Tuesday, January 25, 2005

One Team City Dream

I have to comment on Sunday's Eagles victory, as it was such a wonderful moment for the team and its fans. I live a life of constant cynicism and neurotic paralysis, but this one will escape such patheticness. For myself and many others my age and younger, this is the first time that we will get to watch our team in the Super Bowl. We have never had the chance to celebrate a championship for one of our teams, as we were too young to enjoy the Sixers '83 NBA title.

Despite the history of 3 straight NFC Championship losses, I honestly felt that the Eagles were going to win this game comfortably. Even at halftime, with the score 14-10, one knew that the Eagles were the better, more confident, more talented team. The final score does not reflect the domination and ease which the team achieved victory. So, I was aleady thinking ahead, which is sort of sad. It has been so long since there has been a championship in this city, that it feels like winning the NFC Championship isn't quite good enough. The Super Bowl is what this team deserves, to prove to the world that they are the best team in the league.

However, it is not fair to look so quickly ahead. We do that so much in this day and age. I don't want to easily fall into that trap.

This team has been ripped apart by talk radio and idiotic columnists, disrespected by the national media, represented only by its three straight losses in the NFC Championship game. No one talked about the consistent winning, the overcoming of so much adversity, or the talent that allowed for the success. So, I want all the players and fans to revel in this moment, to appreciate the virtue of getting up when you have been knocked down and continuing to fight. Neither this team nor its fans gave up hope, despite so many reasons and opportunities.

Many know that I love boxing, and consider it to be much more than a sport. Most cannot understand what I see in the sport, why I love the fights and the fighters so much, why I respect it all so much more than I respect our politicians and conventional heroes. The simplest answer I can give is that it gets right to the heart of the essence of life, as one sees someone get up from being knocked down and continuing to fight for victory. Boxing conveys this so dramatically and consistently, as one watches a fighter get up off the canvas after a knockdown and continue to fight to win.

The Eagles and their fans embody all of this perfectly. They have been counted out, disrespected and abandoned, but Sunday evening, there they were, on top. It brought tears to my eyes to see the joy in everyone else's jubilant reactions, watching Trotter break down after the game, the crowd going crazy after Chad Lewis' second TD, Ike Reese talking about how he did it for the fans.

They are not tears of sadness, though. These are the tears of joy, of accomplishment, emotions pouring out after achieving what seemed impossible at times, in the immediate aftermath of failure. I hope that everyone takes this and runs with it, as it is nothing, if not inspirational. I hope that all the people of Philadelphia take this to heart, and realize that we can get through the obstacles that confront us as a city. No longer can we talk about tax cuts, growth, mass transit with a cannot-do attitude. No more of this underachieving, overshadowed, woe-is-me city vibe.

Finally, I chose the Eagles' motto as the subject because I want this viewpoint of the city as one to stick. "One Team City Dream" serves as a new motto for us, as we have always been stuck in the neighborhood schtick. South Philly people live in their own world, and have no sense that they are neighbors to those of us living in North Philly. Center City residents talk and act like their area is the only civilized one, unaware of the vitality of West Philly and the Northeast. It has created a divided city that does not care about things going on blocks away. The future of the city does not matter to us, just the future of our block and neighborhood. But, we are a city, as each neighborhod and citizen are bound together. This Eagles' season will hopefully show us the common ground that we have, and mark a new beginning in so many ways. Please remember that we are all Philadelphians first, each one of us part of an amazing, vibrant city that becomes better and better with each new day.

Thanks to the team for never giving up, and bringing so much to this city. Philadelphia is behind you.

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