"At Syracuse, they teach quarterbacks to protect the ball deep in their own end zone!"
Fifteen minutes into my run on the treadmill at the local gym, I was busy trash-talking Tony Romo. The Eagles were closing on the Cowboys in the second quarter of their Monday night game.
Away from Philadelphia for twenty years, I now live in Seattle. This isn't really a sports town.
In Philadelphia, I'd keep quiet as my sports knowledge would get me laughed off sports radio there faster than El Wingador could down a dozen wings. Here, though, it's not at all hard to be the most knowledgeable sports fan in the room.
I'm a Flyers fan first, and through the magic of satellite television watch nearly every game they play, which qualifies me as a complete eccentric in the Pacific Northwest. That's really about all the sports viewing my career, and my fleece-wearing outdoor activities, permit.
But in August and September each year I typically start watching the MLB standings to see if the Phillies might claim a playoff spot. And last Sunday evening I was delighted to see the the Eagles had drubbed their opponents in Week 1 of the new season.
Maybe this was their year, I thought, and perhaps I should tune in next opportunity I had to see them on national TV. And as I headed up the stairs to the fitness room this evening, I remembered excitedly that I was going to get that opportunity during my run.
I admit it; except for hockey, I fit J Roll's definition of a front-runner perfectly.
So there I was, coming out of my bookish Seattle shell, crowing during the second quarter to a mostly indifferent group of guys in the workout room. And then McNabb dropped back and launched a missile. I thought it was probably overthrown, but the receiver seemed to find another gear. DeSean Jackson pulled away from the two defensive backs, hauled in the football, and crossed into the end zone. I gave another cheer, waking the other plodding treadmillers from their own reverie. I rejoiced, "looks like their year!"
Until my neighbor pointed out the replays of Jackson crossing the goal line being shown repeatedly. And then came the referee's explanation that Jackson "lost control" of the ball before breaking the plane, a polite euphemism for "acted like a moron."
The cost of the showboating and premature celebration is more wear-and-tear on our star running back, whom I have read must stay healthy all season long for the Eagles to have a shot. Typical.
I think it was Anthony Gargano who described it as a curse. Our cross to bear, if you will. Shaking my head in dismay, I explained to my neighbor, "this is our lot in life, as Philly fans."
I grew up there, and have been away for twenty years, but I still get sucked in periodically by the appearance of competence.
And then, as befits a front-runner, I am let down in a most bitter fashion.
I am embarrassed, actually, as I recall my trash-talk of just a few minutes before. The guy next to me finishes his run, glances sideways at me like I'm a fool, and wanders down the stairs without saying anything further.
I don't even bother to turn on the TV when I get home. It looks like yet another year of getting pumped up but ultimately deflated, and I shouldn't even waste my time. There's probably some slough through which I should be kayaking in the rain.
If Jimmy Rollins wants to see some true front-runners, he ought to ask for a trade to the Mariners.