I cannot remember when I have been more focused and excited about the Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles in the same year. This has all the potential of being the best sports October that we may ever see.
My hometown of Wilmington, Delaware has the reputation of having one degree of separation from all their neighbors. Twenty years ago, a sign was placed at the city limits that simply said, “Welcome to Wilmington where you can be Somebody.” That being said, a short trip to the bank, grocery store or the gym for me usually involves questions from all the “somebody’s” on my predictions on the Eagles or Phillies or sometimes both. True sports fans are everywhere, excited to talk about what could be.
This energy has been going on since last year’s excitement when both teams went to the respected World Championship games. I can spend an hour talking about the possibilities of this year’s rerun to the World Series and the Super Bowl but if you asked me to condense it to the top four reasons, this might happen again, here they are:
1) Both teams have camaraderie that is rarely seen these days in professional sports. It starts in the locker room and is conducted on the field. Neither the Phillies nor the Eagles players seem to care who gets the credit or the stats, as long as their team wins the game or the season.
2) Both teams have head coaches and assistant coaches who are visibly respected by most, if not all their players. In my opinion, the coaches are living the Dick Vermeil philosophy… “People don’t care about how much you know until people know about how much you care.”
3) Both teams have a leader that is the “straw that stirs the drink.” For the Phillies this would be Bryce Harper, and, for the Eagles, it would be QB Jalen Hurts. These two top-notch professionals have extraordinary work ethics, honed skills, positive attitudes, and a drive to be number one in all that they do. This unique leadership style in pro-sports is a rare breed in today’s athletics. Their style can raise their teammates to a higher level across the board.
4) Finally, our incredibly enthusiastic fan base, simply put, is the most passionate, well-informed group of people in the sports world. As an example, look what they recently did for Trea Turner to show their love and support during his slump. The fans gave him a standing ovation to show their encouragement when he was down, which led him to break out of his slump to play at an all-star level.
For me, my greatest NFL fan experience happened Sept 23rd, 1974, when we beat the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football 13-10. It was on a 48-yard walk-off field goal by Tom Dempsey with seconds left of the game. I was on the Field Goal Team and when the refs put their hands up that the field goal was good, Veterans Stadium exploded with a noise level that I could feel from head to toe. It was electrifying and it went on for a good 5 minutes. Our whole team stood on the field basking in the sound of victory over our number one nemesis, The Dallas Cowboys. I was euphoric as I scanned the stands watching and hearing the cheers from our fans. It was something that I dreamed about as a young kid at Franklin Field during the 1960’s seeing games with my dad.
That night the Philadelphia fans became the 12th Man. They were there then, and are here still, in greater numbers, today. I cannot wait to see what the next five months bring to us from our Phillies and Eagles.
I can guarantee this, the 10th and 12th Man will never let us down.