If you’ve ever been dumped, you know. The feeling on Monday morning was familiar.
The euphoria was gone. You were glum. Hazy, even, as though you’d been crying all night. Suddenly and irreversibly, a two-year love affair was over. Kaput. Killed. Done.
Eagles fans — and chances are you were among them at some point over the last 18 months, either loyally or for just a torrid one-week-stand — felt the emptiness. The hole was there, in your body, whether you were driving to work, waiting to see a doctor, walking your kids to school, staring at your cubicle wall.
You were bummed that the team had been eliminated in the playoffs Sunday in New Orleans. That a second Super Bowl run had ended too soon.
But this was something much more personal than that.
The warrior crew you had come to adore — the band of mostly underdogs, killers, and unlikely-hero types in Eagles green who had brought such unbridled excitement to your mortal daily routine — were about to break up, just like Ringo, George, Paul, and John.
For fans, that meant they were breaking up with us, too. Effective almost immediately.
No one would be giving you a call to talk it over. There’d be no final candlelight dinner at which you might at least pretend to have a fighting chance at reconciliation. Didn’t matter how many jerseys you had bought, how many games you had tailgated, how many prayers you had said all season long. You, dear fan who occasionally likes to punch horses when too excited, would have no say over keeping this relationship alive.
Consider yourself officially jilted. Now what?
I offer this field guide to coping.
This is a sport that guys play with broken ribs. If you want to cry, make sure no one sees you. They make playbooks in football only for tackling, sacking, stripping, blitzing. Got a broken heart? Figure that one out yourself, loser. (Or consult the Big L writing this column.)
This breakup, though — and you know I’m not exaggerating, except that I am totally exaggerating — is big.
Many of the boys we chased on the thrilling magic carpet ride that led to our town’s first Super Bowl trophy last year and this year’s zig-zag chase into a surprising playoff run feel like family.
Guys like forever-bridesmaid quarterback Nick Foles, brawny center-turned-Socratic-speechifier Jason Kelce, Chris Long, Darren Sproles, and many others who likely will be leaving for contracts elsewhere or for other reasons. The economics and passions of the game will insist on no less than a radical remake of the team.
This will be no Rip-the-Band-Aid-Off-and-Start-Over breakup. It’s more like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where the really bad dude pulls the beating heart out of a living man’s chest with his bare hands.
We are talking cruelty of the first order.
This is why, when Alshon Jeffery flubbed the season-ending final pass from Nick Foles, he fell to the field and lay motionless on his stomach, like a man shot from behind. He knew, as did we all in our living rooms or sports bars at that very moment in time, that this was the end for this motley roster of brothers in arms.
Also on the table to possibly leave: Jay Ajayi. Ronald Darby. Brandon Graham. Jordan Matthews. I can’t keep typing, there are so many more.
And, of course, Kelce, he of the Famous Warrior Speech.
I ask: How can we, the fans, let such a philosopher-orator depart our shores? Kelce, we shall never forget, was the erudite offensive lineman who donned a Mummers Aladdin costume and delivered, from the steps of the Art Museum, the greatest Super Bowl victory speech of all time.
To cope, I turn both outward and outward.
The Eagles front office seems eager to have us adopt Ariana Grande’s thank u, next mindset to “dating,” if you will.
The blood and tears from Sunday’s loss to the Saints had hardly dried when, on Monday, the Eagles trotted out franchise quarterback phenom Carson Wentz to speak for the first time since Foles replaced him due to injury late in the season. Foles, the Cinderella turned Super Bowl MVP of the team, will have to take his glass slippers elsewhere if he wants top billling. On Tuesday, coach Doug Pederson declared that wunderkind Wentz will be The Guy next season.
I repeat: thank u NEXT.
If you’d prefer to cope another way, might I suggest denial and self-pity.
You will not be alone if you choose this path. I found it everywhere on Twitter, that pit of toxic tantrums. (You may thank me later, in an email or an @, for going where no sane person should go, all for the sake of bargain-basement self-help tips to help YOU.)
“Sunday’s game was possibly the last time these players will wear an @Eagles uniform,” Action News wrote this week. “Who do you think Doug Pederson should try to keep?”
“All of them,” wrote @Joep153045, a.k.a. Joe Palmer.
You are a loving soul, Joe. Bless your bleeding heart.
Mr. X, a.k.a. @wrenchswinger06, on the other hand, recommended logic over love.
“Both Grahams, Long, and possibly Tate. Everyone else ... pack your bags.”
Somewhere between the two is a place called hope.