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Lamentations of a Philadelphia Eagles fan: Another lost season

Walking down the steps of Lincoln Financial Field following one of the Philadelphia Eagles losses this season, I noticed newly installed glass panels adjacent to the outside rails of the steps. Another fan made the same observation vocally. A nearby security guard told us that the wall of glass had been put in place to prevent distraught fans from jumping off the stairwell.

The truth of this explanation is questionable, but one thing that can be said with certainty is that Philadelphia fans take their sports seriously.

The 2006 NFL season was next to unforgettable on a scale of excitement, thrills and pure unpredictability. LaDainian Tomlinson broke records in San Diego; teams like the Jets and Saints made Vegas rethink setting the odds against them and the Colts made it to the Super Bowl.

Still, in the end Eagles fans were left with their heads in their hands, wondering if our city might be cursed by some anti-championship William Penn statue. For anyone who does not understand the psyche of Philadelphia sports fans, I’ll do my best to explain it to you and I’m sure that you’ll find it interesting.

Almost a month after the Eagles were eliminated from the playoffs, we fans are still suffering emotionally from the disappointment of another lost season. As sorry as it may seem, Philadelphia fans do take their Eagles to heart, speaking of them in the same context as family – love them or hate them – and using the pronouns “we”, “us” and “our” when referring to the team.

Personally, the saddest day of my life may have been the day the Eagles lost the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots in 2005. Our high school lunch table did not speak to each other for an entire week as we solemnly ate our lunches and reflected on what might have been for the Eagles that season. I have never actually seen the “highlights” of that game.

I guess you can call it passion, when you love something so much that it’s constantly in your mind, in your drive and in your ability to maintain a positive attitude.

Experiencing six dramatic season-ending losses in the past seven years has exposed me to a sight which not many people see in their lifetime: rooms full of grown men crying together. It may be ridiculous I’ll admit, but tears don’t come from nothing.

But it’s not all depressing memories as a fan. This summer I met a man named Ken, a retired Marine in his sixties with a weather-beaten face. Somehow we got on the topic of the Eagles and his face lit up, as if something inside of him had just brought him back to a special place that made him smile to recall.

He reminisced about the years he and his family and friends had spent watching Eagles games, ever since the 1950s when they played in Franklin Field. He told me about the truck that he and his friends use to take to Veterans Stadium when the Eagles still played there, and about the day-long tailgate parties that they would throw on game day, starting at sunrise.

There is nothing that brings people closer together than to unite for a common desire, a shared fight. Each year it’s the same way with Philadelphia fans. Harsh words are spoken when things aren’t going well; “off with his head” demands are made. And when things are going right, all is well with the world.

When the Eagles season ended prematurely this year, Eagles fans returned to a well known place. And even when some fans didn’t want to hear it, there was always the one who said it anyway: “there’s always next season.”

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