It seemed like it would last forever, at least long enough for the Eagles to bring home a Lombardi Trophy and set off the kind of party in Philadelphia that the entire world would talk about.
It would be a celebration so breathless and loving that, well, the City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love would be revered.
The Eagles reached four consecutive NFC Championship Games from 2001 to 2004, and reached a fifth in the 2008 season. Only once, in the 2004 campaign, did the Eagles advanced to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the New England Patriots, 24-21.
A city cried.
The hope was that the Eagles had established something — they call it a “process” these days in the world of sports — and that the formula for winning was something the Eagles could sustain for years and years to come.Other than the 2008 playoff run and one-and-done playoff appearances in 2009, 2010 and 2013, however, the Eagles haven’t been a Lombardi Trophy threat.
They haven’t won a playoff game since 2008, when Donovan McNabb was the quarterback and Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan played offensive tackle and Brian Westbrook was still making plays and, gulp, Kevin Kolb was the quarterback of the future.
Those are old men now, by football standards. Times have changed, right?
We’re still waiting. We’re still hoping.
Now, another Super Bowl has come and gone. Instead of watching with a fevered pitch and a lump in our throats, we stuffed our faces with chips and dip and drank our sodas and critiqued Lady Gaga for her halftime performance, as if it really mattered.
No Super Bowl. No parade.
We’re still waiting.
The good news is that every team in the NFL is 0-0 in 2017. And that the NFC East is the musical chairs of NFL divisions, with no back-to-back winner since the Eagles in ’03-’04.
Worst to first in the league happens all the time.
With that, there is the reality side of it, too. The Eagles have a lot of work to do. They need weapons to breathe explosiveness into the offense around franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. They need more pressure on the quarterback, better coverage in the secondary and better tackling for the Jim Schwartz-led defense.
While the NFC East is an open book, the level of competition is hopped up. Consider the rise of the Dallas Cowboys, the resiliency of Eli Manning and the explosive Giants passing game and revamped defense, and the potency of Washington and its weapons.
The Eagles need to be good, really good, in this offseason.
It’s a quiet time right now for the team, as they attend the college all-star games, dig deep at the late-February Scouting Combine and line up their plan of attack for free agency when it opens in early March. The players are scattered about around the globe, enjoying their offseason. The coaches and personnel department are preparing for a hugely important period of roster improvement.
We’re waiting again, with every bit of hope. Wentz looks to be the real deal, and teams with superstar quarterbacks in the NFL are the ones pounding on the door of the Super Bowl year after year.
That Super Bowl party? It’s been planned for decades.
It’s going to be the party of the century. All the city of Philadelphia needs is a reason to go crazy, get nuts and let loose with all the energy that we’ve been saving since 1960, when the Eagles last won a world championship.
Is 2017 the year? The next couple of months are going to tell a lot about the football team and its immediate chances to win it all.