Forget the X’s and O’s. Forget the crumbling Eagles’ Defense. Forget their injuries. Even forget that their worst enemies were the ones to single handedly shatter their season.
After all, the Eagles only did what they do best, choke.
Don’t feel too bad for them because of that, they probably weren’t going to win the Superbowl regardless, their track record has established that much.
The biggest disappointment concerning the Eagles has little to do with what took place against the Cowboys. No, what’s most sobering about this team is the lifetime’s worth of opportunities they squandered in the last decade.
Sure there were the three straight NFC Conference Championship losses, their franchise-changing Superbowl loss against the Patriots, the release of Terrell Owens and a few handfuls of other talented veterans and most recently, their classic choke job in Arizona to end last season, but lets face it, those things are only the tip of the iceberg.
What’s much worse about this team, now, is that it offers none of the stability of the Eagle units earlier in the decade. Even when they’re winning, there’s a subtle-but-certain uneasy feel about them that tells you the Eagles are running on borrowed time.
When the Eagles were really competitive, the division was annually gift-wrapped, the conference offered few, if any contenders and Donovan McNabb was still young. All of those factors are long gone now and the Eagles’ time seems to have finally run out and no one is a bigger victim of that than Donovan McNabb.
Despite the fact that McNabb was responsible for the lion’s share of the offense’s production for many years, he was taken for granted. His name was almost always involved in trade talks, Andy Reid refused to supply him with a power running back to complement Brian Westbrook and balance the offense, and his receiving corps was about as useful as a box full of wet matches.
Yes the Eagles finally supplied him with a semi-capable receiving corps, but it's too late. McNabb’s best playing days are behind him and unfortunately, they were wasted. His only real hope now is to find a team with a solid overall roster, particularly on defense, and an open quarterback slot, much like Steve McNair did with the Ravens in 2006.
For now, Philadelphians will take up their pitch forks and torches and place the majority of the blame on McNabb’s shoulders again, but you have to wonder when McNabb will realize that he doesn’t have to take it.
He will probably never return to the form he was in 2004, but the biggest reason he won’t is because of all the years he spent sacrificing his body to keep the Eagles afloat. But professional sports, particularly in cities like Philadelphia are so predicated on a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately basis that it blinds fans and analysts to everything but the end result.
In all likelihood, McNabb will never be appreciated the way he deserves. Some of the reasoning for that has to be attributed to McNabb’s difficulty with remaining healthy, but the Eagles’ failures have certainly played their part and his blind faith and loyalty to a city so unappreciative of him will likely be the undoing of his professional career.
McNabb may just now be waking up to the fact that his loyalty to the Eagles and his quest for a Championship are oil and water, but hopefully he’ll gain the will to act on that realization.