If you're an Eagles fan, like I am, today is a very tough day. Yesterday's game against the Green Bay Packers was just atrocious. The secondary looked like it had started Aaron Rodgers on their fantasy football team. Mark Sanchez showed us why the Jets (the Jets!) stopped believing in him. LeSean McCoy continued his quest to follow his 2013 rushing title with the 2014 rushing-mediocrity title. And the pass rush seemed like it took the day off.
In other words, it was a horrible day.
Nonetheless, the Eagles franchise is still one of the best in the business. Even after yesterday, they have a stellar 7-3 record that puts them tied for first in their division, tied for second in their conference, and tied for third in all of football. In fact, they have the same record as the Packers. Regardless of yesterday, that's awesome.
They also still have Chip Kelly and his innovative approach to the game. Following what he has done to the franchise, from the offense to the training regimen to the team culture to almost every aspect of the game, has been thrilling. He is at the forefront of coaching. He has a mad scientist's appreciation for ignoring the past in favor of discovering whatever works. It's a joy to watch someone in charge of my favorite team think so creatively about the sport.
And despite yesterday, they still have exciting players who do incredible things. They're young, they're talented, and they perform.
Contrast all of this with the Phillies. In almost every category, the Eagles are better. The Phillies have had terrible and boring teams for the past few years. They are run by a team of traditionalists who wouldn't understand what innovation was if someone read the dictionary definition out loud. They have old, tired players surrounded by thoroughly mediocre youngsters.
We all know the truth of the matter - it's a depressing time to be a Phillies fan.
Yet, despite how much better the Eagles are than the Phillies right now, it's still so much better being a Phillies fan than an Eagles fan. All I need are two numbers to explain why - 1980 and 2008.
The difference between rooting for a franchise that has won two championships in my lifetime, and one very recently, and rooting for a franchise that has won zero championships in the modern football era is huge.
Though every lost season is painful, with the Phillies, we have the glorious memory of 2008 still fresh in our minds. We know that we tasted the promise land very recently. We had that ecstasy and were able to celebrate a championship. We went to that magestic parade.
For those of us of a certain age, we also have 1980. That year isn't just a throwback nostalgia night for many of us; it was real. The memory of the first championship is still sweet decades later.
In other words, when the Phillies throw another dud of a season at us, which they are going to do this coming year and maybe a few more after that before they become respectable again, we can relish the fact that we have experienced the joy that comes with being the best. We know that a team can't win it all every year, far from it, but at least we have won it all. Twice even.
With the Eagles though, every loss conjures the fear that this year is going to be the same as every other year in the Super Bowl era - a season without a championship. Sure, some current fans can remember 1960 and some older ones can even remember 1948 and 1949, but does that really matter at this point? Super Bowl championships are the franchise currency of the modern NFL, and the Eagles have zero.
With every win and every step toward a playoff berth, we Eagles fans think maybe this will be the year. But with every loss, especially every excruciating loss like yesterday's, we are reminded of the basic fact that this year is very likely to end the same way every year has ended since 1961.
There are healthier ways to be a sports fan than to dwell on whether your team is going to win the championship. Only one team does; the other 31 end the season disappointed. As a fan, you have to accept that.
But it's much easier to accept when your team has been the winner on occasion. When your team starts every season hoping to get off the schneid, every loss reminds you of that.
Which is why being a Phillies fan, despite the franchise's current woes, is far better than being an Eagles fan right now.