What Would Buddy Do?
Wow. It’s getting pretty meta in here. We’d better embrace soon!
Posted on January 17th, 2009 at 2:11 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Full slate of pressers on Friday, with Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and Brian Dawkins joining Friday regular Andy Reid at the podium.  With, ahem, a lack of fresh material for another full round of interviews, the topic of conversation kept to turning to the players and coaches’ relationship with the media and the fans, specifically what it will take for the city of Philadelphia to finally hug Andy Reid’s fat belly.

Showing the form that’s made them the scourge of the local press detachment, Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb had little to offer on the topic of Reid “being embraced” by the media and fans.  From Reid,

On what it takes to be completely embraced by this town and how he and Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel are “text” buddies: “Honestly, I don’t think about all that.  That’s for you guys to take care of.  Charlie’s (Manuel) a heck of a guy and a great manager and I just think he did a tremendous job.  We were supporting him 110 percent, our football team, and their baseball team has been great.  Our players are close and Charlie and I communicate and he did a great job.  I’m not going to get into all the comparisons and embrace myself.”

And then McNabb:

On what it will take for head coach Andy Reid to be fully embraced by Philadelphia: “That’s a question that I need to ask you. If we had the answer, then it wouldn’t be a problem. But, you know what? The thing about it is winning cures everything. When you’re winning, nobody digs deeper into finding much of what’s going on. I can personally tell you that we don’t get affected by what people may say on the outside too much. You use whatever you want as motivation and you move on. You can’t impress everyone. Not everyone is going to like you, but you just go out and you do your job and you enjoy doing it. That’s something that I can definitely say that hasn’t wavered by any means from Andy and it trickles down to the rest of us. You can’t let what people may say on the outside become a distraction of what you do here at your job.”

Right right.  These guys pay attention to their media training, so you can’t expect much more than that.  But maybe we’ll get something more interesting from Brian Dawkins, right?

On what he thinks it will take for head coach Andy Reid to be completely embraced by the city of Philadelphia: “You have to understand where we are. Here in Philadelphia they love you to death but they are still going to criticize you. They are still going to get on you. They are still going to ask questions. You have to have thick skin to play here, to coach here. Everybody can’t coach, everybody can’t play here. So obviously Andy is doing something that a lot of coaches could not succeed in by having thick skin, holding fast to what he believes in, and continue to move on. They are still going to question you regardless of success. As soon as you have a string of failure they are still going to question you, so you understand that. You just go out and do what you do and that’s what Andy has done; he has stayed the course in what he believes.”

Nope.  Maybe Brian Westbrook?:

On what it will take for head coach Andy Reid to be completely embraced by the city of Philadelphia: “I think everybody knows that Coach is a good coach. He’s done a great job here and in his ten years I want to say he’s one of the top two or three winningest coaches in that tenure. He’s done a great job for this team, and I also feel that he’s been great to the players here as well. Different people are always going to have something negative to say, but I think his players respect him and the people that know football respect him around the NFL and as a coach. I think that’s all you really can ask for. I think the fans are going to go up and down sometimes with the wins and losses. But, the true mark is how do you follow up those losses, and he’s done a great job of bringing this team back this year and now we’re playing for the NFC Championship and a lot has to do because of him.”

Though, in Westbrook’s defense, he did let down the guard a bit when they asked him the meta-question about how it feels to answer questions about his knee every week:

On whether he gets tired of answering the same questions every week: “It gets a little repetitive. I appreciate you bringing that up. It definitely gets a little repetitive, but my knee’s fine. I think, it hasn’t been said, but a lot of times, throughout games when you have injuries, you’re going to tweak your injury no matter what injury it is. This wasn’t the only game that I tweaked my knee, but it happens throughout football games.”

To summarize, no one can really say why the public doesn’t “embrace” Andy Reid (perhaps it’s because we all know that our arms would never make it all the way around his generous mid-section?), but Brian Westbrook is just as sick of answering the same questions as the press are of asking them.

A $4,000 Victory
Posted on January 13th, 2009 at 11:52 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Don’t pretend you haven’t looked.  I don’t want to hear it.  You’ve looked.

The best case is the Ravens.  The worst case is the Stillers, if only because their annoyingly devoted fans will sell a kidney to make it to the Super Bowl and wave their freakin’ towels.  That is, demand looks different (and formidable) if it’s a Keystone State Super Bowl.

Either way, this will cost the BountyBowls about four grand (plus flights and hotel!): game tickets are starting at $2,000.

Inhale.

(Yes yes, feel free to curse me for looking past the Cardinals.  Whatever.)

Enjoyable and not very aggravating travel note of the week
Posted on January 13th, 2009 at 11:02 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Forgive me as I borrow liberally from BountyBowl fave Peter King (Quintin Mikell, still misspelled), but I’m going to treat myself to a couple Eagles-related travel notes from Sunday evening:

1.  I enjoyed a couple post-game celebration cocktails with some friends before I headed to the airport Sunday night (much deserved), and also shed a few layers of cold-weather Eagles gear (equally deserved).  So by the time I got to security at EWR, I didn’t have the Trent Cole shirt on, but still had the “Winning is for the Birds” t-shirt rolling, and may have been looking a bit haggard after a day spent outside in the cold.

So I walk up to the metal detector in the remnants of my Eagles gear and step through.  No alarm is triggered, per lo usual, and I show the TSA guard my boarding pass.  SHOCKINGLY, I was selected for a random search that evening!  The guy wearing the Eagles gear at Newark Liberty International airport!  You don’t say!  Note that I fly A TON (~100K miles last year), with 95 percent of those flights through EWR, and I have never been selected for a random search like that.  Never.  Whatever, though.  I took my patdown with a smile.

2.  Mercifully, I had an upgrade for the flight (which was shockingly empty — this is not a positive economic indicator).  I made the prudent decision to stop celebrating for the remainder of the evening.  So the flight attendant comes over and asks me what I’d like to drink.  “Water.”  And then another.  And another.  And another.  I think I got at least seven (7) glasses down.  Finally it’s last call on the flight, we’re about to land, and she asks me if I’d like another drink:

“One more water, please.”

“Really?”

“Yes, please.”

At which point the flight attendant may have crossed a line by observing, “But you haven’t gone to the bathroom once!”  (Seriously, it was weird that she was keeping score, no?)

My reply: “Yeah, well, I’m really dehydrated.”

Go Birds.

Monday Eagles Hangover: the cure for hangovers is obviously EAGLES AWESOMENESS
Posted on January 12th, 2009 at 8:42 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

thatza touchdown

Been quite an interesting 36 hours for your humble author. From a windswept and cold tailgate at the Meadowlands to the best Eagles game in recent memory to the Happiest Place On Earth ™ and back, I can’t certainly complain of a lack of variety in my stimuli. And as I return home this evening in my big-boy pants and assorted standard-issue Banana Republic work clothes (with my cold-weather Eagles costume furtively stuffed into my carry-on baggage like some sort of smuggled sports-feelings WMDs), I’ve still got a glow about me.

Surely that’s the only way I made it through this little trip, which should have left me pretty worn out and haggard.  (Certainly my decision to “celebrate” throughout the day alone should have left me a little slow.)  Nope. I’m feeling great. Been feeling great all day. Such is the impact of this level of Eagles Awesomeness: it might have the power to cure hangovers and remove the need for sleep. We’re having scientists, trained scientists, look into it right now.

My day-after storylines and bulletpoints (written mostly without my usual embarrassingly exhaustive review of the mainstream post-game content, but we’ll take what we can get):

All hail the defense. Um, so at what point can we suggest that this is the best Eagles defense since 1991? What will it take? That defense, you might remember, didn’t shine like this one has in the post-season, and were more consistently dominant. They also had a bit of mean-spirited swagger that doesn’t seem evident in this team. For all the ferocity that this Eagles defense brings on the field, they’re not bullies. They’re not the Ravens. They just succeed, but without seeming to engender many bad vibes from opponents.

All that said, the worst thing I’ve ever heard uttered about Brian Dawkins. I actually heard someone a few rows back say, “I hope Brian Dawkins breaks his leg.” Out loud! Doesn’t he know that God might be listening and will surely punish him dearly for such a remark?

One of these weeks someone will figure it out. Westbrook doesn’t have it. He doesn’t. He’d love to prove us all wrong (like he did on the screen pass against the Vikings), but the jump isn’t there. We probably won’t get a straight answer on how hurt he is for a long time — some knee thing, the dread high ankle sprain, the ribs — hopefully at least three weeks. But he isn’t the weapon that we imagine him to be. Part of that probably has to do with the defenses he’s faced in the last month, but he just doesn’t look quite as quick. Still, as long as he’s willing to step on the field, folks will have to ignore him at their peril — especially in a warm-weather game on grass.

So if B-West isn’t carrying the offense, who is? Well duh. It’s the quarterback and a suddenly consistent group of receivers. Is it fair to say that McNabb has entered a new stage in his career over the past two months? This might be worth it’s own post, but it sure feels like he’s bringing the polished passing skills he’s acquired in the past couple years together with a determination and desperation (especially on third down) that he seemed to have last had in 2002. And I’m probably imaginging things here, but he actually seems more confident than he has in a while. Even when things haven’t gone well the past couple weeks, he’s been fairly unflappable. Makes me smile.

The things we carried.  I took a commemorative white towel with Giants’ logos all over it from a marketing/ promotions drone when I entered the stadium. The attendant looked at my Trent Cole jersey and Eagles hat and gave me a “Really?” “I want a souvenir to remember this by.” Pretty happy with that decision. I’ll put it on the shelf with my Phils towel from the NLCS and my plastic coffee mug from Fourth-and-26.

Stoppable (!).  I couldn’t tell who turned on Eli first: the fans or Tom Coughlin. Folks in section 108 were not happy with young Mr. Manning yesterday. The pick to Samuel prompted a chorus of anti-Eli haterade from the assembled Giants’ fans. I cannot explain how happy this made me.  To see them turn so quickly: it meant they were very much on edge heading into the game, and suggested that they were rightly terrified of the Eagles.  And with so much time to play!  It was truly glorious.  Though I guess Coughlin wasn’t far behind the fans, in that he essentially gave up on throwing the ball in the second half.

Speaking of, you know who loves to say, “I told you so?”  Everyone.  But mostly Derek gets to say it today.  When he wrote this, I was just psyched that he was telling us the Giants wouldn’t win the Super Bowl (I was happy with “anyone but the Giants” at that point).  But to have the Birds be the ones to beat them, TWICE?  Heh heh heh. Take a bow.

And one more shot at the Giants’ fans.  Dude, y’all certainly left that stadium puh-retty early — certainly a lot earlier than I was personally convinced that the game was over.  I guess my pessimism about games not being over until they are actually over — which is what happens when your team surrenders two blocked-kick TDs at the end of the first half in a single season — is stronger than your willingness to cheer your team, THE DEFENDING SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS, until the final whistle of the season.  I mean, really, why bother?

Yeah, I’m still soaring with this one.  Go Birds.

(Correction: I unforgivably misspelled Brodrick Bunkley’s first name in an earlier post.  No excuses.  Bad form from me.  Sloppy.)

At least they’re not bringing up the Santa-Claus-and-snowballs thing
Posted on December 18th, 2008 at 6:17 pm by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Well, I suppose we should all be flattered.

Check about the above clip (about a month old) from HBO’s The Life and Times of Tim, kicks in about the 3:20 mark.

The premise is that Tim takes his girlfriend’s dad (a big Birds fan) to Giants stadium to hang out with Tim and his buddies (Giants fans all).  While there, the girlfriend’s dad is repeatedly insulted by loathsome and uncouth Giants fans, with the phrase “Suck It, Philly” as the unifying thematic element.

Some thoughts:

1.  At the risk of encouraging the Giants fans in my life, that’s a pretty solid catchphrase, and one I expect to hear quite a bit in the coming months/ years.

2.  As was observed on the e-mail string that brought me this clip as well as the comments on YouTube, um, it sort of seems like the Philly and New York fan roles are a bit reversed in this video.  As in, you’d expect it was the Eagles fan that peed on the Giants fan’s shoes.

3.  That said (a), we’ll take it.  For once, the joke isn’t about the thuggish Philly faithful and their Santa-hating snowballs and their in-stadium jail cells.

4.  That said (b), it’s kind of like they’re calling us sissies.  We’d better find someone’s shoes to pee on!

5.  They definitely don’t serve cheesesteaks at the Meadowlands.  The food there is effing awful.

6.  Insulted as I was, I really enjoyed: “‘It’ means ‘penis’ and that’s why there’s an arrow pointing to it.”

(HT Joe Z.)

Yup, sogniamo
Posted on December 10th, 2008 at 10:26 am by Cheesesteak Hoagie

Extremely long-time readers might recall some references to the wholly excellent A Season With Verona by Tim Parks.  It’s the journal of an English ex-pat novelist spending a season following a mid-table (which is generous) Italian soccer team.

It’s my favorite sports book, in that I think it does both a great job of probing what motivates us to be fans as well as explores the very real differences between the experiences of the fans and the actual folks playing the games.  Definitely worth reading (even if you don’t care about soccer), makes a great gift, etc.

Anyway, one of my favorite passages is Parks’ description of a banner hung by fans in the stadium early in the season that reads “Facci sognare,” or “Make us dream,” which pretty much sums up this whole experience of being a fan.  That is, we know our team only has a 1/32 chance of winning the Super Bowl (if that), but we don’t really care.  What we want to do is buy into the dream of winning, and enjoy that dream as long as we can, even if we end up disappointed.

Well, that’s where we are now.  After some serious mid-November crapulence, the Eagles are back in the hunt.  We’re doing a great job of convincing ourselves that this maddeningly inconsistent team will suddenly find its form, win its final three games (including two against division opponents to whom the Eagles have already lost, as if a five-game winning streak is no big deal, especially for said maddeningly inconsistent team), and sneak into the playoffs.

I don’t mean to go too Negadelphian on this, as I’m pretty bought in myself.  The odds of all this happening are about 35 percent.  The bigger point is that we have reason to dream (at least until they lose).  And none of us can be disappointed by that (it sure beats arguing about Donovan McNabb’s future).

Sogniamo!