Heartbreak Potential

The Eagles are 10-1.  Oh my God, the Eagles are 10-1, but will they finally win the Super Bowl?

As a sports fan, you’re no stranger to heartache and disappointment. I don’t care what team, club or squad you support you’ve been in close quarters with having championships slip between your fingers. You’ve come close to drinking from that keg of glory, only to see  the finest bagels and muffins in all the land be shipped to some other city. The truly devoted come back year after year, and not because we are gluttons for punishment, totally delusional, or even potentially insane. The reason we take notice very spring training, minicamp, or summer league is the same reason I read Stephen King novels.

My first major sports disappointment was the ’93 Phillies World Series loss. This wasn’t just a “that’s a bummer” experience. Joe Carter left a thirteen-year-old Dave in tears at a time when he was too cool to show them and too young to hide them. These formative years are a time when you can really invest. You can stay awake to see the end of games. You can hang in there for those late night west coast swings. You’re reading the newspaper and fantasy sports was this cool new thing. However, sports isn’t your whole life at this age. You’re finally completing video games and reading “big boy” novels. What makes a thirteen-year-old boy feel more badass than reading Stephen King?  Ok probably lots of stuff, but that’s what did it for me. More to my point, what do a World Series loss, a hard-as-nails Nintendo game, and an epically long Stephen King novel have in common?

Horrible endings. Tears, “Conglaturation,” and aliens…in that order.

Looking back to that time in my life, I wouldn’t trade one top down dungeon crawl with Link searching for Triforce pieces. I wouldn’t trade one page of that band of friends pitting their courage against Pennywise the Clown. I wouldn’t trade one stormy night lying in bed listening to Harry Kalas call a Phillies game happening three thousand miles away under clear skies. Nostalgia aside, why am I writing about this?  Because the freakin’ Eagles are 10-1.

It’s week 12 and the Philadelphia Eagles have the best record in the NFL. So what’s the problem? The problem is that everyone is concerned about how far they’ll go. The sports talk landscape is abuzz with Super Bowl speculation, home field advantage aspirations, and the “once (or thrice)-bitten” fans reminding us of the pain of the past.  For me, it comes back to Stephen King and how he wrapped up his epic opus The Dark Tower. While the details of the ending are unimportant here, he tells us:

“You are the grim, goal-oriented ones who will not believe that the joy is in the journey rather than the destination no matter how many times it has been proven to you. “

As a long-tortured Red Sox fan himself (I’ve read both “Faithful” and “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon,” check them out), I think Mr. King can teach us a lesson here that goes beyond his own novels, beyond endgame screens, and beyond Buckner errors, but that may be a bit too heavy for this ramble of thoughts because the Eagles have the best record in football. Anyone who’s been an Eagle fan for any length of time can attest, this isn’t something we can say too often. So enjoy saying it.

Will the Eagles finally win that elusive Super Bowl? I can’t say. Will they represent the NFC? I can’t say. Will they win the one seed? I can’t say. Will Carson Wentz become one of the greatest of all time? Right, I can’t say. What I can say is that I dig every game. I soak up every snap. I laugh like kid with every touchdown celebration. I drive to work every Monday with a smile on my face listening to sports talk, hearing the national pundits gush over MY team. I know that Giants, Cowboys, and Reskins fans all want to be where we are, and it burns them up. I’m consciously enjoying the journey. I’ve made this mistake before getting too wrapped up how it will end. This year, this time, I don’t want it to end. The bye weeks have been torturous; I don’t even want to think about the end of the season.

What comes will come, but I am loving  this journey.

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