The 2002 season was a lot of fun for Eagles fans. The team went 12-4. They won with Donovan McNabb, Koy Detmer, and even AJ Feeley. The offense set a franchise record for points scored. The defense was great. STs were a weapon back then. Life was good right up until that fateful day when the Bucs closed The Vet down with a 27-10 win. The image of Ronde Barber picking off that pass will haunt us all for a long time.
The Eagles had a pair of key free agents to deal with in the offseason. DE Hugh Douglas was coming off a 12.5 sack season. LB Shawn Barber was an athletic playmaker who led the team in solo tackles. No matter if you went to ESPN, Pro Football Weekly, The Sporting News, USA Today or wherever, Barber and Douglas were considered 2 of the Top 10 free agents in the entire league. Keeping them would keep the Eagles atop the NFC.
Since the team had lost Jeremiah Trotter in free agency the year before I was nervous about what would happen with Douglas and Barber. They were the 2 best players on the right side of the defense. You just didn’t want to lose them.
My primary sources of information back then were PhiladelphiaEagles.com, Philly.com, and the major football sites. I got plenty of good information, but there wasn’t much in the way of scoops or breaking news. There was no Twitter. There were no blogs. All the stories at that time talked about the Eagles need to re-sign Douglas and Barber, but no one gave any clues as to what was going to happen.
I was desperate to know what might be going on. While reading a story at PE.com I saw something about the message boards. I thought about checking them out, but message boards at the time had a terrible reputation (still do, mostly). Did I want to waste my time reading crap from a bunch of lunatics? The answer turned out to be “yes”. My hope was that someone on Philly TV or radio would have some inside scoop (right or wrong) that would offer insight or at least hope and that would get posted on the MB. In hindsight, I guess I was looking for Howard Eskin. That sounds so wrong, huh?
So I joined the Eagles Message Board in March of 2003. I hoped for info, but sadly didn’t find what I was looking for. I did happen to see a lot of odd questions and topics. While reading one I decided to answer somebody’s question. I don’t recall the subject, but it was something I considered obvious info. I didn’t think of it as a big deal. Then I answered another question. And another. And so on.
I never told anyone I was some football guru or anything like that. I just answered questions and offered my opinions. My username “goeagles99″ became pretty well known inside of the first couple of months I was on the EMB. The team lost Douglas and Barber in FA. The team signed Nate Wayne and traded for Mark Simoneau. Being the nut-job I am, I watched game tape of them from 2002 and posted my thoughts. EMBers weren’t used to having someone that kept game tapes from other teams laying around for such purposes.
The season started and I began writing my Detailed Game Reviews. That was something else that just hadn’t gotten done before. Who had the time or desire to study a game and write several thousand words on it? A nut-job like me. I began writing a lot about the draft after the season. One day I posted some pre-Combine notes. That got a good response. I wrote a long draft preview for the EMB and one of the guys I listed as a favorite player was OT Trey Darilek. The Eagles then took him in the 4th round. That made people realize I wasn’t totally a nut-job. I actually had some idea what I was talking about.
I continued writing about the Eagles and the draft on the EMB. In the summer of 2004 I started a simple thread in TATE (Talk About The Eagles) called Eagles Blog. The initial discussion was about the Eagles DL. That thread lasted until April of 2009. It turned into a brilliant discussion. I might have started the discussion, but there was great insight coming from all over. PhillyPhreak54 was the Training Camp guru. shlynch (Sam) was the contracts/cap expert. justrelax was the OL guru. There were other posters who kept the conversation smart and interesting. Flying Dutchman was the strength training guru. FranklinFldEBUpper was the STs guru. Guys like rhino, mcud, SwamiStubbs, mrmulti, SarasotaPhil, Matt, dukebowden, RealCrippler, InfiniteSeriesN, baloophi, austinfan, eaglesnut and TSOP were huge contributors. I’m leaving out dozens more. The blog truly became a great place for information and opinions.
In late 2005 I launched ScoutsNotebook.com with a friend from the EMB, Matt Alkire. Sometime in the spring of 2007 I began talking to Dave Spadaro about writing a column for PE.com. That came to fruition as the season opened. I wouldn’t have gotten the column if not for the support of many EMB readers. They were the ones who really sold Dave on the idea. I think NYC Eagle was the guy who was the most relentless.
With stuff on the EMB, PE.com, and ScoutsNotebook, I figured it would be smart to start a blog so I could point people to my content from one central location. I started EaglesBlitz in September of 2008. It looks like an assignment that a 4th grader would get a C+ on, but my intent wasn’t to have that turn into a major project. In March of 2009 I broke a story about Sheldon Brown getting deal to Cleveland and my traffic jumped substantially. At that point I realized I needed to have a decent looking blog. After the 2009 draft, my old buddy Sam approached me about joining Iggles Blog. That seemed like an ideal fit and so I jumped right over there. That was great, but lasted for less than a full year. Derek was the leader of Iggles Blog and the birth of his second child made him decide that either the site or the family had to be put on the back-burner. I’m assuming he flipped a coin and the family won out so Iggles Blog was no more.
I spent a couple of months writing for BGN before starting Iggles Blitz in the spring of 2011. I still write for PE.com. I still run ScoutsNotebook. I did mix in a short stint at The Huffington Post as well, but that seemed like an odd spot for draft info so I focused on the sites where I felt a better connection.
None of this wouldn’t have happened if not for the EMB. People love to make fun of message boards, but joining the EMB had a profound effect on me. It gave me an outlet to do some writing. I have been studying the draft and free agents since the 1990′s. I just never had a place to share my thoughts. I studied Ian Beckles when the Eagles signed him. I remember getting excited when the team made a play for DE Simon Fletcher. I was fired up when we signed DT Bill Johnson in March of 1998. I have legal pads with notes on the draft prospects I liked and disliked. I hated the Todd Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell picks. Derrick Burgess was my favorite player in the entire 2001 draft. I was blown away when the Eagles took him. Corey Simon was a no-brainer. Back then I just yelled this stuff at the TV or mentioned it to friends. Living in NC, I didn’t have a lot of Eagles pals to discuss players with.
There are plenty of bad message boards out there. The EMB isn’t one of them. The Eagles promoted it, ran it well, and made it a good place. Kudos to Dave Spadaro, his staff, and the Moderators for that. Kudos to Jeff Lurie or whomever in the organization let the Eagles spend time and money on the EMB. Not all 32 teams had a MB back then, let alone a good one.
Think about the Eagles Blog thread I mentioned earlier. I was in there. So was Sam. There was an author (Tom McCallister). There was a successful television writer and author. There was a documentary filmmaker. Lawyers. Corporate types. Professors. This wasn’t a bunch of guys screaming “Reid suckz!!!” over and over. Those people existed, but they are everywhere. There was plenty of good content and plenty of good people. I loved my time on the EMB. I’ve been inactive for a couple of years, but only because of time limitations.
I can’t tell you all the friends I’ve made from the EMB. I’ve gone to Eagles games with them. I’ve gone to Training Camp with them. I’ve met them for drinks in NC, PA, and out in L.A. I’ve had long phone conversations with them. These friendships began online, but were great when we met in person. I can honestly say that I’ve not run into a single bad person from the EMB. If anything, we get along even better in person than online.
Here is a picture of me (black t-shirt) and the “Welcoming Committee”, a group of Eagles tailgaters that made sure visiting teams felt welcome as they drove into The Linc. This was from my first Eagles game, a MNF win over the Vikings in September 2004. You simply can’t go wrong hanging out with Jay, Bob, Chris, Sean, Travis, Mike, and the rest of the gang. Great guys.
I don’t know where I’ll be in 10 years. Back in 2003 when I signed up as goeagles99 I sure didn’t expect to have a blog where 6,000 people gathered every day to discuss the Eagles.
Thanks for a decade of great memories and friendships. Can’t wait to see what the future holds.
* * * * *
For those who are from the EMB, let’s take a little trip down memory lane.
* Back in March of 2004 the Eagles were trying to get TO. He was trying to get to Philly. The media did a terrible job of covering this situation. There was a poster on the EMB who provided the best insight. I think the poster was named Muzzy or something like that. He/she was a lawyer and took a look at TO’s contract, which somehow had gotten online. The consensus was that TO’s agent, David Joseph, had royally screwed up. TO had the right to void his deal. The cut-off date for him doing this came in late Feb. or early March. The date for using the franchise tag came before that cut-off date. For some reason, everyone thought the agent a fool. His client’s date came too late. But that was backward thinking. As the EMB poster explained, it was the Niners who screwed up, not the agent. The date for designating franchise players could come and go and then TO could opt out, making him a totally unrestricted free agent. I remember reading this on the EMB at 3am one night and being blown away. The NFL could not get around this. It was SF’s mistake. The Eagles agreed to the trade to help the league and Niners save face.
* Every summer Dave Spadaro would host the EMB Moderators up at Lehigh for a day. He’d take them out to lunch and get them special field passes. I really can’t imagine any other NFL team doing this. Great job by the Eagles. In 2006 the Mods were on the sideline watching practice when Tom Heckert’s phone rang. He was standing right by them. A guy known as Fast Freddie looked at Heckert and said “I hope that call is about a WR.” Absolutely classic. And we did deal for Donte Stallworth about a week later so who knows.
* My friend Allez Aigles got quoted in the newspaper a couple of times. That drove me nuts. I was desperate to get quoted, but that never happened.
* Back in 2004 we started keeping track of which players the Eagles met with prior to the NFL Draft. That is done now all over the place, but I think a guy named MuddyWaters20 was the first to do it. Kudos to him.
* A guy named TransplantedEaglesFan led philosophical discussions on a regular basis. I think he called it the Question of the Day or something like that. Really smart guy. Also loved arguing with him about Oliver Stone and movies in general.
* While the EMB was a source of much great Eagles and football discussion, it also led to some insanity. A guy named Hollywood Freddie innocently started a thread called The Logic of the Bucs. He was confused by some dumb moves the organization made. Me and a guy named MDS hijacked the thread to use it for our personal insanity. We had odd senses of humor (to put it mildly) and would just post oddball thoughts in there. That was great fun for a week. Then MDS got banned. I couldn’t let The Logic of the Bucs go to waste so djbigf and I turned it into a picture thread. We decided to post pics of hot celebrities from each decade. We started in the 40s or 50s with Lauren Bacall, Jane Russell, Marilyn and then worked up through the 1970s. Anyone could go find pics of Jennifer Anniston or some current babe. We wanted to focus on the Claudia Cardinale’s of the world.
The thread was entertaining and kinda cool if you liked older movies and retro stuff. djbigf is the king of pop culture knowledge, for the EMB and maybe Earth. One day a guy saw the pics and decided to add his own. In came raunchy babes with huge fake boobs. Another guy started adding girls with enormous butts. The thread went completely sideways at that point. Soon enough, a few naked pics got posted. That was a major no-no on the EMB. For some reason, no Mod saw them and no one told the Mods about them. That went on for maybe a week. Then things got really odd. A Giants fan posted a picture of a naked guy. That was brilliant and evil. We couldn’t tell the Mods to take it down. They’d see the naked ladies and close the whole thread. So for several days, if not a week, there was a picture of a naked man on the EMB. It was buried in a long, long thread, but that was pretty classic. The Logic of the Bucs might be the greatest EMB thread of them all.
* And now for random names/phrases that will only make sense to the EMBers…
His name was Robert Paulson
Aces 4 Eva
RIP Herb and Pat
Phil’s son invites the garbageman to dinner
Just PM Prophet 215 if you have any questions