BIRDLAND: Dead Men Walking


BY JOE PAONE IGGLES CORRESPONDENT Both the weather and your Philadelphia Eagles are deteriorating rapidly. And for once, I hope the football team’s deterioration proves far more severe. Very little pre-game excitement was evident in the parking lots and inside the stadium yesterday. The faces in my section were almost entirely unfamiliar ones, as many regulars apparently unloaded their tickets. That’s telling, because these are people who’d ordinarily drive through a blizzard or sit through a monsoon to see their Birds. But despite yesterday’s relatively decent weather conditions, many of the hardcore faithful decided it just wasn’t worth it to waste their day at the Linc.

They made a fantastic choice.

The skies were dreary, the game drearier. The coolest thing that happened all day was during the pregame, when an actual eagle descended from the sky and landed on the field just as the national anthem ended. It was the best play of the day.

Then the “game” started. The listlessness of the offense has become less of an anomaly and more like a fundamental trait. The defense was essentially Matt Ryan’s bitch from beginning to end.

There’s no one to fire on the defensive side of the ball now. There are no serviceable offensive linemen from the waiver wire or the practice squad coming to save Mike Vick and His Hopeless Out-Patterners. Judging from his press conference, Vick is out of answers and low on confidence, which shouldn’t come as a shock, since he’s been a mediocre QB—at best—for his entire career, and a worse leader.

Asante Samuel’s postgame media availability  was an all-timer, right up there with “talkin’ bout practice” and “for who/for what.” An intoxicating stew of manic (and earned) bravado, pointed analysis and a complete lack of respect for Andy Reid, it was one of those devastating “suck on that, Philadelphia” moments that sports fans around here dread. (It’s also more evidence of how our departed athletes really have a hard time getting over us. Small consolation, I know.)

CSN’s always-excellent Post-Game Live has morphed into a weekly PTSD therapy session for heartbroken and disillusioned Eagles fans. Panelist Ray Didinger, the most trusted, objective and level-headed journalist in Birdland, lost his preternatural composure and called BS on this team. “This game was an indictment,” he declared. “Today was THE DAY. Today’s the day you’re gonna show us what you are. Well, you know what? You showed us what you are, and it wasn’t DAMN close to being good enough.” That’s right, yesterday’s gutless wet fart of a performance drove R-Diddy to SWEAR, which is the rough equivalent of  Larry Ferrari snorting crystal meth, playing a 15-minute noise piece and destroying his organ with a sledgehammer.

Ike Reese, on the same show, called the defense “pathetic” and, more to the point, unequivocally declared the players in the Eagles locker room just “don’t care,” certainly not as much as Andy Reid and the coaching staff do.

These kinds of comments and reactions take on a life of their own in this town. They’re the universal Philadelphia symbols of sports doom.

Dead team walkin’, Philadelphia.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joe Paone has attended nearly every Eagles game with his dad since 1978 and he has the lasting psychological scars to prove it. He also runs a PR firm, plays rock music, and hunts New Yorkers for sport.