photo of the time Sylvester Stallone showed up at the 2003 opening of the Eagles’ new stadium.
Hilariously, it was just yesterday that the new Eagles coach and the fictional boxer Rocky Balboa were in the news together.
Sylvester Stallone is a weird part of Philadelphia lore. He is not really a Philadelphian—he did attend Lincoln High School in Mayfair, but he had lived in a few places as a kid—but he created a beloved fictional Philadelphian who has appeared in eight films, all of which except Rocky V were pretty well-received in various ways. He occasionally shows up at Philadelphia locations and, as far as I know, is a good sport about it. He still breaks out that Eagles jersey sometimes. For those reasons, Stallone is included in the category of somewhat-Philadelphians, alongside Frank Reynolds from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Bruce Willis’s characters in M. Night Shyamalan’s films. In some ways, these people are lesser icons of Philadelphia than, say, Morris, the cat who walks on a leash in East Falls. But in another way, Stallone is an acceptable stand-in for “real Philadelphia”—despite being a fictional character played by a Hollywood star. I mean, it was pretty cool when he showed up.
Of course, the Eagles lost their opener in that new stadium. And Balboa, though he later won the title and ended Communism and trained a new young star, ended a loser at the end of Rocky. After Stallone threw out the first pitch at a Phillies game in the ’70s, a civic official told him: “You typify the Philadelphia spirit, which is, that you can win without winning.”
So, ah … good luck, Nick Sirianni!