Of The Philadelphia Eagles, And The Man That Made Me A Fan

Of The Philadelphia Eagles, And The Man That Made Me A Fan

I considered staring this blog entry with an Eagles chant because… well? That’s what this blog entry is about. But doing so seemed a bit formulaic, this week especially. In case you don’t know–and unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few weeks, or in some far-flung suburb of Ishcabible–the Eagles… my Philadelphia Eagles are about to play in the Super Bowl for only the third time in their long and illustrious history. Just the opportunity to witness another run at the Lombardi Trophy (all three appearances have happened in my lifetime, but only two resonate with any significance for me… I was a few months shy of five years old in 1980) is an amazing feeling. I have high hopes for them this weekend… I’ve been saying for weeks that they’re the only team in the NFL currently that can run with the evil empire, i.e. the… grumble, grumble… New England Patriots and on Sunday? I get to find out if I was right. Am I skeptical? Of course I am. I’m a Philadelphia sports fan. And if they lose… again… I’m going to be very, very distraught. But if they win? Oh my goodness if they win? Wow. Just… wow. It will be the culmination of decades of bleeding green, and routing for them with every ounce of my heart, mind and soul.

But here’s a little known fact about me, and for those of you that have known me for decades, this may come as quite a shock. Believe it or not? I was not always a tried-and-true Eagles fan. My love affair with this team only goes back about 30 of my 42 years on this planet, somewhere on the right, or wrong side (depending on your perspective) of the great wormhole of existence. I came to the Eagles as a pre-teen, and first fell in love with the Kelly Green wearing collection of personalities that dominated the face of sports in this town in the time of Lee Elia and Von Hayes, Tim Kerr and Paul Holmgren. Names like Randall Cunnigham and Reggie White, Jerome Brown and to this day, my all-time favorite Bird, the legendary Keith Byars, i.e. Buddy Ryan’s medical marvel. And Buddy… oh, Buddy. You were just the guy to skipper those teams. Your personality was Philly, and Philly believed in you like they’d never believed in anyone before. Sure, you never won a playoff game but memories? Oh boy did you give us a million. Bounty Bowl and Fog Bowl? Man! Just writing it makes me smile.

So how did I come to embrace the Eagles at the ripe, young age of 13? Well? It wasn’t a decision I came to on my own. I was invited into the fandom by someone that is, sadly, no longer with us this chilly night in 2018 as we prepare for the biggest football game anyone in this town has seen in 14 years (only three more sleeps until Super Bowl Sunday!). I’ve met a lot of Eagle fans over the years but this guy? This guy was and always will be the biggest member of the Bird Gang that I’ve ever encountered. A gruff and chiseled, chain cigarette smoking ex-Midshipman who was… well? Whether he was fond of me or not I don’t know. At least early on. I can only speak for myself when I say, quite transparently that I couldn’t stand him and I did everything in my power to eliminate him from my life for a long time. That changed as he got toward the end of his all-to-short stint in this world in the late 90s but I’m getting way ahead of myself. Back to the 80s. To the time of Def Leppard and Tim Burton’s “Batman,” Jams and Jellies. And, of course, Journey, a band that is, incidentally, playing in the background as I write this.

One day, I was invited by this gentleman to sit down and watch an Eagles game with him and my mother. I remember that I knew football. I played it with my friends and watched the Super Bowl every year, but that was it. I can’t remember who they were playing that day though for some reason, I think it was the Redskins. It was one of the rare times I’d been invited by him to do anything so of course, I obliged. I sat down with a cup of powdered iced tea and a bowl of Snyder’s pretzels in front of me and tuned in. I remember I asked a lot of questions as the game went along. “Who’s that?” Eric Allen. “And that?Cris Carter. I learned that the Running Back was a guy named Anthony Tony and that the Kicker was a guy named Luis Zendejas. And by the time the first half ended and the second half began, he’d basically named every starting member of the team for me, the endless flow of questions ceased and I was able to watch and enjoy… really enjoy what I was seeing. I can’t remember if they won or lost the game. I guess a bit of research would answer that question. But it wasn’t the outcome of the game that stuck with me and caused me to come back and watch again, two weeks later, and every other Sunday after that from September until December, and some years into January well into the 90s. It was, quite frankly (no pun intended), the first time he and I had ever shared something in common. Watching the Birds play on Sunday became our church and temple. Our spirituality. Whether at his house or mine, we always sat down with our powdered iced tea and Snyder’s pretzels and gorged on football. We suffered through Rich Kotite together. We shared countless mainly first, but once or twice second round, playoff bounces together and grew fond of the adage, “there’s always next year.” We never went to a game live together, likely due to the fact that by the mid-90s, he had been diagnosed with Lung Cancer, an ailment that sadly took his life in March of 1997. He never got to see Andy or Jim, Five or Weapon-X. He never got to experience four straight NFC Eastern Division Championships, culminating in the 2004 Super Bowl versus the… grumble, grumble… New England Patriots at the onset of their now over a decade long dynasty. He was gone long before, his last memories those of Ray Rhodes and an embarrassing 6-9-1 record.

But do you know what, friends? He was there, even after he was gone. He was never far from my thoughts in the years following his untimely passing. My first thoughts were of him in 2001 when they advanced to their first of four consecutive NFC Championships. My first thoughts were of him in 2004 when they beat the Mike Vick-led Falcons and advanced to the Super Bowl (even as I drunkenly partied on the streets of Roxborough with my friends and then-girlfriend, Nicole Gentile). And when I cried after they lost two weeks later, it was his voice that I heard in my head and our oft-shared adage, “there’s always next year.” Next year happened, but it was an injury-riddled wash of a year that at one point found some scrub named Mike McMahon quarterbacking our team. Then came 2008 and the Birds’ last run at glory with Big Red at the helm. It ended with a loss to the Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game and that gruff voice, speaking in my head once again, “there’s always next year.” The Andy Reid era came to long-overdue close a few years later and gave way to the Chip Kelly era (shiver). And when I declared on the day that he was hired that “they’re going to win a Super Bowl under Chip,” it was his smile that I saw in my mind. Through all the highs and lows of my life bleeding green since the late 80s, he was there. Whether in body or in spirit, he was a constant presence, routing on our team, teaching me the Eagles Fight Song, urging me to get a Hugh Douglas jersey and not a McNabb one because “Defense wins Super Bowls, kid.” And this past Christmas, when my now-wife Nicole Marsh surprised me with a Carson Wentz jersey, my first since Hugh, it was his voice that I heard in my mind congratulating me on “finding a good one, Frank. She’s a keeper.”

I hear a lot of people talk about what it means to be an Eagles fan. It’s never easy. It’s an invitation to heartbreak. It’s always being an underdog. It’s a fraternity of beer swilling, cigarette smoking, five o’clock shadow wearing a**holes that like to throw snowballs at Santa Claus and cheer when Michael Irvin goes down with a season-ending injury. People don’t like us. The only thing that gets the routing world behind the team from Philly is when they’re playing the team from New England and even then, a good portion of Texas still tells us to go piss up a Crisco-greased light pole. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I’d never try to impose mine upon anyone. But the thing is, friends? There’s more… so much more to being an Eagles fan than the above listed criteria. Ask around and you’ll find that almost everyone that bleeds green has a story like mine. A tale of how they became a fan. A tale of that first memory of sitting down to watch a team of Kelly Green or Green, Silver and Black clad brothers going toe-to-toe with the expectations. Those brothers? Those teams? They’re family, folks. I may only watch them on Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from early August to the first of February, but they’re as much a part of my life, and the lives of many people here in and around the City of Brotherly Love as anyone. This Sunday night? I’m excited to sit down in my customary spot in my living room with my unwashed, number 11 jersey on, my Chip Kelly visor on the floor beside me and the remote control perched precariously on the arm of said chair beside me and watch them hopefully unseat the evil empire (because I’m not superstitious, sarcasm fully intended). The man that introduced me to them? The first person to tell me all the names of the players I was watching? He’ll be there with me too. Never far from my thoughts. And if …

No… when they defy the odds yet again and win? Then I’ll shout, and cheer, and sing the Eagles fight song over and over again, surrounded by my friends and family and yes, I’ll likely cry a bit because I know that somewhere, somehow the man that made me a fan of the greatest professional football team in the country with the most passionate fanbase of any team in the country will be doing the same. I’ll hear his voice in my head and this time? He won’t be saying “there’s always next year.” He’ll simply smile that big ol’ smile of his and say, with all the pride in the universe on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence…

“I told you so, kid.”

#FlyEaglesFly

F.

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In Which I Abruptly Break From Writing CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD to Discuss a Topic of International Importance

I say “abruptly” because as of five minutes ago, I was plugging away at Children of Endworld with reckless abandon. I took a break at page 216 to “deal” with what I and my wife, Nicole, like to call “The Revenge of Wings-To-Go” (and if you don’t understand what I’m talking about I’m not going to spell it out for you). When I returned to my computer, I minimized my empty email inbox to check the latest headline on CNN and saw:

CNN Breaking News – Dennis Rodman plans “basketball diplomacy” event involving players from North Korea. 

What little remained of yesterday’s late lunch/Sunday Night Football snack of reprocessed chicken product, smothered in either medium wing sauce or Teriyaki staged an entirely unexpected coup in my lower GI and I found myself once again in the bathroom “dealing” with the problem that has been plaguing me since I woke up this AM. Coincidence, or brought on by the mention of a now D-List, former sports star? I leave that for you to decide.

For those of you who have no idea who Dennis Rodman is, here’s your first lesson:

dennis-rodman-in-costume

As hard as this may be for those of you just now hearing about him to believe, the above pictured… personality is, in fact a Hall of Fame basketball player who won five… yes, five NBA Championships between the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. You may recognize him better in this picture:

220px-Rodman_Lipofsky

I swear it’s the same… um, “guy.” He is considered by many to be one of, if not the greatest defensive player in pro basketball history. He’s a two time NBA All-Star and a two time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. I could go on and on with his accolades but there’s really no need to. To the non-sports indoctrinated, Rodman has been the star of an ongoing reality series for the last two decades. Whether intentionally or not, he is the walking and talking definition of a “Train Wreck.”

Consider: His propensity toward dressing in drag, his movie career which lasted about as long as Vanilla Ice’s, his stint as a pro-Wrestler, his well documented alcohol abuse (not to mention his appearance on “Celebrity Rehab with Doctor Drew”), his shotgun marriage to Carmen Electra and subsequent divorce a few months later and a laundry list of legal issues ranging from battery to drunken driving. He is also the only person in the western hemisphere that the Communist dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong Un likes which makes him somewhat essential, presently.

Are you as scared as I am? Good. That was my intention. Please excuse me while I step away for a second and “deal” with the stabbing pains shooting through my midsection, presently.

I’m back. Ugh. I’m starting to think that The Revenge of Wings-To-Go is more incapacitating than Montezuma’s Revenge which I also once suffered from. That story = Another story for another time. Not now. Back to Rodman: I can appreciate quirky personalities, especially public ones. I, myself, am slightly quirky as anyone that knows me will tell you (though I’m far from a “public” personality despite this blog, my book, the 173 people that “like” me on Facebook and my 718 Twitter followers). But I’ve never worn makeup and made proverbial “sexy time” with a dictator.

Still, I can’t help but feel a bit of gratitude towards “The Worm.” This country has a lot on its plate, right now. Between Afghanistan, the War on Terror and the clusterf*ck that is the greater, Middle East… well, sh*t. At least we don’t have to “deal” with North Korea, presently. Rodman seems to have that once-problem well in check though admittedly, I’d prefer a more stable, less eccentric personality (i.e. someone with international policy experience) to a guy who I can totally envision seeing a big red button in Jong Un’s office, saying “what does this button do,” pressing it and instigating the Apocalypse.  Not for nothing, someone in DC should call him in for a little remedial diplomacy training. Foreign Policy 101: How to deal with a two-bit dictator who compensates for his gender crisis by threatening aggression. Emphasis on the word “threatening.” Personally, I don’t think he’s got the stones to try. I’d wager he doesn’t want his country turned into a parking lot.

Sorry if that last bit offended anyone. I’m not exactly adept at talking or, in this case, writing about politics or international affairs.  You’ll never see me guest blogging on the Daily Blaze or giving Anderson Cooper an interview about my feelings on Montezuma’s Revenge, and how it’s (conspiracy theory alert) actually an attempt by our southern neighbor to eliminate us one-by-one: An opening foray in what will one day be called The Second Spanish-American War, otherwise known as the war in which we conceded ownership of the southwestern U S of A to Mexico without a single shot fired because none of our soldiers were able to stay off the commode long enough to fire a weapon. Which reminds me…

Sorry. Duty called (and I don’t mean “doody” though… well, I guess I kind of do). Incidentally if you are completely grossed out/pissed off by this blog entry feel free to look away. I promise I won’t hold it against you.

Back to Mexico: I get it. Really, I do. They coax you to come and visit with the beauty of places like the Riviera and the history of places like Mexico City. But what they neglect to tell you is that those people that keep disappearing while on vacation, down there? They’re not really disappearing. They’re being culled… infected with Montezuma’s Revenge like zombies, only to be turned loose on the U S of A when they’ve fermented for a while. You thought a zombie virus was terrifying? Consider one that duplicates the symptoms of Montezuma’s Revenge or, in mine and my wife’s case, The Revenge of Wings-To-Go on a massive scale. Think of the horror. The carnage. Sewer systems overflowing with reprocessed fast food; septic tanks that burst under the strain of the waste from an entire family that ate Corn Dogs for dinner and Fried Oreos for desert (what can I say? I was at a carnival yesterday). Oh, the implications. Oh, the stench. Oh the… ugh. BRB.

That time? Not brought on by Dennis Rodman, Montezuma’s Revenge or The Revenge of Wings-To-Go. I’m pretty sure I grossed myself out. I won’t allow it to happen again. Getting back to diplomacy and Rodman’s either sanctioned or non-sanctioned involvement in our ongoing effort to develop a relationship with North Korea and Kim Jong “I Watched ‘Too Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar’ One too Many Times” Un. Despite my earlier posturings about the former NBA All-Star and his Bromance with a guy who has openly professed his hatred of the good ol’ U S of A once or twice, I respect what he’s doing.

What if… and this is a big “what if,” but what if Mexico subversively despises its neighbor to the north. What if El Presidente Enrique Pena Nieto really does believe that the southwestern United States is rightfully his? What if he’s planning on annexing it by unleashing his stash of Montezuma’s Revenge infected disappear-ees upon Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California? It would help to have a diplomat like Rodman, i.e, someone with very little foreign policy experience, a working knowledge of the language (which I don’t even think Dennis has) and a following there to smooth things over… to distract them from their hatred of us so that we can deal with more pressing issues like the ever-volatile Middle East and… oh, I don’t know, OUR OWN F*CKING ECONOMY.

Sorry. I veered right where I normally veer left. Please, forgive me my transgression. I am not well, today.

But wouldn’t it be nice? To have someone that’s been to Mexico and likes it there head down, and have a little proverbial “sexy time” with El Presidente albeit without makeup and… well, sex of any sort (I’m married, guys, and incredibly straight: I’m just making a joke ‘kay? ‘Kay?)? Said person could stay in the Riviera and take trips to Mexico City as required. Do you see where I’m going with this? If you don’t, I’m not going to spell it out for you. I’ll simply say that I would be honored and privileged to act as a liaison between Mexico City and DC. I really do have a following down there. Consider that of the 173 people that “like” my Facebook page, a handful of them live in… okay, not Mexico City but Panama City which is still in Latin American and is also a “city.” The fact that they’re all members of a Facebook Group that focuses on the evolution of electronic lifeforms–a concern that the entire, international community should take seriously–should be a bonus, and should make up for the geographical distance between one “city” and the other. Booyakasha “Fictional machines/electronic life forms and evolution scifi club.” RESPECT. I’ll even throw you a redirect HERE.

I like Mexican cuisine. I intersperse my writing with the language (see: “Numero,” “Chi Vato” and “El Presidente”). I have virtually no grasp of politics whatsoever. In short? I’m perfect. All I ask in return is to be allowed to live on the Riviera somewhere and bring my wife, Nicole, and my two minions with me. I’d also love a guarantee that my loved ones will not be kidnapped and trained to be walking, talking and sh*tting assassins. They love the good ol’ U S of A as much as I do. Other than a decent place to live on the beach and a weekly stipend, I’m good. If interested, please contact me via the comments section or via the info on the “About Me” page of this blog. Gracias, senors y senoritas.

In truth? This is not the direction that I thought this random musing was going to go in. I honestly thought I’d mock Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong “I’m Sexy and I Know It” Un for a couple of paragraphs, rue the current condition of my stomach, say something pithy and end with a moral lesson, a winky emoticon and a smiley face. But what was originally benign has grown quite malignant, IMO, and I think that it’s time to bring this abrupt departure from what has been my norm–writing Children of Endworld–for the last couple of weeks to a close. Page 217 awaits and the coup that yesterday’s Wings-To-Go instituted this AM has, apparently, failed (though I do have Monday Night Football, tonight, and some leftover so who knows? Did I learn my lesson or not? Only time… and tonight will tell).

Is there a lesson to be learned from this blog post? Lessons? Have I accomplished anything outside of exhausting all of you reading this? I have no idea. Maybe this: There exists, on one side of the proverbial wormhole of existence a place where Dennis Rodman, alias (arguably) the greatest defensive basketball player in NBA history hosts a “basketball diplomacy” event in an effort to bring countries like the good ol’ U S of A together with countries like North Korea, Afghanistan and Mexico. The President of the U S of A, Kim Jong Un and Enrique Pena Nieto are among the dignitaries that attend. Among the players are Rodman, the 1989 and 1990 World Champion Detroit Pistons and the 1996, 1997 and 1998 Chicago Bulls (his Airness can still dunk). Vanilla Ice raps a version of the national anthem that, much like Hendrix’s, is initially panned but later accepted as a quite good and because of it, he reforms his wayward life and does not end up on “Celebrity Rehab with Doctor Drew.” Carmen Electra handles court side commentary and the cheer-leading squads are made up of all the people, regardless of how they veer, that either lost their jobs, disappeared, were wrongfully gassed or were otherwise suppressed over the last couple of years internationally. And no one suffers from Montezuma’s Revenge or The Revenge Of Wings-To-Go.

Pre-the game beginning, the Panamanian Facebook group “Fictional machines/electronic life forms and evolution scifi club,” is honored by Julie Newmar for their outstanding work done enlightening the international community to the dangers of artificial intelligence. In their acceptance speech, they thank their mentor for writing what they consider a modern treatise on the possibilities, both good and bad inherent in a machine-run or “Administration” run world. That person? He is sadly not in attendance. He is not needed since El Presidente and the President sit side-by-side in their shared club suite making proverbial “sexy time.” No. Their mentor? He sits surrounded on the deck of his beach front home in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico by his wife, Nicole, his minions, Cara and Natalie and all his loved ones. “Too Wong Foo” is playing on the television in the family room but no one is paying attention to it. The sun, setting over the Gulf of Mexico is much more entertaining.

Don’t you think?

🙂