There were no celebrations inside Lincoln Financial Field when former Titans quarterback Vince Young arrived in Philadelphia.
There was no stage at center field, no fire works, no smoke machines. When Young first addressed the media and fans as an Eagle, the scene looked less rock concert, but much more ordinary.
Yet when Young spoke for the first time, his words were fit for a preseason celebration of a title his team had not yet won. Young needed only two words, but with those two syllables, the newly acquired backup hurler had already cemented his team's fate for the 2011 season.
Somewhere thousands of miles away, Miami Heat superstar LeBron James surely chuckled to himself.
Months earlier, James had the setting—the fog, the music blaring, the pyrotechnics blinding fans who had hoped to catch a glimpse of their new-found savior. In all of the hype, James too made his premature declaration in predicting how many championships he would win as a member of the Heat.
"Not one," he said through a gaping smile. "Not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven."
Never mind the Heat, much like the Eagles, had no supporting cast. Never mind the collection of superstars assembled lacked cohesion or the playing style to compliment one another. Never mind the richly paid newcomers didn't exactly fit the mold of the team they joined.
In time, those issues could—and more than likely will—be worked out.
No, what sunk these two teams were the immediate expectations James and Young unfairly placed on the shoulders of their teammates.
Instead of proving they could win games, the Eagles now had to prove they were the Dream Team. Philadelphia had to show the collection of talent they assembled was not only good enough to win a title, but good enough to be considered an all-time great, ranked among the Cowboys of the '90's, the 49ers of the of the '80's, the Steelers of the '70's.
Instead of game planning for each team, the Eagles have been searching for the blue print to become the most dominant team in the NFL, to impose their will over opponents rather than exploit their weaknesses.
They have to—they're the Dream Team.
James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade played their early contests like each was an All-Star game, with each player playing a No. 1 role, rather than one-third of a truly great lineup.
They had to—they were the Big Three.
Back in Philadelphia, fans and media could understand the growing pains of a team that had introduced seven new starters into the lineup in 2011. The Philly faithful could swallow, even if bitterly, that a shortened offseason with the addition of such new talent could yield an unwanted outcome.
But, just as James predicted eight NBA championships, Young declared the Eagles a Dream Team.
Philadelphia fans have been dreaming for an awfully long time—more than fifty years—waiting for a team to finally grasp greatness and deliver a championship to the City of Brotherly Love. Forgive the starved fan base for buying into the hype as they witnessed how excited the former Pro Bowl quarterback was about the 2011 season.
The core talent Philadelphia acquired in the 2011 offseason will be around longer than this nightmare season. With this dream season a wash, the real test comes in 2012, when the Eagles will have had adequate time to gel, to build chemistry.
Expectations will be tempered. If 2011 continues on the same course, coaching changes will have to be made. This time, those looking in from the outside will understand the team needs time to learn how to play together.
But right now, waiting is not acceptable for the Dream Team.
And, like James and his Heat, this assemblage of players may forever be remembered as a collection of athletes who simply could not preform under such immense pressure.
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