The Fan Angle

Posted: March 30th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 74 Comments »

Something funny occurred to me in the past couple of days. I’m a fan of the Eagles, but I don’t really love the players in the same way that most others do. I used to live and die with players, but that has changed over time.

My first favorite athlete was Dr. J. I could not imagine a world without him being the star of the 76ers. I was delusional when it came to him. Even in the mid-80’s I was trying to rationalize how he was better than Bird, Magic or Jordan. Clearly, that wasn’t the case. I was lucky enough to see Doc end his career as a Sixer. I hated losing him, but he went out the right way.

That wasn’t the case for Reggie White, my favorite football player of all time. He left the Eagles in 1993 as a free agent. That tested my soul. I wasn’t going to quit being an Eagles fan, but his departure troubled me beyond words. I worshiped Reggie. Seeing him play for another team was just devastating.

The last time I felt anything close to that was when Troy Vincent left after the 2003 season. He was another player I loved. I didn’t think there would be any way the Eagles would let him go. Troy was good on and off the field. Troy did leave and that bugged the heck out of me. But it also changed me.

I no longer live and die with players. Brian Dawkins left. Okay. Donovan McNabb. Okay. Brian Westbrook. Okay. And so on.

I bring this up because the reaction from some fans to certain players goes beyond logic. It gets personal. We saw this with Dawk back in 2009. The same was true for Donovan in 2010. Michael Vick didn’t even have to leave to draw a freakishly passionate response from fans. His supporters got mad any time there was even criticism of him.

And now with DeSean we’ve seen some fans that are beyond outraged. They love him as a player. The Eagles losing a valuable asset is bad enough, but losing DeSean is so much worse. The fans love his explosive speed and the flair he plays with. Even if the Eagles replace his production, they won’t come up with a player that is as much fun to watch.

I have no emotional attachment to the players. I see them as commodities. I like them. I love watching some of them play. But time has caused me to develop thick skin. Players are going to come and go.

I somewhat envy those of you who identify with players so strongly. That makes being a fan more fun. But it also makes life miserable when your guy gets benched, leaves in free agency or, shocker of shockers, simply gets cut.

If I seem cold and indifferent to players at times, it isn’t personal. I’ve got nothing against McNabb or Vick or DeSean. I loved watching them star for the Eagles. I’ll have fond memories of them for a long time. But I won’t take it personally when they leave the Eagles. I’ll keep cheering for the guys in green, hoping for new stars to emerge and take their place.

* * * * *

I do have college players that I fawn over every year, whether Eric Berry, Sean Lee or Mike Patterson. As much as I love the kids, I don’t have the same kind of emotional investment in them since I’ve not followed them the way we would an Eagles player that is here for years and years.

There are some role players on the Eagles that I love (Derek Landri, Brian Rolle, etc.), but I know those guys are role players and I keep that in mind. Those guys are always expendable.


74 Comments on “The Fan Angle”

  1. 1 SteveH said at 11:47 PM on March 30th, 2014:

    Dawkins leaving was hard, but he’s really the only Eagle I’ve felt was irreplaceable.

    I actually wasn’t really opposed to the idea of Desean leaving, his act was kind of irritating to me, but having him leaved with no compensation hurts.

  2. 2 TommyLawlor said at 12:09 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    The no compensation part is painful.

  3. 3 SteveH said at 12:39 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Yeah, I figured we could get a 2nd for him. Obviously I was dreaming.

  4. 4 planetx1971 said at 10:25 PM on March 31st, 2014:

    Maybe so, but I sure feel like he was worth a 2nd. How many 2nd rd. draft choices by any team in any draft end up being as big of a game changing force as he has been? Cryin’ shame his baggage messed everything up.

  5. 5 tag1555 said at 2:45 PM on April 3rd, 2014:

    For some of us old-timers, seeing Harold Carmichael in Dallas blue was close.

  6. 6 Poppi said at 12:03 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Tommy this is known as “tribe mentality” – all of us who have the love of a team share in its irrational loyalty to a team. Don’t worry its normal. Its just more fun when its a winning tribe.

  7. 7 TommyLawlor said at 12:10 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Winning does make all the difference in the world.

  8. 8 SteveH said at 12:42 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I read about a study a couple years ago that the reason it feels so good when you win, especially pulling out as tight win over a rival opponent, is that you’re actually celebrating not losing. Something about retaining social status or some such. IDK, the particulars are a bit fuzzy, but I thought it was fascinating that the warm happies you get are actually about not losing rather than the fact that you won.

    Edit: I should amend this as I now remember, the dread you feel during a close battle is the fear of the loss of social stature, and the joy you feel when you pull out the win is actually the relief of having not lost.

  9. 9 suthrneagle said at 12:59 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    They call that a sigh of relief.

  10. 10 bubqr said at 4:47 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Lots of social science studies have shown that fear of losing is a bigger incentive than hope to win. This explains the overall coach reluctance to gamble on 4th down, 2nd point conversions, etc.

  11. 11 D3FB said at 12:13 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Have you found any prospects deserving of your undying adulation yet this year Tommy?

  12. 12 TommyLawlor said at 12:14 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Love Sammy Watkins to death.

  13. 13 planetx1971 said at 10:34 PM on March 31st, 2014:

    Are there any players with the same afformentioned adulation that we actually have a shot at drafting?

  14. 14 TommyLawlor said at 12:14 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I’m no NBA expert…how on Earth are the Sixers 2 games better than the Bucks?

  15. 15 D3FB said at 12:16 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    The team prior to the trade deadline was just a bad NBA team, after moving their vets at the deadline, they are a glorified D-League team.

  16. 16 SteveH said at 12:39 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Milwaukee spaced out their epic ineptitude, the Sixers decided it was best to cram it into one 26 game sized package.

  17. 17 Insomniac said at 12:25 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Maclyn sucks. Trade 4 Gordun.

  18. 18 SteveH said at 12:43 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    … Like Josh Gordon? Hell yes!

  19. 19 Insomniac said at 12:58 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Too bad it won’t happen now. Well it’s not likely anyway.

  20. 20 teltschikfakeout88 said at 2:51 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I think he is one failed drug test away from being suspended……not likely anyone makes a move for him….

  21. 21 Insomniac said at 1:02 PM on March 31st, 2014:

    I think he’s worth the risk. If anything he’ll wake up after DeSean was cut or he could continue to be a top 5 WR pothead.

  22. 22 Scott J said at 10:19 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Gordon is one drug test away from a years suspension.

  23. 23 Jerry Pomroy said at 10:22 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Was Gordon PEDs, or something else? I can’t recall off the top of my head…

  24. 24 Insomniac said at 1:01 PM on March 31st, 2014:

    marijuana suspensions in college but I’m not sure what he did last year.

  25. 25 Insomniac said at 12:58 PM on March 31st, 2014:

    just keep him away from DeSean and his crip homies then we’ll be fine.

  26. 26 Mike Cappelli said at 12:38 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I don’t think I could handle watching him play for the redskins

  27. 27 suthrneagle said at 12:46 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Who knew Philly sports teams could lead to such emotional growth?
    First puppylove leads to a jealous lover ,then to a divorcee, who still has warm feelings for the ex…

  28. 28 SteveH said at 12:49 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    If he joins the Redskins I wonder how many will turn from warm feelings to bitter hatred. It’s the right thing to do as an Eagles fan but the way some people have been reacting you wonder if they put their allegiance to Desean over allegiance to the team, kind of how old ATL fans were with Vick.

  29. 29 suthrneagle said at 1:00 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    DJ,RW and TV;
    the aforementioned
    3 stages of growth

  30. 30 Insomniac said at 1:14 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I could care less if he lights us long as we get the last laugh.

  31. 31 suthrneagle said at 1:50 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    If he joins the Redskins I think the fans will have more of sense of dejection, then pity.
    First it`ll be sad to see him play for division rival, then compassion (like for a wayward child) as he`ll suffer on that team(they really are bad).

  32. 32 dropscience said at 1:38 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Dawkins never left, Tommy. Stop saying he did!

  33. 33 Cafone said at 1:48 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    You mentioned something similar once before, that you weren’t as emotionally invested in the outcome of games as you once were.

    It’s because you’re getting old. Same here. If you were still as emotionally invested in players now as you were when you were 15-20 years old it would mean you were an immature man child. Frankly, being into spectator sports at all is a sign of immaturity and a lack of culture. But it gives us something to talk about with our friends and our Dads and our Uncles so it’s not all bad.

  34. 34 suthrneagle said at 2:14 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    being into sports at all is a sign of immaturity and a lack of culture.

    You could not be farther from the truth.
    I live in another country and the difference between the youth here as opposed to growing up in the USA is night and day. There you learn to be part of a group,learn to work with others toward a common goal, learn to be an idividual yet an integral part of the whole. Sports develop the body , mind and soul. Teaches the importance of dedication ,hard work, practice,…

  35. 35 IrishEagle25 said at 4:04 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Absolutely for example like im Irish and the National sport here hurling, even at the highest level, is amateur.. You’re brought up to play for pride of where your from, You play for your club (locally), your school, and your county(country split into 32 of them) Like the Players that you would see on television playing all have paying jobs to go to monday to friday. But are still revered as heroes for their work on the pitch. And i think it develops you as a person much better that way, as when your growing up and your not being financially motivated to do well and its for pride in the jersey you have on, winning is that much sweeter, and it teaches you those proper values that should be associated with sports that you mentioned.. Now for some fun, heses a video of it… Has been accurately described as hockey crossed with murder..

  36. 36 Jerry Pomroy said at 10:17 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    That’s actually a pretty cool sport. Can’t believe there weren’t more guys wearing helmets!

  37. 37 IrishEagle25 said at 10:26 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    They were only made compulsory 2 years ago.. but even then they are only plastic with a small foam layer inside, a good swing will break one in half, and its happened ha..

  38. 38 pkeagle said at 5:40 PM on March 31st, 2014:

    Where are you from?
    I’m originally from Wexford but I’ve been living abroad for nearly 20 years now. Will never forgot our All Ireland victory against Limerick in ’96 though!!

  39. 39 IrishEagle25 said at 6:24 PM on March 31st, 2014:

    Haha I’m from limerick, and strangely enough my girlfriend is from offaly and won’t let me forget the ’94 final… Limerick GAA unlimited heartbreak

  40. 40 bubqr said at 5:28 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    ” Frankly, being into spectator sports at all is a sign of immaturity and a lack of culture”

    This emotional attachment we have with team and players is what makes watching the game/following sports in general such a rewarding experience. Yes watching a loss gets me down, pretty depressed at times, but there’s not a lot in life that can’t compare to an amazing comeback such as Desean Jackson PR vs the Giants for example, that will remain one of my best Eagles memories ever.

    In fact, while us sports fans are often ridiculed by “intellectuals” with similar statements than this, I pity them, who don’t experience those emotions. I realised not long ago that the moments of fear, excitement, pure joy, adrenaline rushes, etc. you experience while watching a team or players you really care about are not very common, and I learned to cherish them. I thought about stopping to watch sports entirely because of how down it sometimes did bring me, but realised the ups make it totally worth it.

  41. 41 ICDogg said at 7:39 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I wouldn’t quite put it that way. Being into spectator sports is not immature, however failing to keep them in their proper perspective is.

  42. 42 planetx1971 said at 3:11 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I agree ALMOST completely about not getting wound up anymore when players go. With Reggie, my father & I were catatonic for ages. Nearly inconsolable. We were completely freaked out & scared of free agency in it’s infancy I remember as well. Where I differ though was Dawkins. I hadn’t mourned a player leaving since Reggie, but with Dawk, I was completely DEVASTATED. Mcnabb? Did great things but I was almost indifferent. With D-Jax I worry a bit about replacing his production, but don’t care beyond that. So at this point I’ll just put my faith in Chip & move on. GO BIRDS!!

  43. 43 P_P_K said at 6:05 PM on March 31st, 2014:

    Considering how much class Dawk exhibited, I hated the way he left. He’s my second favorite all-time Philly athlete, right after Dr J.

  44. 44 JJVJACK said at 4:32 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I think part of the problem with the DeSean thing is more Team. We looked like we had a great offense with everyone returning. People knew the Defense needed help and this was a strong draft. Now one of are strengths is a major weakness and we wonder if only having 5 picks and another need what will happend. People are wondering how bad we will be, and were are we headed. With a guy coming off injury and another only having one good year. Plus are 1 and 4 receivers gone and no competition spells need. So maybe people seem more attached to losing DeSean but I think it is the big picture and not liking where it’s headed. Then throw in the Mathis thing. Blame them if you want but I don’t.

  45. 45 IrishEagle25 said at 4:40 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    They could also be looking to run more… Now I know we had a righ Run:Pass ratio last year, but it was mostly shady from what i remember.. maybe in year 2 shady might see his carries drop so he isint worn down, but Brown/Polk /Sproles might take up more carries than what shady loses + what they had last year, That coupled with ertz and celek being on the field together more and getting a reciever in the draft, I think we will still have a very goof Offence at least

  46. 46 Anders said at 7:07 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I do wonder how 1 player can make a unit go from major strength to major weakness.

    I wouldnt call Ertz, Maclin, Cooper, Sproles, Benn etc a weakness.

  47. 47 ICDogg said at 7:35 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    If you have a guy who commands bracket coverage that means a safety has to stay back who might otherwise be helping defend against the run.

  48. 48 eagleyankfan said at 7:57 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I think it was a combination of things, including spreading the offense. Eagles will do the same with Sproles to create mis-matches. I think the Eagles will be successful on offense, but clearly not as good because of that deep threat DJ posed. Unless of course, he’s replaced at some point…

  49. 49 Anders said at 8:01 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    but the Eagles already saw the most cover 1 of any teams, not like teams are now going to play cover 0 against us.

    Also if we go Cooper, Ertz, Maclin, Sproles, there are only gonna be 6/7 in box depending on if Ertz is in line. If Sproles, Cooper or Maclin shows that more than 1 of them needs double coverage, it will be 5.

    Yes we go down a little, but people talk like we are going from a top 3 offense to bottom 3 without Jackson

  50. 50 JJVJACK said at 8:01 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I did not say Major strength but still losing your #1 means your other ones have to step up even more and Maclin is coming off Major surgery. Add in Avant is gone and Ertz played better near end of year but lots of drops, Sproles is not a receiver and Benn come on. Plus who is going to stretch Defenses out. Maclin coming off ACL but believe what you want. The Redskins went from first to worst and did not lose any major players.

  51. 51 Anders said at 8:16 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I think Ertz had 1 drop all year

  52. 52 Anders said at 8:17 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    The Skins went from worst to first because their best play RG3 was coming back from an ACL.

    In 2012, Maclin had more 20+ receptions than Jackson

  53. 53 eagleyankfan said at 7:58 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Major weakness? Not even close.

  54. 54 Finlay Jones said at 5:27 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    If you think the desean reaction is bad now, wait till he signs with the skins

  55. 55 Daniel Norman Richwine said at 6:43 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    You will change your tune when the Eagles win a SB. there will be one player you think most responsible, and you will fall in love once more.

  56. 56 TommyLawlor said at 7:04 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Can’t wait for that to happen.

  57. 57 A_T_G said at 8:13 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Well, you are just going to have to wait. That player is in 3rd grade right now, it would be a little creepy to start idolizing him now.

  58. 58 Bob Brewer said at 7:29 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Tommy, I have similar thoughts but a different conclusion. I have always thought that growing up in a free agency era, Gen Xers thought like you. Except in unique circumstances (NYY fans and Jeter), today’s fan roots for the uniform rather than the player. Personally, there are no Philly athletes that I root for just because of who they are. Not Hamels, Rollins, Howard, Utley, Lindros, Giroux, Dawkins etc. It didn’t crush me when Carter and Richards were traded, I thought the moves were best for the organization.

    With DeSean, I’m not upset DeSean is gone because he’s DeSean Jackson. I have a hard time seeing how this move helps the uniform. He’s being cut for reasons that few of us will truly know.

    As an Eagles fan, it makes this situation difficult to handle.

  59. 59 eagleyankfan said at 7:41 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    It’s funny you say NYY fans and Jeter. I guess I’m always the exception to these rules, or in my own head, logical. Losing Mariano is the greatest impact. Maraino was, imho, THEE greatest Yankee of my generation. Why? Because I still think the Yankees would have won without Jeter. I don’t think the Yankees win without Mo. I’m not saying Jeter isn’t great(that’s where people get upset). Jeter IS great. He just doesn’t walk on water like some think.
    That carries over to football. My first jersey — R. White. The other players you mentioned were loved but it was time to move on. Did they have 1 year left? Maybe — but big deal really. They weren’t going to help win at that stage of their career. That’s where DJ is a little different too. My opinion always was he’s a thug and Mesean. I liked to call him a one trick pony(even though, that wasn’t always the case) That’ll never change but he was very productive and in his prime. We didn’t lose Dawk/5 in their prime. People would have lined up at the bridges if that happened. I’m an Eagles football fan first. Than a player fan. When players I like leave, I still follow them.
    I don’t hate the coaches for making those moves. They have decisions to make that I can’t fathom because I’m not in their shoes. What I CAN hate are decisions that appear to me that are utterly stupid. Starting Vick last year. ITS STILL NOT A KNOCK ON VICK. It was a case the Eagles were not going to win anyway, so why not see what Foles can do. Keeping guys like Allen and Mathews on the team — ugh and R. Brown years ago. UGH. Keeping this FG kicker. No offense to him, but man, he stinks. 🙂

  60. 60 ICDogg said at 7:31 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    For the most part I’ve had a similar detachment. The only ones that really got me were the real, actual tragedies – Jerome Brown and Pelle Lindbergh.

  61. 61 GermanEagle said at 7:43 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    In other news. Baseball is back. Go. Phillies….

  62. 62 eagleyankfan said at 7:53 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    Baseball started? The Mets are officially eliminated.

  63. 63 D3FB said at 4:08 PM on March 31st, 2014:

  64. 64 austinfan said at 8:22 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    If you’re Howie/Chip, you can’t afford to get emotionally involved with your players, nor can you afford to merely live in the present. You have a constant three year plan that you’re updating as new information becomes available and circumstances change.

    So some fans see DeSean’s departure as a disaster, the fact they were trying to trade him last year means Chip didn’t see him as a good fit from the get go, he wasn’t in the three year plan, and his cap hit and ‘tude made him a liability going forward. I’m sure he studied DeSean’s playoff performances and other games and realized he could be shut down by good defenses – that’s not a cornerstone player. Now Chip schemed to get the most out of DeSean in 2013, but he also knows that defenses adjust and you can’t just assume that performance will be repeated.

    They wanted to get Maclin signed to a long-term deal at a reasonable number, because that three year plan includes allocation cap room among different parts of the team, and Chip doesn’t want to spend too much on offense at the expense of his defense, he knows he can scheme production out of good but not great players, but needs a certain level of athleticism on defense (there are no cheap good rush LBs). If Maclin has a huge year and wants $10+M, odds are they’ll move on.

    There are tradeoffs in building a team, so many draft picks, so much cap room, the need for flexibility because players get injured and don’t perform up to expectations. The Eagles could have afford Byrd and DeSean, but that would have meant less flexibility now and in the future. Both Byrd and DeSean are limited physically (Byrd is a cover 1 CF with below average speed, DeSean is an outside speedster who is severely undersized), while guys like Jenkins and Maclin may be less talented but are more versatile.

  65. 65 Scott J said at 10:16 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I’ve adjusted my mindset over the years. Losing, especially in the playoffs, can be VERY frustrating – and not worth getting stressed out over. I also don’t care as much about players. I only care about how they perform on the field. Signing Vick was a hard pill to swallow, but it made me realize that no matter what I think or want, the Eagles will do what they think will help their team.

  66. 66 Jerry Pomroy said at 10:26 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I honestly don’t think that the initial signing of Vick was ultimately viewed as helping the team as much as it was helping him, in “hope” of “maybe” helping team. Seemed much more of a pity signing at the time.

  67. 67 shah8 said at 2:35 PM on March 31st, 2014:

    Would you have liked two or so full years of Kevin Kolb? And no Monday Night Massacre or Miracle in the Meadowlands? Even negatively, wasn’t the horror of 2011 kind of compelling?

  68. 68 mark2741 said at 10:37 AM on March 31st, 2014:

    I’m with you, Tommy. I don’t really cheer at all for individual players. They come and go. These guys aren’t from here (Philly). They might grow to like it but truth be told, most don’t. One thing I never understood was the angst so many fans have when a player voluntarily leaves Philly (or any place) to go to another team. If I were in my 20’s and no kids, I would want to travel as much as possible, live in new places. Places like San Diego, etc. If I were a player and no family I’d switch teams every few years if I could.

  69. 69 philliesfan136 said at 12:03 PM on March 31st, 2014:

    This is the dumbest article l have ever read ! Anyone reading this article …… please tell me about a time when you loved watching the Eagles ……. or a time that your remember fondly, and get excited when you think about (that team.

  70. 70 Maggie said at 12:33 AM on April 1st, 2014:

    Oh grow up. Your last sentence says exactly how it is.

  71. 71 Kristopher Cebula said at 12:38 PM on March 31st, 2014:

    Tommy, which college player will you fawn over this year?

  72. 72 shah8 said at 2:31 PM on March 31st, 2014:

    I don’t think there are all that many people who love Desean on any sort of personal level.

  73. 73 daveH said at 6:15 PM on March 31st, 2014:

    I cried for years that andy reid would NEVER LEAVE TOWN! but man, imagine if tommy lawlor left go to write for like the browns or something. that wud suck. id still rock my lawlor jersey with dudes saying ?WTF IS LAWLOR FOOL!??”

  74. 74 greenblood0118 said at 3:19 PM on April 1st, 2014:

    Geoff Mosher has a nail-in-the-coffin article about Jackson that should be required reading for all of our emotionally challenged comrades-in-green…