Despite history, Eagles still fly high
Guest Commentary by Robbie Nicholas
Looking back, the last decade of Eagles football can be seen in two ways. One could easily say it has been a disappointment, citing the team’s failure to win a Super Bowl after five NFC Championship appearances. Or, one could look back on it as a success.
Few teams can say they have been a legitimate playoff contender for a full decade, but the Eagles can, and they have lived up to that status, making seven playoff appearances in nine years. We are lucky to have a team that has kept us on the edge of our seats for so long.
Even though they have always fallen short of securing a Super Bowl victory, few franchises have enjoyed more success than the Eagles in this past decade. Their five appearances in conference championship games is a feat that has only been matched by the New England Patriots, arguably the best team of the decade. The main reason behind their success? An excellent organization built by Andy Reid and Joe Banner, centered on their franchise quarterback, Donovan McNabb. Love him or hate him, Donovan McNabb is at least statistically the greatest quarterback to ever wear an Eagles uniform.
The peak of the Eagles’ success came during their Super Bowl run in 2004. At the start of the season, the Eagles were coming off their third straight NFC Championship loss, and recognizing their Super Bowl opportunity, traded for Terrell Owens, finally giving McNabb a chance to work with one of the best receivers in the game.
In hindsight, it is clear that this move was a gamble with the hopes of boosting the Eagles to the Super Bowl.
Ultimately it did, but nevertheless left them three points short of victory in a gut-wrenching loss to Tom Brady and the Patriots.
McNabb and the Eagles had a chance to win, but their potentially game-winning drive turned into perhaps the most bizarre and frustrating Eagles drive of the decade, overshadowing Owens’ incredible performance of nine catches for 122 yards while playing on a broken ankle.
I remember reading an article in the days following the Super Bowl saying that the window of opportunity had closed on the Eagles.
They had their chance, their golden opportunity to play in four straight NFC Championship games, but had squandered the opportunity. The stark truth was that the unprecedented run of four championship appearances could not continue forever.
As we all have seen, the article was correct. The Eagles have yet to regain their past glory. But, with this season as somewhat of a barometer for the future, we can all hope that this next decade holds a world of opportunity.
Printed originally on p. 22 of The Spoke’s Nov. 24, 2009 issue.