Saturday, December 29, 2012

Speaking Ill Of The Departing

Not the guy coaching the team now
A brief note, since you do see this kind of thing expressed in social media and some blogs... the idea that we need to speak well of Andy Reid in his final moments as the Eagles coach.

I had a dog once, a Keeshond named Dylan. He was one of the better things in my life during a very long period -- 15 years where I went through college, graduated, got married, divorced, married again and had kids. He moved with me seven times, went from troubled to peaceful, was adored by many and putting him down was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. It shook me to the point of not wanting to have dogs any more, and I've owned dogs for my entire life.

Now, here's the part that's not so nice. The last year of his life, and especially the last six months, was as bad as putting him down.

Dylan developed inoperable kidney stones that made urination frustrating for him, and also meant that he couldn't control himself. He also had a persistent ear infection that, combined with the urination, led to just plain difficulties being around him, given the obvious odor and sanitation challenges. Skin issues were another problem, and he developed an arthritic condition that made going up and down stairs very difficult for him. Still, he stayed on.

At each step of the way, there was hope and treatments. Special diets to help cut down the kidney stones. New drops to fix the ear problem. Humiliating doggie diapers to keep him from staining the carpet. Just plain picking him up to deal with the stairs, since he wasn't a huge dog. Knowing that all I was doing was spending bad money after good, buying a few extra months and time with him because I wasn't ready to let him go. So I became the biggest mark in the world (yes, even bigger than an Eagles fan)... a pet owner in the beloved pet's last few months of life.

Now, when I remember Dylan, I try -- very hard -- not to remember that period. I also try, really hard, not to remember the day I brought him to the vet and had him put down. To do that would be to dishonor his memory, to keep myself from the positive things in life, and to get to a place where I can't ever get clear enough to have a new dog, or, well, any other form of happiness or hope. (Said new dog is now eight months old and a daily reason to smile. Moving on.)

The point of all this is simple. If you had come to me during Dylan's twilight to tell me of his virtues -- his clear and present virtues, in the here and now, rather than in the distant past... you would have been a bad friend, and done me no favors at all. Had you convinced me of the heartlessness of my desire to end his suffering, I would have spent more time and many more thousands of dollars into prolonging the time of an animal whose good days had long passed.

Which leads us, well, to Andy Reid. And the desire to look back in fondness on 14 years of the best coach in the history of the franchise, on all of the great regular season and playoff wins, on the highlights of various division and conference foes defeated...

When, well, the actually relevant thing is the last five years of playoff victory free football, and the last two years of pathetic free agent paper-maiche work, and the past three months of whack a mole coach firings and the decade of poor clock management...

Reid can be the best coach in the history of the franchise, and a man who desperately needs to be fired. These are not mutually exclusive sets. We can respect him for his accomplishments and devoutly wish for him to be gone.

It's OK. Honest. You'll be sad for a while and then get over it.

Because, well, the guy in Andy Reid's body in 2013 is not the guy who was there in 1999. Remember that guy from the good days. And move on, with speed, from the guy that he is right now...

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