Were we judging the Eagles with “Cheer Goggles” on? The Pundit wonders…

By now, I’m sure you know what beer goggles are. If not, I guess you’ve been living under a rock for quite some time or something. (Editor’s note: Kudos for surviving that predicament, by the way). Anyway, the fine folks over at Urban Dictionary do a wonderful job of defining this occurrence.

1. Beer Goggles

Phenomenon in which one’s consumption of alcohol makes physically unattractive persons appear beautiful.

And we haven't even gotten into liquor goggles

And we haven't even gotten into liquor goggles

There is something similar in sports. I call them “Cheer Goggles.” Essentially, one can be said to be wearing Cheer Goggles when one is so excited about the potential of a team, or has become so blinded by the temporary momentum of a team, that they cease to fairly or accurately judge said team. They get drunk with excitement, in other words.

On Sunday, I think we had all had a big ‘ol pair of Cheer Goggles planted firmly on each of our faces.

Because, honestly – at what point this year did the Eagles prove they could go on a long run without throwing a clunker somewhere in the mix? When did this team ever prove that they could win a close game late? When did they prove that they could consistently finish drives with touchdowns without a healthy Brian Westbrook?

Survey says…Never!

Now, don’t think I’ve sunken into the abysmal depths of pessimism here. The resiliency and heart that this football team showed both in turning their season around, and fighting back on Sunday, were admirable. Damn admirable. I’m freakin’ proud of the gumption that they showed. Making the NFC Championship game is an accomplishment, especially given what the Eagles had to go through just to get there.

That being said, I just don’t think they were ever a knockout. A hottie. One of those super sexy teams, ya dig?

Derek over at Igglesblog put it pretty succinctly after the game, so I’ll steal his words:

Bottom line: The Eagles had the talent to win ANY game they played this year. They did not have the talent to win EVERY game. And that’s what we just saw.

Right. They weren’t a knockout. They were a pretty good-looking team, but by no means were they a super model. Honestly, that’s no insult heading their way – there isn’t a single knockout team in the NFL this year. The Steelers have a knockout defense, and the Cards a knockout offense, but no one is, ahem, super hot. (Editor’s note: Except when Erin Andrews is doing the sideline reports. Get at me, girl!)

No goggles necessary.

No goggles necessary.

And isn’t that what made this so disappointing? And isn’t that a huge reason why we thought the Birds were going to march right into Tampa and steal that Super Bowl trophy?

C’mon, admit it – we put on them Cheer Goggles as soon as they made the playoffs.

One size fits all.

One size fits all.

All season long, the Eagles gave us reason to doubt – almost to the point of no return for Andy and Donovan – and then they gave us reason to believe once more. I think I will borrow some more words, if I may. This time, I think I’ll cue up John Popper from the band Blues Traveler, with a few lines from one of my favorite songs ever, “Hook.”

To confuse the issue I refer / To familiar heroes from long ago / No matter how much Peter loved her / What made the Pan refuse to grow

Was that the hook brings you back

See, the genius here is the double entendre on the word “hook” as the chorus kicks back in. Hook, meaning both the figurative allure of an adventure (or anything else, for that matter), and specifically Captain Hook, Peter’s nemesis. Despite the fact that Peter digs Wendy, the excitement of going back to Neverland and having all of his magical adventures kept Peter going back. And, of course, his exciting adventures are centered around the ever-perilous battles he undertakes with Captain Hook. (Editor’s note: Seriously, when in the hell did this become Pundit Lit 101? Back to the sports, please).

He's into Blues Traveller - just don't ask him to listen to "Crocodile Rock." Ziiiing!

He's into Blues Traveler - just don't ask him to listen to "Crocodile Rock." Ziiiing!

The point of the song, and metaphor, is simple, and humorously ironic: Popper is saying that, despite what he says, or even does, it is always the hook -the excitement, the catchy tune, the surface beauty – that will keep people coming back for more. Thus is the case with Eagles fans – we may recognize the true stripes of a team, may see where they could let us down, yet we watch, hoping beyond hope that our Birds will succeed. We’re hooked.

Sure, the Phillies took some of the edge off of the pessimism. Doesn’t change the fact that we always pray for victory.

And sure, when a few things go bad, we probably scream for mutiny a bit too soon. But even then, we love the drama. Hell, we’re addicted to it. I would wager that, were you to ask any sportswriter in this town, they would tell you that they get far more traffic after an Eagles loss than they do after a win. Why?

Shoot, we want to know exactly what happened.

Why did we lose? Who do we blame? Was the other team really that good? How did Player X’s personality influence their performance? Was this loss systematic and indicative of a far deeper imperfection that has the potential to seep throughout the entire organization and result in inevitable doom? Or was it just one of those days?

Hah – who am I kidding? It’s never just one of those days in this town.

The point being, we’re always going to come back. We can’t help it. We’re hooked. Despite the tumultuous season that we had, one that left all of us fans wrung out like an abused dishrag, we still wanted so badly to believe that our Birds could win the Super Bowl.

In this town, football is the biggest addiction going. So it was only fitting that, after an improbable berth into the playoffs, we were starting to get a little bit drunk on hope. And after victories over the Vikings and Giants, we had them Cheer Goggles on, no doubt.

Despite the fact that the Vikings really weren’t that good. And even though, had Eli Manning not been so dumbfounded by the wind, the Giants may have beaten the Birds. That’s no pessimistic revisionist history – go watch the tape. Eli missed a handful of throws that would have resulted in huge plays for the Giants. That’s all I’m saying.

But the thing is, it’s hard not to get down on this team when they lose, and to resist the Cheer Goggles when they win. Fact is, it’s just a lot more fun to watch like every game is a matter of life or death. Adds a level of intensity to the experience. Football gives you a week to stew in excitement – the atmosphere is bound to be charged.

So I’ll end with the question that certainly will be debated vigorously, at least until everyone remembers that there are other teams in this town:

Was this season a success?

I've got nothing for this caption...this was just so absurd, I had to use it.

I've got nothing for this caption...this was just so absurd, I had to use it.

Honestly – I don’t even know. To me, only one team has a truly successful season, and that’s the team that wins the Super Bowl. Everyone else has a winning season, perhaps, or maybe a competitive one, or even a positive one…but successful?

I mean, it certainly was compelling; to the point of agony, actually. And they did go far in the playoffs. And yet – we’ve been to this point before. We were favored to win. Top to bottom, we probably had the better team.

Could, woulda, shoulda, didn’t. Simple as that.

It certainly wasn’t a failure. But I don’t think they really exceeded our expectations, either. At the end of the day, I think they fulfilled realistic expectations of their potential in the most tumultous, agonizing, wild and unpredictable fashion I ever remember experiencing. If nothing else, it was a trip we’ll never forget.

One last time until next year: E-A-G-L-E-S  EAGLES!!!

Oh, and hold on to them Cheer Goggles – it won’t be long until you find yourself putting them on again.

(Editor’s note: After this wildly erratic and lengthy dissertation, The Pundit is bidding the season adieu. Now, The Pundit will focus his coverage on the Sixers, Flyers, the Big Five, the in-progress offseason of the Phillies, and the looming one for the Eagles. This book is closed – you don’t have to go home, but you sure ain’t staying here.)

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Filed under Cheer Goggles, Eagles, NFL

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