Monday, November 20, 2006

Football: A Cruel Love

This weekend was shaping up to be football heaven but it ended with me questioning the fundamental goodness of the universe. Donovan McNabb is lost for the season - maybe even a full year.
I responded okay to it Sunday but found myself sniffling a little today. Suddenly so many games don't matter as much. My hope was the Cowboys would lose to the Colts and the Eagles would
beat the 2-7 Titans. Then tonight the Giants would lose and the Eagles would be tied for 1st place. Even when the reports of the score started drifting in, I was calculating about the future. Okay, the whole division loses this weekend, and the Eagles emerge next week for their run by beating the still undefeated Colts. When the pictures of McNabb's injury came across it didn't look that bad. Yes, I was worried to see him on the cart, but I never expected the worst. While the news broke I was watching the Cowboys looking like there are really getting it together by beating the Colts.
I took a couple of calls from friends who know how I feel about the Eagles. I made all the standard statements, and it wasn't till today that the undeniable magnitude of the bad news wore me down. The Eagles are a tough team to love. The all-time worst was the season everything looked so promising and Randall Cunningham blew out his knee in the 1st quarter of the first game. That was stunning. At least this year featured a wonderful defeat of the Cowboys when Terrell returned to Philly. The team played heroically and with a lot of entertainment.
Ironically, I was cheered up slightly last night by Joe Willie Namath's piece on 60 Minutes. As kids from Arabia, my siblings and I adopted the Jets as our team. It was the glorious AFL against the stodgy squares of the NFL. Every time I see the score 16-7 I think of the Super Bowl the Jets won over Baltimore.
It wasn't till my siblings and I started going away to school that I became an Eagles fan. I'd end up visiting my sister at the University of Pennsylvania, and I decided to adopt the city of Philadelphia as my home sports town. There would be one strong connection to the earlier Jets love - Buddy Ryan, who went on to coach the Eagles, was the defensive coach for the Namath-era Jets.
Anyway, you try not to get crazy with the sports stuff. I just think McNabb is one of the fun players in the league. He didn't deserve the Rush Limbaugh racism, and he didn't deserve the T.O. nightmare. Namath showed the scars on his legs on 60 Minutes and it was pretty dramatic. Football is a brutal sport and Donovan's got a long road back. Get better. This sucks, but you can handle it.
As for the Eagles, it's time to prepare to play the Colts next week. Anyone can throw in the towel, especially if they have an excuse. I expect the Eagles will play as if it matters, because in the bigger picture of life, it still does.