I am the ghost of Football Future, and you are headed down a dangerous path. Allow me to give you a glimpse into what is yet to come, before it’s too late for you.
The year is 2055. You’re around 60 years old. The US is finally just about fully recovered from Roger Goodell’s presidency, which ended 23 years ago. You weigh 225 and almost all of it is beer and meat fat. You’re a big fan of baggy blue jeans and white Nike Air Monarchs (s/o Pete Carroll.) You hate your wife, and hate your kids even more. Three annoying teenage daughters and a son who isn’t a supreme athlete like you were back in the day (2 years varsity lacrosse, 1 year starter.) You tell your wife you’re convinced he’s gay because he likes art and playing piano instead of watching SPORTS. You work a shitty job for a shitty boss and live next door to an obnoxious gay couple in Broomall that constantly calls the cops when you set off your illegal fireworks on arbitrary holidays for no particular reason. Your life blows. You have one escape once a week, 5 months out of the year. And it’s the Philadelphia god damn Eagles.
This isn’t a symbiotic relationship. It’s a parasitic relationship, like you learned in sophomore year high school science (where you sat next to Becky with the big tits.) You live and die Birds. You pour money into season tickets and wind up having to go to games with your idiot daughter and her scrawny boyfriend that you have to explain the rules to half the time. You dump money into liquor to ease the pain and your dickhead son steals half of it and waters it down and thinks you don’t notice. Your work ‘buddies’ all have teams who have won super bowls and every time you have to say “WE DID WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP THEY JUST DIDNT CALL IT THE ‘SUPER BOWL YET’ to defend your Eagles.
But oh boy does it all wash away on those crisp fall and winter Sunday afternoons (in year 2055 the NFL holds games 6 days a week on a 22 week schedule but this is not relevant to the point.)
The years of Brian Dawkins Jr passed, as did our 6 shots at the NFC championship game since 2016. Sure, the Sixers won a couple back in the ’20s and the Flyers had a couple sprinkled in but you’re a birds fan baby. You bleed green, and that super bowl eludes you.
Anyway, this year is different. The 2054 birds, they were JUST missing that one piece to get them over the hump. But these birds, huh ho they are different. These birds have “it.” They’re explosive on offense, they stop the run on defense. They’ve started off the season blazing to a 6-1 record. By golly this might be the year! Winter is rolling around, and although temperatures don’t really get cold enough to snow anymore in Philly we’re a winter team. Tbt to when we thought global warming was a hoax made up by that “Allen Gore” the kids read about in their virtual textbooks.
Fast forward to late February (22 game season) and dagunnit the Eagles are here again. NFC championship (the game is on TV station DelcoDelphia, the new worldwide leader in sports (cya barstool) (rip in peace ESPN.))We’ve been here before but this time is DIFFERENT. Coach Pam Gruden (Jon Gruden’s daughter (he had her at age 64,) first female NFL head coach) really has pieced the puzzle, painted her masterpiece. This will be the year. You know it, the fans know it, the team knows it, Mayor of Philadelphia knows it.
The Eagles square off against division rival, the Altoona (now a major US city) Manatees, the worst named team in NFL history. It’s a frigid 48 degrees, a low temp for the decade. Players and fans are bundled up, because you know, pussification of America came full circle. Pam Gruden is in nothing but ill-fitting khakis, an oversized golf shirt and a very strong visor, one of the last true football guys the world will ever see.
You manage to stumble your fat self to DelcoDelphia Stadium, the newly renovated home of the Philadelphia Eagles for a FAT tailgate. Get there at 9am for the 8:30pm kickoff. Gloves, hat, layers to fight the brutal conditions, ~50 and cloudy~. Sausages, bratwursts, steaks, burgers, beers, mixies, one handed football passes because you’re too much of a functioning alcoholic to put your drink down for a second to catch a pass, music, jersey burning, the whole 9. Little heartburn, but hey medicine has advanced quite a bit so you pop a (clever heart burn medicine name here) real quick and you’re pretty sure you’re good to go for the night.
8:00pm rolls around, you pop in the stadium early to relieve yourself beforehand. Grab a $60 beer (inflation is killer) and get in your seat before kickoff. This is the YEAR baby and you won’t miss a second.
Kickoff. Bam. 60 yards out of the end zone. The kickoff has been moved to the 50 to combat concussions, rendering the play completely useless, though no one seems to care. Manatees 3 and out, Eagles 3 and out. A classic defensive battle in the tundra. Bear weather, they call it. Little offensive action in the first quarter, in fact the only thing going upfield is your cholesterol level. Score is 0-0.
Eagles start the 2nd with the ball. They take a long drive to the Manatees’ 22 and go to kick the field goal. Air pollution in Philly is VERY thick so ball does not sail well. Kick falls short by a mile. Caught by a Manatee return man and RETURNED FOR THE TOUCHDOWN. Manatees lead 7-0 after bouncing the extra point off the upright and in. Eagles manage to put together another scoring drive, very pitch heavy. Call it the North Coast offense. Took it from the CFL, which has since tragically went out of business. Get down the 11 and throw 3 straight slant passes to an 80 year old Freddie Mitchell, who is blatantly using an experimental PED but he’s just too good for business for the league to care. Unfortunately a side effect of this mystery drug is early on set Parkinson’s, so catching is a struggle, but he’s too damn funny for you to care. Field goal. 7-3 Manatees going into the half. This is the worst football game since that Cardinals-Seahawks 3 point OT game in the year it all went downhill, 2016.
Halftime we are blessed with a Blue Ivy/Saint West mashup. Both are wildly untalented. But egregiously attractive. Feels weird to call toddlers from your time hot but it’s just facts. 2055 facts.
3rd quarter you’re about 11 pieces of meat and god knows how many beers deep. Your whiny supposedly gay kid calls and asks you to send him $200. You’re drunk, you send $2000. Can’t cancel it, oh well stress level UP.
2nd half kickoff – BOOM goes straight over the All-State net. This happens all the time but a fix seems like too much work. You agree. Manatees pound the ground game. Just dumb blind running down the middle of the field. Like an actual manatee. Except they’re extinct now from being so FUCKING dumb. The pandas of the ocean. Manatees were so stupid they always swam straight into boats and got themselves killed. ANYway you watch painfully. Devoid of hope as Altoona marches down the field for a score. Extra point CANCELLED. Go for two – got it. 15-3 Manatees. “Fuck” 60 year old you screams into the face of a 12 year old boy the row behind you. Not a great look for you.
Three and out. 14 yard punt. Manatee drive. Field goal – bang. Manatees up 18-3 four minutes left in the third. Eagles are forced to throw the ball, abandon the pitch to avoid running the clock. It’s terrible. Doesn’t work even a little. Back to the pitch. Quarter ends, Eagles driving.
Time consuming 12 play drive, down to the Manatees 4 yard line, 4th down. Have to go for it. Pam Gruden uses her lifeline (yes, like a TV game show.) The call – to Jon Gruden. “Dad I just want to let you know I’m about to score a touchdown here.” She doesn’t. Stuffed at the goal line. Embarrassing as shit. Manatees ball at their own 4. Eagles run D holds 1st and 2nd, Manatees run shotgun play action on 3rd. SAFETY Brian Dawkins III. 18-5, Birds ball 8 minutes to go.
Suddenly, a flashback – Miracle at the Meadowlands 2, exactly 45 years ago. 8 minutes to go down by a billion against all odds, dog fighting quarterback. Last part not relevant. Hope glimmers in your eye. Could it happen now? It’s a feeling you’ve had a million times. 999,999 times it’s been retarded. Actually that one time exactly 45 years ago you didn’t even have hope so don’t lie. A million times retarded.
Hope is in the air “I smell a comeback, baby!” you scream into the night air. It’s not well received by those around you. No one really agrees, they’ve learned to curb their enthusiasm by now, unlike you, you giant baby.
Eagles start at their own 40. Do or die time. They go to their bread and butter, the strong side pitch. Pounding the pitch game, marching up the field. Your birds get inside the 20 (can no longer call it the red zone, as NFL Redzone has trademarked the phrase entirely) quickly, poised to score. Pitch-fake play action called and a dart is thrown into Freddie Mitchell’s chest, he pins it with his forearms against his chest and THAT’S A PHILADELPHIA EAGLES TUDDY. 8 point game, Eagles inexplicably go for two. A pitch to the weak side and the running back can’t get the edge, score sits at 18-11 Altoona, 3 minutes to go, no timeouts.
Everyone knows an onside kick is coming. They work around 15% of the time but those odds aren’t good enough. Unconventional methods are required. The plan – a laser beam kick directly at the dumbest Manatee’s helmet, hope for a nice bounce.
The Birds lineup for the kick – delay of game on a kickoff intentionally so if they get the ball back it’s closer (don’t know why teams don’t actually do this.) The kicker runs up and BAM right off a Manatees’ helmet, the ball flies straight up in the air, and it’s like a game of middle school jackpot on the field. Somehow an eagles tight end comes down with it and it’s Eagles’ ball, less than 3 minutes remaining, season on the line. You don’t even celebrate because of the level of ridiculousness is too much for your dumb brain to handle. You almost short circuit and that blood pressure is very certainly rising.
It is now your time. The Eagles’ time. It’s been years in the making, and it’s all going to come together now. You say a quick prayer for the first time since the 2.4 billion dollar lottery back in 2048. You don’t believe in God yet you still somehow believe in the Philadelphia Eagles.
Ball on the Manatees 47, Pam Gruden gathers her offense, and rallies them together. “I’ll do whatever you want” she says, her female indecisiveness rendering her rather useless. “How about we run Stingray Double-Sided Scooby Snack?” the quarterback asks. “I’m really fine with whatever” she asserts “but not that one.” The play clock is running down and the QB takes matters into his own hands. Strong side pitch, get out of bounds. They pick up 13, ball on the Altoona 34. Two minute warning.
After 15 minute commercial break, Eagles line up, a FB run up the gut MANATEES DON’T SEE THAT TYPE OF GRIT COMING Eagles plow down to the 17, get set quickly, 1:41, 1:40, 1:39.. Spike. Stop the clock. Really dumb move.
2nd down on the 19, Pam calls the pitch. Defense sees it from a mile away and the QB HOLDS IT AND TAKES OFF HIMSELF, BREAKS A TACKLE TAKES IT IN EASY TOUCHDOWN. EAGLES DOWN BY ONE EAGLES DOWN BY ONE.
Mrs Gruden (she is legally married to the sport of football, because football is family) sends out her extra point team. Easy money, even in the current conditions. Heavy pollution and the frozen tundra make for a more difficult try but this kicker has done it a thousand times. Jon Dorenbos snaps the ball, good hold THE KICK IS UP AND
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NO GOOD IT’S NO GOOD EAGLES STAY DOWN BY 1 AND HAVE TO SEND OUT the onside kick team again. What a heartbreak. You are crushed. Your hopes dashed again, your blood is literally boiling and your heart is going to explode. You can see the Eagles clearly going for the same kick strategy. Why shouldn’t it work again? You have the perfect vantage point, 10 rows back at the 30 yard line to see it go down.
Kick team lines up, the ball is drilled, but this time the Manatee ducks, to your complete shock the ball sails directly at you YOU’RE STILL TO STUBBORN TO PUT YOUR BEER DOWN the ball comes in WHAM smacks you in the chest; you’re DOWN for the count. Straight shot to the heart, you start to go in and out of it. Gasps all around you ensue and all you can think is you spilled your $60 beer. Medical staff comes down to you, tells you you’re having a heart attack, triggered by the impact of the ball. They ask what you consumed today. “One veggie burger and just the one Bud Light” you manage to mutter. One more lie. They cart you out, they carry you onto the field and down the sideline to avoid the steps. You hear a standing ovation; it’s not real you’re just dying. As you’re being pushed out on the brink of death, a light begins to shine. It’s the game clock. You see it wind down, score still 18-17 Manatees. Weirdest score ever. The light shines brighter and brighter and brighter, until you physically have to close your eyes. You wince and strain to see the clock hit zero, and everything immediately goes black as you hit the tunnel. You whisper “next year,” your final breath. Flat line.
You died and the Eagles lost again, you fucking idiot.
The only way to prevent this future from being fulfilled is to stop placing such false hope in 2nd half comebacks, stop saying “next year,” STOP thinking we “just need a couple more pieces.” It’s going to make you go mad, and it’s eventually going to be your final downfall. Please save yourself before it’s too late. Rewrite your own destiny.
Written by Brendan Feeney
Image Source: 5pointsblue.com