Interested in rooting for one of the NFL's 32 teams -- but don't know where to start? Adam Rank has you covered with this series, which will present a handy guide to becoming an instantly rabid fan of each organization in the league. Below, find out why you should root for the Philadelphia Eagles.
What you need to know so you don't sound stupid
The Eagles are one of the top franchises in the NFL. It seems this way, right? They were consistently good for so long, especially under Andy Reid, you would just assume they'd have won a Super Bowl. But nope. Been to two. Lost both. Once to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. (Nothing to be ashamed of.) They also lost to Tom Flores' Raiders in Super Bowl XV. In fact, the Eagles haven't won a title since 1960, when it was just the plain, old NFL Championship. (Doesn't sound as cool, but still a championship!)
Yet the Eagles don't have the stench of some other non-Super Bowl winning franchises like the Browns and Lions. Those teams seem long-suffering. But not the Eagles. I'd say Philadelphia is a franchise that's more respected than some of the clubs with a Lombardi in the trophy case. Of course that's a reference to the Jets.
The reason? There's been a long history of competence in Philly. Chip Kelly era notwithstanding. And Rich Kotite. And Buddy Ryan and the Bounty Bowls. All right. Mistakes were made. But this is a good organization. With good fans. And yeah, we should talk about that ...
Eagles fans get a pretty bad rap. Because they are good fans. They are, uh, passionate -- that's a good way to put it. I mean, this was the home of ECW. Eagles fans are to the NFL what ECW fans were to wrestling: Maybe a little over the top, but hardcore fans who take their team seriously. And yes, there was a jail at the Vet. But that's overblown. According to former Eagles Court judge Justice Seamus P. McCaffery, 95 percent of those people arrested were not even from Philly. So stop it. (And please, never bring up the Santa Claus thing. Ever. Ever, ever, ever.)
Let's just say the Eagles fans are strict, but fair. Maybe harsh at times. They did boo Donovan McNabb mercilessly (infamously?) on draft night. That's right. Got in on the guy before he even strolled across the stage to take the jersey from the Commish. Hey, welcome to Philadelphia, kid!
But, I love the Eagles fans. It goes back to the time I was kicking it with a Philly guy at an Angels game, enjoying the Halos knock off the Yankees (as they do). And the Philly guy was all, "Wow, I didn't realize you guys hated Boston and New York as much as we did." And then we clinked our $4.50 beers (that's what they go for at Angel Stadium, mind you). So there is some sort of kindred spirit here. They are an East Coast team you don't mind rooting for. And when compared to their NFC East counterparts, the Eagles win that beauty pageant by a large margin.
And speaking of the Angels ... Did you know the best baseball player on the planet (maybe of all time) is an Eagles fan? That's right, Mike Trout. And he's not just some guy who throws on Eagles gear when stuff is great; dude has season tickets. And he sits in the front row. And, AND he gives them free gifts. Trout handed out free shoes to the Eagles at the end of the 2016 season. I bet Carson Wentz hasn't taken them off yet. Not even in the shower! All right, that turned weird. But while we're talking about the young QB ...
The Eagles won the 2016 NFL Draft, mostly because they drafted Carson Wentz and not Jared Goff. I kid, Jared. But Carson enjoyed more success during his rookie season, winning big early, including a huge W over the Steelers. In fact, Wentz and the Eagles smoked Pittsburgh, 34-3. And then, perhaps, people got a little enthusiastic.
Let's be honest: It's one thing when it's a bunch of fans making quirky T-shirts. Quite another when the league's official site is making it.
The Eaglespicked up LeGarrette Blount in free agency. I really dig this move. Philadelphia hasn't had a bruising back like this in what seems like forever. Who was the last one, Ricky Watters? Am I forgetting somebody? But Blount also brings veteran leadership to the team that needs one last little push to make that next step. And if it's true he's going to be used as a receiver out of the backfield, look out. There will be a lot of secondary folks making business decisions.
Fletcher Cox is my spirit animal
My favorite part of the gridiron grapple was that Cox didn't bother to help Rivers up.
Haters gonna hate
No doubt you will get some grief] from the other NFC East fans about the *no Super Bowl* thing. But hey, [Cowboys fan, when was the last time you won a Super Bowl? I don't know why you're laughing, Redskins fan -- the highlight of your team from the last 25 years is your quarterback (the one you didn't trade for) yelling at reporters. And hey, Giants fan ... Well, you beat Tom Brady. Twice. Sorry, Eagles fans -- you're just gonna have to wear that one.
They will always tell you about
Obviously, the biggest win in club history was the 1960 NFL title. But it's not like a bunch of dudes sit around, eating Tastykakes and waxing nostalgic about the game. I mean, hell: I was at a Super Bowl gathering a few years back and there was a dude in a No. 60 Chuck Bednarik jersey. So I asked my friend, a die-easy Eagles fan, "Is that a Concrete Charlie jersey on that guy?"
"I'm done here."
So I talked to the jersey wearer. Asked him about the garment in question. It was an homage (as I had figured). He got a little teary and said, "I told my daughter this morning, somebody was going to appreciate this jersey. I didn't think it would be somebody so young. Or wearing an L.A. Xtreme jersey."
So I'd like to say the 1960 title bout is what "they will always tell you about." But in reality, it's the 1980 NFC Championship Game. You beat the Cowboys in a huge playoff game. Not a Tony Romo playoff game. But you knocked off the 1970s dynasty Cowboys. That won't be topped until the team wins the Super Bowl.
The one they will never get over
The 2002 NFC Championship Game. The final game at the Vet! No way they could lose! Everything seemed to be pointed in the Eagles' favor, especially since they played host to the Bucs, who were like 0-184 in temperatures below 89 degrees.
Brian Mitchell returned the opening kickoff 70 yards and you thought the Vet's implosion might come early. The place was going bananas. Then the unpleasantness happened. A bunch of stuff went against the Eagles and then Ronde Barber ended all hope with a 92-yard pick-six to clinch it. You were right to boo McNabb! (And to make matters worse, the Eagles would have totally beaten the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.)
The franchise's best
Obviously, Chuck Bednarik. I asked two of my Eagles buddies and they completely agreed with me. He was a combat pilot in World War II, the last of the 60-minute men in the NFL, and he hit Frank Gifford so hard in 1960 dude had to retire for a season. And then change positions. Nobody could personify the Eagles like Bednarik. (And he really wasn't taunting Gifford in that famed photo. Honest.)
Not enough credit
Randall Cunningham was the tops, man. I'm shocked neither Eagles homer mentioned him. It's too bad Randall didn't live in the YouTube generation because he'd be considered the best of all time. I mean, he's still alive, so he's technically living in the generation. But if he was playing during the YouTube generation ... You get it.
Closing fun fact
The Eagles would make a fine team to root for. Let's start with that Mike Trout thing again. Imagine if you ran into Trout out in the world and you were wearing Eagles gear. You'd get a head nod, for sure. Which would be pretty great. So you have that going for you. I know a lot of people aren't expecting much from this team this year, but I think that's a mistake. You have a quarterback of the future you can really believe in. You surrounded him with some Super Bowl winners (don't sleep on Torrey Smith, either). Jim Schwartz as a defensive coordinator is pretty great. And like I said, I love the Eagles fans (who also count Angels announcer Mark Gubicza among their ranks, which is really probably only cool to me, but whatever). They were great as hosts of the draft this year, and who wouldn't want to be a part of that? Plus, you get to hate on the Cowboys and Giants, which is pretty sweet. Fly, Eagles, fly!