“This hurts. Gotta stand tall through it all though. Next year.”
-Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles
I just finished watching this year’s All or Nothing on Amazon, which follows the entire season of the 2019 Philadelphia Eagles. Defensive End Graham said this in the aftermath the crushing Wild Card loss to the Seahawks, after they had pulled together the scattered scraps of a broken and battered team and squeaked into the playoffs by winning their last four games straight (and by playing in the NFC East, where the other three teams had 15 total wins between them, making 9-7 just enough to take the division title).
They had been crippled by injuries all season and in the final weeks the field looked like the set at the end of Hamlet –littered with bodies (and wooden swords). But this was the same team whose quintessential “next man up” mentality (I mean, in reality, every NFL team has this mentality by sheer necessity) won an epic Super Bowl shootout with backup Big Dick Nick at QB, so if any team could be counted on to go all the way with a scrabble of scrubs and broken down misfits, it was the Eagles.
That didn’t happen, of course. Carson Wentz, finally at long last playing in his first-ever playoff game (he had missed the last two years of playoffs due to injuries, including the above-mentioned Super Bowl), got, well… knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a concussion, never to return. Forty year-old Josh McCown, a 17-year vet rostered on his 11th NFL team, came in to play QB in what was also his first playoff game ever.
It didn’t go so great. The defense kept them in the game, holding Russ the Golden God to a measly 17 points. And the scrubs on offense fought valiantly, but down their starting QB, all three starting WRs, two All-Pro O-Linemen, and their RB1; and with Ertz playing in a Blue Tent Vicodin haze meant to mask the pain of taped-up fractured ribs and a lacerated kidney (just… fucking ouch), they were consistently outmatched by the visiting team, which by all rights should have been the higher seed but for having played in the NFC West and having blown it against the Niners in Week 17. McCown and His Downtown Clowns managed just 2 FGs in 3 quarters, losing the game 17-9.
The journeyman QB was utterly distraught after the game. Ertz tried his best to console him, assuring him he battled as hard as he could, but all McCown could manage to choke out was “It wasn’t good enough.” The final shot of the last episode was him alone, slowly collapsing into tears in the tunnel, and Ertz coming up to comfort him yet again and pull him to his feet so that he could go get dressed and face the press. This is how the season ends for every team but one – in pain, standing tall, and looking forward to next year.
Well guess what, folks, here it is! It’s next year. A clean slate. A new set of downs. Injuries healed. Scoreboard reset. A new group of teammates to forge a bond with through the blood and the mire, miracles and magic, hairline victories and gut-punching losses. Anything and everything is possible. Come February, it could be Mahomes again hefting the Lombardy, or the next Big Dick Nick – some overlooked backup, leading a scrabble of upstarts to the Promised Land with a new Philly Special, a few dashes of luck, and nothing to fucking lose.
The only thing we know for sure about this 2020 season is… the Ayatollah of RocknRolla will be knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. Continue reading “Astral Geeks S06E02: What’s Old is Old”