Some of us live under shadows, while others thrive in the spotlight. Impassioned fans of a singular football team draw strength and inspiration through the stewardship of the Philadelphia Eagles. Though to some they may only play football, to innumerable others, they become warriors of metaphors and allegories; they are the keepers of a family bound together without a second thought of all the daily caveats scrutinized by media and the masses. Race (for most) becomes almost ethereal, bound only by the green blood we all swear we bleed. Gender and sexual orientation almost seems like a silly thing to worry about when grown men hug like families united after a long separation. Life imitates football in so many unique and interesting ways; finding influence in the essence of the Philadelphia Eagles can be a profound journey that so many of us make.
Sam Bradford: The Broken Renaissance
Do you know hard it is to make it in comedy? You’ve got a family, isn’t it hard to support them? Yes, it’s incredibly difficult to become a household name in comedy. However, it’s what I have always wanted to do and nothing will deter me. I mean, I know I’ve got something which is why I will never acquiesce to the haters. If I give up because it’s hard, what message does that send to my family and to myself?
Enter Sam Bradford. This kid’s been broken, right? Everyone kind of holds their breath every time he appears to pass the ball because all we can imagine is a big hit and a career ending ACL blowout. (Come on, we’re all thinking it.) That does not mean it is going to happen. Here’s a football player that at one point contemplated retirement and now has an opportunity under the tutelage of Chip Kelly to become the premier quarterback everyone predicted him to be.
Sometimes things happen and we cannot live up to what others expect from us. Sometimes our mind, body and soul can feel so broken that we turn on Sunday football and cheer on a guy that reflects the story of our own life. Sam Bradford may only play football, but he serves up a story too perfect to ignore. When the world expected so much and things did not pan out the way we hoped, that does not mean we cannot redeem ourselves. We have just as much of a right to be successful as the next person and that’s why Sam Bradford could become an epic metaphor to one day provide the perfect literary device exemplifying redemption in this here City of Brotherly Love.
DeMarco Murray: The Limits of Loyalty
Ten months ago and the mere uttering of DeMarco Murray’s name would force me to cringe. He worked his ass off in Dallas, won the rushing title, and when it came time to work a contract, the Jones family drew a definitive line in the sand, fortifying a staunch stance between money and loyalty. Something about it smacks familiar to the case of Brian Dawkins. Not even the most pragmatic fan that talks Eagles football like Ray Didinger and a TI-83 had a lovechild could truly justify losing B-Dawk.
A new team, a new system, a new workload and a new philosophy thrust onto a man who should have never had to prove himself in regards to a contract that would keep him in Dallas for an appreciable amount of time. Those of you that have ever worked harder than you’ve ever worked, only to be let go or “downsized,” you feel cheated in some way. All you put into making wherever you worked a place that represented success has disregarded and forgotten you.
We can approach whatever is next as a way to prove to all of those people responsible for your being let go why it was a bad idea. Or, you can shake it off, push your head up so you can see what’s coming next and do the same damn thing only better because it’s about you. You do not settle for second best. You handle criticism with poise and diplomacy; I can speak more effectively if I show you what I can do, rather than talk about what I can do.
We can grind our axes until the blades are razor-sharp, preparing for a showdown to prove how wrong all of those other people were, or we can keep looking forward and remember that your own individual success is about proving your worth to yourself and no one else. Whatever day the Eagles play this season, I’ll be begging for DeMarco to “Rumble, young man, rumble!”
Kiko Alonso: Replacing Great
When I started working a college in one of the administrative buildings, I served as a replacement through a staffing agency. While everyone in the office offered up boundless help and welcomed me, not an hour would go by when someone wouldn’t reference the person I filled in for all of those weeks. “Oh, Joy would just tell it like it is.” Reminiscing over her like she died, it is really hard to fill in for a person that has the love and adoration of an entire office.
Sweet mother of crap; can you imagine being Kiko Alonso? “Hey, Kiko, you’re going to Philadelphia. The Eagles are sending one of the best running backs they’ve ever had to Buffalo for you. Pack your stuff, kid.”
Meanwhile, Philadelphia fans immediately asked, “who?” Those that knew him broke down every element to his game, making sure to point out the ACL because, well, I think ACL may be the most used word in Philadelphia. (Okay, except for expletives, ACL is definitely up there.) The fans absolutely lost it. It felt like you just heard Jay Z dumped Beyonce and was now shacking up with the Mom from “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” You don’t get rid of Shady! The trade is finalized, our beloved Bird is now a Bill, and then he opens his mouth and ruins it for a lot of people.
Amazing running back, turd farmer of a human being. Sometimes we are asked to fill in for someone beloved. Date a person whose family absolutely adored the last significant other and speak about him with the kind of reverence usually saved for people with the word “Saint” in front of their name. Regardless, we have to feel the scrutiny of others because of something you have no control over. Kiko is not going to become Shady of the defensive side of the ball. Should he play up to potential, our memories of Shady will slowly fade. Kiko can only be himself and hope that eventually, through his actions, receives Philadelphia love because he did it the Philadelphia way: he worked for it and it was earned.
Byron Maxwell: From Under the Shadows of Giants
Every major news outlet talked about Richard Sherman to the point where it stopped feeling like news and seemed more seventh-grade crush. I get it! Richard Sherman is a premier corner back. I absolutely think his presence on the field makes quarterbacks second guess themselves. Somewhere in all the Richard Sherman media orgy that ebbs and flows into the life of Richard, Byron Maxwell joins the Eagles. A damn good corner, this guy is stepping out from under the shadow of a giant. Now is the time to see if his statements regarding just how good he is actually play out. I appreciate the swagger. He’s bold, yet relatively quiet.
When we are pigeonholed into one expectation and quietly exist under the fanfare bestowed upon others is a humbling experience. It can either affect you negatively, providing an excuse so you may not have to try as hard because it’s like giving up without actually giving up. Then there’s Byron. Go be Byron. Don’t we all have a little something to prove to ourselves? The play of a man on the field and how he carries himself off can always speak volumes. Methinks it may be time to truly listen and react accordingly. We do not have to exist under shadows. We must only be willing to put in the work that deserves the attention of others. Get out of the shadow and you damn well better shine!
A Wilde Summation
“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life,” penned by none other than famous Irish author, Oscar Wilde, obviously influenced the title of this article. Ironically, Wilde would mock my writing for being too obsessed with something so barbaric or use some literary dig to mock me. Nevertheless, football does imitate life. When the Philadelphia Eagles kick off next Monday, what may only be stitched leather emblazoned with the NFL logo to some, is the genesis of our pilgrimage. What commences that night are seventeen weeks of investing our hearts and our souls into a team led by individuals that mean so much more to us than the difference between winning and losing, they are our metaphors, poised to represent who we are through a team and a game we love without boundaries.