Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A personal aside about Chip Kelly's end

The Last Time We Use This
I'm in my mid-'40s, which means that in my formative years as a sports fan - basically, the time between age 8 and age 12, when you either get the disease or you do not -- Philadelphia was, believe it or not, the best sports city in America.

The Phillies were in a run of 100-win seasons, powered by the best third baseman and starting pitcher in the game (Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton). They broke your heart in the fall, but baseball is like that, and then when I was 11, they didn't, and it meant the world. I was too young to really remember the Broad Street Bully Flyers, but everyone else was still high off them, and they contended every year for a long while after that. The Sixers had Julius Erving and loads more, and while the endings were bitter, we always thought it might be their year. (In 1983, with Moses Malone, it was.) The Eagles built from nothing, got to a Super Bowl, and gave us all a moment of transcendent joy when Wilbert Montgomery took it to the house on Dallas in a home NFC championship game, in the coldest day anyone could remember. (Seriously, the wind chill was something like -48. Insanely great stuff.)

So at my core, I have Hope. These decades of failure and frustration, these saviors turned sad, these carousels of coaches and years of Intentional Tanking -- that's all foreign, wrong, contrary to the natural order. When I was a child, Philadelphia was a City of Champions. It will be again, because that's what I grew up with, and we all yearn, secretly or not, for what we grew up with.

So rooting against Chip Kelly for the past year has been flat out misery. I wanted the guy in year one. I doubted him in year two. I turned in year three, because the GM work was just so horrific. I didn't want to be right, even though every fiber in my being told me I was. I wanted DeMarco Murray to be great, Sam Bradford to be Joe Montana, Kiko Alonso to be Seth Joyner. Even last Saturday night, I wanted the team to suddenly flick the light switch, blow out the Racial Slurs, go on the 4-game fluke winning streak of the century, and hoist the Lombardi Trophy as everyone mocked me for my lack of faith. I wanted to have Hope, even when I had none.

And in those moments when I had Hope, I felt Stupid. Conned. Idiotic. Desperate. A First Class, Triple Bought And Four Times Sold Rube, ready to be conned all over again at the next scent of competence. I hated myself for caring. If you had given me a pill that made me not care about sports, I'd have swallowed it. Hell, I'd have paid you for it. A lot.

It made writing about, and on some level even just watching, an ordeal. I've wanted to turn off games for dramas on Netflix, missed games this year due to personal commitments that I didn't fight that hard to avoid, and thought about giving up the blog. Maybe fantasy leagues, too. Because I had no Hope, and it felt hollow, and bland, and dead.

Today, Chip Kelly got fired.

Today, I don't feel stupid for having Hope.

Today, I want to watch, and write, about sports again.

And to anyone out there who thinks that Eagle Fan was impatient, or short-sighted, or any other word that you care to throw our way...

We.

Don't.

Care.

At.

All.

Because not having to root for this guy, in any way, any more?

Is just that much of a god damned relief.

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