Three years ago was the first time Philadelphia and it's suburbs caught Super Bowl fever. In 2001 it was impossible to find any Eagles merchandise on the shelves. Six of every 10 cars had football helmet window clings or those clip-on flags with the Philadelphia Eagles emblem.
Now it's been four NFC championship games in row, and after the first win, the attitude is "about time" rather then Super Bowl exuberance. The only Eagles flag in my neighborhood is the guy, Jeff, across the street. His flag has been up every day except Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and July 4th, when he breaks out the Star Spangled Banner. A couple guys in my neighborhood were drinking beer, huddled around a propane grill, last night wearing Eagles sweatshirts, but those guys get drunk together at a 3-year-olds birthday party. Nothing would indicate that decades of Eagles fans have waited for this opportunity.
I was really hoping for an all-Pennsylvania bowl, and I think that certainly would have excited Eagles fans. But now they seem already pre-defeated by the closest thing to a dynasty the NFL has seen in a decade, the New England Patriots.
Perhaps I'm just too far from ground zero. South Street may be hopping tonight. Perhaps south Philadelphia neighbors are partying already. The frats at Temple University may already be rolling out extra kegs for an after party. I just don't see it.
If the Eagles are going to win tomorrow, it will be without their 12th man, and I don't mean Terrell Owens. I think every Eagles fan certainly wants them to win, but few are anticipating it.
After watching the city of Boston win the World Series and the destiny they felt after defeating the Yankees, you clearly see how the fans carried that team closer to victory.
I hope the Eagles win, but frankly, this city, this region of the state, doesn't deserve a Lombardi trophy. They've outright crushed talented teams with criticism, caused talented coaches to retire prematurely, and run extraordinary players out of town, not only in football, but baseball, hockey, and basketball too.
If they lose, I'd like to say that they'd welcome home the Eagles like the fans from Buffalo welcomed home the Bills on four occasions in a row, but I can't. I fully expect the Eagles to be welcomed back like the '93 Phillies, complete with death threats and vandalism. They destroyed that team, and they never recovered. They literally drove Mitch Williams out of town after he put up a season of better relief pitching statistics than every other Phillies pitcher combined.
If the unlikely happens, and they win, will it set the stage for the future of sports in Philadelphia? Will we see Allen Iverson bring a roundball championship? Assuming the NHL doesn't go belly up, will we see the Flyers hoist the Stanley Cup? Will the Phillies have a resurgence and become a contender again?
Somehow, I doubt it. There's lots to love in Philadelphia, but sports fans aren't among them.