I am still young enough that all of my greatest Philadelphia sports memories end with some form of disappointment. (Even Smarty Jones teased us until the final straightaway). Sure, there were some "I'll never forget where I was when" moments, but in the end, I was always left saying, "just wait until next year!"
So excuse me if, when I hear the name Tampa Bay, my mind automatically drifts to the 2002 NFC Championship Game. I was there. Last game at the Vet. The Eagles were the heavy favorite. The Bucs were supposedly unable to win cold-weather games. A trip to San Diego for Super Bowl XXXVII was all but a lock for the Eagles.
I remember sitting there with my dad. I remember Brian Mitchell taking the opening kickoff 70 yards to the Tampa 26-yard line. Before we could stop cheering, Deuce Staley was running it in from 20 yards for the game's first touchdown. Unfortunately, there would be no more touchdowns for our Eagles.
Instead, we were left with the memory of Blaine Bishop getting beat on a sideline route by Joe Jurevicius and the Eagle defenders chasing Jurevicius on his way to a 69-yard touchdown. And we can't forget the memory of Ronde Barber breaking in front of a McNabb pass intended for Antonio Freeman and returning the pick 92 yards for a TD.
We are now only hours away from the first pitch of the 2008 World Series. Again, the foe is Tampa Bay. Philadelphia waits in anticipation to see if this is the year, if this is the team to finally end our title drought. Will memories of Bishop and Barber be replaced with actual Philadelphia heroes? I honestly think that this is our season and that this is our team.
Phillies in five.