The Eagles’ fairy-tale season still has us caught up in its after glow. My wife, Roe, who barely was able to tell a punt from a bunt, still says how excited she is with the win, the parade, and the good feelings in Philadelphia. She is particularly fond of Nick Foles, his family and his appearance on Ellen. She wants Foles to stay here forever.
I think her feelings are shared by a great majority of people in our area. However, I’ve heard a cadre of sports-talk hosts and hardcore fans ask derisively, “Why are people obsessed with keeping Nick Foles?” They cite the fact that his salary as a backup to Carson Wenz is a big hit against the salary cap that all NFL teams must meet. They also note that Foles, the MVP of the Super Bowl, likely bring the Eagles a high draft pick in the next draft.
These people demanding that Foles be traded for something now don’t really get the heart of sports. They don’t understand that many fans crave and identify with the idea of knowing and cheering for players who they think have played their hearts out for them and taken them on a magical ride. It’s particularly bonding when the winning is unexpected. That’s why this year’s Eagles team is more beloved than the 2008 Phillies. It’s also why the 1993 Phillies and the 2001 Sixers, even as losers in their respective finals, are still beloved.
I see all this as a reason why things such as salary caps are bad for sports. I would much prefer a world where the Eagles could spend whatever they want to keep Foles. It would be a sports world that is more about the games and people than about spreadsheets.
The other offseason blip on the Eagles’ offseason radar is the possibility of a White House visit to celebrate their Super Bowl win. It appears that Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, Torrey Smith, and LeGarrette Blount will not attend, and other Eagles might join them in a boycott. This would not be a good moment.
On my radio show, I talked to Benjamin Orbach, CEO of the Ascendant Athlete, an advisory group that supports professional athletes to advance causes of social justice. We had a great conversation about athletes using their platforms for good.
We revisited the divisive player protests during the national anthem this past year and concluded that players already have tremendous platforms to reach people and the protests lead some people to believe the players were disrespecting veterans. We also discussed the fact that if Jenkins and others wanted to promote various causes or concerns, they would have unparalleled media access. Jenkins, for instance, would be welcome on my show at any time for any length of time.
Orbach also made a great point that players need to present clear action items that the public will understand and embrace.
We both agreed that the Eagles should accept an invitation to the White House if offered. Orbach thinks that the players, in exchange for the visit, would ask for a one-day summit on issues with Trump administration officials. I don’t support that idea, but I think that if the Eagles go, they could ask behind the scenes to meet with Trump and Cabinet officials to pitch ideas that might get traction.
Orbach raised the idea that if most of the Eagles’ players go, those boycotting the trip might feel resentful and that this would disrupt the team. I don’t see that happening.
These Eagles have been the epitome of a team. They combine the 700-level stylings of Jason Kelce with the 700 Club teachings of Foles, Carson Wenz, Trey Burton, Zach Ertz, and others. I think they could overcome any flak around a White House visit.
So, my wishes for the continuation of this fabulous season are, in no particular order, that Jenkins asks to come on my show, that Eagles go to the White House and that one of Jenkins’ ideas takes hold with the Trump administration, and that Foles stays and gives us more great performances.
Hey, after the fairy-tale season we’ve seen, anything is possible.