So, as in years past, as a bitter Quaker exacts his revenge once more, we must begin The Five Stages of Eagles Grief:
DENIAL: That's it? They get the ball back with a minute to go . . . and then it just ends with an interception like that? And now, as the air piffles out of the Philadelphia balloon, all there is to do is wait until September? There's really no more football for seven months? I have to watch the Sixers now?Just thinking about -- tomorrow -- lifts away the cobwebs and the sorrows. Come what may . . .
BARGAINING: I didn't get greedy or cocky this year. I was humble about the team's chances. And still, nothing. Do I have to name our second-born Donovan F. Bonin? Okay, so last year all I asked for was a trip to the Super Bowl, and now, yes, I want to win one. I'll accept another decade of Phillies futility if that's what it takes to get the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Andy Reid's hands.
ANGER: The same lousy clock management skills which were evident earlier in the season reared their ugly head tonight. Where was the urgency in the fourth quarter? Donny threw a bunch of balls that he shouldn't have -- lots of passes too or too low -- and the running game was still attempted long after it was proven ineffective. And, you know what? If T.O. was that healthy, he should've been part of the game plan even more.
DESPAIR: I'll just repeat what I said last year, except I have to add to the numbers now: It's Philadelphia. We will never win another championship in any sport.
Do you realize that the Eagles last won a title in 1960, and have only been in the Super Bowl once? That the Phillies have won fewer World Series in their 120-year history (1) as the Florida Marlins in thirteen years of existence (2!)? That the time a Philadelphia team won a title -- my beloved 76ers -- it was so long ago that Cheers was in its first season? How long ago? When the Sixers won the title, no one in Philadelphia yet knew that Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia were siblings, because that was the week Return of the Jedi debuted in theaters.
You want despair? Since the last time a Philadelphia team won a professional title, New York-area teams have won ten -- heck, even Boston has seen six champions (three Super Bowls, two NBA and a World Series) emerge since we last won one. And that's Boston, which was supposed to be the pinnacle of sports disappointment. Please. No franchise in professional sports history has lost more games than the Phillies. No one. Hell, if the Phillies won every single game for the rest of this decade, they still would be a sub-.500 team for their history.
Philadelphia: we can't win, we don't win, we won't win. That's our story.
ACCEPTANCE: There is no reason to believe that this Eagles team will not be back in the Super Bowl next year. On both sides of the ball, they dominated this conference, and will do so again in 2005. They are young where it counts, and there will be no significant free agency losses. Next year, we get 100% T.O. in the Super Bowl. There is no reason to panic. We'll be back.
(Pitchers and catchers report in 10 days, 14 hours, 36 minutes . . . )