If you're on I-95 and driving through South Philadelphia anytime soon, be sure to check out the digital billboard just outside the Linc. The Eagles have a message for you.
It comes in two parts, so you might have to slow down and rubberneck. Don't worry about causing an accident. You'll be fine. Probably.
Flash: Thank you . . .
Flash: . . . for being the most passionate fans in the NFL.
Nice, right? The Birds think you're swell. Bet it makes you want to run out and buy up all the official team gear you can find. And if you're still upset about the way the season ended, maybe write the sentiment down and tuck it under your pillow. You'll sleep better.
I doubt the Patriots made a similar overture to their fans, and even if they did no one would see it because Foxborough is in the middle of nowhere. It's the little things that make the Eagles the gold standard. Who needs a title?
Since the Birds got booted from the playoff party without winning a game for the second straight year, Philadelphians will watch other teams compete this weekend. Certain people are fine with that. You might even know some of them. You might even be one of them.
A faction of fans always has been content with the current Eagles administration. Members of the devout sect don't like it too much when you question their faith or challenge them on what's actually been achieved over the last 12 years. Nor do they care that Andy Reid has a suspect relationship with the truth and recently reversed himself on yet another issue by firing Sean McDermott not even a week after he said the defensive coordinator would return next season. Quick aside to the mindless, pro-administration sycophants: I received your e-mails, tweets, and voice mails. Thank you. In the future, use exclamation points sparingly and remember moron has only one "r".
Quite a few Birds backers recently reminded me that the Eagles are always in the playoff hunt, that no one expected them to win the NFC East this season, that they suffered injuries this year, that they were "retooling," that they had a young team, and that they gained "experience" in the process. If that sounds like a regurgitated version of the propaganda peddled by Reid and the organization, that's because it is.
You have to give the Eagles credit. It's been 50 years since the last championship, but no franchise is better at mixing and marketing a tasty batch of team-approved Kool-Aid. Even more impressive is how the Birds' brass persuades people to willingly bang back glass after glass, season after season.
While his players were packing their things and heading home for the off-season, Reid said "very few teams can kind of retool the way that we retooled" and still be "in a position" to compete for a championship. When it comes to the Super Bowl and the Eagles, being in position usually requires a remote control and a comfy couch, but that hardly matters to the Birds loyalists. They'll remind you that you have to be in it to win it. The Seahawks are still in it, which, following the logic, must mean their chances of winning it are pretty good. Plus, the Eagles went to all that trouble of programming their sign with the aforementioned and patronizing - oops, I meant passionate - message. What more could Philadelphians want?
"Overall with the season," Reid said, "I thought there were some real positives we can take out of it. We were able to play some young players that I think were able to get valuable experience that will help us. . . . We came from a position that most people didn't think we'd be able to do at the beginning of the year and that was to make it to the playoffs and to win the NFC East. My hat goes off to the effort of the coaches and the players."
And my hat goes off to the Eagles for consistently doing the voodoo that they do so well. They pack the stadium, if not the trophy case. Can't have everything, I suppose.
In two or three short decades, when Reid and Joe Banner and Jeffrey Lurie finally move on, the mumbling, slobbering pro-administration Eagles fans left behind - wrapped in midnight green straitjackets for their own safety - are going to need deprogramming. It won't be easy. The Birds have managed some of the best brainwashing since Frank Sinatra's turn in The Manchurian Candidate.
Sunday Picks Part I: Seahawks +10 over the Bears. Mike Martz and Reid share the same hubris-crippled offensive philosophy: pass first, last, and always. Chicago wins, Seattle covers. . . . Best awkward SportsCenter moment in years: watching Eric Mangini evaluate new Browns head coach, and former Eagles assistant Pat Shurmur. Up next, Harold Reynolds returns for a segment tentatively called "workplace do's and don'ts." . . . Since the Onion SportsDome debuted on Comedy Central, I keep waiting for John Buccigross and Herm Edwards to launch into "The Kill Down." Remember: Put your murder where your mouth is. . . . Sunday Picks Part II: Pats, -9 over Jets. Wes Welker's foot-fetish shtick last week was brilliant. New England advances, New York and Rex Ryan hot-foot it home.
Contact columnist John Gonzalez at 215-854-2813 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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