As the Philadelphia Eagles quickly emerge as favorites for many critics entering the NFL preseason, there has been a jump to compare them to the NBA’s Miami Heat and their rapid rise in the past year.
From fast expansion to unlikable fan bases, both teams have many similarities that say a lot about why neither will win the hearts of the rest of their respective leagues.
Here are five reasons the Philadelphia Eagles will be hated like the Miami Heat.
Like the Miami Heat pulling in LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the Eagles have drawn plenty of attention with their ability to sign a large number of prime free agents.
Shoring up a defensive secondary already, the Eagles pulled in the highly coveted cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, and acquired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals. They improved the defensive line in signing Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin, Anthony Hargrove and Derek Landri.
To boost their offensive depth, they also brought in quarterback Vince Young from the Tennessee Titans and running back Ronnie Brown.
The Eagles have made these moves while keeping under the cap and without threatening their long-term flexibility. As explained by Peter King, the Eagles have only six players with a cap figure larger than $5 million, and nearly all of the big off-season signings come with no guaranteed money after the 2011 season.
For many fans hoping to bring in a few extra pieces to improve their teams’ chances, seeing the Eagles stack up talent is not going to win them new fans.
Few things are a bigger turn-off to fans than players presumptively celebrating titles and giving praise to their teams, and that feeling only worsens when this comes before any games have been played.
In that spirit, newly signed quarterback Vince Young may have jumped the gun when he described the Eagles as a “dream team.” While Young has done a lot of winning as a Tennessee Titan, that success has not exactly moved into the playoffs (he’s 0-1 in playoff games).
His comments also seem a little silly when it’s remembered Young in all likelihood will not play a big role in the team’s success.
While Young may not have guaranteed a championship (and especially “not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7” like Lebron James), his comments do little to make the team any more likable coming into the season.
One thing that can bring resentment for a team is the quality of its fans. The fans of Miami and Philadelphia may show it in different ways, but their arrogance and attitude go a long way in drawing frustration from other fans.
Miami Heat fans confused many by not showing up for games on time, and rarely showing enthusiasm despite the winning ways of its team. No team with the talent of the Heat last season should have to ask their city to “fan up”.
It wasn't that big of a surprise NBA commentator Charles Barkley said Miami “have the worst fans (in professional sports). No question.”
Similarly, the confusingly critical fans of the Philadelphia Eagles (and other Philadelphia teams) don’t do much to engender support from outside The City of Brotherly Love.
Frankly, you would think the Philadelphia Eagles stunk out loud by the way fans boo. Eagles fans boo winners, they boo losers and they have even booed Santa Claus.
Few things would be farther from the truth, the Eagles have made the playoffs nine of the past 11 seasons, averaging 10 wins a season in that same time.
I can think of a few teams that would be doing cartwheels in the streets for success like that (that means you, most of the AFC West and NFC West).
So Eagles fans please hear me out. Be grateful for the winning you have. Losing is never as far away as you might like to think. Enjoy the wins when they come.
While the past actions of Lebron James and Michael Vick are in no way comparable, it’s very apparent that the two athletes can draw a lot of negative criticism from fans. They have become players fans love to hate.
Lebron James took a massive popularity hit when he took to national television to announce his signing with the Miami Heat. James has also taken criticism for being out of touch and egocentric.
When James and the Heat failed to win the NBA Finals this past season, it was something that was celebrated widely (especially in Cleveland).
One thing that has been forgotten in Michael Vick’s return to prominence is that there are still a decent number of people who despise him and his past criminal actions.
Not to say Vick has not attempted to turn his life around. Since his release from prison, he’s taken time to speak out publicly against dog fighting, raise funds for animal shelters and lobby for tougher laws against people who participate are active in dog fighting.
It wouldn't be a surprise to see many excited by the prospect of Vick getting hurt or the Eagles not performing well with him under center.
The Heat were labeled favorites from the get-go following the signings of Chris Bosh and Lebron James, leaving many NBA enthusiasts openly rooting against them. In addition to some negative feedback in most places they went to, the extra attention for the games they played usually inspired opponents’ to step their game up for the occasion.
While the Heat were a few games from sealing the deal, for many observers the NBA Finals loss meant the entire season was a waste (without remembering the strides the team made over the season with a roster downed by injuries and a lack of depth).
Given their past success and the talent they brought in, the Eagles will be among the favorites entering the season.
However, this role brings greater expectations. Opposing teams will use their games against the Eagles as a major showcase of their own talent, and any early losses will bring rapid-fire finger pointing that could completely derail any chemistry developed on the roster. This is a possibility even if you don't include the the fiery criticism of the Philadelphia fan base. Many fans who root for the underdog will immediately turn away from the Eagles’ this season.
Additionally, the expectations of fans and media could mean that any result short of a Super Bowl victory would make the season a failure.
The Eagles may find that playing with a target on their backs will be more trouble than its worth.