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BIRDLAND: A Season In Hell

Photo by PIMPEXPOSURE

BY JOE PAONE IGGLES CORRESPONDENT Many in the local and national media expected the crowd to cause a bad scene last night at the Linc. Some didn’t just expect it; they salivated at the thought of it. After all, that lazy column or TV report—“Awful Philly Fans Boo Man Who Looks Like Santa Claus”—practically writes itself.

What they got, however, was a much more accurate sense of the state of this fan base: widespread apathy and an absolutely crushed spirit.

I’ve never heard a quieter Eagles crowd—and that, incredibly, includes preseason. Many, many season ticket holders either sold their seats for rock-bottom prices, or just ate their tickets altogether. All my rowdy friends in Section 127 either weren’t there, or spent much of the night staring at the field in shame and disbelief. One guy in my row looked at a lovely family of four who were sitting in seats usually occupied by some serious drinkers, and said, “Man, that’s child abuse, bringing those kids here for this slop.” The family immediately got up and left.

Before the game, the goofy Eagles Pep Band was in the plaza, playing “Fly Eagles Fly” for a few dozen gawkers. No one sang along, no one shouted “E-A-G-L-E-S” at the end of the song. It was weird, awkward, disturbing and, most of all, sad.

Why didn’t we boo Andy Reid? Why didn’t we boo everyone in Eagles green for the entire game? Well, give us some credit. We may be suckers for paying hundreds of dollars for tickets, but we’re also savvy enough to spot a lost cause. The game, quite literally, meant nothing. Not just for the standings, but for the fans too. Everyone knows Andy’s out of here after the season, along with a whole bunch of other people. Last night’s game was an exercise in nothingness. A black hole of irrelevance. A space filler. An existential malaise. Ennui.

The only people for whom the game really mattered were the players—some of whom may not be in the NFL next season because of how they’ve played during this one. Everyone in personnel departments around the league will see the tape and see the damning evidence.

Up in the stands, we’re tired, we’re fed up, we’re past caring about these remaining games. Last night provided the ultimate 2012 Eagles moment, as Bryce Brown carried it 65 yards for an electrifying touchdown that was greatly appreciated by the fans…until for some reason Andy went for a doomed two-point conversion with a shaky rookie QB in the second quarter of a 14-12 game. It took the air right out of the building again.

The defense again displayed its history-making suckitude. Nick Foles looked overwhelmed; on one pass, he stared down his receiver so obviously and for so long that one of my section-mates wondered whether Foles was actually just flirting with him across a crowded room.

Bright spots? Brown looked tremendous, gaining 178 slashing yards on the ground. Not to get lost in that stat: The offensive line played much better last night than it had in quite some time, opening holes for Brown and providing decent protection for Foles. But even Brown’s great evening was mitigated by his two costly fumbles.

Just for the record, we lost to what was a horrible 2-8 team, at home, on national television. That’s about as low as it gets. Presumably.

Change may be coming, but hope is dead. For now.

And I’ve got five more of these columns to write.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joe Paone has attended nearly every Eagles game with his dad since 1978 and he has the lasting psychological scars to prove it. He also runs a PR firm, plays rock music, and hunts New Yorkers for sport. You can follow him on Twitter  @Birdlandia or contact him at  BeeElevated@gmail.com.

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